Monthly Archives: February 2016

To Katie With Love by Erica Lucke Dean

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To Katie With LoveTo Katie With Love by Erica Lucke Dean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Katie James is out celebrating her birthday with her co-workers from the bank the drinks start flowing and somehow she gets talked into singing. As Katie starts her song in walks a man that looks like the one in her dreams, one that looks like he stepped right out of one of Katie’s favorite romance novels. When the man turns around though she finds it’s one of her clients, Cooper Maxwell, that Katie has had a crush on for the last year.

The next thing Katie knows she awakens in a strange bed after having a drink too many to calm her nerves around Cooper. She then finds that it was Cooper himself that brought Katie home to care for her since he didn’t know where she lived. The two soon find themselves rushing into a relationship after both hiding their feelings for the past year but Katie soon finds that Cooper is full of secrets. Will she be able to trust him or is he too good to be true?

Erica Lucke Dean has a way with her characters that make me truly just love everything about them and their stories. Katie was the typical shy and unsure lead but she was also quite adorable with her fumbling and her wild imagination and Cooper is a too good to be true sexy male lead. The rest of Katie’s co-workers were also hilarious in their own ways.

The one thing I was slightly disappointed in was that I had read another book not too long ago that had basically the same outcome as this one. I felt early on that I knew how the story was going to turn out but to be honest Erica Lucke Dean did the story and characters so much better than the other I’d read and after looking them up, this was actually even published first so even guessing the ending this is still getting five stars from me.

Overall, a wonderfully fun read, often very humorous with great characters and while there is sex involved it’s more implied than described for those that don’t enjoy anything too graphic.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

SEDUCTION & SURRENDER by C.C. Gibbs Blog Tour Promo/Excerpt

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Enter to Win a Paperback Copy of 

SEDUCTION & SURRENDER

 

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SEDUCTION & SURRENDER

Reckless #2

C.C. Gibbs

Releasing in Print March 1st, 2016

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NOW IN TRADE PAPERBACK!

From the peaks of erotic ecstasy–to the point of no return . . .


Power. Passion. Pleasure beyond imagining. Billionaire playboy Rafe Contini offers all this–and more–to the beautiful Nicole Parrish, a young American traveler with a taste for adventure that matches his own. From the private yachts of Monte Carlo to the palatial estates of Geneva to the glittering penthouses of Bangkok, Rafe has shown her a world of unimaginable sensual delights. Now, he is ready to take her to the next daring level. Of danger. Of desire. Of deliciously erotic self-discovery.

Nicole has never known a man as sexy, as strong–or as commanding–as Rafe Contini. Night after steamy night, he turns up the heat, tests her boundaries, and pushes the limits of her body and soul to the point of sweetest agony. But when this masterful lover sweeps her away to a secluded island getaway–where anything can and will happen–Nicole must decide just how far she wants to take this game. And just how much she can bend Rafe’s rules . . .

 

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He slowly exhaled, nodded, then sat down on the bed and touched her cheek with his fingertips. “It’s always more complicated with you. Raw, urgent. It freaks me out, that’s all.” He smiled and his voice softened. “So first, how about we work on your idea of foreplay, then we’ll practice mine.”

He was, she thought, beautiful beyond belief. Reaching up, she took his face in her hands and drew him down.

Leaning forward, he wondered how life suddenly could change so every kiss became incalculably meaningful. He’d never done much kissing. It was too personal or maybe too clichéd for the games he’d played. And now strangely he felt like a poet, wanting to leave a record to the world of each, tender, passionate, heart-stopping kiss.

She kissed him sweetly, lightly, brushing his lower lip with the tip of her tongue.

He angled his head, meeting the fullness of her mouth with the barest whisper of pressure.

Then she gave a low groan, slid her fingers through his slicked-back hair, hauled him closer, and shoved her tongue into his mouth—forcing the pace.

And in case he hadn’t noticed, she hissed, “Hurry, hurry.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, half-smiling, thinking maybe soul mates wasn’t just an empty phrase. In a smooth, lithe ripple of biceps muscles and upper body strength, he swung between her legs, positioned his cock in the slick crease of her pussy, and pushed in smoothly. She was tight. He was big. A perfect fit when it came to flame-hot sensation.

He glided into her lush heat slowly, deliberately, her body yielding by exquisite degrees until he was fully inside and she was gasping softly.

And die-of-pleasure bliss was torching their brains.

Then he slid his hands under her ass, dragged her hard into his stiff cock, felt the shudder slide up her spine, and, arching his back, whispered, “Open your legs wider. Wider.” Flexing his powerful thighs, he plunged forward, drove in hilt deep, and firmly lodged, murmured, velvety and low, “Feel that?”

She moaned long and low as pleasure flooded her pussy, curled her toes, set every nerve in her body alight. She even thought about answering him for a brief lucid moment before he gently rocked from side to side and bliss engulfed her and she purred instead.

Best of times, he thought. He was going to fuck her until he couldn’t move; that’s how good it was.

 

 

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C.C. Gibbs is the pen name of New York Times bestselling author Susan

Johnson.  She divides her time between the Midwest and Northern

California, and considers the life of a writer the best of all possible

worlds.  Bringing characters to life allows her imagination full reign and

researching books is great fun!

 

 

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The Hidden Twin by Adi Rule

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The Hidden TwinThe Hidden Twin by Adi Rule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eighteen years ago a set of twins were born to a couple that the father was human and the mother was what was called an Other. When twins are born to a human/other couple one twin will be human but the second will become what is known as a Redwing. Redwings are feared and thought to be monsters so when discovered they will be killed at birth. The mother of this set of twins though gave her own life to protect her daughters.

Raised by her father with her sister Jey the Redwing twin was never even given her own name. She has lived in hiding her whole life barely ever coming out of their home. One day when her sister coaxes her out she runs into two priests when returning home that attack and try to capture her. This event starts a chain that brings our Redwing into a plot to save her city.

The Hidden Twin sounded very intriguing and had such a great looking cover that I couldn’t help but want to read it. However when finished I just came away with an it was OK feeling unfortunately.

While the writing was good and on the surface very descriptive, unfortunately I felt myself waiting to find out more of the world in which this was taking place. It also felt like it got off to such a slow start and took me a while to figure out the characters and plot. There were also still a lot of questions left for me when it ended that might have made me love it more if ever answered.

Overall, a bit different of a story but I would have liked more depth to fall in love with it.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

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Into the DimInto the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Hope Walton’s mother was believed to have been killed in an earthquake eight months ago. Her father has moved on with his life and met someone new but Hope still believes there’s a chance her mother could be alive.

After the service for her mother Hope receives an invitation from her mother’s sister to come for a visit while her father travels. Not wanting to be left with her grandmother that has never accepted Hope into her family since Hope was adopted, she battles her anxiety and boards a plane to meet her mother’s family.

When Hope arrives at her mysterious aunt’s home she is told that her aunt had to leave for a few days. Hope is full of questions, especially when it’s let slip that her mother had been there right before her supposed death but no one is answering Hope’s inquiries until she stumbles upon some strange artifacts and costumes beneath the manor.

Only after Hope’s discovery do her newly acquired family let Hope in on their secrets. They are a group of time travelers and her mother has been trapped in twelfth century England, left by another group of time travelers who have been in somewhat of a feud with Hope’s family.

After scanning a few reviews before picking this book up and reading it myself I was a little iffy going in as to what I would find. I have to say when finished though I’m glad I gave it a fair shot and read it all the way through because I really enjoyed the story once it got going. In the end I decided to rate this one 4.5 stars.

The beginning gets off to a bit of a rocky start which is what seems to be turning some readers away from the book. Hope almost seemed a lot younger than she is supposed to be to me but we learn that she’s been home schooled by her mother her whole life and not allowed to have friends with anyone her own age and also has a slew of anxieties and phobias. She makes a few questionable comments in the beginning but there is actually logic behind them so I overlooked them myself and waited to form an opinion.

Hope at one point says boys prefer “girls like my cheerleader cousins. Size two. Blond. Busty. Brainless.” Ok, if you were raised in a family that treated you as an outcast your whole life because you weren’t like them then it’s a bit understandable that you would be jaded towards that type. Again later she makes a comment about the “slutty girls” at a school, well that’s after the boy she had just met denied knowing her unless she went to that school and they had “hooked up”.

After the rocky start and finally getting into the time traveling I really enjoyed Hope as a character along with all the others in the book and the story line. Perhaps the beginning could have been a tad better but once the story takes off it’s a completely enjoyable read with a lot of adventure and a great look into a historical era. Looking forward to see where this series heads in any future books.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Siren’s Song (The Storm Siren Trilogy #3) by Mary Weber

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Siren's Song (The Storm Siren Trilogy #3)Siren’s Song by Mary Weber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Siren’s Song is the third book in the Storm Siren Trilogy. Since this is the last in the series I won’t go too much into the detail of this book so as not to include spoilers. Siren’s Song does pick up right after the ending of Siren’s Fury. The trilogy is about Nym who is a female elemental in a world where there has never been a female elemental before. She has hid her entire life because elemental are considered dangerous and if found they would be killed. Nym is bought in a slave auction and trained to use her powers to hopefully save her world. All three books in the series are a continuation of the story of Nym trying to do just that.

I have to say there are some things I really loved about this series but also some things that I didn’t. One thing that I found was that for me the books would start to drag a bit in each. Siren’s Song was not exception to this which brought my rating down a bit. Also, I think a part of what I missed while reading was an earlier character that didn’t continue on in the story, it kind of left out a bit of a spark I felt earlier in the series.

For the things I really like though, one would be the covers of the series. Another round of applause to whoever designed these as they are certainly beautiful. With Siren’s Song I would like to say great job on the flashbacks, loved reading that bit of information being given and it was nice that the font would change so I would easily recognize it was starting another flashback/memory at that point. Also, the entire series had wonderful world building, intriguing characters, action and plot.

Overall, a good ending to an intriguing series.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Black Water Tales Cover Reveal

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Black Water Tales: The Unwanted
JeanNicole Rivers
Publication date: March 31st 2016
Genres: Adult, Horror

In the remote, eastern European town of Borslav there is St. Sebastian orphanage, a place where people discard their unwanted children. For the American, Blaire Baker, it’s the perfect place to volunteer her services. Paired with a cheerful volunteer nurse, Blaire is enthusiastic about the possibilities, but is quickly discouraged when she encounters the nefarious nature of the staff and the deplorable conditions of the facility and the children.

Upon arrival, one of the children informs Blaire, “There’s something in the basement.” It isn’t long before strange things begin happening, including Blaire’s flashbacks of the accident that killed her parents. The children soon suffer injuries that Blaire, first, fears may be the deeds of the callous workers but she soon thinks the abuse may originate from a source that is less than human, something unwanted.

The unwanted is coming but in order for Blaire to fight it, she must dig into St. Sebastian and herself in search of truth. Blaire wants nothing more than to help the children, but when discovers the tragedy that happened in the basement and learns that the same evil forces are still at work, it will be Blaire who needs help…There’s something in the basement.

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Author Bio:

I was born in the tiny, but lovable town of Centralia, IL which has a two screen movie theatre, one high school and still celebrates May Fete, so I had no choice, but to develop a fantastic imagination. Since childhood I have been writing everything from short stories to songs, but I have always aspired to compose a novel. Black Water

Tales: The Secret Keepers is my first novel and the first book in what will be a series of thriller novels.

Philosophy was my study in college and I received a Bachelor of Arts in the subject from Florida International University. Writing is one of my most favored artistic pursuits, but my love for the arts does not stop there, I am also a vocalist and actress and participate in local theater in Houston Texas.

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Terror in Taffeta: A Mystery by Marla Cooper

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Terror in Taffeta: A MysteryTerror in Taffeta: A Mystery by Marla Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kelsey McKenna is a wedding planner known for her destination weddings. Her latest clients requested to be married in the town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Everything is going just as planned with the arrangements until one of the bridesmaids gets sick right before the service.

Kelsey warned the girls not to drink too much at the bachelorette party the night before the wedding. When Dana returns she ushers them off and the service takes place as planned. Just as it’s ending and everyone should be leaving Dana collapses. Kelsey takes over and rushes everyone out to attend to the fallen bridesmaid herself but finds when checking on her she doesn’t have a pulse.

Terror in Taffeta is a cute little cozy mystery with our lead being a strong independent woman running her own business that deals with the outrageous demands of her clients daily with a smile. Kelsey is used to clients expecting the world so when the mother of the bride expects Kelsey to solve a murder she puts on her detective hat and gives it her best shot.

The story was a wonderful little page turning mystery with a wide cast of suspects. Kelsey goes about her task of solving the crime better than the police and stops at nothing to see that an innocent person doesn’t end up in jail.

With a lot of funny moments and an intriguing cast of characters I’d definitely recommend checking out Terror in Taffeta to anyone that enjoys a good cozy mystery!

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Through the Veil (Aisling Chronicles, #1) by Colleen Halverson Blog Tour

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Where the fairy tale ends, destiny begins.

 

Elizabeth Tanner is no Tinkerbell, and her life is no fairy tale. Broke and drowning in student loans, the one thing she wants more than anything is a scholarship from the Trinity Foundation. But after the ancient Irish text she’s studying turns out to be more than just a book, she becomes their prisoner instead. And when Trinity reveals Elizabeth is half-Fae, she finds herself at the center of a plot to save the magical races of Ireland from a brutal civil war.

 

As Commander of Trinity’s elite warriors, Finn O’Connell isn’t used to having his authority challenged. He doesn’t know whether to punish or protect the infuriating young woman in his custody. When he discovers the Dark Fae want to use Elizabeth’s abilities to control the source of all power in the universe, he’ll risk everything to help her.

 

At the mercy of Trinity and enslaved to the Dark Fae, Elizabeth finds herself alone on the wrong side of an Irish myth thousands of years in the making. Refusing to be a pawn in their game, Elizabeth has to fight her way back to the man she loves, but to do so, she must wage her own war against the magic that binds her.

 

 

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Elizabeth Tanner is your regular broke college student, she’s applied for a scholarship from the Trinity Foundation to go to Ireland to continue her studies and hopes to make a good impression. Unfortunately, when Elizabeth and her professor forget about the meeting with Finn O’Connell from the Trinity Foundation things between Finn and Elizabeth get off to a bit of a rocky start.

Finn demands to see the ancient Irish text that Elizabeth has been transcribing but there something a bit different about this book. When Elizabeth has been working with it things have been changing on the pages. She thinks she’s just overworked or might be going a bit crazy but the next thing you know there is a monster attacking her professor and she’s bitten during the fight.

Waking up a week later in a strange place Elizabeth finds herself a prisoner and in the middle of plot to save the magical races of Ireland from a brutal civil war. Finding out that her mother was Fae and had immense powers, Elizabeth finds that she is half Fae and the Dark Fae want to control her for her powers.

Through the Veil is the beginning to what should end up being an amazing fantasy series. Full of Irish mythology it’s a bit different than anything I’ve read. I was immediately caught up in the story as it started off reminding me a bit of the Mortal Instruments series which I love with Elizabeth seeing things and then finding she has this connection to a magical world she didn’t know about. But the similarities are very very few, it was just a feeling I had when reading but it made me realize very early on I was going to enjoy this series.

I really wanted to give this first book five stars but it did have a few slow moments for me when reading. I think maybe it’s just the learning all about this new world with the Irish mythology that maybe slowed me down a bit. But I really wouldn’t of wanted any of it to be left out either as I did enjoy the details in the end. I decided on four stars for this one and hoping the rest of the series will only get better.

Overall, a great new fantasy series that I will be looking forward to continuing. Definitely recommend checking this one out!

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating 4/5 stars.

 

About the author: 

 

 

As a child, Colleen Halverson used to play in the woods imagining worlds and telling stories to herself. Growing up on military bases, she found solace in her local library and later decided to make a living sharing the wonders of literature to poor, unsuspecting college freshman. After backpacking through Ireland and singing in a traditional Irish music band, she earned a PhD in English with a specialization in Irish literature. When she’s not making up stories or teaching, she can be found hiking the rolling hills of the Driftless area of Wisconsin with her husband and two children.

 

Connect with Colleen Halverson

 

 

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Visit the rest of the stops on the tour for more!

 

 

 

 

2/22/2016

 

Excerpt A Sky Full of Stars Blog

 

Excerpt Cassandra’s Reviews

 

Excerpt Lore Lush Books

 

 

 

2/23/2016

 

Excerpt Zoe Forward, Author

 

Review Warrior Woman Winmill

 

Excerpt Lisa’s Loves(Books of Course) 

 

 

 

2/24/2016

 

Review Könyv Extrák

 

Review Carries Book Reviews 

 

 

 

2/25/2016

 

Review Tome Tender 

 

Excerpt Rants N Scribbles

 

Review + Excerpt Rabid Reads

 

 

 

2/26/2016

 

Review + Guestpost My fictional escape

 

Review T&L Book Reviews

 

Excerpt Diana’s Book Reviews

 

 

 

2/29/2016

 

Guestpost + Excerpt Kitty’s Book Spot!

 

Excerpt RhiReading

 

 

 

3/1/2016

 

Review + Excerpt Bitten by Romance

 

Review + Excerpt Happy tails and tales 

 

Guestpost Whatever You Can Still Betray

 

Review + Interview  Resch Reads and Reviews

 

 

 

3/2/2016

 

Review + Excerpt Splashes Into Books

 

Excerpt Reading on the Rocks

 

Review + Excerpt Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

 

Excerpt Book Groupies

 

 

 

3/3/2016

 

Review + Excerpt Rae’s Rockin Reviews

 

Review Jeri’s Book Attic

 

Review + Excerpt Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps

 

 

 

3/4/2016

 

Excerpt Kindle and Me

 

Review + Excerpt Kelly Smith Reviews

 

Review Snoopydoo’s Book Reviews

 

Review one girl lost in romance books

 

Guestpost Reading Between the Wines Book Club

 

Review + Excerpt vampy and racey

 

Cover Reveal: Lovely Vicious Series by Sara Wolf presented by Entangled Teen

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EntangledTeenComingSoon

 

YA Contemporary Romance / Dark Comedy? YES PLEASE!

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for the

Lovely Vicious Series by Sara Wolf

presented by Entanged Teen!

Can you say binge read series!

 

LOVE ME NEVER 1600x2400

Previously published as Lovely Vicious, this fully revised and updated edition is full of romance, intrigue, and laugh-out-loud moments.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East

Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than

the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him

downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of

day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.

The reward: Something neither of them expected.

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Love Me Never (Lovely Vicious, #1)

Author: Sara Wolf

Release Date: Apr. 5, 2016

Available for Pre-order:

Amazon | B&N |iBooks | Kobo |Amazon.co.uk |Amazon.ca |Entangled Publishing

 

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FORGET ME ALWAYS 500x700

Previously published as Savage Delight, this fully revised and updated edition is full of hilarity, drama, and heartbreak.

Forget Me Always coming November 1, 2016, but stay tuned for reveals of the synopsis and exclusive excerpts!

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Forget Me Always (Lovely Vicious, #2)

Available for Pre-order:

Amazon |B&N |iBooks |Kobo |Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

 

REMEMBER ME FOREVER 500x700

Previously published as Brutal Previous, this fully revised and updated edition is full of emotion, healing, and love.

Remember Me Forever coming May 2, 2017, but stay tuned for reveals of the synopsis and exclusive excerpts!

add to goodreads

Remember Me Forever (Lovely Vicious, #3)

 

About-the-Author2

author photo sara wolf

Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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ATONE by Beth Yarnall Release Blast with review and giveaway

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$25.00 Amazon eGift Card

 

ATONE

Recovered Innocence #2

Beth Yarnall

Releasing February 23rd, 2016

Loveswept

 

Beth Yarnall’s sexy and emotional

Recovered Innocence series continues as two broken souls discover that keeping

their hands off each other is even harder than facing their demons.

Beau: Six years. That’s how long I spent

behind bars for a crime I didn’t commit—the murder of the woman I loved. Now

I’m free, but life on the outside is a different kind of prison. I don’t know

who I am or who I want to be. At least I have my sister, Cora. She never

stopped believing in me. She even got me a job at the private investigation

agency that cleared my name. And then Vera Swain walks into Nash Security and

Investigations and kicks my world on its ass.

Vera: There’s only one thing that would

make me come out of hiding after two years on the run: finding my sister. I

made the mistake of telling a monster about her, the same monster who beat me

and broke me. Now I’m forced to confide in Beau Hollis of Nash Security and

Investigations. He looks at me like he knows me—the real me. He sees too much,

makes me feel too much. The pleasure he offers is exciting and

addictive. But I can’t fall for him . . . because my love could get us both

killed.

 

 

 

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Beau is trying to regain his life after spending six years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Life on the outside hasn’t been easy adjusting to though with everyone staring and still talking about him being in prison. Beau’s sister Cora has gotten him a job working for Nash Security that was behind helping Beau get out of prison.

Vera Swain walks into Nash Security wanting to hire them to help find a half sister that she doesn’t really know but she believes may be in danger. Beau and Vera immediately have a spark between them, perhaps drawn to each other by their troubled pasts. Vera however has more secrets and has had a horrid life until she walked into the office.

Atone is the second book in the Recovered Innocence series, it could really be work fine as a standalone though. I actually did read Vindicate, the first book in the series, and I do believe overall I enjoyed Atone just a tad bit more.

Atone tackles much darker subject matter than Vindicate did. I don’t want to go to into detail and give away Vera’s secrets before a reader gets a chance to discover them but her life prior to walking in and hiring Nash Security was the thing nightmares are made of which had me on the edge of my seat wanting to know everything about her past and if it would all work out in the end.

Also, along with being more intrigued with the things in Vera’s life I felt that the relationship in Atone was a bit more on the steamy side. Beau and Vera were steaming up the pages from the beginning and I believe that may be because of the age and/or maturity of these characters as opposed to the relationship aspect in the first book.

Overall, a fast paced romantic suspense that headed down a gritty, cringe worthy path with the subject matter involved that had me glued to the story until finished.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating 4/5 stars

 

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Cora backs out the front door of her garage apartment, her arms full. I jog up the walk and relieve her of the files she’s carrying. She locks the door and turns to me, a big smile on her face. It gets me every time. A combination of joy and surprise like she can’t believe I’m really there. I can’t believe it either. I hope I never get used to this feeling, or to that smile. I hope she doesn’t either.

I follow her down the walk to her car and put her files in the trunk. I stand just in time to see the car keys flying at my face and catch them before they smack into my nose.

“You have to practice sometime,” she says. “Drive us to work.”

I haven’t driven in more than six years. My license expired while I was in prison. My parents sold my car.

“Are you sure?”

She opens the passenger door and climbs in with a wink. I let out a frosty breath in the cool morning air. This is one more thing I have to relearn in my life outside. I slide into the driver’s seat and adjust it for my bigger body and longer legs.

“The mirrors too,” Cora reminds me.

It’s like I’m taking driver’s ed all over again, but with my little sister as my teacher. I hope driving isn’t as hard as riding a bike. That shit took me too many tries to get right. I’m wobbly like a kid riding without training wheels for the first time. Bike riding is a fucked-up metaphor for my life now. Everything is an uphill struggle and scary as fuck. I suck so bad at it, I wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t just commit a crime for real this time so I can go back to the predictability and reliability of prison life. I won’t, but the thought is scarily tempting sometimes.

You wouldn’t think being free would be so hard.

I do as Cora instructs and start the car. She coaches me the whole way. I’m relieved when we arrive safely. Driving is a hell of a lot easier than riding a bike. We get out of the car and head into the offices of Nash Security and Investigation. I owe Cora and everyone in this place everything. If Mr. Nash and his son, Leo, hadn’t agreed to help Cora find the bastard who killed Cassandra and worked to set me free, I’d still be sitting in a cell. How do you repay someone who rescued you from hell and gave you your life back?

I juggle Cora’s files that I retrieved from the trunk, open the door for her, and follow her inside. The receptionist, Savannah, looks up at Cora, then does a double take when she spies me trailing behind my sister. Her first, fleeting glance is full of female appreciation that quickly morphs into avid curiosity tinged with fear. She doesn’t want to be attracted to an ex-con, but I’d put money on her panties being soaked at the thought of fucking me. I’m a walking, talking good girl’s bad-boy dream. I’m the guy she bangs once or twice on the quiet just so she can brag about it later to her friends.

I grin at Savannah, following it with a wink and a lick of the lips. She gasps and presses her hands to her chest. Her cheeks bloom red. If we were alone I bet I could take her right there on top of her desk. Wouldn’t even have to pull her panties all the way down, just push up her skirt and pull them aside. She’d shower after, feeling dirty, and later she’d jack off, reliving it. I’m not even the slightest bit tempted by her or any other woman I’ve met since I got out.

Another way my life’s fucked up.

I set Cora’s files down where she directs me to. Her office is small, with two desks in the middle facing each other. It’s an odd arrangement, but Cora likes it this way, I guess.

She gestures to the desk opposite hers. “Have a seat.” She sifts through her pile of files until she finds what she’s looking for, then pulls it out and comes around to where I’m sitting. “I

thought maybe I’d start you off with some simple searches. See if you like the work.” She twitches the mouse, bringing the computer screen to life. “These are the search sites we use.”

Clicking on the top three bookmarked sites, she brings them up, explaining how they use them and what info the sites can provide. She has me do some easy searches, then leaves me on my own. I don’t suck at it. I’m actually quite good. And I like the work. I’m halfway through the searches Cora wanted me to do when Savannah sticks her head in the doorway.

“Vera Swain, your ten o’clock, is here,” she tells Cora. Her gaze darts to me, then back to Cora.

“Thanks, Savannah. Want to sit in?” Cora asks me. “Take a break from the computer?”

“Sure.” I stand and stretch.

Savannah jumps and squeaks, then disappears from the doorway.

Cora’s mouth bends into a frown. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her lately.”

“Don’t you?”

“I’ll talk to her.”

“Leave it.”

I follow Cora into the reception area. Savannah blocks whoever it is she’s talking to so I can’t see who it is, but whoever they are, they’re small, much smaller than Savannah’s five-nine frame. Savannah shifts, revealing a pastel confection of a young woman about Cora’s age.

All lace and silk, she’s sweet looking in her soft colors like she just walked out of a Sunday church service. But the look in her eyes is wary . . . suspicious . . . jaded, reminding me of angry, hard prison stares. This chick’s seen some shit. More than that, she’s experienced some shit, has maybe even done some shit. She’s a survivor. This I understand. I recognize her in the same way I recognize the new man that stares back at me in the mirror.

Her costume is nearly perfect. I bet if I sniffed her she’d smell like baby powder and lemons. I edge closer to her. She catches me with a sudden flick of a glance, freezing me where I stand. Everything about her shouts Back the fuck off. It only makes me want to draw closer. Who is she? Who or what made her this way? And why does she look at me like she knows who I am? Not the TV-news-segment me, but the real me, the Beau deep down inside.

For the first time since I got out of prison I don’t feel alone. There really are others out there like me. One of them is standing mere feet in front of me, regarding me with the same guarded, expectant look I’m wearing.

And she’s beautiful.

 

 

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Beth Yarnall writes romantic

suspense, mysteries, and the occasional hilarious Tweet. She discovered romance

novels in middle school and hasn’t stopped writing since. For a number of

years, she made her living as a hairstylist and makeup artist and co-owned a

salon. Somehow hairstylists and salons always seem to find a way into her

stories. Yarnall lives with her husband, two sons, and their rescue dog in

Orange County, California, where she’s hard at work on her next novel.

 

 

Don’t Miss the first title in the Recovered Innocence Series

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