“To The Max” (Bowen #3) by Elle Aycart – My Review

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Title: “To The Max” (Bowen #3)

Author: Elle Aycart

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 10th February, 2015.

Publisher: Loose ID

SYNOPSIS

Forensic accountant Annie Griffin has always suspected she’s a bit jinxed, so when she finds herself 35, single, temporarily homeless, and pregnant on a technicality by a gigolo, her fears are confirmed.

Adrenaline junkie and professional stuntman Max Bowen needs a house-sitter to watch after his pets while he’s out of town. Annie needs a place to stay. Standard quid pro quo. No biggie. She can handle that, whatever hellhounds he owns. Until Max, the most sought-after bachelor in the county, comes back ahead of schedule and suddenly she’s roommates with a 27-year old sex God who turns out to be so much more than what she expected.

Max might have had the attention span of a humming bird on crack when it comes to women, but that was before Annie. Her quirkiness and sweet contradictions soon captivate him, not that she’s inclined to give him the time of the day. With his reputation preceding him, he knows the odds are badly stacked against him, but he will do his best to prove her that he’s what she needs, stuck-up socialite grandmothers, doomsday preppers, groupies, pregnancy hormones, and repentant biological dads be damned.

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My Review

Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Every reader who has read the previous books about the Bowen brothers (“More than Meets the Ink”, “Heavy Issues”, and “Inked Ever After”) by Elle Aycart has probably been as eager as me about getting the story of Max: the incredibly handsome stuntman and womanizer, and the youngest of the brothers. I was very eager to get beneath the skin and find out what makes Max the way it is, and when I read the blurb about Annie, his love interest, I became even more excited about reading this romance novel.

I do not really see a point in giving you a play-by-play about what happens in this book, because I really believe that you should delve into it and become lost in Annie and Max and everything that takes place without any preconceived notions about it. However, as always, I will do my best in writing my thoughts and feelings about these characters and the story as a whole, and I hope that, in turn, will make you pick up a copy of your own. That is why I write reviews, after all. 😉

Imagine finding yourself pregnant after a random one-night-stand at a time in your life when your biological clock is ticking away. What will you do? I have to say that the way Annie chooses to go about her situation – and the subsequent “issues” many women face as the weeks pass – seems very realistic, and I came to care for her a great deal. She is a smart and pretty down-to-earth character, and I very much enjoyed getting to know her. She has an inner strength that I admire, and although she feels rather insecure about herself at times, the issues she carries within were very easy for me to relate to. Annie grows through the course of the book, and I admit that Max helps her a lot in this aspect – but is that not also what we seek in a partner? One who is able to help us see ourselves in a different light…and help us if we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Max stole my heart rather quickly. Yes, he is hot. Yes, he is well aware of it. But is he conceited about it? No, absolutely not. His honesty regarding his casual encounters with women is, in fact, rather refreshing: obviously, he is a man, and he has certain needs that have to be met on a regular basis, but he is never cruel. And you have to appreciate that in a man. His sense of loyalty, his love for his family, and his pretty alpha-ish ways in the bedroom are all contributing factors in making him a new favourite BBF of mine.

These two people seem to be poles apart when you first meet them, so imagine their surprise when they actually seem to gravitate towards one another as times goes by. Yes, they may still be different in many ways, but they value the same things in life. And that, in my opinion, is all that really matters in a relationship: a certain understanding or regard for each other’s needs, but also the willingness to compromise when that is necessary.

I love Miss Aycart’s storytelling skills: there is just something about it that stands out from other authors writing the same type of novels. Her words bring me to tears one minute, and then flat-out, belly-aching laughing the next. The secondary characters are just as well developed as the main ones, and I particularly enjoyed the scenes when she referred to a certain book club. Those were really cute in a sassy way. That is my viewpoint, anyway.

To sum up: yes, I loved this book. Yes, I would recommend it to all romance lovers who enjoy some laughs amidst the tears. Yes, I will most definitely read it again…and again. Because in giving us the final chapter to the Bowen brothers and their lives, Miss Aycart was able to transport me into another world: and that is why I read and love books. I want to lose myself for a couple of hours at a time. She certainly fulfilled this particular need in me which is why this romance is placed on My Favourite Books list. ❤

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

(from Amazon.com)

After a colorful array of jobs all over Europe ranging from translator to chocolatier to travel agent to sushi chef to flight dispatcher, Elle Aycart is certain of one thing and one thing only: aside from writing romances, she has abso-frigging-lutely no clue what she wants to do when she grows up. Not that it stops her from trying all sorts of crazy stuff. While she is probably now thinking of a new profession, her head never stops churning new plots for her romances. She lives currently in Barcelona, Spain, with her husband and two daughters, although who knows, in no time she could be living at the Arctic Circle in Finland, breeding reindeer.

Elle loves to hear from readers!

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Blog Tour: “Confess” by Colleen Hoover – My Review

 

 

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Title: “Confess”

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: New Adult / Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 10th March, 2015.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Tour Host: The Hot Bed

SYNOPSIS

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

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My Review

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

One of the difficult aspects of being a book reviewer, in my opinion, is when you sit down to write one of a book from one of your favourite authors: because how will you be able to put all your thoughts and feelings down of a book you loved when you feel that your words will be inadequate? It is not merely enough to say that you loved it, of course.

“Confess” by Colleen Hoover is, without a doubt, a wonderful story about loss, love, heartbreak, hope, and, to me at least, a story about finding your inner strength and let it shine. It is a story about how two individuals – Auburn and Owen – cross paths in a seemingly coincidental way, and how that one meeting ends up being the catalyst of future events. In some way, I am tempted to believe that there actually is such a thing as fate even when I am not usually the type of person to believe in it, but this book has made me rethink my beliefs a bit. And that is the power of a great storyteller: when the author makes you question and reconsider previously unwavering thoughts on a concept. It seems to me that Colleen Hoover always manages to make me do this, actually.

The title itself will instantly make you intrigued as to the plot of this book, and I believe that the many twists and turns will also make your heart constrict because you will be surprised on more than one occasion. The main characters, Auburn and Owen, have secrets. Some are of the light-hearted kind whereas others are more complicated. It would be a great disservice to you if I were to reveal any of them, obviously, so I will not do that. But I can reveal a few confessions of my own as to the feelings I went through while reading this book:

Confession #1: The prologue had me in tears.

Confession #2: Auburn and Owen made me chuckle, laugh, cry, and swoon.

Confession #3: The many facets to the characters had my head reeling.

Confession #4: This is not a “simple” love story; it is complicated; it is difficult; it is uplifting. In short: it is realistic.

I am of the firm belief that you will fall head over heels in love with both Auburn and Owen; they are easy to love. Auburn has quite a battle on her hands, but nothing will stop her from conquering it, and you have to admire that kind of tenacity. Furthermore, her sweet yet stubborn character traits made me really enjoy getting to know her: this woman does not give up.

Owen also has a battle to fight – and you quickly learn why that is – and it was at times very difficult to read how he chooses to handle it. It was, however, never something that made me less sympathetic towards his character. His passion for his art is evident, the driving force behind it quite unique. He is sweet, caring, and funny…Not without faults, of course, but that is what makes him a believable character in my eyes.

There are quite a colourful and interesting cast of secondary characters appearing in “Confess”, and I have to say that I would like to get to know some of them even better. Not that they pull your focus away from the main story, of course. But I do wonder about them, and I love when that happens in a book.

No one, in my opinion, can doubt the very unique penmanship of Miss Hoover’s. Her at times no-nonsense kind of writing – including the dry humour many of us have come to associate with this author – as well as the love story which will make you cry are all evident in this book. If you are already a fan of hers, I believe that these are a part of the reason why you love her books as much as I do.

I realise that this is a somewhat different kind of review from the ones I usually write, and maybe I have even confused you a bit. I am sorry if the latter is the case. But like I told you in the beginning of my review, I have been very uncertain about how to write it. And this is, I am afraid, the best I can come up with.

Miss Hoover, I loved every moment of “Confess” – I know I will read it many times in the future, and I hope you will never run out of heartbreaking – yet hopeful – love stories to tell us. ❤

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UK PREORDER LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

(from Amazon.co.uk)

Colleen Hoover lives in the United States with her husband and three children. She loves to write in her spare time and prefers stories that are both humorous and heart-wrenching. Her goal through writing is to give readers a pleasant experience that will leave them viewing life from a slightly different angle. To read more about this author, visit her website at http://www.colleenhoover.com

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Blog Tour: “Through Infinity” & “thanks for the memories” by Libby Austin – My Review & Giveaway

 

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Synopsis

Candice and Jason Woodruff had everything going for them: a strong marriage, the family they’d dreamed of, and successful businesses. When they made their wedding vows, they promised to love each other through infinity and beyond…but Candice doesn’t remember making that vow. Candice doesn’t remember the last eighteen years.
After a medical emergency, Candice awakens to find herself a married mother of four. She’s surrounded by a loving family of strangers, but Candice struggles to claim an identity while learning to be a wife and mother.
Candice is no longer the same woman Jason fell in love with all those years ago. Can they learn to love each other in this new reality?
Through Infinity is one woman’s journey as she rediscovers the love of her husband and children. But will that new found love be strong enough to carry them through infinity and beyond…

Christmas Arrangement 

Synopsis

Jason knew Candice’s biggest Christmas wish was to remember the past eighteen years. As Thanksgiving approached, Candice retreated further within herself. Jason enlisted the help of their family and friends to grant Candice’s wish. Each shared their cherished memories and placed them in a tin. Surprised to find the collection of tins, she couldn’t help but wonder what was inside.

With each memory, Candice felt a little more connected to the life and people she’d forgotten in the wake of her accident. Each one brought a sense of fulfillment and longing. When Christmas day arrived, would Candice be able to say thanks for the memories?

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My Review

Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

What would you do if you woke up one morning unable to remember the last twenty years of your life? How would you feel? And would you want to get your life back exactly the way it was, or would you make some changes? First of all, it is probably safe to say that most people, including me, would be incredibly scared, angry and, perhaps, feel rather lost and unable to wrap their heads around it.

“Through Infinity” & “thanks for the memories” by Libby Austin tell a very moving and heart-warming story about Candice who wakes up with amnesia. Believing herself to be only twenty-three years old, imagine the heartbreak of learning that she is, in fact, forty, and that she has been married for fifteen years. Oh, and let us not forget the fact that her and her husband, Jason – who she does not remember, either – have four children. To say that Candace is scared and confused would be an understatement.

This is a story about how one woman finds herself in a situation few of us cannot even imagine, and about what she has to do in order to get her life back. In this process, she has to re-learn even some very simple things – things we take for granted – and, in doing so, find out if the life she has led up to this point is the one she truly wants. And how can you know that if you cannot remember a vast number of years? How do you cope? Moreover, how does your family and children cope with a loved one having amnesia?

I have to say that the struggles Candice go through were close to tearing me to pieces. I also feel that despite her initial panic about her situation, she handles her recovery in a very admirable way, and I really came to like her. The fact that her husband, Jason, stands by her every step of the way gives a whole new meaning to the following line of the wedding vows: “for better or for worse”, and reading about their life as he helps Candice fill in the blanks was very enjoyable to me.

Miss Austin has, in my opinion, written a story in such a way that you cannot help but take pleasure from her words, and this is not a sad story, mind you. There are plenty of moments when I found myself chuckling because of the humour and dry wit in which the author has chosen to write her book – especially in the scenes involving Candice and Jason’s children – and I also believe that the journey Candice goes through is pretty easy to relate to.

All in all, I would definitely recommend “Through Infinity” & “thanks for the memories” to lovers of second-chance love stories – well, that is what I would call it anyway, because of the lack of memory the heroine has to suffer through. There are some tears, some laughter, some feel-good moments, and these all play a massive part of whether or not I enjoy a romance novel.

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PURCHASE LINKS

“Through Infinity”

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

“thanks for the memories”

US Amazon | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Amazon CA  | Barnes and Nobles | Kobo | Inktera | Google Play

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One day some words came to mind, so I wrote them down. Soon the words became sentences, which formed paragraphs, which, in turn, formed chapters. Before long, those words had become a book.

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m a wife, mother, and business owner. I’ve lived on the Gulf, East, and West Coasts, but as a born and raised Southern girl, my favorite will always be the Gulf Coast. There’s just no place like home…

 

SOCIAL LINKS

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“Sting” (Spark Series #4) by Jennifer Ryder – My Review

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Title: “Sting” (Spark, #4)

Author: Jennifer Ryder

Genre: Steamy Erotic Romance

Release Date: 27th February, 2015.

 

SYNOPSIS

Going undercover has its challenges. When Detective Ryan Clark is sent to the sleepy coastal town of Fremantle to dismantle the country’s most lethal drug syndicate, it’s worth the risk. Even if he becomes a fatality in the war against drugs.

Ryan finds himself coming back to the same coffee shop. Blondie, the local barista, has him hot under the collar and reaching for his piece. He knows the attraction isn’t just one-sided.

She’s trying to keep her distance.

It only makes him want her more.

Willow Asher left it all behind, but not by choice.

After two long years, she’s finally getting somewhere. Willow has a busy café with her buxom business partner, Gabby, who is the closest thing she has to family.

Although Willow’s past still plagues her thoughts, she’s determined to have her happily-ever-after. As soon as her demons stop haunting her.

What she doesn’t need is the complication of Mr Sexy-Brown-Eyes, who seems to be drinking more and more coffee.

She doesn’t want the questions.

She’s still trying to get her story straight.

*** For over 18 years. Contains Adult themes. CAN BE READ AS A STAND-ALONE***

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 My Review

Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

I have been a fan of Jennifer Ryder’s work ever since her first book, “Spark”, came out last year. Her ability to create stories with believable and relatable characters always draw me in, and ever since she introduced us to Detective Ryan Clark in “Spike”, I have been very curious to find out if this very sexy man would end up surprising me. I am happy to say that he has – and in the best possible way.

Being an undercover cop has its ups and downs, but Ryan loves his job, despite the sacrifices he has to make whenever he is working on one. This time, he is moving to the small town of Fremantle in order to bust a major drug cartel, but it does not take long before this charismatic man gets more than he bargained for.

Willow Asher, the local barista is a very guarded, but attractive woman, and Ryan quickly becomes rather intrigued by her. Granted, her beauty is what catches his attention first – he is a man, after all – but the way she conducts herself whenever he is around soon makes him realise that here is a woman who has the ability to make Ryan think about more than his career: could she be the woman he, unknowingly, has been waiting for? Equally important, how is it fair to start a relationship with someone when he cannot be completely honest about whom he is? Finally, what secrets is Willow keeping, and will she find herself able to confide in Ryan eventually?

Read the book and these questions will be answered. 😉

Like I said in the beginning of this review, Ryan took me by surprise. I was already aware of the fact that he loves his job, and that he is very good at it, too, but what made me fall head over heels in love with him was experiencing the love he has for his family, his sense of loyalty to the people closest to him, and, finally, the way he does not seem to be reluctant to let his feelings for Willow develop. This man truly has the biggest heart rarely seen: he is a protector, a friend, and, yes, a very sexual man – but what woman in their right mind does not long for these three character traits in a partner? I cannot think of a single one. Moreover, he has a wicked sense of humour that made me snort-giggle, or downright laugh, sometimes; lastly, the fact that he becomes a bit of a romantic sap – his own words, not mine – when he realises the depth of his feelings for Willow made me swoon completely. Ryan felt so real to me, and you all know how much I appreciate that in the books I read.

Willow is quirky, sweet, and rather funny as well when she lets her guard down. Being forced to uproot her life and ending up a successful business owner, making some good out of a horrible situation, made me admire her a great deal. Her circumstances in life also made me very sad, and I found myself glued to my Kindle, near desperate to learn what had happened to her: she is quite a mystery. However, the way she, in the end, allows herself to let go, both emotionally and sexually, was a joy to experience. My romantic heart was almost filled to burst when Willow finally realises that there is not only darkness and fear in the world – no, there is also light and hope, even for her. So, yes, I developed quite a girl crush on her.

As always, Miss Ryder’s storytelling skills are incredible. Her passion for her story and her characters shine through, and her ever-present wit and dry humour made me lose myself, forgetting about the real world for a few hours. If I did not need to sleep sometimes, I believe I would have read “Sting” in one sitting, actually – that is how immersed I was in this romance novel.

This review would not be complete if I failed to mention Gabs – Willow’s friend and business partner – because this character is simply hilarious! Despite her own past heartaches, she has managed to pull herself up and lead a life that is pretty close to perfect for her and her daughter, Sienna. Trust me when I say that the antics of this woman will have you laughing so hard that you will come pretty close to pee your pants. 😉

If you, like me, already are a fan of Miss Ryder, I am sure you have bought a copy of “Sting” by now. However, if you are new to the Spark Series, I will have to urge you to pick them up asap. In my honest opinion, you do not have to read the first three books in the series in order to enjoy “Sting” – it can definitely be read as a standalone novel – but I would still recommend them to all lovers of romance novels: these books will make you laugh, cry, swoon, and even slightly turned on.

Miss Ryder, thank you for giving us the story of Ryan and Willow. It has been a real pleasure getting to know them. ❤

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

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 Interested in the Spark Series?

Then check them out below!

Jennifer Ryder Spark series

“Spark” (Spark #1): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B&N

“Spike” (Spark #2): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B&N

“Strike” (Spark #3): Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | B&N

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer

 

New Adult and erotic romance writer, and author of the Spark series.

A sexy imagination, a life-long love of books and a sucker for romance, Jennifer Ryder couldn’t stifle her creativity any longer.

Writing steamy adult romance has become her new focus. Living on a rural property in New South Wales, Australia, she enjoys the best of city and country.

Her loving husband is ever willing to provide inspiration, and her two young cherubs, and sheep that don’t see fences as barriers, keep life more than interesting.

Jennifer placed third in the International Stringybark Erotic Short Fiction Award 2013.

SOCIAL LINKS

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Release Day Blitz: “A Stone in the Sea” (A Bleeding Stars Novel #1) by A. L. Jackson – My Review, Teasers, Excerpt & Giveaway

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Title: “A Stone in the Sea” (A Bleeding Stars Novel #1)

Author: A. L. Jackson

Genre: New Adult / Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 23rd Febuary, 2015.

SYNOPSIS

He wanted nothing at all…

Until he found she had everything to give…

Sunder lead singer and guitarist Sebastian Stone has everything—fans, fame, and fortune. He also has a heart full of bitterness and a reputation for a short-fused temper. But an outward reputation rarely reveals the true man inside. Facing assault charges after trying to protect his younger brother, Sebastian is sent to Savannah, Georgia to lie low until the dust settles in L.A.

Shea Bentley is beautiful, kind, and hiding from the very lifestyle Sebastian has always embraced.

When the mysterious, tattooed stranger begins hanging out at the bar where she works, Shea is quick to recognize he is nothing but trouble, but she’s helpless to the way her body lights up every time his intense gray eyes tangle with hers.

They both soon find themselves drowning in a sea of desire and passion that won’t let them up for air.

Sebastian knows firsthand secrets never die, and he’s not the only one who’s hiding them.

Loving someone always comes with a price. But will it be Shea’s past that costs them everything?

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My Review

Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

There is something about A. L. Jackson’s penmanship that always manages to draw me in immediately when I read her stories. I may not have picked up every book she has written – yet – but only because of a severe lack of time (always an issue for a bookaholic, eh?). However, I am a massive fan of hers, and I have actually no idea how I will write this review without revealing spoilers…I will try, though, to do my best.

With “A Stone in the Sea”, Miss Jackson introduces us to a slightly sexier side to her writing – that is how I feel, at least – yet you have no problem identifying her trademark evocative storytelling skills at the same time.

Sebastion Stone is, to the outside, the typical rock star, but this is, in fact, a man who feels everything, which is why he completely stole my heart; he is difficult, perhaps, but all artists are to a certain extent, and once you become more and more acquainted with him, his family, and his secrets, you will understand why that is. He is so loyal and protective to those he loves, and these are only admirable traits, of course.

Shea Bentley is guarding her own secrets, past hurts and heartaches, but she cannot deny the attraction she feels towards Sebastian. She has a beautiful soul, and she almost always chooses to see the good in people. But do not let that deceive you because she is far from naïve: this is a woman who is so much stronger than she appears to be, and I loved how she is not afraid to go to battle for Sebastian.

I always enjoy when authors include the POVs of both of the main characters, but more so now than ever: the complexities of these two people run deep, and I loved delving into their hearts and minds, allowing me to see the real persons underneath the masks they show to the outside world.

Now, even though this is a story filled with anguish and heartache, it is also incredibly funny and uplifting. I am not afraid to admit that I even snort-giggled from time. I will also have to confess, though, that the story did break my heart a bit…I will not divulge why that is, of course, but just be prepared to cry while reading this beautiful, deeply emotional love story.

I realise that this review is quite shorter from the ones I usually write, but I fear that I will reveal too much if I write anymore. Suffice it to say, I ADORED this romance because of all the feelings I went through while reading it, and I simply cannot wait until Miss Jackson releases the next book in the series. ❤

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EXCERPT

With a smile, I turned around, then froze when my sight registered the obscured figure leaning against the wall. A strangled gasp caught in my throat, and my heart took off at a sprint, blood pounding hard in my ears.

Pushing from the wall, he stepped from the shadows, his hands again stuffed deep in his pockets.

My heart rate only increased, the energy radiating from him almost as strong as the disappointment he’d left me with when he’d gone.

I pressed my hand to my chest to try to still the panic thundering against my ribs. “You scared me.”

“I’m sorry.” The words were soft. “That’s the last thing I want to do.”

But he did. I was scared of what he was capable of doing to me, the way I knew he held the power to trounce all over this hammering heart, to hold it in his hand and crush it into a million unrecognizable pieces.

“What are you doing here?” I asked on a shaky breath.

He looked to the sky and exhaled heavily, before he leveled his gaze back on me. “The same thing I’m doing every night, Shea. Thinking about you and wondering why the hell I can’t stop.”

My stomach flipped, and I gulped for air.

“What do you want from me?”

He laughed, lifted his elbows out to his sides in a helpless gesture without pulling his hands free. “Dinner?”

Nonsensical laughter shot from me. “At three in the morning?”

“Breakfast?” he amended, a coy smile pulling at his full, crooked lips.

Tingles spread across my skin, and I ran my hands up my bare arms. “I already told you I don’t have time for distractions.”

“Come on, Shea. It’s just food. Go out with me. Just tonight.”

Somehow I knew it was a lie, even though he wanted to believe it was true.

Nervously, I glanced to the back door all the while being inexplicably drawn to this man I didn’t even know. I knew I should make a break for it, run for the safety of my little world and give him no opportunity to rip it apart.

“I am hungry,” I found myself saying. After a long night of work, it was true. But it had nothing to do with the reason I was giving in.

Because I just wanted to…

I shook my head.

That was it. I just wanted. I wanted to be in his space. I wanted to understand why he had this pull on me. I wanted him.

Even though I’d never allow myself to have him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.L. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of Take This Regret and Lost to You, as well as other contemporary romance titles, including If Forever Comes, Pulled and When We Collide, as well as the New Adult Romance Come To Me Quietly due out January 7, 2014.

She first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.

Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel. A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three children. Her favorite pastime is spending time with the ones she loves.

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Blog Tour: “Taming Me” (Cover To Covers #5) by Alexandrea Weis – My Review, Excerpt, Author Interview & Giveaway

Title: “Taming Me”

Series: Cover to Covers #5

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Release Date: February 2, 2015

Lexie Palmer is a writer in search of the perfect story.

When a case of mistaken identity introduces her to the charismatic dominant, Garrett Hughes, she discovers her salvation. In hopes of penning an accurate portrayal of the BDSM lifestyle, Garrett agrees to educate Lexie.

She eagerly places herself in Garret’s capable hands, but what starts out as just business with the sexy Mr. Hughes takes a turn toward the unexpected.

Soon, Lexie becomes immersed in his world, and finds Garret taking control of her life. Her experiences with Garrett may be providing wonderful material for her book, but how far is she willing to go to for her story?

Lexie Palmer is about to get a lesson in submission that she will never forget.

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Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

It has now been a year since I was introduced to Alexandrea Weis and her books for the first time, and her ability to create stories that are engaging, lifelike, and filled with romance have made her become one of my favourite authors. There is just something about her books that always draw me in from the very beginning, and I can honestly say that “Taming Me” did the same as the other novels I have, so far, had the pleasure of reading: I lost  myself in the love story, yes, but, moreover, the characters, Lexie and Garrett, made me realise that, although people – in my opinion, at least – deep down do not ever change, they do have the ability to evolve and become better at making compromises in order to find happiness.

As ever, I will endeavour to write a completely spoiler free review, so I will not necessarily provide you with a rundown of the plot – because that is not the way I write my reviews – however, I cannot avoid it entirely, of course.

Lexie Palmer, a somewhat successful romance novelist, has hit a rut: her books are not selling as well as they used to, and so she needs to come up with a completely new approach to find inspiration for her next novel. Luckily, a chance meeting in a park seems to do the trick, and her fascination with the life of Garrett Hughes commences. Because as soon as Garrett reveals that he is a Dom, a new story begins to form in her mind, and Lexie manages to convince Garrett to depart with his insider knowledge into the BDSM lifestyle; but as time passes, Lexie finds herself becoming more and more interested in this intriguing man, instead of the Dom, and the question is if she will be able to let go of her preconceived notions about how a relationship should be like and take a chance? And is Garrett actually who he says he is? Hmm. Well, you will have to read the book in order to find out. 😉

Lexie is a wonderful character: independent, strong, and determined to succeed as a writer. She is rather jaded when it concerns men, but that is due to her failed marriage. And you cannot really question that or blame her for feeling that way. I loved seeing her evolve from this rather “playing-it-safe” woman and into one willing and, mostly, unafraid to take chances.

Garrett was first introduced to us in the “That Night With You” – the previous book of the Cover To Covers Series – and I have to confess that I have been looking forward to getting his story ever since. To be perfectly honest, he is quite the enigma: a successful architect, elusive, and not someone to reveal his innermost thoughts until the very end. This, to me, does not mean that he is a frustrating character, though that could very well have been the case; no, the subtlety of this man, the way he speaks and educate Lexie, intrigued me so, and I could not help but think that this man has a very specific agenda when it concerns her…but what is it? In the end, Garrett bares his soul completely, and that made me fall in love with him entirely.

The title of this book is, in my opinion, spot on: because who will be tamed, Lexie or Garrett? I see both of them as being pretty stubborn characters – on the surface, at least – and they refuse to let go of their stubbornness throughout most of the story; however, that is not to say this is wrong. No, these characters have trust issues, and I enjoyed seeing them tear down their walls, bit by bit, until, in the end, they find the courage to trust in one another completely. You cannot truly love another person if you do not have trust – not in my opinion, anyway – and Lexie and Garrett are pretty good examples of this fact.

I cannot profess to know a great deal about what the BDSM lifestyle is like in the real world, but Miss Weiss manages to paint a very vivid, believable picture of it, and it definitely appears to be a topic very well researched. The setting of the book, New Orleans, is interesting and captivating, and you get the sense that this may be just the perfect city when is concerns the pleasures that are of a sexual nature: it is more open, more free, if you will, and definitely not frowned upon to have “different” tastes.

The storytelling skills of Miss Weis are, as always, unique and engaging; Lexie and Garrett may be fictional, but they could actually be real people: that is how believable and genuine they are. Furthermore, the pace of the story flows really well, and the dry wit and banter between all the characters made me chuckle or even roll my eyes in amusement a time or two.

I have nothing but praise for this book, and I can honestly say that, out of all the books of Miss Weis’ that I have read and marked as favourites? This one tops them all. Thank you for a lovely reading experience, Miss Weis! And thank you for always satisfying my romantic – and, at times, cynical – heart with your love stories. ❤

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“When I punish a sub, I want to make the punishment memorable, but in another way I want to make it reinforce their submission to me.” He removed his tie, curling it about his long fingers.” Punishment is about withholding pleasure; tempting, promising, but never giving.”

I was mesmerized by the way the cool gray silk was laced in and around his fingers. I hurriedly gazed down at the drink in my hand.  “So what do you do, spank them, tie them up, what?”

He took my drink and put it on the table. “Would you like a demonstration?”

“No.” I shrank away, picturing being held over his lap and spanked like a child.

He leaned toward me, holding up his tie. “If you want to truly learn about my world, Lexie, you must experience it.” His face inched ever so close to mine. “I promise I will not hurt you,” he softly added.

His thin lips hovered in front of me as I considered his offer. He had a point; perhaps I needed to experience what he did to his subs in order to be able to write about it. As his dark brown eyes seared into me, my resistance slipped away.

“All right, fine.” I sat back against the sofa. “But I’m only agreeing to do this for the sake of the book.”

“Of course. It’s all about the book.” He stood from the sofa and went to the middle of the room. “Come here.”

Taking in a deep breath, I stood up and approached him. Without my heels I came right under his chin, and I could see the slight dimple there. I had never noticed that before.

“Turn around,” he commanded.

Sighing at the insistence in his voice, I did as he asked, wishing he could just ask nicely for once. When his hands went to the zipper on the back of my dress I almost pulled away, and then remembered his words from previous encounters. I had to relax, and I had to trust him.

“You didn’t pull away,” he whispered as the zipper slowly eased downward. “You’re learning.”

“I’m getting—”

“No talking. You never talk when I’m punishing you.”

I snorted. Silly me.

After he had pushed my black cocktail dress off my shoulders, I stood calmly as the fabric slid down my body and gathered about my ankles. Standing before him in my underwear and strapless bra did not seem like such a feat anymore. Maybe I was getting the hang of this; and then another thought hit me. Or maybe I wanted to be naked in front of him.

His fingers lightly stroked along my shoulders and then his deep voice said, “Put your hands behind your back.”

Still not sure what to expect, I complied, and soon I felt the silk tie being wrapped about my wrists and secured tightly. At this point, I should have been getting concerned. Every instinct I had was screaming at me not to go along with his plans, but at a certain point in a relationship there comes a time when belief in another person outweighs reason. We want to believe someone will be kind to us, love us, or take care of us no matter how many times our past has taught us otherwise. This was that moment for me. I believed Garrett would not hurt me, and I knew then that I trusted him.

When his hands left my wrists, they began working their way down my back until his fingers hooked the top of my black silk panties. He eased the panties down my hips and all the way to my ankles. Lifting my right foot and then my left, he removed the underwear and dress from about my feet.

The cool air in my apartment was making my flesh dance with goose pimples, and when his hand cupped my behind, the chill turned into a rush of heat.

“On your knees,” he said behind me.

With a little awkward effort I got down on my knees. I prepared myself for a few slaps on my butt, thinking that was what he had in mind for my punishment. But when he kneeled behind me and pushed my head over to the hardwood floor, my stomach clenched. Feeling so exposed only compounded the rush of adrenaline racing through me. My heart was pounding and my breath was coming in nervous gasps. I stayed like that for a few minutes, waiting for him to touch me, spank me … do something.

Keep reading – I hope you enjoy the interview with Miss Weis!

 

Hello Alexandrea,

Thank you so much for letting The Danish Bookaholic Blog run an interview with you. I have been looking forward to it for some time now.

Here goes:

 1. What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts and ends with my animals. I get up, feed furry people and spend the day juggling their needs and my writing. I do spend several hours a day on the computer, usually with dogs at my feet or a squirrel in my lap. When I am not writing, or tending to the zoo, I am an avid runner.

2. Where do you find the inspiration for your books?

Anything can bring a story to mind. Things just pop into my head, usually when I am driving … don’t ask me why. I’m not sure how the process works, and that is probably one mystery I don’t wish to know about. I just get an idea and it builds, until it needs to be written down.

3. What, in your opinion, is the most challenging aspect of being a self-published author today?

PR! Without a doubt getting your name out there is tough. There are so many books, so many writers that you have to really struggle to stand out. It’s a real challenge.

4. Out of all the books you have written, which one is your favourite? (If you have one, that is?)

My favorite is always my first, To My Senses, with The Ghosts of Rue Dumaine running a close second. I love those stories, the heartache and the poignancy of the characters still gets to me. I guess your first book is like a first love … unforgettable. 

5. How did you research the BDSM life style in your latest book, “Taming Me”? 😉

LOL! I should probably say lots of hands on experience, but my husband would die! Thank God for Google. Although, I did interview a few Doms about their methods for handling subs. This is New Orleans and there are lots of bars in the French Quarter where such individuals hang out, and are surprisingly open to talking about their lifestyle. However, I already have 4-legged Doms in my life, telling me what to do all day long, so I kind of had an idea of where to start.    

Again, thank you so much for stopping by!

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.

To read more about Alexandrea Weis or her books, you can go to the following sites:

 

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“Withering Hope” by Layla Hagen – My Review

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Title: “Withering Hope”

Author: Layla Hagen

Genre: Contemporary / New Adult Romance

Release Date: 19th February, 2015.

SYNOPSIS

Aimee’s wedding is supposed to turn out perfect. Her dress, her fiancé and the location—the idyllic holiday ranch in Brazil—are perfect.

But all Aimee’s plans come crashing down when the private jet that’s taking her from the U.S. to the ranch—where her fiancé awaits her—defects mid-flight and the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

With no way to reach civilisation, being rescued is Aimee and Tristan’s—the pilot—only hope. A slim one that slowly withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, diseases. Beasts.

As Aimee and Tristan fight to find ways to survive, they grow closer. Together they discover that facing old, inner agonies carved by painful pasts takes just as much courage, if not even more, than facing the rainforest.

Despite her devotion to her fiancé, Aimee can’t hide her feelings for Tristan—the man for whom she’s slowly becoming everything. You can hide many things in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love.

Withering Hope is the story of a man who desperately needs forgiveness and the woman who brings him hope. It is a story in which hope births wings and blooms into a love that is as beautiful and intense as it is forbidden.  

ADD TO GOODREADS

My Review

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

This is such an incredibly beautiful love story I hardly know where to begin. It is a story of despair, of love, of hope. And it is about a love story that is filled with beauty amidst a cruel setting. I cried, I laughed, and I swooned while reading “Withering Hope” by Layla Hagen, and I dare you to not do the same when you pick it up.

I have only admiration for the heroine, Aimee Myller: she seems to be a strong, determined young woman, and I think that her zest for life is portrayed really well. She has a deep sense of loyalty, too, and the way she feels guilty as she begins to develop deeper feelings towards Tristan Bress feels very realistic and genuine. I would also like to add that the fact that she does everything in her power to be an asset to Tristan, instead of a liability, in the Amazonian jungle is what made me fall in love with her completely.

“I thought the bond between us here in the rainforest was one of friendship. But maybe it’s more. Maybe I feel more for this man who’s not only the strongest person I’ve met, but who also seems more determined to keep me alive than himself.” (Aimee)

Tristan is a very complex, mysterious, and such a closed-off character – in the beginning of the book, at least – and I admit that I was so invested in peeling away his secrets, layer by layer, that I forgot all about the time and that I simply kept reading until the clock struck two in the morning! (This does not happen often, by the way.) Once Tristan’s past and secrets were revealed, my heart broke for him, and I loved seeing how his love for Aimee changes him in many ways. This man has such a beautiful soul, and I love how the author surprised me: what you see is definitely not what you get when it concerns this man. Not in all matters, anyway.

“I wish I could take care of her and make her happy in the way she deserves. I wish I could start fresh with her.” (Tristan)

I have to say that I was a bit sceptical about the setting of this book when I first started reading it, BUT my doubts were very soon put to shame. The fact that most of this book does not involve any secondary characters at all is a bold move by Miss Hagen, but she managed to keep me enthralled throughout the entire book. The imagery in the book is very vivid and lifelike. Miss Hagen possesses a gift of transporting me into her world, and her storytelling skills are simply amazing: she truly made me believe that I was in the rainforest with Aimee and Tristan. Moreover, I have to applaud her for writing such a unique and well-researched love story.

It should not come as a surprise that being the sole survivors of a plane crash makes Aimee and Tristan form such an incredibly strong bond. The fact that their connection ends up being such a profound and meaningful love – one that defies logic, perhaps – is told in a very unique way, and that is why I give the book my highest rating: 5 stars.

“Those terrifying months in the rainforest were, in a way, a gift. Maybe it’s true what they say, that without darkness, you can never truly appreciate the light.” (Aimee)

I loved every page of this romance novel: it is different, the characters complement each other extremely well, and the environment is portrayed in a realistic way. To me, the pace of the story is perfect, and the manner in which Aimee and Tristan’s love for each other develops is remarkable, yet realistic. The ending and the epilogue made me sob – not something that happens often, I might add – but not in a sad way: no, I was a very happy bookaholic because of the beauty of it.

Miss Hagen, thank you for such a wonderful reading experience! “Withering Hope” is most definitely an all-time favourite book of mine. ❤

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PURCHASE LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Layla Hagen Profile

My name is Layla Hagen and I am a New Adult Contemporary Romance author.
I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.
I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.
And I drink coffee. Lots of it, in case the photo didn’t make it obvious enough

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