“Nowhere But Here” by Renee Carlino – My Review

 

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Title: “Nowhere But Here”

Author: Renee Carlino

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Atria Books

Release Date: 5th May, 2014.

SYNOPSIS

A Chicago reporter in her mid-twenties unexpectedly finds love in Napa Valley when she’s assigned to spend a week with a famously reclusive genius.

Kate Corbin has lost her spark. From the outside, her life seems charmed. She has a handsome, long-term boyfriend and a budding journalism career at a popular Chicago newspaper. But in reality, her relationship is going nowhere, and she’s quickly losing motivation for what she once believed was her dream job. When her boyfriend dumps her unceremoniously, Kate loses all hope of finding love.

With no living family and few friends, Kate confides in her boss. Trusting that the hungry, ace reporter is buried somewhere deep inside, he gives Kate the opportunity to jumpstart her career. The assignment: to interview the famously reclusive R.J. Lawson, a wealthy tech genius who disappeared years ago but recently reemerged as a Napa Valley vintner. The week takes an unexpected turn, however, when Lawson refuses to divulge any information. Desperate for a lead, Kate turns to Jamie, a vineyard hand who shows her the romance of wine country—and stirs her aching heart. But his connection to Lawson is ambiguous, and when Jamie disappears before the end of the week, Kate is left to investigate another story: the truth behind the man who stole her heart.

USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino explored love and heartbreak in her beautifully written debut Sweet Thing, and her newest novel does not disappoint. For fans of Colleen Hoover, K.A. Tucker, and Katja Millay, Nowhere But Here is a stirring and satisfying romance that you won’t want to put down.

 

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My Review

Butterflies in my stomach. A goofy smile on my face. And a deep-seated feeling of satisfaction in my entire body. This, dear reader, is me trying to convey my feelings after having read this book! Once again, I find myself almost lost for words after having read a romance novel that took my breath away, but I will do my utmost to write a worthy review and express all my thoughts and feelings without, of course, giving you any spoilers.

When we meet Kate, she is in a rather unfulfilled, empty relationship with Stephen, a guy from her apartment building, and she is feeling lost and alone. Her mother died when she was only 8 years old, and she has suffered a great loss again: her aunt Rose, the woman who raised her since her mother passed away, has now also left her. Kate knows nothing about her father, and besides having a few friends at the paper she works at – the Chicago Crier – it is fair to say that she is lonely. Oh, and a bit of a pessimist, too:

“There is no one to take care of me, no matter how many people surround me. I’m all I’ve got.” (Kate)

Now, having been in a sort of limbo since Rose died, Kate is given a major chance of finding her “spark” again when her editor, Jerry, sends her off to California to do an exclusive interview of philanthropist R. J. Lawson. A child prodigy turned computer-genius; this man suddenly fell off the face of the earth for several years only to turn up again a few years ago – this time as a vintner in Napa Valley.

Kate knows that she needs to get her act together if she wants to truly succeed as a journalist, so even though she is rather apprehensive, and feeling a bit insecure on top of everything, she chooses to see this assignment as her chance to really find herself again.

Then…everything goes horribly wrong – but, somehow, some way, everything seems to fall into place at the same time. And, in short, things seem that way because of a young man, Jamie, who she meets in a somewhat unconventional manner.

Right. I promised you no spoilers, so I will not add much to the actual story line in the rest of my review.

There comes a time for everyone when we may find ourselves at a loss, or at a crossroads of sorts, and it does not have anything to do with how old we are. We are only human, after all, but we can be so hard on ourselves. Kate’s past losses and her depressing, yet understandable, mantra – “I’m all I’ve got” – really hit home. I found myself able to connect with her from page one because even though she truly is a strong character, you can also sense her despondency and loneliness right away. And the fact that she chooses to stay with a man who cannot really give her a truly loving and committed relationship says a lot about how much this woman longs to be loved. She is simply afraid to allow herself to let go, and even though I found her reasoning to be incredibly sad, I could really understand her at the same time.

As I kept reading Kate’s story, though, I came to see several different sides to her as well. She has an inquisitive mind, a bit of a temper, and the fact that she does not allow anyone to trample all over her had me doing a fist pump more than once. She evolves from a lonely, sad woman to a feisty one, one who is willing to take risks, and one who is ready to take on the world, and I admire how Miss Carlino is able to show us this transition through her words.

Let me talk a bit about Jamie now. He has a bit of the “bad boy vibe” that we, as readers, have come to appreciate in our book heroes; but first impressions can be very deceiving, and I am not afraid to admit that I was completely fooled by him! As I got to know him through Kate’s eyes, I saw a very sweet, sensitive, funny young man who yearns for the same as Kate does: love.

“Just being your friend is going to be hard, but I’ll try. It’s just that…I like you. You’re witty and sweet, and you happen to be the most infinitely beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” (Jamie)

 The way Jamie sees the world is very simple, but he is, by no means, naive. The mystery of Jamie had me so intrigued that I found my stomach turning into knots, and my heart completely broke for Kate when she leaves Napa Valley after their romance is over. (Or is it? *wink*) Jamie had me frowning in frustration, shaking my head in wonder, and laughing like a loon over the way he behaves sometimes. Yes, everyone, I have found my new book boyfriend, and I am not so sure I want to share him with you. (Joking! Well, maybe…)

“His eyes glanced down to my lips. ‘There have been no women before you and there will be no women after you,’ he said, seriously.” (Jamie)

One of the reasons I have fallen head over heels in love with Kate and Jamie’s love story is, of course, due to the author. Miss Carlino’s way with words is mesmerising, beautiful, and engaging. She has created a full cast of characters who you, as the reader, can believe in because they all seem so real. I love how she kept the twists and turns coming until the very end, because I love being surprised when I read a book. Last, but not least, I simply love a sweet, funny, feel-good romance, and, again, Miss Carlino delivers 100%.

This is the type of romance novel that will make you cry – both sad and happy tears. It is the kind of romance novel where you will find yourself completely immersed in the lives of the main characters and you so badly want them to have their happy-ever-after. It is a romance novel that will, I believe, leave you like it left me: with butterflies in my stomach, a goofy smile on my face and with a true sense of satisfaction in my entire being. Yes, I do realise that I am repeating myself here, but I just want to emphasise how in love with this book I am! And even though I am a bit sad now that the final page has been turned – because I just know that I could keep reading about this couple’s life and never get bored – I also feel that their story has come to a perfect end; I would, however, like to see them again at some point. (Just a small hint, Miss Carlino…)

“Love cannot be taken out of you because it changes you. I woke up when I met Jamie. The world became louder, crazier, more exciting, and more achingly beautiful.” (Kate)

So to conclude my review, I will leave you with this: yes, I suffer deeply from Book Hangover Syndrome, but I would definitely not have it any other way. Miss Carlino: I am in awe of you and your writing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving us Kate & Jamie’s love story.

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

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iTunes

Atria Books

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Renee’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies staring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

 

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My Review: “Inner Core” (Stark #2) by Sigal Ehrlich

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Title: “Inner Core” (Stark #2)

Author: Sigal Ehrlich

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Relase Date: 25th January, 2014

Synopsis

When Hayley makes a resolution to take back the control over her life, and declare their relationship R.I.P, it’s all good in theory…

That is until Daniel decides to prove her wrong and get her back.

Together, Hayley and Daniel seem to have it all. But can love ever be enough when two strong personalities collide and while reality takes the lead?

Faced with more obstacles than she could have ever bargain for when it comes to Daniel, struggling to keep her own identity while sharing a life with her man. Buds of doubt start rooting in Hayley’s confidence, making her rethink her decision.

And just when it seems that they might make it together after all, life happens. Bringing a threat that neither Hayley nor Daniel could ever anticipate, a threat that could break them apart forever . . .

ADD TO GOODREADS

My Review

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

I have, quite literally, been giving myself a good kick in my behind for not having read this book sooner. Yes, I have been very busy lately, but still…Anyway, let me start my review of “Inner Core” by saying that you cannot, under any circumstance, read it without having read the first book in the Stark Series, “Layers”, first (you can find my review here), and I honestly believe that this author needs to get some more attention.

The story begins with Hayley nursing her broken heart home at her parents’ house after Daniel’s rejection, and I might as well confess right now that her unhappiness really made me feel for her. Her feelings of heartache, sadness, and pain come across really well – but there is also a bit of anger mixed in with them, and is that not always the way after a bad break-up? I believe it is.

Nevertheless, Daniel suddenly appears out of the blue, and like the bossy, arrogant and alpha male that he is, he convinces Hayley to give him another chance. It does not take that much to talk her into it, because she loves him more than anything in the world and does not wish to be apart from him again. But the question is: will she be able to trust him? To me, that is one of the key elements of this book. That, and letting go of past grievances, forgiveness, and, ultimately, allowing yourself to live life to the fullest despite the fear of getting hurt.

One of the things that I really love about Hayley is the fact that she is still this feisty, strong woman, but she learns that it is acceptable to show her vulnerable side to the outside world. Furthermore, I like how she seems to grow into a more self-confident woman once she completely lets herself trust Daniel with her heart and mind. We are always the most vulnerable when the lack of trust in a partner eats away at us, filling our heads with doubts and misgivings. But the more we learn to let go of our issues, the easier it becomes to live a happy life. And that is the way it is with Hayley, in my opinion.

As for Daniel…Well, as I stated above, he is still this arrogant, temperamental and, at times, hard-headed male, but we learn so much more about his sensitive side in this book, and that fact alone made me fall in love with him all over again.

“The first time I kissed you,” he pauses, lost for a moment, “…it was like, I don’t know…” His eyes melt into mine. “I felt connected, to…fuck, anything, for the first time.” (Daniel)

Whereas Hayley has to learn to show her true self to him, Daniel must learn patience, and the fact that you cannot be ruthless in a relationship: he has to learn how to compromise – a feat he definitely does not like – and that he, too, needs to let go of the past in order to move forward with Hayley.

I feel that Miss Ehrlich really shows us, the readers, the many facets of the human nature through her very potent writing, and that is why Hayley and Daniel are easy characters to relate to. They are both passionate, temperamental persons and these traits make them clash on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, their love story is not a complete whirlwind of angsty emotions as such – not to me, anyway. They really know how to be sweet to one another, and although I enjoy the ups and downs in a romance novel, I also appreciate the quieter, tender moments between the protagonists. My romantic heart was most definitely satisfied in this regard, and I thank Miss Ehrlich for giving us such complex, yet loveable characters.

“I could cry from the want and longing that were just released. I could cry from how much I want and need this man.” (Hayley)

Once again, I love the banter between Hayley and Daniel, and if you have read my review of the first book, “Layers”, you will also know that I absolutely adore Hayley’s two best friends, Ian and Natasha. They are, as ever, a breath of fresh air, and I really enjoyed getting to know them better. Furthermore, what absolutely makes this a 5 star read for me is the fact that all my questions about Hayley and her past were answered – I understand her thoughts and actions much better now – and I also love how Daniel does not change his alpha male tendencies: he is who is, and he makes no apologies for it (unless he has no other choice, of course *wink*).

I hope that you now want to read the Stark series by this excellent author. It has everything that I could wish for in a romance: tears, laughter, pain, angst, lots of fun, and, naturally, a very satisfying happy-ever-after. I will not spoil anything for you, but the epilogue…? Completely blew my breath away! Yes, this is a romance novel, but it is different from so many others that I have read, which is also also why I give “Inner Core” my highest rating, firmly placing it on My Favourite Books shelf.

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By teen age, Sigal already lived in three different continents where she was lucky enough to experience and visit varied places, meet unique people, which only helped fuel her overly developed imagination. Currently, Sigal calls Estonia home where she lives with her husband and three kids.

Not exactly sure where they will end up next…

When she is not hiding in her office, writing, she enjoys music, reading and taking care of her little clan.

With a great believe in “don’t wait for things to happen – make them happen,” she enjoys anything exciting life has to offer.

SOCIAL LINKS

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Interested in the first book in the Stark Series, “Layers”?

Then look below!

Layers

Title: “Layers” (Stark #1)

Author: Sigal Ehrlich

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 10th October, 2013

Synopsis

According to Hayley love is a subject of ridicule, a myth created by hopeless romantics.

When Hayley makes a resolution to declare her loose lifestyle era R.I.P, it’s all good in theory…

That is until she meets Daniel Stark, a well-respected, mid-thirties business man who is known for his short temper, lack of steady relationships as well as his strict preserve of his private life.

Opinionated, sharp tongued Hayley accidently steps into his office leaving Daniel resolved to put Hayley in her place and have her in his bed.

Both Hayley and Daniel can’t avoid the immediate instigation of the attraction between them.

In a unanimously agreed upon verdict by Hayley and her two best friends, Ian the gay self-absorbed, aspiring model and Natasha the witty, borderline neurotic soul mate, Daniel Stark is to be Hayley’s pure physical attraction, emotions aside era closure.

Will it indeed be a closure, or a beginning to something neither Hayley nor Daniel ever bargained for…

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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US

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Blog Tour: “Spike” (Spark #2) by Jennifer Ryder – My Review, Excerpt, Playlist & Giveaway

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Title: Spike (Spark, #2)

Author: Jennifer Ryder

Release Date: 28th May, 2014

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Erotica

 

Synopsis

I, Aidan Stone, got the girl.

My beautiful Eevie is sweet and sassy, and she owns my heart like no other. I promised her, I’d always protect her, and I meant it, but shit just got serious.

Blackmail. Extortion. And Eevie is the target.

Sometimes the past comes back to haunt us. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to distance yourself from it, it comes back and bites you on the arse. And in walks Mr Hotshot Detective, Ryan Clark, thinkin’ he can save the day and take my girl.

Well, I’ve got news for him.

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My Review

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

If you follow my reviews, you will know how much I loved the first book in the series, “Spark”, and if that is not the case, you can find my review on my blog.

Whereas I feel that “Spark” was mostly about Eevie’s personal journey to becoming her own woman, “Spike” takes it one step further and tells us the love story of Eevie and Aidan and about the hardships they have to go through together in order to find their happy-ever-after. Do not be alarmed, though: there are plenty of sweet, funny and sexy moments as there were in the first book. But let me start at the beginning:

It has been six months since Eevie and Aidan began their romantic relationship and they are still very much in love with each other. That special spark they have always shared is still there, and you can immediately feel their deep connection when you start reading the book. Aidan asks Eevie to move in with him, and she eagerly says yes. They are both ready to take their relationship further, and you would think that their future will be filled with nothing but happiness from now on. That is not the case, however, and without giving you any spoilers (which I hate), I will just say that I was rather thrown when I found out who the culprit was. And that is all you will get from me on the matter.

I might as well lay the cards on the table right now and let you know that, once again, I loved Eevie and Aidan. Like I stated above, they just have that certain connection that most people long to find in their partners, and their love for one another is evident on every page. Their banter is loveable, sexy and funny, and their deep-seated need to protect each other from heartache and strife is palpable. They are truly soul mates, and Miss Ryder definitely knows how to convey this with her writing.

Eevie is still a feisty, adorable character. But what makes me love her even more now is the fact that she has become a stronger, self-confident woman, and her wanting to protect Aidan shows great character – even though she does go about doing it the wrong way. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing how much she has evolved, both on her own but also through her relationship with Aidan, and that is definitely part of the reasons for my high rating of this novel.

Let me say one or two things about Aidan now. Oh my goodness, he is swoon-worthy: cute, alpha, and sexy. I love his naughty side, his sense of humour, and his ability to love unconditionally. I am thrilled that the author gives us his point of view this time because it allows the reader to fully connect with him. His passion for his sport is made clearer in “Spike”, but it is also great learning how that it is not all he focuses on. No, he sees Eevie, and he has always known, purely by instinct, that she is the woman made for him. She is it for him, plain and simple, and he is not afraid to show the world that that is how he feels.

I am not trying to paint a picture of two perfect people: they are definitely not infallible. If they were portrayed as such, I would, in all honesty, not like their story. Both Eevie and Aidan make mistakes, but these mistakes are done in order to protect each other. This is why they seem so realistic, and why you can relate to and connect with them completely. They will have to learn to fully trust and depend on each other in order for them to get their happy ending which is also the way it is with real people in the real world.

As with the first installment in the Spark Series, I really like Miss Ryder’s way of telling a story. Her writing is very down-to-earth with just a touch of quirkiness (if that is even a word?), the pace of the story is perfect, with plenty of steamy, yet tasteful, scenes that left me blushing more than once. Last, there is no question about the fact that she feels very strongly for her characters. I also really love her introducing us to some new secondary characters: a very sexy police detective – Ryan – and a teammate of Aidan’s – Jones. These men…? Well, you just know that they hold many secrets and that what you see is not what you will get – at least not completely. I believe Miss Ryder will be releasing their stories later this year, and I just know that they will be very interesting and…how should I put it…? The only words coming to mind at the moment are naughty ones so I better watch my tongue. Suffice it to say, I am awaiting their stories with bated breath!

I do not feel that I can write that much more without giving too much of the story away. The suspense element works really well, in my opinion, and you are in for quite a wild ride when you read the book. The range of emotions is wide: funny, romantic, painful, passionate…I could go on and on, but I choose not to. All I will leave you with is this: if you loved “Spark”, you will adore “Spike”!

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Enjoy the excerpt, everyone!

Today, I feel like a king with a convincing win under my belt, and the beauty on my arm is the envy of most of the guys here. Life can’t get any better.

I introduce Eevie around. She shakes hands like she means it, holds her own in conversation, and gets the occasional laugh out of guys I didn’t think had a sense of humour. She must’ve been taking note of some of the ins and outs of motocross, having the balls to ask some interesting questions.

Take note, people: funny, intelligent woman with the guts and looks to match. That confidence is heartbreak material. They’re practically drooling over her. It’s almost pathetic. If they thought they had half a chance, they’d be down on their knees in a millisecond begging for a shot.

Boys, it ain’t gonna happen. Every delectable inch of her is mine, including her heart.

Talking with some of the support crew, Jones edges his way into the conversation, standing a little close to Eevie for my liking. He puffs out his chest, and hooks his thumbs through the front loops of his jeans. Blonde hair and a baby face, he’s a pretty boy. A mummy’s boy. From the way he carries on, he probably got everything he ever wanted as a kid, and had all the latest gear. Mum could barely afford to buy my jerseys, and when she did, I wore them until I outgrew them. I had no choice but to make them last. Last round Jones threw a tantrum like a three year old over something stupid. He got what he wanted, though. Disgusting. Not that I give a shit where he’s come from; at least I know I don’t carry on like a fucking twit.

My eyes are on Jones, and he knows it. Damn it, if he doesn’t like pushing my buttons, and having Eevie here he’s gonna do anything he can to push. If he weren’t on my team I’d barely give him the time of day. He’d be half an alright bloke if he wasn’t so self-absorbed.

He acts like he’s engrossed in what Eevie’s talking about, but his eyes travel down her chest, and even lower, as if he’s trying to rip her clothes off purely with the power of his mind. It heats my blood more than it should.

“When you’re ready for a real man, Eevie, come knockin’ on my door,” Jones says. His eyes dart in my direction before resting back on Eevie’s tits. Fucking douchebag.

Eevie frowns, and purses her glossy lips. “Sorry, I don’t understand. If I’m ready for a real man, why would I knock on your door? Wouldn’t I just go home?” She bats those long lashes. That’s my girl.

Everybody erupts into a fit of laughter, me louder than most. Jones shakes his head, and playfully punches me in the arm. “You’re killin’ me, Aidan. You win today, and I hate you for it, and now your woman’s gonna break my heart,” he says, faking a southern American accent. He clutches his chest as if wounded, and winks at Eevie.

I take a long swig of my beer. “Life’s a bitch, Jones.” Now fuck off.

 

And here’s the Spike Playlist

 

PURCHASE LINKS

Spike (Spark, #2)

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo

 

 

Spark (Spark, #1)

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B&N | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo

Goodreads

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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New Adult and erotic romance writer, and author of the Spark series. The second book in the five part series, Spike, is to be released on 28 May 2014.

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.

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GOOD LUCK!

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Blog Tour: “Holding Aces” (The Kingdom #1) by Nikki Groom – My Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

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Title: “Holding Aces” (The Kingdom #1)

Author: Nikki Groom

Release Date: May 29th 2014

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Synopsis
 

They say that time heals all wounds.
But mine are set in so deeply, they’ve taken on a life of their own, lurking in the shadows at every turn and haunting my thoughts.

The girl I once was has been replaced by a stranger.
I don’t even know who I am anymore.

I run.
And I hide.
Pretending to be someone I’m not…

Until I meet Denham King.
My burst of color in an otherwise grey world.
And for the first time in my life, I find myself running towards someone instead of running away.

But fate can be cruel,
and I can’t escape my past.
Can I?

**Holding Aces is part one of a two part Adult Contemporary Romance series that contains mature sexual content and language and is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**

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My Review

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

 

As I sit here writing my review of this really good debut novel by Miss Groom, I cannot help but keep thinking about the ending – that, to me, means that I have read a book that gripped me, moved me, yet a book that also, from time to time, made me a tad frustrated. But the latter in no way means that I did not enjoy Arianna’s story, I really did. And Denham made me sigh happily all…the…time. Allow me to apologise for getting a bit ahead of myself here, everyone, and I will start again. *wink*

“Holding Aces” is a story about one woman’s struggle to finding her way back to herself. It is a story about the ugliness of life, and that meeting ones fears and troubles head-on can be extremely hard and frightening. Arianna has not exactly had the best of luck in hers so far – at least when it concerns the opposite sex – but she finally takes charge of it, refusing to become a victim (again) and trying to come to terms with her past. And in doing so also means that she has to learn to move forward in order to become the woman she wants to be.

On her way back to it – both literally and figuratively – she runs into Denham King; he is the hotel owner of “The Kingdom”, a fabulous and luxurious hotel in Las Vegas, where her friend Lottie has booked a room for her, and from the moment they meet, Arianna finds herself intrigued by him. He is, without a doubt, a man who knows his own mind, but he is far from arrogant about his status in society. His honest and genuine demeanor slowly crash down the high walls Arianna has built around her heart, and she comes to realize that not all mean simply take what they want – no, some men know how to ask for it instead. And Denham is a man who falls into the latter category. The question is, though, if Arianna can allow herself to trust her own judgments when she has been so wrong in the past?

In many ways, I found Arianna to be a very genuine character: her thoughts and feelings about her past – especially her fears and doubts about herself – seem very realistic when I think about other abused women and how they perceive themselves. Furthermore, I do like how she finally realizes that in order to move forward, she has to acknowledge her past – burying her head in the sand does not help. Even her doubts about whether or not she should trust Denham with her secrets seem realistic, and I really enjoyed getting to know her, especially when she starts gaining more self-confidence as her relationship with Denham progresses.

As for Denham…well, he is really the perfect match to Arianna: strong, self-assured, and sweet. I like how he is different from other book boyfriends, meaning that he is not such a complicated man. He goes after what he wants, and his patience with Arianna makes him a very believable character. Oh, and let me not forget to add that he is most definitely sexy! We do like that about our heroes, do we not? *wink* The fact that he holds back, that he instinctively knows not to rush Arianna in any way – even when she herself protests about it – makes him, again, feel very realistic, and my romantic heart could not help but swoon over him on more than one occasion.

Although this is the debut novel of Miss Groom, her writing seems to be that of a more experienced author. It is engaging, sassy, and you can really feel that she cares deeply for her characters. Further, she has also created some very likeable secondary characters, such as Lottie and Spike, who both play a very significant part in the book, yet do not take the focus away from Arianna and Denham’s love story. I take my hat off to this author and say: Well done!

The only reason I am not giving “Holding Aces” a higher rating is the fact that I feel that the book is just a bit too short. It may seem inconsequential to other readers – naturally, this is just my personal opinion – but I admit that I like my romances to be longer; I would have liked to see some scenes played out in more detail, and even though I do not mind fast-paced books, I just feel that the story was a bit too rushed at times. Also, despite all the reasons I fell for Denham, I still feel as if I do not know him that well, but I hope that my questions about him will come to light in the future. Having said that, however, I truly enjoyed getting to know Arianna and Denham, and the way this book ends – with a bit of a bang – almost made me tear my hair out, BUT I actually like that the author manages to evoke such strong feelings in me.

All in all, I believe that this really is a very enjoyable read: there is great romance, some funny banter between Arianna and Denham, lots of steam, and I highly recommend that you read it for yourself. Yes, you will be left with a lot of questions, and a bit of a mystery as well, but that only makes me so more curious about the the second installment in The Kingdom Series, which, hopefully, will become available later this year.

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man and woman holding each other with love

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Enjoy the excerpt!

“Don’t run,” he says before releasing my hands slowly, and I instinctively move to tangle my fingers in his thick dark hair. Both his hands move to my ass, squeezing and pulling me closer as he kisses me with a fierce tenderness I can’t explain. I vaguely register him flicking the lock on the door as he walks us backwards, never breaking contact.

He turns me as we reach his desk, and I hear paperwork flutter to the floor and glass smash as he sends everything on the desk flying before lying me down on the cold, hard surface, his body pressed tightly against mine. I have a desperate need to touch him, to taste him, to feel every inch of this man. I slide my hands in the waistband of his trousers and pull out his shirt. I let my hands roam freely over his torso, realizing I’ve wanted to do this since the very first time I saw him at the elevator.

He runs his hands down the length of my body and pushes them back up again, skimming my thighs and taking my skirt with them, exposing my lace underwear. “Stunning,” he says before bringing his mouth to mine.

Tasting…

Feeling…

Testing…

Our teeth crash together as the desire grows, and we both know it’s impossible to stop this now. “Arianna,” he says breathlessly. His chest is heaving and there are little beads of sweat gathering on his brow.

“Yes…” I can barely form the word. I haven’t answered to my real name for a very long time, but it feels natural coming from him.

“Tell me you want this…”

It’s a command, but I don’t feel threatened. I want this as much as he does.I nod my answer.

“Tell me, Ari. I won’t touch you until you tell me.”

“Yes, yes I want you…”

 

 

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About the Author

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Nikki Groom is a hopeless romantic, lover of all things happily ever after and firm believer that love makes the world go around.
In her spare time, you will find Nikki laughing with her very treasured family, walking with her beloved dog in the hundred acre wood or curled up in a cosy corner with words and wine.
She lives in East Sussex with her husband and two children. Having turned her hand to many things over the years, Nikki is now proud to add ‘author’ to that list.
Having always been a dreamer, Nikki’s imagination stretches far and wide, which enables her to get lost in faraway places and imaginary people.

SOCIAL LINKS

Nikki loves to chat, especially about books! You can find her here…

Facebook | Twitter | Email | Booktropolous Social | Goodreads

 

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Review Tour: “Blissful Surrender” (Bliss #3) by B. J. Harvey – My Review & Giveaway

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Title: “Blissful Surrender” (Bliss #3)

Author: B. J. Harvey

Genre: Contemporary Adult Romance/Erotica

Release Date: 4th May, 2014.

Synopsis

This is a story of Sean Miller, a dom that will have your panties diving for cover with an eyebrow quirk. That will have even the strongest woman dropping to their knees in submission with a piercing stare, and Samantha Richards, a female cop who’s tough, seemingly impenetrable shell is strong enough to resist everyone except the one man it was build up to protect her against.

**Disclaimer – If you thought the first two Bliss books were hot, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Creative use of handcuffs, batons, a club scene you have to read to believe, and a tough as nails dominant who is blindsided when the one woman strong enough to disarm him threatens his resolve not to let his past dictate his future.**

Like the other books in the Bliss series, this book can be read as a stand alone. There are common characters in the books but it is not necessary to read the first two books in the series to read this one.

ADD TO GOODREADS

My Review

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

I have loved the Bliss series right from the beginning, but I must admit that this third installment is my favourite of them all – so far, that is. There is just something special about a sexy Dom who yearns to reconnect with his college sweetheart. The one who, even though she was scared to admit it, submitted to his particular tastes in the bedroom but never in their day-to-day life. There is a very fine balance to be respected and upheld in such a relationship, and I think that this fact really comes across in this romance.

Sean and Samantha met in college, and became a couple, but Sam’s insecurities about her submissive nature made her question if Sean only wanted a woman to control instead of her. She never told Sean the truth about her reasons for breaking up with him, however, and even though ten years have passed, she has never fully recovered from her broken heart.

Sean has now become a very successful lawyer and if you have read the first book in this series, you will know that he used to be one of Mac’s friends with benefits.

Fate decides to step in and Sean and Sam meet each other for the first time since their break-up in the hospital where Sean’s younger brother, Ryan, has been admitted to due to injuries caused by his less-than-stellar ways of living his life. Needless to say, their meeting brings up a lot of memories and feelings  – both good and bad – and Sean comes to realise that he still wants Sam. She is the only woman who has ever made his dom persona completely content and happy. And this time, Sean is determined to make Sam embrace her submissive nature – and to admit to herself that he is the only man who will ever be able to fulfil this need in her.

Like I stated above, Sean is my favourite of Mac’s former harem. I love his dominant ways – and in case you are wondering: he is not a complete dominant insofar as he likes being the one in control, sexually, and he gets a certain satisfaction – a thrill, actually – from having a woman submit to him, but that is it. And I admit that I enjoy reading about these types of men – they are some of my favourite BBFs. But what makes Sean different from others, I believe, is the fact that he does not hide his emotions once he trusts a person. He lets his feelings come out, making himself vulnerable to the people around him. He is the type of man who loves with his entire being once he has let you in, and that is what makes him easy to relate to.

As for Sam… well, she is stubborn, perhaps a bit hardheaded, but her hard exterior hides a very vulnerable woman, at least when it comes to matters of the heart. There are many things I admire about Sam: she is sassy, smart, and sexy. She is the mistress of her own fate, and the fact that she is a cop makes her also very interesting to me. She just needs that little extra confidence in order to believe that she can be enough for Sean – and what kind of woman does not need some reassurance from time to time? I found it so easy to connect with Sam while I was reading her story, and at no point in time did her decisions make me grow impatient with her, and I honestly never felt that they were hard to belive – quite the contrary, actually.

This book is slightly different from the others in the series. There are still lots of amusing and laugh-out-loud moments but it has a more serious tone at the same time. Or maybe I should rephrase that: it seems to have a more mature voice, and I really like that as both Sean and Sam are in their thirties. It makes them become more real to me. I most definitely believe that Miss Harvey shows us, once again, that she knows how to be diverse in her writing: her characters are unique, quirky, and believable, and you feel as if you could read about them for hours because you just want to be a part of their company.

I could go on and on praising this book, but I will stop now and let you make your own judgments about Sean and Sam’s story. Naturally, this is also why I have, again, chosen to be very vague about the actual story line. I will finish my review by saying this: if you are looking for a great second-chance love story, with incredibly hot and steamy romance, some wonderful, real characters, and some funny moments: read this book! I honestly believe that you will not regret it.

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PURCHASE LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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BJ Harvey is the Amazon Bestselling Author of The Bliss Romantic Comedy Series and The Lost Romantic Suspense Series. An avid music fan, you will always find her with headphones when writing, and the speakers blaring the rest of the time. She’s a wife, a mom to two beautiful children, and a full-time university student. BJ resides with her family in what she considers the best country in the world—New Zealand.

SOCIAL LINKS

 

Interested in reading the two previous installments in The Bliss Series? Take a look below!

Temporary Bliss (Bliss #1)
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True Bliss (Bliss #2)
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And here is a giveaway for you all to enter!

 
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Promo Tour: “Sweet Filthy Boy” (Wild Seasons #1) by Christina Lauren – My Review

 

 

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Title: “Sweet Filthy Boy” (Wild Seasons #1)

Authors: Christina Lauren

Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance/Erotica

Release Date: 13th May, 2014.

Synopsis

One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him.

But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play.

When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.

ADD TO GOODREADS

My review

Complimentary copy given by the authors/publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I love adding authors to the list of my favourites – so yes, I might as well tell you all right away that I loved this book! It has just the right amount of drama, angst, sweet romance and raw passion that I look for in the romance novels that I read, and I just know that I will be devouring the other books these ladies have written as soon as possible. As the synopsis pretty much tells you a lot of what takes place in this romance, I will not be adding that much to it. Meet Mia: when we first see her, she seems quiet, a bit unsure of herself and not really wanting to think about the future already set out for her. Which is why she has been looking forward to a weekend filled with fun together with her two best friends, Harlow and Lola, for a long time. Upon meeting Ansel one night, she immediately feels attracted to him, and she decides to let loose for a while and pretend that she is the kind of woman who can have a wild, passionate, one-night-stand with a gorgeous, fun and sexy Frenchman. It seems so simple, right?

But what happens when you wake up the next day and reality sets in? And how are you supposed to feel when you find out that you are now married to your one-night-stand? Lastly, what do you do when said lovely man wants you to come away with him to Paris for the summer? One of the things I love about Mia and her story is the fact that she is so real. In my opinion, her thoughts and feelings of not knowing what to do with her life are so believable – these authors definitely know how to portray a woman who has yet to fully come into her own. I mean, how many of us actually knew what career path to take when we finished college? Mia’s feelings of entrapment, the expectations of her father and his conditions are pretty sad to read about, but, again, easy to relate to.

As for Ansel…Well, I adore him! And the title of the book is very apt, I might add: he is a sweet, filthy boy. He is charming, playful, and, above all, charismatic when we first meet him. But the more you get to know him, you see his vulnerabilities as well, and I truly fell in love with him. His zest for life is astounding, yet it makes him a perfect match for Mia. Whereas Mia is cautious and shy, Ansel is impulsive and outgoing.

I have to say that although I really fell for the characters in this novel, it is the setting and their circumstances that make this a 5 star read for me: the fact of the matter is that even though Mia and Ansel have a certain kind of chemistry right from the beginning, they are, virtually, strangers – and I honestly believe that the way the authors choose to tell their story is, again, very realistic. Because they are strangers, they do not know all those little details you know about your partner before you marry them. And letting the readers experience how Mia and Ansel approach this rather significant fact is truly unique, and so different from what I have read before.

To me, this book is pretty much perfect: like I stated earlier, Mia and Ansel are wonderful characters, with many flaws and issues, just like real people, and that is why you will find them adorable and easy to relate to; the secondary characters – Harlow and Lola, especially – made me laugh a great deal, but you can absolutely sense that these three ladies know each other inside out, and that is even more important to me. The writing style is most definitely also very unique: there is plenty of humour, romance and some rather steamy scenes that made me blush, and I actually felt a bit sad when I read the final page of the book. So like I said in the beginning of this review: I am now a huge fan of Christina Lauren’s books, and I have a feeling that I will soon own all their books in paperback. I believe I have mentioned before that that is actually the best way I can show authors how much their books have touched me: buying their books and putting them on My Favourite Books shelf.

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PURCHASE LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS & SOCIAL LINKS

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Lauren Billings (but everyone calls her Lo) has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and before she made writing her full-time job, would spend her days doing nerdy research-type things wearing a lab coat and goggles. She is silly Mommy to two littles, wife to one mountain biking homebrewing scientist, bestie to a shoe-stealer, and an unabashed lover of YA and romance.

Christina Hobbs (but you’ll always hear Lo call her PQ) used to spend her days in a junior high counseling office surrounded by teenagers. Married to the cutest boy in school, she has a thirteen year old daughter, is an unapologetic lover of boy bands and glitter, and also likes to steal Lo’s shoes.

You can follow their shenanigans at:

@lolashoes (Lauren) & @seeCwrite (Christina) on Twitter. On Tumblr! where we post kissing gifs and writerly stuff and Wattpad for short stories and sneak peeks!

For official information about their books, events, interviews, movie news and more, follow @beautifulbastrd.


 

“The Riding Master” by Alexandrea Weis – My Review

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Title: “The Riding Master”

Author: Alexandrea Weis

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 26th April, 2014

Synopsis

A woman finding her way.
After a devastating divorce, an emotionally skittish Rayne Masterson swears off men and vows to devote her life to her passion, horses.

A man with insatiable desires.
Trent Newbury is an expert rider who is arrogant, brash, and has a ruthless reputation for getting any woman he desires.

As the new riding master at Southland Stables, Trent is eager to make sure all of his riders are the best they can be. But when he meets Rayne, he takes a special interest in taming the beautiful woman’s stubborn nature. Slowly and deliberately, he weakens her defenses with his charm and beguiling good looks. And just when he thinks he has won Rayne’s trust, his philandering past threatens to pull them apart.

She thought no man could ever touch her heart, until she met…The Riding Master.

ADD TO GOODREADS

My Review

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

I have only read one other book by Alexandrea Weis, (“Cover To Covers”) but she has very quickly become a favourite author of mine. Her characters always feel so lifelike, with real, honest issues, and the settings of her books are described in such a manner that you truly feel as if you are a part of her stories.

I have to start this review by telling you that even if you are not a horse lover like myself, I strongly urge you to read “The Riding Master”. It has everything that I could wish for in a romance novel: some drama, some pain, and, ultimately, simply a beautiful story about a woman scarred by her past and the man who is more than willing to make her believe that he is her perfect match.

As usual, I want to focus mostly on the characters, Rayne and Trent, instead of going into too many details about the actual story line because if you, like me, really do not care for spoilers, I want to avoid making them, thus ruining the story for you.

So let me begin by introducing you to our heroine, Rayne. Just in her early thirties, she has a failed marriage to a much older man, Foster, behind her. The only thing she wanted out of her divorce was being able to keep her horse, Bob (and I love that name, by the way), and, fortunately, her ex did not refuse her. It has been a year since her divorce, but Rayne has not exactly moved on from it. Emotionally closed off, she goes to work, rides her horse in the afternoons, and she is also a riding instructor for juniors at the stables where she keeps Bob – she may not feel happiness as such, but she is content. But her quiet life is soon rocked by the new riding master, Trent Newbury.

Trent takes one look at Rayne and sets about to woo her. Undeterred by Rayne’s aloofness, even her rudeness, Trent is determined to show Rayne that he is honorable and a completely different man from her ex-husband…But will Rayne be able to find it in her heart to let another man in? That is the real question here and you will just have to read the book in order to find out.

“I only want a woman who intrigues me, excites me, and makes me want her. And that woman, is you…only you, Rayne.” (Trent)

I completely fell for Rayne: at first, she seems rather insecure, but definitely not weak as some may first think when they read the book. In my opinion, she is simply shy when it comes to the opposite sex, embarrassed by her failed marriage, and seeing as that has been her only real relationship, she does not know that things can be so much better. Furthermore, her very strained relationship with her mother does not exactly help matters, and I completely understand her being afraid of forming any kind of genuine attachments.

“For Rayne, looking ahead in some ways was just as painful as looking back. Sometimes she did not know what was worse: the regret over past mistakes, or the worry over mistakes yet to come.” (Rayne)

Not many women, however young/old they might be, just jump into a relationship after having found their husband in bed with another woman. At least, I do not know of many. So I really think that her apprehension about Trent seems genuine and realistic. You know how important it is for me to truly connect with the characters in the books I read, and part of me falling for Rayne was seeing her opening up to Trent: it does not happen over-night, far from it, so experiencing her blossom under Trent’s behavior towards her made my romantic heart sigh happily.

And Trent: what an amazing character he is! Here is a man unafraid of giving over his heart to the woman he wants; he is a man with no hidden agendas, no real skeletons in the closet – at least none that are too important. He is exactly who he says he is, and I find it very refreshing to see this in a book hero. As with Rayne, he just feels so real, and the fact that he knows how to treat a woman with respect earns him major points in my world. I also have to mention that his playful, naughty, and, I might add, dominant character traits most definitely made this bookaholic swoon more than once while reading the book.

“I’m not looking for a woman to make me look good. I’m looking for someone I can build a life with.” (Trent)

The banter between Rayne and Trent is so fantastic that I, on occasion, found myself reading certain scenes more than twice, actually, because I was either grinning like a goof or simply laughing so hard that tears sprung to my eyes. Aside from the fact that Miss Weis has a gift of creating a h/H that both seem realistic, she also shows real talent when giving us some wonderful secondary characters. There is Rayne’s boss at the stables, Rebecca, who, despite showing a hard, cynical mask to the outside world, is a real romantic at heart; then there is Lindsey, Rayne’s coworker, who, although having been happily married for several years, is addicted to romance novels and she loves to give Rayne advice on how to catch the eye of the opposite sex. (Honestly, some of the things she says…Well, they made my ears turn red!) Last, but definitely not least, let me not forget to mention Frank, Rayne’s great mutt of a dog: he is adorable!

Now, to me, this truly is a story that focus on one woman’s journey to finding happiness, and realising her own self-worth. But it is also a story about learning to let the past go…to stop looking behind you and start looking forward instead. It is a story about how taking risks is sometimes necessary, especially concerning matters of the heart. Because once you learn to trust in others, and to put faith in yourself?  That is when you reap the greatest of rewards: love. In my opinion, love is the most important thing in the world, even though it is also the scariest.

“What would it be like to be held in the arms of a man who was passionate, experienced, and interested in only pleasing her?” (Rayne)

I could keep going on and on about how much I adore Rayne and Trent’s love story, but I will refrain from repeating myself, and finish my review by telling you that Miss Weis captured my heart and mind once again, and I am looking forward to spending many more hours of my life inside the pages of her novels in the years to come.

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PURCHASE LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Her first novel, To My Senses, introduced readers to the world of Nicci Beauvoir and garnered numerous awards and rave reviews. Her popular second Nicci Beauvoir novel, Recovery, won the Gold Medal for best romantic suspense from The Reader’s Favorite Book Awards 2011, and was named best Romantic Suspense novel by the Spring 2011 NABE Pinnacle Book Awards. Her fourth novel, Broken Wings, won best Contemporary Romance by the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2012, was a Silver Medal winner in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards for Romance, as well as a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards for Contemporary Romance for 2012. Her last novel, Acadian Waltz received honorable mention at the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards for Best Contemporary Romance and  a Gold Medal at the Feather Quill Book Awards Program for Romance. A permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans

SOCIAL LINKS

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Website

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