Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dare to Desire (Dare to Love #2) by Carly Phillips

What it’s about
Quarterback Alex Dare, had it all -- an all-star football career with the Tampa Breakers and his choice of willing women -- until a severe injury forces him into early retirement. When he is offered a ground-breaking position with a rival team, he’s intrigued, but there’s a catch. He’ll be working alongside the same woman he hasn’t been able to get out of his head for too long.

Social worker Madison Evans grew up in foster homes and knows first hand what it means to have-not. She isn't impressed by Alex Dare’s wealth or charm. Not since she fell hard for him once before, only to discover she was just one of his too-easy conquests. This time around Madison refuses to succumb to Alex so easily.

But Alex wants Madison. And if there is one thing Alex does well, it’s to get what he wants. The playboy athlete must prove he’s got game in more places than on the field. He means to prove that he’s a changed man but no sooner does he begin to break through Madison’s defenses when a new opportunity comes knocking and threatens her new-found trust. Can he make Madison take a risk and dare to love?

Karla’s Review

4.5 Stars! Terrific second installment in this series! 

While I enjoyed Dare to Love, the first book in the series, I really, really liked Dare to Desire. As a whole, it was more of what I look for in a romance book; not just sex,  good character development and an intensity to the overall plot. Not only did Carly Phillips draw on the physical attraction between Alex and Madison , she delved into the issue of sports figures and what happens to their lives once they are out of the limelight. It added something extra and real to the read.
I enjoyed seeing Alex and Madison build their renewed relationship on trust, respect and compromise. Even though they worked together, they tried to keep their personal lives separate. They became friends first and then once they decided to give a real relationship a go, they didn’t really waver from that commitment. Alex set out to prove to Madison that he was in it for the long haul and he did exactly that. He wasn't all words, he was a man of his word...very honorable! I liked his character in the first book, but I fell in love with him in Dare to Desire

Madison was a great heroine, so kind and understanding. She has some family issues of her own, and Alex was there to help her. She was hesitant to try again with Alex, but for some reason she trusts him. She has every reason to be angry with him, yet she forgives him, because she sees the good in him. I think considering the circumstances of their last involvement and the situation he ended up  in, injured and bitter, she cuts him some slack. Alex wants her, not just sex, he wants all of her, including her heart and trust. He knows she's his forever girl, regrets the pain and humiliation he caused her, and I didn't just read it, I felt it. The author did a great job relaying the emotions of the characters to the reader.

There was a scene where Alex is placed in a compromising position and Madison didn’t go crazy when she saw what happened. She trusted Alex enough to know that it wasn’t as it seemed, and told him so before he could explain himself. The author scored points with me on that one. She didn't bring in unnecessary drama for the sake of shock value.  They remained solid as a couple and I loved that!

Also, this wasn't just about Alex mending his relationship with Madison, it was about Alex and Ian finding some balance in their lives too. The brother he idolized who initially rejected him, wanted nothing to do with him, is now his boss and well on his way to becoming his good friend. It's such a unusual family dynamic;  one father, two families, one borne of love, the other out of duty. Makes for some interesting reading. 

The ending was really charming and it ended on such a high note. Gave me goose bumps. I fell in love with Alex even more, which I didn't think was possible!  

Dare to Desire is big on story and has something for everyone; romance, steamy sex, lots of sweet, a unique family dynamic, and a hero and heroine that will find their way into your heart.

*A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

Want to know more about Carly Philipps?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Undeniable by Ashley Simone

What it’s about
What if One Night Could Change Your Life?

Working in a diner by day and desperately applying for accounting jobs by night, Allie Nobokov fears that her future will be one of a single, virginal, cat lady. A chance encounter with a gorgeous stranger, Zac, awakens her desires and she feels an undeniable connection.

When fate pushes them together once again, Allie’s desires run wild – until, just when things start getting hot and heavy, Zac disappears into the night...

How can you deny a connection so strong?

All that is pushed to the back of Allie’s mind when her younger brother shows up on her doorstep, desperately in need of more money than she can provide… Until she sees a classified ad.

“I met a girl and I can’t get over her,” says the ad, and goes on to describe Allie. “If you look like her, I’ll pay handsomely for one night with you.”

Can Allie summon the courage to answer the mysterious ad and go through with what it entails? And can she convince the enigmatic Zac to push aside his demons and give their love a chance?

Kathleen’s Review
Story Rating ~ 4 Stars
Hero Rating ~ 3.5 Stars
Heroine Rating ~ 4 Stars
Romance Rating ~ 3.5 Stars
Heat Level ~ 4 Stars
Ending ~ Cliffhanger, to be continued
Overall Rating ~ 4 Stars

When I was offered this book to read and review I read the blurb and thought YES, I’d like to read this book. Well, I didn’t scroll down and pay attention to the word count, so I had no idea this was a short read, let alone a trilogy. For me, I’d rather just read a whole story at once, not bits and pieces. That being said, I have read similar types of books and enjoyed them as long as I didn’t have a long wait for the next installment, so I really hope that I don’t have a long wait for the next release.

Undeniable grabbed me from the first page and I really liked the heroine, Allie. As I read along I noticed that Allie and I have a few things in common, which only deepened my interest even more and kept the pages turning. The story line to this point has my full attention. The sex scene was SUPER HOT and very nicely done. The hero, Zac, is a mystery, and his story has yet to be told. We haven’t gotten to hear his thoughts or feelings, and he’s VERY closed off. I expect with each installment that we will learn much more about him and just exactly who he really is. 

For a debut book, Ashley Simone did a good job. She was able to grab my attention right away. I liked the characters; and she sure can pen a very sensuous love scene. The cliffhanger ending did its job well, leaving me wanting MORE and I WANT IT NOW! You can definitely count me in on reading the rest of this trilogy.

*A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

Want to know more about Ashley Simone?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Nova And Quinton: No Regrets by Jessica Sorensen

What it’s about
Today is the first day of Quinton Carter's new life. The toxic guilt of his past left him in pieces-but one girl unexpectedly put him back together. Thanks to Nova Reed, Quinton can finally see the world with clear eyes. She's the reason his heart is still kicking behind the jagged scar on his chest. And he would love to have her in his arms every minute of the day . . . but he's not ready yet.

Playing drums in a band and living with her best friends are just some of the highlights of Nova's life. But the best new development? Talking to Quinton on the phone each night. She wishes she could touch him, kiss him, though she knows he needs time to heal. Yet shocking news is on the way-a reminder of life's dark side-and Nova will need Quinton like he once needed her. Is he strong enough to take the final leap out of his broken past . . . and into Nova's heart?

I have to tell you something else, but it’s not good—it’s bad.” Before I can chicken out, I hurry and sputter, “Someone gave me a bag of meth today and I have it underneath my mattress.” As soon as I say it, I wonder why the hell I thought this was a good idea, throwing this on her. I need to stop relying on her so much—need to stand on my own two feet.
I’m about to hang up, because really it’s the only choice, but then she says, “Did you do any of it?”
“No.” My voice shakes as I grip the side of the mattress and battle to breathe evenly.
“Do you want to?” she asks calmly.
“Yes.” My voice is full of desperation.
“Are you… are you going to?” There’s a hint of worry in her tone.
“I’m not sure,” I admit. “I want to, but I also want to throw it away.”
“Then throw it away,” she says, as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.
“I don’t think I can.” My hands quiver just at the thought of it and I rest my forehead on the mattress, still on my knees “It feels fucking impossible.”
“Yes, you can.” She sounds so certain and I have no idea how she’s doing it—managing to sound so calm when I know she can’t be. “Just take it and dump it down the toilet. You can do this. I know you can.”
“You have too much faith in me,” I say, slipping my fingers between the bed and the mattress, fighting the urge to hang up on her and turn to what’s only inches away from my fingertips.
“No, I have the right amount,” she replies. “Now let me know when you have it and you’re headed to the bathroom. And don’t hang up on me.” It’s like she can read my mind.
I sit there forever, going back and forth with what I want and need to do. At one point I grab the bag of crystal and put it back. Then pull it out again and open it, staring at the white crystals so close I can almost taste them. But I can also hear Nova breathing on the other end. Soft and full of concern. Acting calm, when I’m sure she’s freaking out. I want to throw them away just for her, but I have to wonder if it’s possible to care for someone so much that I’d give this up. Do I care for her that much?
After a lot of deliberating, I come to one simple answer.
Yes. I care about her that much.
I get to my feet and make my way to the bathroom, not speaking. Then I lift up the toilet seat and, shutting my eyes, I tip the bag over, pour the contents into the water, and flush them down.
“Did you do it?” Nova asks at the sound of the flushing.
I press my lips together, resting back against the bathroom wall, realizing how sweaty I am and how much I’m gasping for air. “I did.”
“See, I knew you could do it,” she says with relief in her voice. “I knew you’d do the right thing.”
The right thing? Is that what I just did? Sometimes it feels like it is, but there are other times when it feels like what I’m doing is so wrong and disrespectful to Lexi. But through the right and wrong, there’s always one thing that gives me hope and that’s Nova. She’s what keeps me going.

Crista’s Review
3.5 stars!

In this final installment of the tumultuous journey of Nova and Quinton, we are left with a “happy-for-now” ending and the hope for lasting sobriety and a lasting relationship for this couple.

Quinton has gone through treatment and is trying to find meaning and purpose in life while fighting to stay sober.  His struggle is very real as drug’s numbing addiction has robbed him of his ability to naturally cope with life’s up’s and down’s.

Nova continues to be a light and “true north” in Quinton’s path towards sobriety and healing.  He is wary of jumping into a relationship with her, but struggles to resist the temptation of her.

As I’ve said in my previous reviews for this series, this series is NOT a romance, but an in-depth look at addiction: its power, consequences, and the difficult road to sobriety.  This book also looks at the struggle to REMAIN sober once treatment is complete. 

I liked this book, but I was hoping for MORE.  Quinton and Nova spend much of this short book (15 chapters) apart and I was hoping for more time spent with them developing their relationship and working through the obstacles that stand in their way.

As a romance, this book failed me.  I was left with the wonder “will this couple survive and will Quinton be able to stay sober for the long run?”  Instead of the “happily-ever-after” ending that I so crave, I was left with uncertainty and a nagging fear that in the end, after the final page is read,  this story still may end tragically.

I will say this: Nova and Quinton: No Regrets paints a real and vivid look at life.  There may not be a whole lot warm and fuzzy fluff within these pages, but you will find truth.  There is a scary reality that so many people face every single day as they fight the demons that plague them, and this book puts us right in the center of Quinton’s reality.

No pun intended: A truly sobering read.

About Jessica Sorensen
Jessica Sorensen is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives with her husband and three kids in Idaho. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

Want to know more about Jessica Sorensen?

Where to buy Nova And Quinton: No Regrets:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: Bang by E.K. Blair

SERIES: The Black Lotus Series (book #1)
GENRE: Psychosexual Suspense / Romance
RELEASE DATE: May 22nd, 2014

What it's about:
They say when you take revenge against another you lose a part of your innocence.

But I’m not innocent. I haven’t been for a very long time. My innocence was stolen from me. Taken was the life I was supposed to have. The soul I was born with. The ruby heart embedded in a life full of hopes and dreams. Gone. Vanished. I never even had a choice. I mourn that life. Mourn the what-ifs. Until now. I’m ready to take back what was always meant to be mine. But every plan has a fatal flaw. Sometimes it’s the heart.  

**Due to the dark and explicit nature of this book, it is recommended for mature audiences only as some scenes may be particularly disturbing.**
In an instant, he's crouched down before me, hands spreading me open wider before dipping his tongue inside me. I continue massaging myself as he laps me up like I’m the only one who can quench his thirst. He sickens me, and as soon as I feel the swirl of hate manifest, I turn every part of me off and simply go through the movements I know he likes. I’m a well-oiled machine at this point, flawless in my performance. He has no idea that I’m the poison in his bones, making my home in his soul. I’ve crept under his skin, and he never suspected a thing other than everything I’ve wanted him to, but he’s made my life a hell, and payback is a wicked bitch that comes in the form of me. I’m the devil seeped within the cracks of him. What he doesn’t know, is that it’s because of him that I am what I am, and he’s fallen into the cobwebs of my lies like a fool. I guess I should love him for that, because when he least suspects it, he’s going to give me everything I’ve been seeking—vengeance.