Friday, April 30, 2021

Recent 5 star ReReads



Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness, #2)Love in the Light by Laura Kaye

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having just finished a reread of the first book, of course I had to reread this one again. I said I knew I would reread it, I just didn't know it would take this long to get back to. And yep, loved it just as much this time around

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I just reread the first book in this series, Hearts in Darkness before reading this one. I needed to revisit with Caden and Makenna. I thought this book was SO wonderfully written. In the vast majority of books, we get the HEA and then it fades to black. But in Love in The Light, it continues on and we get to see that things don’t always end so perfectly. The description of this book is pretty spot on so no need to go over it too much. Caden and Makenna are still deeply in love and are rarely apart since they met in the darkness in Love in the Dark. But it’s not a happily.

You see, Caden is really struggling to comprehend things are going so well. He has a very tragic story, my heart just broke for him, and he can’t believe that Makenna could really care about him. He has very little self-worth and he is inadvertently sabotaging the relationship with his doubts. Makenna is still crazy about him and she knows she always will. She is slightly aware of his insecurities but not all of them. She doesn’t know how deep it runs. He has told her about his past but not how much he was damaged by it. Things come to a head when they go to visit her family at Thanksgiving and one of her brothers has brought an ex-boyfriend of hers, an ex-boyfriend who wants Makenna back and Caden hears this declaration and it feeds right in to his own lack of confidence. And if that weren’t enough he overhears a conversation between the ex and the brother who happen to be best friends agreeing that Makenna is too good for this scarred, tattooed, face piercing guy and Caden can’t handle it anymore. Even though her father and other two brothers really seem to like him and see how happy Makenna is with him, it’s not enough.

He ends the relationship and then falls apart. Makenna is devastated but holds hope they will get back together. She KNOWS they are meant to be together and Caden is just struggling with his devils at the moment. But then thing happen and she just can’t wait any longer.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Caden suffers from acute anxiety and severe depression. As this is something I struggle with myself, I could really relate to him. Everyone around him may be telling himself what a great guy he is, but he can’t buy it. His inner voice is constantly telling him he’s not good enough, she’d be better with someone else, he doesn’t deserve to experience love – all those kinds of things. He knows he’s spiraling downward but he can’t stop the free fall. That’s exactly what depression does, how it lies to us. I know from experience and I just wanted to hold Caden through it. No matter how much we tell ourselves to ‘get over it’ it’s not that simple.

And Makenna. Oh what a great character she is. She is patient and compassionate and wildly in love with Caden. She “sees” who he is. She is honest. She tells him about the conversation she had with the ex, even though she doesn’t know Caden overheard the conversation. I know this is going to be a book that stays with me for a long time and one I will read over and over again.


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The Tender TexanThe Tender Texan by Jodi Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being a looonnnggg time romance reader, there have been books I’ve read that have stayed with me over the years and I remember them as if I just read them yesterday. Then there are books where I don’t remember the details, but I clearly remember the love I felt for the book. Such is the case with The Tender Texan. This is one I’ve been wanting to get as an ebook for a number of years now. My thousands of books are all packed up in over 35 boxes in one of the rooms and very inaccessible. Plus I so much prefer ebooks. I’m having to use somewhat larger fonts now. The cost of The Tender Texan has always been too high to justify getting it. I have a number of books like this that I check every few months and low and behold – the price came down!! So of course I picked it up lickity split

Anna Meyers is part of a group of settlers all the way from Germany planning on settling in Texas with the promise of free land. While on the journey, her husband died and because of this, she doesn’t get the land they were promised. She needs a husband. She bravely walks into a camp of cowboys and ask if any of them are willing to marry her for $100. Of course she’s laughed at until one steps forward. Lets just say that Anna struck gold when Chance Wyatt volunteers. He needs the money for personal reasons and agrees to marry Anna and take care of her and help her build her home and get things going. At the end of one year he will leave and she will have her land.

Chance is simply the very best kind of hero. He’s slightly younger than Anna but that doesn’t matter. He is fully competent in everything he does and he is smitten with Anna right from the very beginning. Over the course of the story he does everything he says he would do and so much more besides. There was one stipulation that Anna put on the marriage and that is no kind of physical touching whatsoever and as Chance falls deeper and deeper for Anna, he finds that harder and harder. And although the reader might get a little annoyed with her – I mean this guy is pure gold – she has her reasons. She was brutally attacked by her husband a couple of times and left pregnant after the second time. What’s worse is he was carrying on with her nightmare of a mother and she has no sense of self worth. She’s learned to be cold because she had to in order to survive. But she is gradually attracted to Chance in return and manages to send the poor guy some mixed messages.

There is a whole lot more in this book that I have mentioned and it all works together to make this such a wonderful book and yet another reason I love Westerns. I’ve read many a book by Jodi Thomas and this is my favourite one – still.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Recent Read

Hearts in Darkness (Hearts in Darkness, #1)

Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw this book mentioned on a few Romance Vlogs I've discovered over this past year and was reminded of how much I adore this book and how much I want to reread it. So I did. This time around I changed it from a 4.5 to a well deserved 5 stars

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I first read this novella a number of years ago and it was my first introduction to Laura Kaye. Next up on my list to read was the follow up to this one, love in the Light so I wanted to revisit Caden and McKenna first.

They meet when the elevator they are riding in stops midway and they lose all power. Caden got a glimpse of Mckenna but she didn't see him before power went out.

Because of a tragic accident many years before, Caden suffers from claustrophobia. McKenna helps him through it and during this time they talk for hours and over the course of time sparks begin to grow.

It's a simple premise but one I enjoyed very much. Caden is seemingly a rough, tough kind of guy with piercings, tattoos and a shaved head. But because Mckenn can't see the outside of him, she gets to know the inner Caden who is a whole lot different. This is a quick and very enjoyable read.

'til later

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Recent Read

Don't Kiss the BrideDon't Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Carian’s books to the point of almost obsession. The only one I haven’t read is No Tomorrow but all the others I’ve read at least once a year, sometimes more. So it was an absolute given I would read her latest book, Don’t Kiss the Bride. I think I can safely say she’s written another book I’ll be reading multiple times. This is an age gap romance and I often feel a bit of trepidation reading one with that trope, unless the heroine is older than the hero and yep, I know that’s kind of a double standard but I can live with it *grin*

Skylar is our heroine and pretty much from the beginning our hearts break for her. She has a wretched home life; she deals with something I’ve not read about before and she is bullied at school. She is unique and of course if someone doesn’t conform, they can really pay a price. She also has a number of physiological issues, brought on by her upbringing.
There is a house undergoing renovations near the school and Jude (Lucky) Lucketti is the boss in charge of the reno’s. He notices Skylar, not in a creepy way at all, but because she stands out in a crowd. He observes from a distance how she is being treated and it bothers him. One day he’s working in the rain and he sees her fall. He goes to help her out and that’s how they begin talking to each other. He’s in his early 30’s and he’s completely aware of their age difference but they become friends after a fashion. She slowly begins to open up about her problems and because he is a good and caring guy he wants to help her. The plan he comes up with is rather unorthodox but he suggests they enter into a marriage of convenience. One of reasons is she has lots of health issues and no money to pay for things. If they are married, he could put her on his plan.

She’s quite reluctant at first. She doesn’t want to cramp his style since her current living situation is untenable which means she will be moving in with him, but Lucky is such an incredible hero, that isn’t even a concern.
They start out as strictly friends but slowly an attraction grows between them and things get trickier. Neither want to start anything as it’s only a marriage of convenience until Sklylar is older but the attraction can’t be denied.

This book is SO swoonworthy. Skylar is mature beyond her years and because they started out as friends first and both are aware of the age difference, they think things through before acting on anything.
I only read this book a couple of weeks ago but writing up this review has me wanting to read this book again, something that happens with all her books. This book gets an unqualified 5+ stars. All her books do.

**Note**

I enjoyed this book so much that even though I only read it a short while ago, it called me to read it again.  I'm not surprised as her books are always calling my name

'til later


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Monday, April 12, 2021

My Ramblings on Audio Books

 





I’ve been rather absent lately, not because of any particular reason except nothing much has been happening that I’ve felt worth blogging about.  I go no where and I see no one – well except for Easter.  I stayed overnight visiting my sister but that’s about it.

I’m desperately in need of vacation but since I work in health care and here in Ontario the covid numbers are going up and up and there is another province wide shut down so they’ve kind of said no to vacations or LOA – all hands on deck, that kind of thing.  Thank goodness we can rant to each other.

 

One of the things I’ve been doing to distress when not working other than reading is watching YouTube – A/ Lot.  And one of the things I’m finding fun to watch is romance video bloggers.  There are a number I follow.  I find it interesting though as number of the books they recommend are audio books.  When they explain them I kind of scratch my head a bit as they call them books read and I kind of think of them as books listened to, not so much read but then that’s me just hair splitting.

 

I’ve thought I need to get on board the audio book train.  I was relatively late on the eBook train thinking I would never want to read books that way.  However, once I hopped on board, I read about 98% ebooks now and I didn’t think that would ever happen.  But I’ve no idea where to even start!!  I see where I can sign up on Amazon with Audiobook but I’d just as soon not rely on Amazon.  I already feel bad about getting so many kindle books through them.  I have been listening to more and more samples though and that brings up another issue I might have with audio books and that is I find myself very critical of the way they are read.  Either I don’t like the reader’s voice or they don’t pronounce something the way I would or I’m constantly critiquing the emphasis.  I can see myself arguing with them – “that’s not the way it should read”.  So even though I say I should try it, I’m still not sure.

 

Then I think I should get in the habit as I’m extremely – and I mean really, really, really squeamish when it comes to eye stuff.  Even watching someone put drops in their eyes squicks me out.  There is not a chance in hell I would ever be able to wear contacts.  The fatalist in me figures that since I’m so passionate about reading, I’ll probably go blind.  That’s a huge plus to ebooks is being able to adjust the size of the fonts.

 

Anyway – that’s just me rambling on about the latest thing in reading.

 

Til later









Saturday, March 20, 2021

Recent Read

 

Once We Were Starlight by Mia Sheridan


While I was reading this book, I tweeted asking if anyone else has read a book that is painful to read.  And I meant in a good way.  It’s a book that is so well written that it’s as if you are there, a part of the story, like a silent observer.  Such is the case with this book.  It’s not an easy read in many ways but oh so well worth reading

 

The first part of the book takes place in a mid-east country in some kind of small city and the main characters are Karys and Zakai, two young people who have lived in this place since they were very young.  From the very beginning there was a very strong bond between them and as they got older, this strong bond turned physical.  Only this place wasn’t paradise, it was a place people came from all over the world to watch deviant sexual acts and once the owner was aware of what was going on between Karys and Zakai, they became part of the “entertainment” as brother and sister having sex with each other.  Thankfully, the book isn’t very descriptive in this area.

 

Karys is very naïve and doesn’t really understand what’s really going on and in order to protect her, Zakai makes almost a game of it.  All the other ‘prisoners’ also try and shield her so she doesn’t see how depraved it all is and sees everyone as almost family.  Eventually Karys and Zakai are rescued and Karys is sent to live with an uncle she has never met.  Zakai was a beggar and an orphan and has nowhere to go but he is also sent to New York.  Karys finds things very difficult as she has always had Kai with her and now her uncle tries to discourage their special bond.

 

Then for reasons Karys doesn’t understand, Zakai smashes the bond and they are estranged.  They are still in each other’s orbit in a way.  Zakai goes on to become a very successful model and she sees him on billboards and print adds.  Karys has become a successful author of YA fantasy books.

 

The story opens and then ends with a confrontation between the two and the story in between is their history.

This is just a very brief synopsis of this heartbreaking romance and I know I don’t have the words to adequately describe how very impactful it is.  Karys and Zakai are beautiful together and the love between them is intense and passionate.  It’s the kind of book that haunts you and stays with you even when you aren’t reading and long after you’ve finished  My heart broke for both of them.

It is told entirely from Karys’ point of view except for the final chapter which is from Zakai.  I know in the past the author has written duets from each POV and I’m really hoping this is the plan for this book too.  We can infer quite a bit what Zakai is going through but I’d love to see it directly through his eyes.

 

This is such a beautiful, haunting, painful, amazing book and I’m at risk of overdosing on superlatives.

 

Mia Sheridan can write such powerful and emotional books and in this book she is at her finest.


Grade: A+





One last thing just in case you aren't sure and wondering, this is a romance and the number one criteria for a romance is the HEA


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

2021 TBR Challenge for March

 Wicked Dangerous by Julie Kriss


This is my choice for this month’s #TBR Challenge, Books by a Favourite Author.  And Julie Kriss certainly qualifies for this.  I have and have read all of her backlist.  This is the fourth and final book of her Filthy Rich series about 4 lifelong friends who banded together and made it rich. 

 

This is Alex story.  It’s been hinted at throughout the series that he was the only married one but it ended in divorce and this is a second chance romance.  Kat is his ex and though the marriage is over, Alex has never really been able to let her go completely and keeps tabs on her and how she’s doing through a private detective.  Sadly, Kat’s life hasn’t been that great.  She travels around like a tumbleweed working as a bar tender.  After observing from a distance, Alex charges back in her life when one night after work Kat is accosted and there is an attempt to kidnap her and she ends up in the hospital.  Blake rushes to her rescue and they conclude that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and she saw something she shouldn’t have.  And that means she isn’t safe.  Almost against her will because these are both very stubborn people, Alex whisks her out of the hospital and takes her to his home to keep her safe until they figure out who it is trying to kidnap her.

 

They were very young when they met and eloped and this is also a wrong side of the tracks story.  Alex lived almost hand to mouth with his friends and Kat came from wealth.  However the attraction between them was so strong they couldn’t stay away from each other.  Because they were young and stubborn, their marriage was almost doomed to fail.  When a third party interfered, rather than talk things out, they both went off the handle and called things off and though they have both moved on, well except for Alex who kept watch from afar, they have never really gotten over each other and though they fight it, Kat in particular, the feelings and attraction is still there.  Will they get a second chance with each other?  That is the story.

 

I’ll admit, this book wasn’t in the TBR pile for very long.  Julie Kriss is an autobuy author and I probably would have read this book even sooner but I was committed to my Black author reads for the month of February.  This is a rather short book as are most of her books but it’s still very good.  You can feel the draw between them and I love that Alex has pined for Kat for years even though he would never call it pining.  We get just enough of the previous characters.  Julie Kriss is an author who is undervalued in my opinion.  She’s written some very good books and a number of them have been 5 stars for me and I’m glad to highlight her for this months challenge.


Grade B+

Monday, March 15, 2021

An author I found while in lock down

 

Ball Peen Hammer (The Morgan Brothers, #3)Ball Peen Hammer by Lauren Rowe


5++

This book is a riot and I think I was either smiling or laughing through most of it. I’ve never read a hero quite like Keane Morgan before. He struck me as being over the top at the beginning of the book and to be honest I wasn’t sure how far I was going to make it. However, once I got used to him, I couldn’t read this book fast enough and I just adored him.
Keane is a stripper by trade and according to him, he’s the best in the world. His stage name is Ball Peen Hammer. I think I’m a bit naïve as I’m not sure what exactly what that means in the world outside of actual hammers. Stripping isn’t his first choice of career and while it takes a while, we do see what his first choice was and it’s sad he didn’t get to succeed. He’s determined to be the best at his second choice though.
He’s also the world’s greatest lover – according to him – and every woman wants him. He claims he knows everything there is to know about women and he has no problems at all confirming this to everyone he meets. He’s just a hoot and I just love him to pieces.


There is one woman though who doesn’t seem to fall at his feet and that is of course our heroine Maddy. She is on a road trip to California to attend college and her older sister doesn’t want her traveling alone so she arranges for Keane to be her travel buddy for the trip. Keane had been planning on heading to L.A to do some auditions and visit his younger brother, an aspiring singer. Keane almost doesn’t make it though as he doesn’t listen to his voice mail or read his text messages. That whole screw up is so cute and so funny. They finally do get things sorted out and start their road trip. And every single bit of the journey is a delight. Keane is completely unfiltered and says whatever he thinks, most of all about sex and what a sex god he is. Maddy describes Keane as Daffy Duck trapped inside Prince Charming’s body. Throughout their trip they are both determined not to fall for each other but they do become fast friends. And of course, because they aren’t supposed to be anything other than pals, they do begin to fall for each other but neither really clues in on their changing feelings. Keane in particular is hilarious as he is in total denial about what’s happening. They are both bummed when the 3-day trip is over, they gotten so close.


In addition to the relationship between Keane and Maddy, there is an equally well done, touching, and hilarious relationship between Keane and his roommate Zander. Never have I read such a close bond between friends and I bow to the author for writing this relationship.


It’s a bit frustrating, as no matter how I write this review, I can’t seem to do the book justice. There’s a whole lot I haven’t written about. I think it would take at least three pages to share everything that makes this book a book that blows me away. It took until close to the end of the year, but this is my favourite book of 2020 and as I’ve read more books than ever, the fact Ball Peen Hammer is my number one book of the year just says how much I loved it. This is a new too me author and as this is the second in a series you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to be reading the whole set of them and her other books as well. In a year full of darkness, this book shone such a bright light.