Bloom (Random Romance #2) by Kate Belle

Bloom (Random Romance #2)Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: January 30th, 2013

Publisher: Random House Australia

Available at: Amazon, eBooks.com, Kobo

Synopsis: The second in a series of erotic novellas, each featuring different women whose lives are changed by Ramon Mendez, a handsome, charismatic lover of women…

Thirty-six-year-old Emma’s life looks as perfect as could be. She loves her straight-laced husband Gary, who has given her three beautiful children and a secure life. But something is missing in her marriage. Gary hardly notices her anymore and she feels frumpy and invisible.

Her friend, Lisa, talks her into joining a social boot camp class at the local gym. Emma immediately recognizes their instructor as the gorgeous runner she sees each evening while walking her dog in the park. He introduces himself as Ramon Mendez. In spite of herself Emma is besotted.

Before long her mind is filled with guilty fantasies of him. One evening, when things at home have become too much to bear, she bumps into him alone in the park. An opportunity presents itself and no one need ever know. Ramon promises and delivers everything that’s missing from her marriage – passion, romance and excitement – but Emma must discover if they are the things she really wants.

Review: Emma is married with three children. As a lot of couples experience once children come into the picture, Emma and her husband have drifted apart. Their lives have become routine. While her husband’s focus is on work, hers is on the children and the home. Emma still loves her husband and longs for the days past when with just one look they were all over each other. She is supportive of her husband’s career and appreciates all he does for the family, but she can’t help but think that he doesn’t love her anymore because all her attempts at rekindling the romance in their marriage have been rejected by him. She is not naive, she knows that their dynamic has changed, but she wants to be seen, cherished and loved by her husband. She plans to take her husband on a weekend getaway to revive the sex in their marriage and encouraged by her friend she joins a gym class to lose some weight before her birthday.

In comes Ramon. He is her instructor in the Boot Camp class she joined. She can’t believe her luck – good or bad – that Ramon is the very man who has played the main role in her fantasies since the day she saw him running in the park where she walks her dog. To her surprise, he recognizes her and encourages her to continue with the class when she’s ready to quit. She struggles with the workouts and her needs and when the opportunity presents itself to be with Ramon, she decides to put her needs aside and be faithful to her husband. However, as the days pass and the distance between her and her husband increases she finds herself questioning her decision.

Once again, the writing was very good. With flirtatious dialogue, real emotions and lust-filled rendezvous, Kate Belle brought to the page a believable story of rediscovering oneself and going for what we want. The story felt real to me and I easily related to Emma. She had concerns about her marriage that a lot of women have and that made it easy for me to connect to her. From a desperate, confused woman to a determined wife who wanted her husband to see her, her development was a joy to read. I admired her perseverance and her courage.

This time around Ramon surprised me even more. He was gentle and understanding and his awareness of what Emma needed to find herself were right on point. Everything he conveyed was enlightening and added to the story, especially to the way Emma would carry herself later on.

I am looking forward to reading more about Ramon and the way he helps women rediscover themselves.

I received this novella from Random House Australia through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Breaking the Rules (Random Romance #1) by Kate Belle

Breaking the Rules (Random Romance #1)Rating: 4 stars

Published: January 30th, 2013

Publisher: Random House Australia

Available at: Amazon, eBooks.com, Kobo

Synopsis: The first in a series of erotic novellas, featuring different women whose lives are changed by Ramon Mendez, a handsome, charismatic lover…

Grace is a beautiful woman in complete control of her world. A long time ago she chose a career – as Associate Professor of Social Science – over children and marriage, and has never regretted it.

Then Ramon Mendez walks into her office.

Ramon is about to commence his PhD, a work on erotic literature, and from the outset there is something about him that makes Grace’s blood run hot.

Aware of the need to maintain her professional reputation, she rejects his subtle advances, but he persists. And during their intimate supervision sessions, her defences start to crumble.

For Ramon’s ‘work’ is to expose desires within Grace she never knew existed…

Review: Oh my! This is one hot read. From the start Kate Belle draws the reader into the story introducing you to Grace. She is a career driven woman who decided to forgo men, marriage and children to focus on her career. She considers her friendship with a male colleague “the most fulfilling relationship with a man she’d ever had.”

In walks into her office Ramon Mendez. A handsome PhD student, he rattles her in way that she never imagined. She considers him rude and pretentious and she is determined to keep him at bay. But his voice, his passion and his confidence lures her in.

Ramon is every woman’s fantasy. Young, smart and exuding passion with every confident step he takes and every grin he gives, he is convinced that there is more to sex than just the coming together of two bodies and he is determined to prove Grace wrong.

And he does indeed!

The writing was both sensuous and erotic with a complex character in Grace and an alluting character in Ramon. Their chemistry was off the charts HOT and when they came together it was as great as I was anticipating. However, what I enjoyed the most was watching how Grace was learning to let herself feel. From wearing her hair loose around her shoulders to her boldness in the bedroom with Ramon, her letting go was a great step in her development. I was intrigued by Ramon’s theories about sex and by him personally. I was curious as to why he was doing this for Grace and of how he got pleasure out of helping her. I can’t wait to read more about Ramon’s adventures and ‘research’.

I received this novella from Random House Australia through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

A Little Harmless Fantasy (Harmless #8) by Melissa Schroeder

A Little Harmless Fantasy (Harmless, #8)Rating: 4 stars

Published: January 15th, 2013

Publisher: Melissa Schroeder Publishing

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance Ebooks

Synopsis: What starts out as simple fantasy among friends, becomes an overwhelming need that none of them can deny.

Maura Dillon has always been someone who lived life on her own terms. From the time she in college she knew she had different needs than most of her friends. But she never thought she would find herself torn between two very sexy men, or that they would want to add her to their relationship.

Zeke and Rory have known each other for years. Their casual relationship has spanned a decade, but now that they are living together things are on a whole other level. Add in their mutual attraction for Maura and things are just getting out of hand.

Rory understands their desires and suggests a week in Hawaii. No rules, no limits, no regrets. But as their nights are filled with unimaginable erotic pleasure, there is someone lurking in the shadows. Someone who wants revenge, and will stop at nothing to succeed.

Warning the book contains the following: Two sexy men who are hot for each other and the heroine, more Hawaiian scenery, a Dom who thinks he can control everything, two lovers who know he can’t, and scenes that push even Harmless Addicts over the edge.

Review: A Little Harmless Fantasy is the eighth book in the Harmless series. Although is part of an established series it can be read as a stand alone and as a series freak I am eager to read the previous books after reading this little gem of a story.

Zeke and Rory have had an on and off relationship for years, but have recently made it permanent. However, while apart Zeke and Maura had a relationship that ended when Zeke could not give Maura what she needed – to be dominated. Rory finds Maura attractive and is aware that Zeke still looks at Maura with longing, so he devices a plan for both of them to get together with her so Zeke can get her out of his system and move on. He failed to take into account how Maura’s submission would affect him and how he would feel about the situation after the week in Hawaii was done.

I adored Zeke. From his strength to his loving ways, getting to know Zeke was a joy. He knew what he wanted, but he wasn’t willing for hurt anyone in the process even if it was him who was suffering. He thought he had what he wanted, but he also felt that something was missing in his life – Maura. Having said that I have to admit that it was Rory who I loved. He was stubborn and dominant, but underneath all that armor he had a vulnerability that won my heart. He wanted, he needed and he denied. His confession when it came was as overdue as it was beautiful. He went into this to give Zeke closure, but in the end he wanted it forever. Maura was a good character to get to know although she had some personality traits that got under my skin. She was smart, strong and submissive with a challenging streak that made for some entertaining moments. I enjoyed how she submitted to Rory and how she loved Zeke unconditionally.

I was pleased in the way the story flowed throughout the book. The characters were developed and their connection was fully explored. The emotions displayed by the characters were real and helped me connect to them fully. I also enjoyed the secondary characters and appreciated what they added to the story.

Melissa Schroeder brings to the page an erotic story of unfulfilled desires and new beginnings where passion runs rampant and the price to pay for it is love.

I would like to thank Melissa Schroeder and Brandy Walker for giving me the opportunity to read and review this title in exchange of my honest opinion.

Trick of Time by J.L. Merrow

Trick of TimeRating: 4 stars

Published: January 28th, 2013

Publisher: Carina Press

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: A lover from another time

When Ted Ennis steps out the doors of the Criterion Theatre for a cigarette and finds himself in Victorian London, he begins to doubt his sanity. At first he thinks it’s all a film set, and is sure that the strikingly handsome young man leaning against a lamppost must be the leading man…

What starts as a sordid transaction with a beautiful rent boy quickly turns into something much deeper, drawing him back again and again as he gets to know Jem and craves meaningful encounters with him.

But Ted doesn’t understand the exact conditions necessary for his trips through time—and for Jem, time may actually be running out. Now Ted has one last shot to get back to Jem and save their relationship, before it’s too late…

Review: Ted has had a rough 18-months after a tragic car accident. As a result of the accident that took his parents and his husband’s life, he experiences tremors in his hand, dizzy spells and slurred speech. He lives his life in a haze even if he has always believed that there had to be something more to life than broken dreams and mortality. It isn’t until he steps out of the Criterion Theater for a smoke that his belief is confirmed.

He is amazed at what he finds and instantly drawn to the figure leaning against the the lamp post. Young, tall and dark-haired, Ted was curious of the man. After a few moments and an accusation that he was standing on the man’s ‘patch’ he realizes that the man is a rent boy. Amidst the confusion and curiosity, Ted has an encounter with the stranger, which only helped to further ignite his curiosity.

I enjoyed this novella from start to finish. From the descriptions of Victorian London through the range in emotions brought out of Ted, J.L. Merrow brought to the page a wonderful love story of closure and second chances. Merrow did a wonderful job of taking the reader back in time with sights, smells and sounds. The pages were filled with details, but none of it felt overwhelming in any way. In fact, in only helped to engage the reader more in the story. At least that’s what it did to me.

I enjoyed the time traveling concept and the purpose it served in the story – to bring Ted his second chance at love. I especially enjoyed learning about Victorian London or an “Dickensian queer’s idyll” as Ted referred to the place. I understood why he felt that way about it because it was there that he started to feel again sensations he had long forgotten over the last year and a half – he lusted, he needed, he loved.

The writing was very good, with interesting characters, a unique twist to the time traveling concept and emotions galore, this novella packed a lot essential elements in just 75 pages. The characters were a joy to read. Jem was delightful and kind, he gave of himself to Ted without much question and in the end trusted him with his life. I couldn’t resist adoring him! And Ted? Ted was high strung over his mental state, but so in need of finding a connection after all this time that my heart went out to him after his first encounter with Jem. I was cheering them on, grinning when they got together the second time and having a nervous breakdown when the portal wouldn’t work.

This was a great, romantic read with an adorable set of characters and an interesting set of events that kept my attention throughout. I will certainly be looking for more from J.L. Merrow from this point on.

I received this novella from Carina Press through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

The Affair by Colette Freedman

The AffairRating: 4 stars

Published: January 29th, 2013

Publisher: Kensington

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: After eighteen years of marriage, Kathy Walker has settled into a pattern of comfortable routines—ferrying her two teenagers between soccer practice and piano lessons, running a film production business with her husband, Robert, and taking care of the beautiful Boston home they share. Then one day, Kathy discovers a suspicious number on her husband’s phone. Six years before, Kathy accused Robert of infidelity—a charge he vehemently denied—and almost destroyed their marriage in the process.

Now Kathy must decide whether to follow her suspicions at the risk of losing everything, or trust the man with whom she’s entwined her past, present, and future. As she grapples with that choice, she is confronted with surprising truths not just about her relationship, but about her friends, family, and her own motivations.

Review: A riveting story about an affair, what caused it and the effects it has on the parties involved.

This is not a story about love, nor is it a story about commitment. This story is about real life and how it can come between a husband and a wife. The author, Colette Freedman, does a wonderful job of presenting the story from the point of view of the people affected by the story – the wife, the husband and the mistress.

From the start I related to Kathy. Her life and circumstances, similar to that of many married women, drew me into the story. Her feelings and her thoughts were brought to the page in a way that made it easy for me to relate to her and to feel her confusion and desolation. Her point of view was realistic, although she was angry and upset, she accepted her part in the current state of her marriage. She acknowledge that she placed her attention solely on the house, the kids and the day-to-day life of a stay-at-home mom neglecting her role as a wife. I appreciated that the author brought all this to the surface, otherwise the story would have lost its appeal to me.

When Robert told his part of the story, I was already siding with Kathy. Through his hesitation, doubts and heartfelt musings, I saw the other side of the story. I could understand where he was coming from, but I could not sympathize fully. He displayed some questionable behavior in terms of laying the blame, often assuming what Kathy was thinking or feeling. In the end, I think he understood what a fool he’d been and that it really was more a lack of communication than a lack of love that tore his marriage apart. I enjoyed his voice and the way that the author brought his hesitations and justifications to the page. His conflicting thoughts about his affair served to make him feel more real to me and connected to him in a way that made me understand him better.

Stephanie. Well, not my favorite character by any means. She may not have been at fault in Kathy and Robert drifting apart, but she certainly did not help. Her point of view only helped in making me dislike her even more. The reasons she used to justify starting the relationship in the first place were absurd. She came across as selfish and demanding when she knew what she was getting into from the start. I didn’t see her as Robert saw her – supportive and understanding of his career and devoted to him, especially there at the end when she made it clear to me that she saw him as someone below her professional stature.

The writing was very good, even if in the final confrontation the points of view overlapped and I was confused as to who was saying what. The main characters were complex and interesting to get to know and the insight into their conflicting thoughts added to the overall story. From hesitation and doubt to loyalty and desolation, the scope of emotions brought to the page were overwhelming and realistic.

This book managed to touch me deeply and gave me insights into a situation many married couples struggle with – drifting apart, its cause and effects. It opened my eyes and made me realize how lack of communication can lead to the death of a marriage.

I received this book from Kensington Books through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Star Crossed (Battered Hearts #2) by Kele Moon

Star Crossed (Battered Hearts, #2)Rating: 3.75 stars

Published: July 3rd, 2012

Publisher: Loose Id

Available at: Loose Id, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Heavyweight MMA fighter, Romeo Wellings comes from the hard streets of New York where his family ties to the mafia cause him nothing but pain. His life takes a surprising detour when he crosses paths with the twin sister of his long time enemy. After a steamy one-night stand, he faces the fight of his life, but it’s not in the cage. The secret relationship that blooms between Romeo and his real life Juliet has him battling his family and a dark past rather than let her go.

The only lawyer in her hometown of Garnet, Jules Conner is also a volunteer Sheriff’s deputy and co-owner of a successful MMA training center. Strong and dependable, Jules is always there for those who need her. Until one forbidden night in Las Vegas with Romeo leaves her feeling so alive she can’t stop reaching out to the sexy, bad boy of MMA, even knowing the forbidden love affair could jeopardize everything.

As the tide rises against them and the people they love work at keeping them apart, Romeo and Jules hold onto a dream for a better life together and vow to go down fighting rather than accept a tragic ending.

Review: Romeo is a proud, Italian man who has had a rough life that served to encourage his determination to be the best at what he does. His life revolves around his brothers and his career until an unexpected encounter with Jules Conner. After a night of talking and sizzling sex he is left wanting more – not only from her, but from life.

Juliet Conner is a strong, professional woman who dedicates her life to her work and her family. She’s independent and self-sufficient but underneath it all she wants to love and be loved by a man that is her equal. She is attracted to Romeo instantly and after he rocked her world she convinced herself that it meant nothing and that he was not for her. But after months of continued long-distance communication, Romeo shows up at her hometown to train in her gym and she cannot stay away.

After reading Defying the Odds, the first book in the Battered Hearts series, I was hesitant to read this second intallment. I believed that I would encounter the same issues as before, but I was determined to get through it and I was not disappointed. Although the story gives off a feeling of ‘insta-love’ between Romeo and Juliet, this was not the case. The love between these two developed through shared phone calls, chat sessions and text messages. They got to know each other very well before they really engaged in a relationship and through this communication I got to know them too, which helped me connect to them fully and encourage me to cheer them on to get together.

With complex characters, off the charts hot sexual chemistry and an engaging plot, Kele Moon’s writing was very good. I enjoyed visiting with Clay and Melody and was glad to see how their relationship was holding up. I also liked getting to know a bit more about Wyatt, Jules brother. There were additional characters introduced, including Romeo’s brothers Valentino and Casanova. Wyatt and ‘Nova’ played an integral part to the resolution of the conflict and I can’t wait to read more about them.

I appreciated the fact that the Kele Moon took her time in bringing Romeo and Jules together. They were head-strong individuals with personal issues that affected their relationship one way or the other, but it was Romeo who had the most issues to deal with. He was conflicted about many things, but his main concern came down to his past and how it was affecting his present life. He was an interesting character to get to know and I enjoyed discovering all the layers he had hidden under all that muscle.

Filled with flirtatious dialog, erotic and emotional moments, Kele Moon brought to the page a great follow up book to the series. I look forward to reading more about these characters.

I received this book from Loose Id through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

The Flesh Cartel Season 1: Damnation Rachel Haimowitz, Heidi Belleau

Rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Synopsis: The Flesh Cartel: an international, multi-billion-dollar black market that trades in lost souls. Or more specifically, their bodies.

Highly organized and frighteningly efficient, the Flesh Cartel could teach even the KGB a thing or two about breaking a human mind. Fortunately for their ultra-rich clients, they’re just as skilled at putting people back together again—as perfect pets, well-trained and eager to please.

No matter what your secret tastes or dark desires, the Flesh Cartel—for the right price, of course—will hand-design the plaything of your dreams.

Note: This collection contains the first 2 episodes of The Flesh Cartel: The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture and The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction.

Review: First, I want you to understand that The Flesh Cartel is a serial story. Think of it as a TV show and like the title states Damnation is Season 1 where Capture is the first episode of the series and Auction is the second episode.

Having stated that, I will say that The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture was simply AWESOME! Through the first couple of pages I was intrigued. What is this world I’ve been plunged into?

On I went to the first chapter. I got to know Mat while he was doing his thing and really liked his voice. He came across as a no-nonsense kind of guy, straight forward and always looking out for his brother. I liked him instantly. Tough, assertive – my kind of guy. Later on I met Dougie. A 23-year old PhD student and Mat’s younger brother. Through his point of view I saw a bright, young man. I found him adorable and I could not wait to get to know him.

This was an emotional roller coaster that dragged me through every single emotion imaginable and some I had yet to tap into while reading. Forget the tapping of my fingers! I was biting my nails, bouncing my foot and gripping the tablet as if it were going to fly out the door at any moment.

Like any good show, this episode gripped me from the start and didn’t let up on its hold of me even after I finished reading it. I wanted more. I needed more. The emotions these authors brought to the page were overwhelming in their intensity – fear, loyalty, confusion and determination. I got to see how devoted these brothers were to each other and how strong their will was.  I was hanging onto every word, crying my eyes out and cursing like a sailor. I was disgusted, afraid, angry, sad.  Every time I was about to give up I reminded myself that this was fiction and that even though I was a mess I was still loving it! It was incredible how I could feel so connected to these guys. These were MY guys and I was sticking by them through every step of this tortuous experience.  My heart was breaking, my anger escalating and I was seriously ready to kill someone! The doctor, the ‘Madame’. I was feeling a bit maniacal and I.DID.NOT.CARE.  I just wanted to throttle one of THEM!!! I needed to do something, I felt so helpless. Reading, crying, angry, exhausted, and excited.

Needless to say that the writing was exceptional, the pace was perfect, the characters were wonderful and the emotions plentiful. Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau brought an astonishing story to the page. They introduced Mat and Dougie to me, made me care for them and then tipped their world and mine off its axis in just a couple of pages. I wanted to keep on reading, because I needed to know how my guys were doing.

I was so vested in these characters, that I found myself eagerly turning the page so that I could start the next episode.

A heartbreaking, intriguing read that left me stunned and curious in The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction I got to discover the reason behind Mat and Dougie’s capture. And I have to tell you this one was as brutal as the first one. At least I already knew what to expect and prepared myself mentally for the onslaught. I’m glad I did, because this book goes places that I never could have imagined...

The authors drop me right where I left off in Capture. Dougie and Mat are brought to their ‘rooms’ and it begins. The torture, the humiliation, the emotional abuse. It’s horrible and degrading and exciting and completely engrossing. From the start, you are placed in a state of utter expectancy. What more can they do to them? How much can they take before they finally crumble? Are they better of dead?

These were some of the questions I asked myself as I progressed in my reading. With every strike and every sexual assault I fell deeper into the story. I was there. I was suffering right along with them. I wanted to hit the guards. I wanted to kick the ever loving shit of the Madame. Poison her with chocolate. Anything at all, to save these two from her grasp. I was beside myself with anger, grief and every other emotion in between. Why do I read this? Why put myself through this emotional overhaul? The answer is simple enough. I NEED to be there, I NEED to know how my guys are doing. I have to see if there is anything worth looking forward to. It is distressing, to say the least, but the payback is in seeing that their will to survive is still intact. That they have not given up. That although they may have chipped in places, they have not been broken.

The abuse these two endured was excruciating. I felt Mat’s protectiveness, his loyalty to his brother and his reluctance to give up the fight. In the same manner, I felt Dougie’s heartache at being the source of Mat’s pain, his hope that he could keep them together and his sorrow at knowing that Mat’s fate depended on his decisions. While Mat received most of the physical and sexual abuse it was Dougie who my heart went out to most. I wanted to shelter him and keep him from having to make those decisions. And Mat, well, I just wanted to get him out of there, feed and pamper him into recovery and then unleash him on EVERY SINGLE one of the guards.

As the title states, there is an auction where Mat and Dougie are the main attraction. Actually, Dougie is the star and Mat’s the extra. This is the scene that broke me. Yes, I cried, yelled and went on a murderous rant throughout the book, but this scene right here was where I sobbed. Wretched, out of control sobbing. That’s what it came down to at this point. And then I turned the page and all I thought was “Oh shit!”

I said it before and I will say it again, these authors are awesome! They grabbed me in Capture, took me into that dreadful compound where Dougie and Mat were being held and brought out every type of emotion known to me while making me a bawling mess during Auction. And like the last time, they left me wanting more.

I received this collection from Riptide Publishing through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.


Love and Hate by TN Tarrant

Love and HateRating: 3.5 stars

Publisher: Silver Publishing

Available: Silver Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Matt Landers is falling in love with Kyle Garber, which is making his summer great. There’s only one problem. Matt’s greedy, homophobic, religious fanatic parents are trying to kill them.

Matt Landers is in college, finally free to be himself. Relying on supportive friends to cope with the recent loss of his beloved grandpa, he’s determined to ignore the condemnation of those who should love him, but whose heads are too clouded by religious hatred to remember the command to love others as thyself.

Kyle Garber is Matt’s fantasy man, and the discovery that the man is both bisexual and interested in him, has Matt’s summer looking up. Since his grandpa provided handsomely for him, Matt isn’t worrying about how he’ll pay both for college and survival. It also makes him the target of his parents, who claim God is moving through them, but in reality, just want his inheritance.

Review: Matt has been outed and his family disowned him. His grandfather offers him shelter, but a couple of months later he dies, leaving Matt his house and all his assets. Summer has come and some semblance of normalcy settles around Matt. He is determined to make the most of this time before college starts up again. He’s always had a thing for Kyle and when they meet up at a dance club Matt decides to live a little and agrees to a date only to find himself being threatened by his father minutes before he is set to leave. His father thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance and the house and will stop at nothing to get it. Will Matt survive his family’s hatred to have a chance with Kyle?

The writing was very good although I found the pace to be a tad too fast. The characters were great together and their chemistry was very palpable. I liked that they were honest and supportive of each other which helped me connect to them fully and make their relationship much more believable in my eyes. The secondary characters were great, even the nasty parents. They all added to the story and made reading worthwhile.

The range in emotions was nice to read. From hesitation to love, every emotion written came across realistically and were well written. I enjoyed the events that were introduced and how they added to the overall story. Some were hard to read because they were based on hatred and brought on pain and sorrow, but they all made the characters develop and the relationship stronger.

This is the second book by TN Tarrant and it certainly won’t be the last. I enjoy the author’s writing and storytelling.

I received this title from Silver Publishing through Manic Readers in exchange of my honest review.

Defying the Odds (Battered Hearts #1) by Kele Moon

Defying the Odds (Battered Hearts, #1)Rating: 3 stars

Published: December 20th, 2011

Publisher: Loose Id

Available at: Loose Id, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: When struggling waitress Melody Dylan gives a handsome, lonely stranger a simple gift she has no clue her life is about to take a drastic turn.

The stranger ends up being Clay Powers, a famous UFC heavyweight fighter. Clay’s large build and dangerous fists have always intimidated. People in his hometown keep their distance and Clay is fine with that. Everything changes when a new waitress at the local diner buys him a piece of pie on thanksgiving. Touched by the gesture when it’s obvious she can barely afford to survive, her warm smile and lush body churn up powerful feelings that leave Clay wanting more from her than pie.

Melody is running from her past and the small, country town of Garnet is the perfect hiding place. With an ex-husband after her and scars from her abusive marriage etched deep, the last thing she expects is to fall for a man who makes a living with his fists, but she can’t resist Clay or the tender connection they share.

Finding love in the most unlikely of places, the passion is undeniable, but Clay and Melody know their haunted pasts and unpredictable futures leave the odds stacked against them.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: violence.

Review: Melody is trying to make a new life for herself in Garnet, a small country town. A hard worker with a heart of gold, Melody wants to leave her past behind but she fears that the damage has been done and that she will never find love in her life. That is until she meets Clay. A UFC fighter who is physically intimidating, Clay is not what he seems. He is sweet and kind to Melody, behavior she is not used to getting from a man.

Both Clay and Melody were interesting characters, but I could not connect to them at first because their stories were told later in the book. I understood where Melody was coming from but the details of her past weren’t revealed until further ahead in the book and by that time I had already formed an opinion of her. And although I enjoyed Clay, I would have liked him even more if I had known his story from the beginning. As it stands, I like them enough to see them happy, but not enough to be invested in their relationship.

I will be honest with you and tell you that this book was hard for me to get through simply because the relationship between Clay and Melody did not feel real to me. The connection was there as well as the chemistry, but everything happened too fast for me. I would have liked to see more interactions between them before they ended up having sex. Now, I’m not saying that the sex wasn’t good, because it was excellent, but I can’t help but think that it would have been a better read for me if they had gotten to know each other better and communicated more.

The writing was good with emotions thrown in the mix and enough humor to keep it light. I enjoyed the chemistry between Clay and Melody, especially the sex scenes that took place later on in the story after I had gotten to know them better. Kele Moon brought to the page a strong yet conflicted hero in Clay. I appreciated the many layers of him that were revealed to me in the story, which helped me see him as much more than just a sexy man. The secondary characters were a nice addition to the story and each one contributed an integral part to it. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie between Wyatt, Jules and Clay.

This is the first book I’ve read from Kele Moon and it won’t be the last. Defying the Odds is a sexy read with interesting characters and enough emotional undertones to make it a good read for me. I’m looking forward to reading Jules’ story, Star Crossed, which is the next book in the Battered Hearts series.

I received this book from Loose Id through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3)Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: January 28th, 2013

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Synopsis: The course of true love doesn’t always run clean. But sometimes getting dirty is half the fun.

Entomology grad student Adam Ellery meets Denver Rogers, a muscle-bound hunk of sexy, when Denver effortlessly dispatches the drunken frat boys harassing Adam at the Tucker Springs laundromat. Thanking him turns into flirting, and then, much to Adam’s delight, hot sex over the laundry table.

Though Denver’s job as a bouncer at a gay bar means he gets his pick of geek-sexy college twinks, he can’t get Adam out of his head. Adam seems to need the same rough play Denver does, and it’s damn hard to say no to such a perfect fit.

Trouble is, Adam isn’t just shy: he has obsessive compulsive disorder and clinical anxiety, conditions which have ruined past relationships. And while Denver might be able to bench-press a pile of grad students, he comes from a history of abuse and is terrified of getting his GED. Neither Denver nor Adam want to face their dirty laundry, but to stay together, they’re going to have to come clean.

This title is part of the Tucker Springs universe.

Review: I’ve been visiting Tucker Springs for three days now and I have to say that this last visit was the best one yet.

  • Interesting and complex characters. CHECK
  • Emotionally driven. CHECK
  • Real and believable situations. CHECK
  • Sexual chemistry and scorching hot sex scenes. CHECK

Denver caught my attention in the previous book of the series, Second Hand. As I saw it, he didn’t do relationships and was happy being a bouncer just as long as it helped him ‘get tail’. However, some times when he talked to El in the previous story I got the feeling that there was much more to him than what he portrayed.

Denver Rogers has layers upon layers under all that muscle. I wish I could tell you all about them, but since it was a joy for me to get to known him, I will leave it to you to discover. I will only say that after only reading up to the 11% mark Denver had won my heart. After that I was a goner. That’s not to say that Adam did not do the same, but since the synopsis had already given me an idea of what to expect, this came as no surprise to me.

Not only were the characters adorable, but they felt very real to me. Although Denver’s struggles may not seem as serious as Adam’s, they have affected him deeply enough to put a dent in his self-esteem and how he led his life. Adam’s illness is something he has been living with for years, but add to that some recent events in his life and you can understand why he feels like his life is spiraling out of control.

I loved everything about this story.

As with previous books, Heidi Cullinan, has managed to bring together an engaging story filled with emotion, humor and sizzling sexual chemistry. I had my doubts about how she was going to bring Adam and Denver, two complete opposites, together and make it work. The writing was everything I have come to expect from this author and so much more. The interactions between the main characters were entertaining and their dialogue was both amusing and revealing. I loved the way Denver talked to Adam and how he went to great lengths to make him feel safe. I found myself cheering them on, not only as a couple but as individuals as well.

I have to say that I really, really enjoyed how these two were brought together and I’m not only referring to the scene at the laundromat. Although that one moment was awesome, I appreciated that the author didn’t rush them into a relationship and gave them both time to question, hesitate and decide. Their journey into a relationship took place within months, but their declarations of love took more time which in my opinion added to its believability. Although she added a lot of drama into the plot, especially with Adam’s illness and his struggles, I did not feel overwhelmed by the details or the events she brought to the page. Actually, if I felt overwhelmed at all was when I got to read these two getting it on. Phew, these two really set my tablet on fire – their chemistry was that hot!.

I am glad that I decided to visit Tucker Springs for a few days, especially since this las visit was such a treat to read. I will certainly be reading the next book in the series when it comes out.

I received this book from Riptide Publishing through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.