Three Sisters (Blackberry Island #2) by Susan Mallery

Three Sisters (Blackberry Island, #2)Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (February 26th 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: After Andi Gordon is jilted at the altar, she makes the most impetuous decision of her life – buying one of the famed Three Sisters Queen Anne houses on Blackberry Island. Now the proud-ish owner of the ugly duckling of the trio, she plans to open her own pediatric office on the first floor, just as soon as her hunky contractor completes the work. Andi’s new future may be coming together, but the truth is she’s just as badly in need of a major renovation as her house.

When Deanna Phillips confronts her husband about a suspected affair, she opens up a Pandora’s Box of unhappiness. And he claims that she is the problem. The terrible thing is, he’s right. In her quest to be the perfect woman, she’s lost herself, and she’s in danger of losing her entire family if things don’t change.

Next door, artist Boston King thought she and her college sweetheart would be married forever. Their passion for one other has always seemed indestructible. But after tragedy tears them apart, she’s not so sure. Now it’s time for them to move forward, with or without one another.

Thrown together by fate and geography, and bound by the strongest of friendships, these three women will discover what they’re really made of: laughter, tears, love and all.

Rating: When I first saw this title available on NetGalley I hesitated before requesting it. Although I’ve read many books by Susan Mallery and have enjoyed most of them, I read Barefoot Season last year and was slightly disappointed because it was classified as a Romance, when it clearly wasn’t. However, this time I took the time to read the blurp carefully and decided to give it a try.

I am so glad that I did! I loved how Susan Mallery provided three different romantic stories within the book and brought it all together, not only to recount the romance but also to highlight the deep bond of friendship developed between Deanna, Andi and Boston. Although this is not a ‘traditional’ romance story it does provide the reader three different types of romances, where two center around an already married couple and another recounted the struggles of starting anew and learning to trust in new beginnings.

As usual, Susan Mallery’s writing was excellent. With great character development, relatable and real life characters that were easy to connect to and stories with struggles that tug at your heart stings, Three Sisters is a very enjoyable read about three completely different women finding each other and struggling to get their life in order. Not usually a fan of Chick-Lit or Women’s Fiction, this was a surprising good read that I won’t soon forget.

Although Three Sisters is the second book in the Blackberry Island series it can be read as a stand alone. It does take place in the Blackberry Island universe, but the characters are new.

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley #1) by Jane Graves

Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley, #1)Rating: 3.75 stars

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – Forever (April 30th 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: FIRST LOVE BURNS HOTTER

Rainbow Valley, Texas, has always been a refuge for animals, and Shannon North, director of the local shelter, intends to keep it that way. But with donations drying up and more pets in need of a loving home than ever before, Shannon’s beginning to fear she’s not the savior the shelter needs. When a tall, dark, and handsome cowboy from her past comes to the rescue, she knows that accepting his help may come with a high price: her heart.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND

Bad boy Luke Dawson shook the dust from this little town off his boots years ago. He walked away from everything…except the memory of the one night of passion he shared with Shannon. Now, a few wins away from becoming the world bull-riding champion, Luke’s headed for fame and fortune. But then a crisis calls him back to Rainbow Valley, and Luke is reunited with the good girl who stole–and broke–his heart. As their rekindled relationship deepens into desire, old secrets resurface, and Luke must choose between the future he’s always dreamed of and the only woman he’s ever loved.

Review: Luke swore that he would leave his hometown behind once he left. He only returns because of his father’s death and can’t wait to get out of town to his precious rodeo. However, an unfortunate accident leaves him incapacitated, in need of surgery and recovery. Although determined to get back to the rodeo in time for the world championship he longs to win, he accepts his fate and takes a job in his old workplace where he would be working along with Shannon, the one woman he left behind in Rainbow Valley.

Shannon left town to start a new life, but her love for the animals in Rainbow Valley motivated her to leave her job at a CPA firm and return to run the animal shelter where she worked as a teenager. She has been settling into her new life in Rainbow Valley, reacquainting herself with friends, making new ones and even dating. But she can’t seem to forget a troubled young man from her past. After all the years that have gone by she still wonders about Luke. However, she is well aware that she hurt him and that if their paths were ever to cross, he wouldn’t hesitate to walk away like he once did. So when Luke’s father dies, she doesn’t even attempt to go to the funeral, but that doesn’t prevent fate to present her with the opportunity to cross paths again with Luke.

I loved this story!!! The author did a great job of drawing me into the story by giving me bit of glimpses into Travis past, his personality and his pain. This was what kept me reading throughout. Don’t get me wrong, Shannon was a great characters and I could easily relate to her and what she was feeling – her frustration with her mother, her hesitation about getting involved with him and her emotions towards him. But it was Travis and his story that truly captivated me. I needed to know what happened in his past, what had happened between him and Shannon when they were younger and how he was going to deal with being being back in Rainbow Valley. His constant struggle with his past, his reluctance to admit his attraction and feelings for Shannon and his development throughout the story was what made this story so great to read.

Although the story as a whole flowed wonderfully through the page, I do admit that there were some passages that dragged a bit. Thankfully, did this not detract from the story, but it did at times make me want to step back and take a break.

Cowboy Take Me Away, the first book in the Rainbow Valley series, is a sweet, romantic story about second chances and new beginnings. It had great main characters that I could easily connect to and interesting secondary characters that caught my attention for further installments in the series. I am certainly looking forward to the next installment in the series. The excerpt provided on my copy caught my attention and left me wanting to know more.

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

One Little White Lie by Loretta Hill

One Little White LieRating: 4 stars

Publisher: Random House – Australia (February 1st 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Kobo

Synopsis: A hilarious romantic novella from Loretta Hill (author of bestselling The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots). When One Little White Lie turns into a red-blooded reality!

What do you do when your best friend is the serial match maker from Hell?

Single girl Kate Dreson knows that her friend, Lisa, is not going to leave her alone unless she tells her that she is happily dating someone. Who knew that One Little White Lie could so blatantly backfire?

The imaginary boyfriend she described to her friend so lovingly suddenly walks into her life and starts making himself comfortable in it.

Trapped by her lie, poor Kate is powerless to stop him. But the real question is, does she really want to?

Review: Kate is tired of her friend Lisa setting her up with guys that are not worth the trouble, especially since she doesn’t see the need to be dating anyone at the moment. She is focused on finishing her PhD and has a life plan that doesn’t include putting her heart on the line so that it could be shattered to pieces like it had on her previous relationship. Her mistake? Telling her that she has a secret boyfriend and embellishing with a couple of details from her fantasy man.

Henri is tired of meaningless relationship where the women are only interested in his money. He wants an honest woman who will love him for who he is and not how much money he can bring to the relationship. He asks his brother for help and finds himself in a crowded club where he stumbles upon Kate. Immediately, he recognizes that she is the woman for him and searches for her. His mistake? Asking Lisa for her help minutes after Kate informed her of her ‘secret boyfriend’. Recognizing the perfect opportunity to set Kate up with the man of her dreams, Lisa arranges for them to meet.

What comes next is a series of events that will have you laughing and some that will have you feeling bad for Kate and Henri. I was laughing at how the events played out on that first meeting, getting a little teary eyed when Kate and Henri stumble into their first hurdle and grinning like a fool as Kate and Henri finally come together.

Loretta Hill delivered a sweet, funny novella with interesting characters, a little angst and a lot of romance.

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

The Love Shack (Beach House No. 9 #3) by Christie Ridgway

The Love Shack (Beach House No. 9, #3)Rating: 4.5 stars

Publisher: Harlequin HQN (March 26th 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: Return to USA TODAY bestselling author Christie Ridgway’s Crescent Cove, California, where the magic of summer can last forever…

Globe-trotting photojournalist Gage Lowell spent carefree childhood summers in Crescent Cove. Now that he desperately needs some R & R, he books a vacation at Beach House No. 9—ready to soak up some sun and surprise old friend and property manager Skye Alexander. Their long-distance letters got him through a dangerous time he can’t otherwise talk about. But when he arrives, the tightly wound beauty isn’t exactly happy to see him.

Skye knows any red-blooded woman would be thrilled to spend time with gorgeous, sexy Gage. But she harbors secrets of her own, including that she might just be a little bit in love with him. And she’s convinced the restless wanderer won’t stay long enough for her to dare share her past—or dream of a future together. Luckily for them both, summer at Crescent Cove has a way of making the impossible happen….

Review: Gage has returned to Crescent Cove to unwind after a harrowing experience in the field. He wants to spend some time with Skye, his pen pal while he was away on his assignment. He also wants to find some peace of mind and get over some of the demons he has brought with him from his last assignment. He wants to relax, unwind and maybe hook up a time or ten. He is not, however, looking to find a woman that makes him deal with his past and reconsider his future.

Skye remembers Gage fondly from his days spent at the Cove when he was young. Although she has kept constant communication with him through letters she doesn’t want to draw his attention or get too close to him. She is barely making it through the night as it is after a scary encounter during low season at the Cove. An event that has her questioning her decision to stay at the Cove come Fall.

However, through shared moments and funny and revealing dialog Skye opens up to Gage until one day their attraction becomes too much to deny and they come together. Now the question remains if the demons that they both carry with them will bring them closer forever or tear them apart.

I so loved this story! After having read all the previous installments in the series, I thought I knew what to expect from this author – a great romantic love story with some angst and sizzling chemistry. Yes, author Christie Ridgway delivered on this front, but she also brought so much more to the page! The range of emotions alone had me gripping my tablet because they felt so real to me. And the chemistry between these two? Geez, that first kiss was everything I was waiting for and then some!

I appreciated the way the author developed Skye and Gage’s relationship from friends to lovers. I loved the fact that with each moment they spent together, their armor against feeling something for each other started to crumble. I could see how Skye was torn between opening herself to Gage and telling him her secrets or living her life in the shadows of that unfortunate event. I admired her strength of character and her determination to get through this and enjoy Gage’s company knowing how it would end.

And Gage? Well, he just melted my heart with his flirtatious banter, his loyalty to his family, his caring and tender side and his tortured soul. He was sexy and strong, funny and easy going, but underneath all that lay layers upon layers of fear and hurt. I admired his determination to keep everyone at bay about his struggles and how in the end he just let go and gave into this new beginning he had started with Skye. I loved him!

The Love Shack is the third installment in the Beach House No. 9 series and although it can be read as a stand alone, if you haven’t read the previous books, I encourage to do so. Then you could meet the whole set of characters that appear in this story and see how Skye interacts with them. I believe that this helped me understand how much what she experienced affected her and how she related to others.

I received this title from Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

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The Summer He Came Home (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #1) by Juliana Stone

The Summer He Came Home (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, #1)Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks (April 2nd 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: Sometimes the best place to find love is right back where you started…

Falling asleep in a different bed every night has made it easy for Cain Black to forget his past. It’s been ten years since he packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dreams. Now tragedy has forced him home again. And though Cain relishes the freedom of the road, one stolen moment with Maggie O’Rourke makes him wonder if he’s missing out on something bigger than fame.

For Maggie—single mother and newly settled in Crystal Lake—love is a luxury she just can’t afford. Sure, she appreciates the tall, dark and handsome looks of prodigal son Cain Black. But how long can she expect the notorious hellion to stay?

The last thing either of them wants is something complicated. But sometimes love has its own plans.

Review: Maggie is trying to move on with her life by starting from the ground up in Crystal Lake with her son Michael. While working an event she caught the eye of Cain Black, one of the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake. Cain left his hometown to pursue his dream of being a rock star but has returned home for the funeral of one of his closest friends and to gain some peace of mind after experiencing some problems in his personal and professional life. Neither of them is looking for a relationship or to fall in love, but when they met their attraction is undeniable. Life a moth to a fire they are drawn to each other until they succumb to the overwhelming desire each ignite in each other.

Although I have read many books with the same concept of girl runs away, starts a relationship and her past catches up with her, I feel that the author, Juliana Stone, did a great job of taking it a step further so that this story didn’t feel like something I have read countless times before. There were some real struggles and emotions thrown in the mix that made Maggie and Cain’s story different. Add to that a great cast of secondary characters, a bad boy rocker and an adorable little boy and I was a goner.

I appreciated the way the author made the characters face their attraction to each other, both clear on their expectations and respecting each others situations. I liked how supportive Cain was of Maggie’s situation even when he felt that she was keeping things from him. I especially admired his integrity and honesty when, even though he knew what the true situation was, he gave Maggie the space she needed and the time to sort through her feelings.

I have to say that although Maggie and Cain’s chemistry was off the charts HOT, it was the way that they took the time to get to know each other and the way they related to the other characters – showing their caring sides – that truly endeared them to me and made me cheer them on to get together.

The Summer He Came Home is the first book in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series and the author did a great job of introducing the reader to the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake.  I got to know some great characters and their stories interest me enough that I know with certainty that I will be reading the next books in the series.

All in all, an enjoyable, sexy read.

I received this title from Sourcebooks through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

The “What-If” Guy by Brooke Moss Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt‏

whatifguyblogtour

Welcome to The “What-If” Guy Blog Tour!

Thank you for joining me in the celebration of the re-release of Brooke Moss’s The “What-If” Guy. Below you will find more information about this wonderful, heart-warming romance from Entangled Publishing – Edge.

Please enjoy my review and the excerpt that follows it.

The What If Guy

Rating: 4.5 stars

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: What would you do if you’re “what if” guy showed up at the lowest point of your life?

(Autumn Cole clocked hers with an encyclopedia.)

After losing her job at a swanky Seattle art gallery and finding out her father has been hospitalized, single mother Autumn Cole reluctantly returns to her tiny hometown of Fairfield, Washington to put the pieces of her life back together.

Her disgruntled twelve-year old son isn’t thrilled about going from hip to hick, but Autumn’s got it worse. She resumes her role as the daughter of the town drunk, promptly facing a crisis with her father that’s been decades in the making.

Running into Henry Tobler, and nearly breaking his nose, is almost more than she can handle, but can rediscovering love–and herself–with her “what if” guy teach Autumn to forgive before it’s too late?

Review: Autumn returns home to Fairfield with her son Elliot to nurse her father back to health and get her life back on track. The last thing she expected was to run into her ex-boyfriend, Henry, the only man she ever loved.

Although this is mainly a Romance, it encompassed so much more. Brooke Moss brought to the page a heart warming story about friendship, family and second chances. From the start, I was drawn into the story and its characters.

A funny and strong-willed single mother, Autumn felt like a friend to me and reading her story was both entertaining and painful. I found myself laughing at her antics and inner musings, but also crying with her and for her. She truly was an incredible character to get to know.

Henry was adorable and infuriating. Although at times I wanted to get inside his head, I don’t think that I missed much, since Brooke Moss did a great job of letting me see Henry’s personality and emotions through Autumn’s eyes. He was thoughtful, funny and completely adorable.

Brooke Moss introduced a wonderful cast of secondary characters that added to the story in their own right. I enjoyed the camaraderie between the townsfolk, the gossip mill and how they all pulled together for a common cause. I especially liked Holly and how she and Autumn renewed her friendship.

All in all, The “What-If” Guy was a great romantic story about letting go, taking chances and accepting new beginnings. Add a pair of complex, interesting main characters, a cast of quirky neighbors, humor and range in emotions and you’ve got yourself a wonderful read.

Excerpt

“Did you mean what you said?” His lips brushed against the corner of my mouth.

“When I said what?” I asked in a breathy voice, trembling. Or maybe that was Henry.

“When you said…” He swallowed. “…that you still loved me?”

My heart pitched. “Yes.”

The next few minutes were a blur. His lips came down on mine with such determination that I stumbled backwards. His strong hands caught me. He slid his hand up my back and clutched my neck, leaving a trail of heat in its wake. He tangled his fingers in my hair and deepened our kiss.

We moved as if we’d been kissing each other for eternity, yet it felt as exciting and brand new as the first time. All five of my senses were keenly alert as Henry’s tongue teased mine. His rugged scent filled my nose and light flashed behind my closed eyes. I grazed my fingers over the ridges of his muscles, then tugged at the bottom of his shirt, longing to touch, skin-to-skin. My ears rang, my mouth filling with the taste of Henry. I wanted more, more, more.

Breathlessly, Henry pulled back and gazed at me with clouded eyes. His lips, swollen and parted, tugged up on one side. I lifted his shirt tail and ran my palms up his chest, sending a shudder through him.

Henry licked his lips and the butterflies in my stomach morphed into a flock of pterodactyls. I felt self-conscious under his heavy gaze, his eyes studying me as if he were memorizing every detail of the moment.

“Hi,” I whispered.

Henry laughed, a low rumble from deep in his chest. He nipped at my lower lip, grabbed my backside and effortlessly lifted me onto his hips. I gasped and wrapped my legs around his waist, pulling his face to mine.

Henry carried me to the wall, nestling me against a frolicking sea horse. He buried his face in my hair, his teeth scraping gently against my neck. I tugged at the buttons on his shirt, whimpering when his lips met my earlobe. I tore at his shirt. What was going on with these buttons? He was locked up like Fort Knox.

Henry kissed a trail from my ear to my collarbone. I finally popped the top button off his shirt, then dragged my nails down his chest. A pleased growl escaped his lips. I tightened my legs, willing him not to stop. The sound of my hammering heart echoed in my ears.

The whole celibate-devoted-mother-and-daughter routine was highly overrated.

“Autumn,” he groaned. He brought his mouth to mine and plastered me with kiss after kiss, then pulled away with an audible smack.

“No, no, no,” I moaned as I lowered my feet to the floor. I stood on my tip-toes and pressed my lips to his, slowing the pace and opening his mouth with mine.

Henry gripped my hips and we leaned against the wall for the next few minutes, making out like teenagers. I wanted him so badly, I could hardly stand upright. If I hadn’t been pressed against the seahorse, I would have fallen over.

“Stop,” he said, resting his forehead on mine. “Take a breath.”

I drew in a long breath and closed my eyes. “Don’t you want this?”

Henry gave me his positively edible, lopsided grin. “Of course I want this. I’m going crazy.”

I clenched my teeth. “Then why do you keep stopping?”

He pushed himself back, peeling our bodies apart, and tugged at a strand of my hair. “Because I‘m going to do this right.”

“Right?” I straightened my shirt and wobbled a bit. “What part of…” I gestured between the two of us “…this didn’t feel right to you?”

Henry pecked me tenderly on the nose. “This felt hot.” Taking my hand, he led me to the doorway. “Really hot. That’s not a bad thing.”

“But?”

Henry went to button his shirt, then realized that the top button had busted clean off. “But I’m not just going for hot.”

“What do you mean?”

His expression grew serious. “This is our second chance. I’m doing it right.”

A smile lingered on my lips. I couldn’t help myself. “What do you mean?”

He grinned, “You just said that.”

“Shut up.”

“No.” He pulled me in for another long, drawn-out kiss. “I’m on call at the firehouse every night through Thursday. So Friday night, we’re going out.”

“Are we?”

“Be ready at seven o’clock.”

About the Author

Brooke BioBrooke Moss writes complex, character-driven stories about kismet, reunited lovers, first love, and the kind of romance that we should all have the chance at finding. She prefers her stories laced with some humor just for fun, and enough drama to keep her readers flipping the pages, and begging for more!

When Brooke isn’t spinning tales, she spends her time drawing/cartooning, reading two books a week (ask her who her faves are), watching movies then comparing them to books, and, of course, wrangling four kids, one hubby she lovingly refers to as her “nerd”, and attempting to conquer the Mount Everest of laundry that is the bane of her existence.

You can connect with Brooke via Facebook, Twitter or her website.

The Long Con (Dangerous Affairs #1) by Lori Toland

The Long Con (Dangerous Affairs, #1)Rating: 3 stars

Publisher: Loose Id (April 17th 2012)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: British Agent Nathaniel Bradley is tasked with bringing home a stolen heirloom. After tracking the Faberge egg all the way to a group of criminals in New York, Bradley infiltrates a ring of con artists and gets sucked into the role of a high priced prostitute.

While hoping for a chance to take back what is rightfully his, Bradley’s sole mission becomes to seduce Tony Terranova, Jr, the heir to a notorious mafia dynasty. Though Tony is strikingly handsome, the usually dominant Bradley is hesitant to submit to the sexual whims of a dangerous Mafioso.

What Bradley doesn’t expect is for Tony to fall to his knees so eagerly for him, leaving him blindsided by how intensely their dark tastes complement each other. Now Bradley is caught up in a deadly game of lies and desire, where what he truly wants may not be what duty requires.

Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM elements, male/male sexual practices, spanking.

Review: Bradley is determined on finding the antique that was stolen from his grandfather’s home. This leads him to New York where he finds a group of con artist trying to pull a fast one on Tony Terranova, son of a big Mafia boss in New York. In order to take part in this scheme, he poses as a rent-boy and is recruited to act as a discration for Tony. Bradley is set to play his part, but he wasn’t expecting to find himself being immediately attracted to Tony. Sure, it helped the con, but it affected him in much more ways than that.

I liked the premise of the story and although its execution lacked in some places, I enjoyed the story. Both characters were interesting, but for me there was no real character development. They stayed consistent throughout. Bradley did surprise me a little, because while he came across as a strong alpha male, he did show a bit of his vulnerable side. However, it was Tony who surprised me the most by his manner and his actions towards Bradley. He was not what I was expecting at all. I enjoyed how he gave of himself to Bradley and accepted and enjoyed the time they had together. Towards the end of the book I understood better why he acted the way he did and it endeared him to me more.

I enjoyed some of the twist and turns, but the main plot felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole where I got to see some hot and sexy man-love with added emotions thrown in the mix to keep me distracted. I found the dialog to be interesting and of course the sex scenes were awesome. I do have to say that it truly did surprise me when when Tony’s role in all this was disclosed

The Long Con is a good tale of romance with a confusing bit of mystery, a pinch of angst and a mega serving of hot man-love. Not usually a fan of the insta-love, I accepted the concept in this story because the romance wouldn’t have worked otherwise, but there was too much sappiness, too soon for my liking.

I received this title from LooseId through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.

Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow, Volume 2 (Dojo Boys #3) by Alex A. Akira

Dragon & Crow 2 (Dojo Boys, #3)Rating: 4 stars

Published: April 24th 2013

Available at: Amazon

Synopsis: This second volume of the fast paced pulp yaoi novel, Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow continues the story of Shotokan student Michael Black’s adventures with the Japanese stranger known to him as Kiyoshi.

Volume Two finds Michael in deep waters when in trying to win back his lover, he is persuaded to participate in an NPA undercover operation.

He finds himself accosted at a nightclub, kidnapped at a casino and fighting Kiyoshi’s Yakuza ex-lover, among a host of other madcap adventures, all to gain the full trust and love of Kiyoshi Kimura.

Review: Dragon and Crow, Volume 2 picks up right where Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow, Volume 1 left off. Michael finds himself immerse in his lover’s latest mission where he encounters a salacious guy, a high school girlfriend, a handsome operative from his lover’s organization and his lover’s ex. He is man-handled, beat up and injured. He is not having the best of days, but his spirits are kept high by thoughts of his lover and what  they share. Then all hell breaks loose and Michael finds himself facing his biggest nightmare – losing the man he loves.

As with the previous installment, I enjoyed this story from beginning to end. I found myself gripping my tablet during the action packed scenes and biting my lip during the sizzling-hot sex scenes. In this installment, we also get to see a more vulnerable side to Ichiro, Kiyoshi’s cousin, and a stronger, cunning side to Kiyoshi. That right there is what I have come to love from Alex A. Akira‘s writing – his ability to bring to life the characters in his stories by peeling back layer after layer of the characters’ personality. That, combined with a riveting storyline and fast paced action scenes, is what truly keeps me reading all through the night.

I enjoyed how Michael managed to hold his own under the circumstances that he was facing, his unending loyalty to Kiyoshi and how his emotions spilled out on the page. He felt real, much more than in the previous volume. Kiyoshi, on the other hand, was resilient in his determination to put this mission to rest. He was strong, hard edged and completely sexy in his pursue of Michael. I loved this side of him. Yes, I liked his vulnerable, sweet side and his rougher side too, but this devil may care, seductive, controlling side gave him an air of unavailability that I enjoyed very much. Who knew?! 😀

Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow Volume 2 is a great follow-up book that will leave you wanting more from Michael and his sexy operative.  There’s not much more I can say without giving the little treasures of the story away since I loved it all, so I’ll just shut up now and read some of the highlighted text on my Kindle. Yes, yes, I’m going back in there, you know, to refresh my memory and all that.

I received this title from the author in exchange of my honest opinion.

Blog Hop: Cold by Brandon Shire *Interview*

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Welcome to the Cold Blog Hop Tour

Celebrating the release of Cold by Brandon Shire

Here you will find in-depth back story answers to some of the questions that came to me while reading Cold. Author Brandon Shire has been kind enough to take some time off from his busy schedule to appease my curiosity, so sit back and enjoy. Don’t forget to comment below to be entered in the giveaway for the chance to win your very own copy of Mr. Shire’s latest release.

LeAnn’s Book Reviews (LBR): Hello, Brandon! Thank you so much for visiting us today and agreeing to answer a few of my questions regarding Cold and its characters.

Brandon Shire: Thanks for allowing me to be here. It’s always an honor.

LBR: Back in January you stated on the Brandon Shire Fan Group on Goodreads that this was mainly a story of bringing together two different men within the “sordid environment” of prison. I know you are led mostly by your Muse, but would you have brought these two characters together away from the prison environment they found themselves in?

Brandon Shire: Likely not. I believe that these two would not have considered each other outside of prison. They are too different, and I wonder if they would even be in the same environs. They are so diametrically opposite that the backdrop of a ‘forced’ meeting was necessary for them to see beyond the walls they had built.

LBR: I agree that Lem and Anderson are different in some aspects – mainly in physical presence and how they carry themselves. While Lem is big in stature and his presence commands respects, Anderson is short and prefers not to draw attention to himself while in prison. However, I was surprised to see a side of Lem that went against what most people would perceive him to be. Is this a character trait of his or does Anderson bring this side of him to the surface?

Brandon Shire: I believe intimacy draws things from people which we we don’t expect. When personal barriers come down we get a better glimpse of what sits inside. Also, what most people perceive is usually a front based on opinions from both the perceived and the perceiver. The people around Lem based their opinion of him on stereotypes. So what we were allowed to witness as he and Anderson grew closer was definitely something which was drawn from Lem. I don’t believe we would have seen that side of him if not for Anderson.

LBR: In the beginning, Anderson comes across as aloof and kind of a snob. Is this a mechanism for self-preservation he’s had to learn during his life?

Brandon Shire: Honestly, I don’t think it had anything to do with self-preservation. Anderson was just a snob. He had money and looks and a family that mostly supported him. He was a typical gay whiner. I really didn’t like him when I first started writing the story, and he is definitely not the type of person I would hang out with in real life. Anderson would probably claim self-preservation, but I don’t buy that. My attitude towards him, right from the beginning, made him a difficult character to write. Maybe because I wanted him to be that wounded soul and not just the over-privileged wanker that he was.

LBR: Having seen how Lem longed to be with Anderson, I can’t help but wonder, will he make an effort if he is ever offered a chance at parole?

Brandon Shire: Tough question because I can’t say what’s in Lem’s head yet (the muse hasn’t told me). I do think Anderson changed him and his perceptions about himself enough that he would definitely want to further things between them. The real question will be whether Anderson would allow their relationship beyond prison. Would Lem fit into his lifestyle?  What would Anderson’s friends think of this big old country hick? (Like you, I’m still waiting to hear about it.)

LBR: You mentioned once that your Muse let you know the reason why Lem killed his brother, but in their time together, Lem never revealed to Anderson his reasons for doing it. Was this because he didn’t want to taint his time with Anderson with the truth behind his actions or is it that he hasn’t dealt with it himself?

Brandon Shire: I think Lem believes that to be private information between him and his brother, and no one else. He has never spoken of it to anyone. I don’t know if he will ever share it with Anderson. And frankly, at this point, I don’t think Lem should share it with Anderson. For me, Anderson hasn’t really proved himself worthy of the information.

LBR: We mostly experienced Anderson’s point of view – his thoughts and feelings – when he got together with Lem. Is there a reason for this?

Brandon Shire: Lem is so quiet and has spent so long not allowing himself to just be, that he doesn’t really know how to verbalize it. But nor do I think he needs to. He’s a very intelligent but simple man. Over-intellectualizing on how he feels is just not something he does. He’s one of those emotional rock people we all know that just does what he knows to be true to his heart. And, I think that perfectly fits in with his character — a big, gentle bear.

LBR: Will I get to see these two together again? (I know, I know, the million dollar question, but it had to be asked!)

Brandon Shire: Yes, there is a book two coming. When, or what the title is… I have no idea, yet.

So there you have it folks! I can’t wait to see what Brandon’s Muse has in store for these characters.

Don’t forget to comment below to be entered to win your very own copy of Mr. Shire’s latest release. Please be sure to include your email and which format you prefer the book in (.mobi or .epub) if you were to win a copy.

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Dear Cassie (Pretty Amy #2) by Lisa Burstein

Dear Cassie (Pretty Amy #2)Rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Entangled Publishing – Teen (March 5th 2013)

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Synopsis: What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

Review: Cassie has been sent to ‘rehab’ for the events that happened on prom night in Pretty Amy, the first book in the series.  However, while she was expecting a spa-like atmosphere where she would be sharing her feeling in front of her peers, what she encounters at Turning Pines is at the other extreme of that scenario. Through hard labor, hiking and other physically straining activities Cassie is to work through her problems so that she can get on with her life and serve the sentence she was handed down. What she was not planning on was encountering her demons head on and opening her heart to another boy, especially after her experience back home.

I loved this story! If I thought that Amy was complex and suffered through a lot of heartache after the events on prom night, Cassie exceeded Amy’s emotional turmoil and then some. This time around I found myself not only sympathizing with Cassie, but also emotionally invested in her well being and survival.

From the heart wrenching emotions that had me crying along with Cassie and feeling her frustrations, hesitations and pain to the lightness in spirit of having finally found a shred of hope in having a future, Lisa Burstein did an amazing job in bringing this emotional charged coming of age story to the page.

I loved the way the author went about telling Cassie’s story through diary entries. By using this method the author plunged me head-on into Cassie’s emotional state bringing forth her every emotion in a way that truly touched me and endeared her to me. I admit that when I met Cassie in Pretty Amy I thought that she came across as a bully – selfish and uncaring. I was happy to see that this was all a front, a way for her to hide her true self so she wouldn’t get hurt. Although she came across as strong, independent and a fighter, to have her break down and shed all her armor was a beautiful sight to see.

Although Dear Cassie is the second book in the Pretty Amy series it can be read as a stand alone since the author provides a lot of back story of what happened in the previous book so that the reader can follow the story easily.

I received this title from Entangled Publishing through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.