Mafia and CEOs and jerks, oh my!

After reading and reviewing nearly 300 books in the past six months, I finally did it- I made me a blog. Am I more official now? It seems to be so. And so it must be.

Profile: Compulsive reader. Romantic suspense/contemporary romance/dark romance/NA romance addict. Particularly fond of mafia, forced/arranged marriage, secret baby, kidnapping, and dark alpha heroes.

If these genres blow your skirt up, as they do mine, check out my reviews. If you are like me, you are forever chasing that next elusive five-star read. Make it easy on yourself, and just cheat off of mine. I won’t tell.

I’m just out here doing my part for humanity. These books won’t read themselves.

#naromance #romanticsuspense #contemporaryromance #zerotohero #books #bookreviews #darkromance

The Bet (North Woods University, #1)

The Bet (North Woods University, #1)

The Bet by J.L. Beck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Technical difficulties

3.5 stars
The good: I liked this story. I liked these characters. I liked the dangling of potential future characters. I’d love to read books on Sebastian, Alexander, Vance, and Clark. Perhaps even books for Jules’ roommates? So many possibilities! Also, this cover is right up my alley. Love it.
The bad: I hate to say it- it could benefit from some more editing. There were multiple instances of sentences that made no sense (including one where the second half of the sentence DIRECTLY contradicted the first half), and it ended up taking me out of the story as I tried to figure out what was actually intended by those sentences. Additionally there were quite a few instances of grammatical errors. I don’t even mention issues such as these if it is only a few, but… once you have racked up a certain number it can’t go unacknowledged in my review, unfortunately. I also found a pretty major inconsistency in the story surrounding a particular event which I won’t discuss any further in the interest of avoiding spoilers.
Again, good story. Good back stories. But I think with some additional editing this could have gone from “good” to “great.”
Recommended for a decent dark-ish NA read if you can look past the technical errors/need for editing.

Lastly, shout-out for that smokin’ hot cover!

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“He was my best friend…” I say more to myself than her. 
“Yeah, so was I but you seem to have forgotten that part of your life.”

The bet was simple. 
You draw a name from the hat. 
That’s the girl you have to seduce. 
The girl you have to make fall head over heels in love with you. 

It wasn’t hard for me to do, in fact it was something I did all the time. I was known for breaking hearts. Sex was just that, sex. And it didn’t take me very long to get a woman on her back. 

And then I drew her name: Jules Peterson. 

My former best friend. My first kiss. My first love. She shattered my heart into a million pieces three years ago. She left me right when I needed her most. 

And as fate who have it, she had entered my life once again, at almost the perfect time. 

She was a transfer, fresh meat, and she had just put a target on her back. It was my turn to make her pay. It was my turn to break her heart. 

Holding onto that hate, that anger, that f*cking heartbreak. It does something to you. It breaks you, and it broke me, it tainted me, just like I would do to Jules. 

She used to be my everything, but now she was nothing but The Bet. 

**This is book one in the North Woods University Series. It can be read as a complete standalone and contains NO cliffhanger, NO cheating, and a HEA. Please be advised this series contains material not suitable for all readers. Dubious content is included in this book. This is NOT a YA series.**

The Castle (Endgame, #3)

The Castle (Endgame, #3)

The Castle by Skye Warren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’m sure I sound repetitive in my reviews of the books from this series (and its accompanying duet), but I don’t know what to tell you- they’re THAT good!
I love the attention to detail this author gives when weaving her story. The skill with which she relays the emotions of the characters. The realistic and thorough thought processes displayed while in the head of one character or another. Even the language she uses, the way she words the thoughts and experiences. To say I’m impressed is an understatement.
There are a LOT of writers in this genre. There is a considerable number of decent writers in this genre. But, there are not that many genuinely talented writers in romance (percentage-wise… not overall). Skye Warren is one of those elusive few really talented writers. Her ability to really get inside the heads of her various characters, and bring that to the page, truly makes me stamp my little feet with excitement.

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Safe in the ivory tower…

Gabriel Miller swears he’ll keep me safe. Enemies lurk outside, waiting to strike. An army held back by these walls.

Except some animal instinct warns me the danger is much closer. It’s already here. Is Gabriel my protector or my enemy? Is this house a castle or a cage?

There’s nowhere for me to go, no one left for me to trust.

No escape from a past determined to capture its prize.

THE CASTLE is book three in the Endgame series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love. This is the final novel in the story of Gabriel and Avery.

“Positively sinful, and outrageously sexy!” – Lisa Renee Jones, New York Times bestselling author

The Knight (Endgame, #2)

The Knight (Endgame, #2)

The Knight by Skye Warren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing. I love these characters. I love the world of Tanglewood. I love the suspense. I love the push and pull. The festering secrets. The sexy times. The intrigue. Avery’s strength.
I am pretty confident this series is going to be a re-read for me in the future. I don’t have too many of those, so that is saying something.
This book starts out right where book one left off, and that’s all I will say about that to avoid spoilers. Throughout the story Avery toggles back and forth on her feelings for, well… everyone. And rightly so. She’s been lied to. Cheated. Betrayed. Abandoned. And has determined at a depressingly young age that she can only count on herself.
I am so excited that there is another book to this series. A good series allows for a story to be oh so much richer than a standalone- more history, more backstory. More character development.
I’d only read a couple of books by this author prior to this trilogy (and its associated duet), but I expect I’ll be reading a LOT more of her books going forward.

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The power of pleasure…

Gabriel Miller took everything from me. My family. My innocence. My home. The only thing I have left is the determination to get back what’s mine.

He thinks he’s beaten me. He thinks he’s won. What he doesn’t realize is that every pawn has the chance to become a queen.

And the game has only just begun.

THE KNIGHT is book two in the Endgame series from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love. Both The Pawn and The Knight are USA Today bestsellers!

“Wickedly brilliant, dark and addictive!” – Jodi Ellen Malpas, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“You know that feeling you get when you don’t want a book to end? Every one of Skye Warren’s books is like that for me. The Knight is no different. Masterful story-weaving pulls you in but it’s the characters that truly hold you captive. Intriguing and page-turning, the Knight delivers with a powerful punch.” – K.L. Kreig, USA TODAY bestselling author

The Pawn (Endgame, #1)

The Pawn (Endgame, #1)

The Pawn by Skye Warren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aaagh- so good! After finishing the duet that comes after this trilogy I couldn’t wait to come back and dive into The Pawn.
Avery’s seemingly never-ending loss is heartbreaking. This poor girl just CAN’T catch a break. Jesus.
In her desperation, and with altruistic motives, she swallows her pride to try and save her father the only way she thinks she can. At every turn, everywhere she looks, men are looking to take advantage of her. Use her. Hurt her. She is afraid to share her troubles with the one friend she has left after her fall from grace, and so ends up feeling exceedingly alone.
I won’t get into it any further than that in the interest of avoiding spoilers, but suffice to say I loved it!

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“Wickedly brilliant, dark and addictive!” – Jodi Ellen Malpas, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The price of survival…

Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.

There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.

My virginity.

A forbidden auction…

Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.

Except he’s playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love. It’s the first book in the captivating ENDGAME trilogy.

“Sinfully sexy and darkly beautiful, The Pawn will play games with your heart and leave you craving more!” – Laura Kaye, New York Times bestselling author

The Queen (Masterpiece Duet, #2)

The Queen (Masterpiece Duet, #2)

The Queen by Skye Warren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So satisfying!

Oh yes- I loved this book. It gave me that delicious feeling you can only get from a five-star read. That incredible satisfaction. The afterglow. You know the one- where you need a minute to bask in it before starting any other book because the likelihood of finding another equally satisfying read right after is so unlikely.

Deep breath…

Now that I’ve composed myself (have I?)- big round of applause to Skye Warren. I loved Penny. I loved Damon. I loved their fierce strength. I loved that Penny, even though 10 years younger than Damon, could see through it each time Damon tried to push her away by mocking her, dismissing her. By treating her like nothing. She knew exactly what he was doing. It still hurt her, but she knew where it was coming from.
The tension. The angst. The suspense. The mystery. I loved it. I didn’t expect to get them to that degree in a dark romance. Bravo, Ms. Warren- bravo!
I could do a little happy dance. I think all of us who are addicted to romance reads (I sure am) are forever chasing the elusive “five-star high,” and this book gave it. Sweet victory. Bliss.
I’m not sure what else to say other than, if you like dark romance and haven’t yet read this duet, you should. Right now.

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I have one chance at a new life. A college education. A future outside of Tanglewood’s dark walls. For a breathless moment it seems like I might actually escape.

Then I get a phone call from home.

Damon Scott is my own personal dragon, the fight I’ve always lost, the secret hope of my heart. And he needs my help right now. Only my mind can solve the puzzle. Only my presence can keep him sane as the city fights against him.

Only my heart can unlock a man with such a tragic past.

This is my final gamble, with everything at stake. One last game to win a future for both of us.

And a love strong enough to break the city apart.

THE QUEEN is the final novel in the bestselling Masterpiece duet, about a game of lies and loyalty, of betrayal and power, and ascension to the city’s throne.

The King (Masterpiece Duet, #1)

The King (Masterpiece Duet, #1)

The King by Skye Warren

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The angst! The suspense! The darkness! The age gap! Ooh la la!
This book turned out to be different than I anticipated, but in a good way. The lead up and back story provided really lent a richness to the book that made all of the difference. I really felt for Penny and Damon. Both of them are without a mother, and with fathers that are hardly fathers at all aside from biology. I just want them to be with each other! I am going to need them to get it together.
I won’t get too much into anything else, but suffice to say I am thus far loving this duet, and am heading straight off to dive into book two!

Trigger warning: contains a reference to non-consent of a person under 18 (not real-time, and not graphic).

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The highest stakes…

My father gambles every night, falling deeper and deeper into debt. When he hits the bottom, he places a new bet: his daughter. I’m his entry bet to the biggest underground poker game.

Every kind of danger circles the velvet-covered table, but only one man makes me tremble.

A trailer park princess.

The son of a criminal king.

We don’t belong together, but I’m caught in a twisted game.

His eyes meet mine with dark promise. And when he puts down his cards, I know I’m going to lose more than my body. I’m going to lose everything.

Bound by Love (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #6)

Bound by Love (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #6)

Bound by Love by Cora Reilly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a bit disappointed in how much of this book reflected what had already happened in the previous books without adding too much to the story. The story lines with Aria’s visit to Chicago, her pregnancy, and Luca’s response to Aria’s trip/betrayal of his trust were gripping, but the parts of the story that retold what had already taken place felt like filler.
I was on edge when Dante had Aria, and so glad that he spared her once he found she was pregnant. Then when Luca got the wrong idea about her visit (you suck, Dante) and told her they were done, resulting in weeks and weeks of ignoring her as she wasted away, I was chomping at the bit for him to cave and ask her back.
Oh- and the added bit about Matteo threatening Aria when Gianna ran away, and her not telling Luca to spare him from retaliating against his brother, was a great addition.
Overall, I wish the parts of the book that retold of events that had already taken place in previous books ALL had something to add. Some did, some didn’t. But, the story line new to this book had me on the edge of my seat. I loved Luca and Aria. Loved that Luca’s inner monster came out (and boy, did he come out), and he had to find his way back from that dark place. I loved that he did eventually come to his senses and realize that Aria gives him strength, not weakness.
A fitting end to this series. I intend to read the spin-off series as well.

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Full length novel! 116,000 words. Book 6 in the Series!

Nobody expected them to fall in love.
When Aria was given to Luca in marriage, people were sure he’d break her. 
Aria feared the worst from a man like him.
A man without mercy. 
But somehow she gained his love.
Love – a weakness a Capo like Luca shouldn’t risk.
When Aria betrays Luca by going behind his back for her family, she realizes too late that she might have lost what she’s fought so hard to get in the first place: Luca’s trust. 
The trust of a man who never allowed himself to trust someone unconditionally before. 
Can their love survive in a world of betrayal and death?

Terrorscape (Horrorscape Book 3)

Terrorscape (Horrorscape Book 3)

Terrorscape by Nenia Campbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thrilling and Different

Disclaimer: if you are looking for a formulaic dark romance with an HEA, you won’t find that here. This is more aptly described as an erotic thriller.
Since that is now out of the way…
I really liked this series. It gave me suspense, sexy times, excitement, frustration, and the thrill of the chase. I would re-read this at a later date for sure.
I did think the ending seemed rushed. I felt there was at least one question that wasn’t clearly answered, and it just seemed like the story cut off, like perhaps the author decided one day “hey, I am going to finish the book today” and went into her writing cave to write 20 pages to wrap up the whole series. It just felt anticlimactic. While I was pleased with the ending I would’ve loved it if there had been more to it. And perhaps an epilogue with a glimpse into the future? Just a thought.
This third book again suffered from a need for further editing, but the story is so good that I don’t care. I still like and recommend both this book and this series.
If you are ok with the fact that this is not a dark romance with HEA, and it’s in need of a bit more editing, then I definitely recommend this. I haven’t seen too much of this type of book/series- the erotic thrillers. But I love them. I just hate to see them mislabeled as Dark Romance and then docked ratings because they lack the requirements of such (HEA, redeemable hero).

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He lost to her twice and it nearly consumed him. Now, it’s time for another game. And this time, he won’t let her go so easily. Val’s not just fighting for her friends’ lives this time: She’s fighting for her own, too.

Horrorscape (Horrorscape #2)

Horrorscape (Horrorscape, #2)

Horrorscape by Nenia Campbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Another satisfying turnout from Nenia Campbell! As with the previous book in the series it would benefit from further editing, but the bones are good. It is different and refreshing (in an insane way).
I love me a crazy antagonist, and this book sure brings it with the crazy.
I do think the author missed an opportunity to weave more intrigue and mystery into the story with the new secondary characters. Who are they? Where did they come from? How did the person running the game connect with them?
I love this story idea, and I think with a little more work it could fall over the edge to a five-star read. It just isn’t quite there as-is. But, still excellent and entertaining.

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Val receives a calling card from a very dangerous boy who wants to play with her. It’s a game without rules, logic, or consequence, and he’ll stop at nothing to claim her as his—even if it means destroying them both.

Three years ago, Valerian Kimble got herself entangled with a burgeoning sociopath intent on adding her to his own columns of wins and losses. She managed to escape him, but at a terrible cost…

This time it’s personal.

Now a high school senior, Val is a pale shadow of the girl she once was and still recovering from the terrible trauma she suffered at his hands. She is understandably reluctant when her friends receive mysterious invitations to a theme party being held in one of the old manor homes on the edge of town.

Right away, something about the party seems off. The other guests are secretive, and strangely hostile. Cell phones don’t work. Doors lock and unlock, seemingly at will. And the festivities start to take a turn for the sinister as the evening progresses. Because their host loves games. Loves them so much that he’s decided to make a little wager. The deadline is sunrise. The stakes? Their lives.

Let the games begin.

Fearscape (Horrorscape #1)

Fearscape (Horrorscape, #1)

Fearscape by Nenia Campbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it!

This was deliciously different than anything else I’ve read. I read somewhere that it is more of a thriller than a dark romance, and I have to agree. My heart was pounding. My imagination was wandering. I loved it.
Okay, so it could benefit from some further editing. I can’t argue that. But aside from that, I am hype about this story. But, then again, I LOVE a good obsessive character. I love a suspense component. I am into it when a male character sets a claim on a female character. And this book? It brings it with those aspects.
Do my book weaknesses mean there is something wrong with me? Probably.
The heart-pounding epilogue barely allowed for me to write this review, so great is my need for the second book. Off I go, clicking my heels together in giddy joy, to read Horrorscape.

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He followed her because he wanted to own her. She trusted him because she wanted excitement. There’s a saying that curiosity can kill … but Valerian Kimble is beginning to learn that satisfaction might just be worse.

Fourteen-year-old Valerian lives in an age where antiheroes and bad boys are portrayed as the romantic ideal, and good guys are passe and boring. So when Gavin Mecozzi, the school’s brilliant but twisted loner, begins to show an interest in her after a chance meeting in a pet store, Val is intrigued. He’s charming and poetic and makes her feel things that she thought were only possible in books–


Because somebody is stalking Val. Somebody who wants to hurt her. Own her. Possess her. Maybe even kill her.

As her meetings with Gavin unravel into a more complex and frightening relationship, Val can’t help but wonder if the new boy in her life is her depraved and obsessive stalker.

And whether he’s capable of murder.

Time is running out.