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

Close Obsession (The Krinar Chronicles, #2)

Close Obsession (The Krinar Chronicles, #2)

Close Obsession by Anna Zaires

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first one. I kept reading, intrigued by the nameless villain, only to find that we don’t find out who he is, nor does any big plan go into action. As a result I felt like this book didn’t really have a climax. It was just kind of… there. It felt like more of a set up for the third book than a book of its own.
It gave more information about the background of the Krinar, and there was development within Mia and Korum’s relationship, but that’s about it.
The writing was still solid. The characters were consistent with the first book. But it felt like something was missing, like perhaps this book could have been combined with the third book absent adding in some kind of suspense build with a climax.
I’m still going to read the third book. I’m still enjoying the series. But, I had to reflect my feelings about this second book in my review.

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The highly anticipated sequel to Close Liaisons . . .

In Lenkarda – the main Krinar colony on Earth – Mia is completely at Korum’s mercy. With no way to leave and no idea how to operate even the most basic Krinar technology, she has no choice but to trust the K who brought her there – the lover whom she had betrayed.

Will he keep his promise to bring her home, or is she destined to be his prisoner forever? Can a human become a part of Krinar society? Does Korum love her, or does he only wish to possess her?

Read on to find out . . .

WARNING: This book contains strong sexual content and explicit language and is not suitable for readers under 18.

Word Count: 88,000

Close Liaisons (The Krinar Chronicles, #1)

Close Liaisons (The Krinar Chronicles, #1)

Close Liaisons by Anna Zaires

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let’s start with this: this is not my normal genre (meaning paranormal and/or extraterrestrial and/or fantasy). At all. I only read this because I am a die-hard Anna Zaires fan. As such I went in skeptical, but came out pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed a romance book about… an alien. My cheeks are flushed with nerdy embarrassment, honestly.
I could tell the difference between this book and her more recent books (the latter being a bit more polished), but this was still heads and tails above a lot of what is out there.
I liked the twist. I liked the crazy technology the main character uses. I liked the way he effectively does the modern-day caveman equivalent of knocking Mia over the head and dragging her back to his cave. This is especially ironic given he is supposed to be evolved and intelligent. But then he’s in the park and he’s all “me want… me take.” What an interesting turn of events.
I do so love a possessive alpha main character, and Zaires delivers that in this book. Okay, the subject matter (him being an alien) was a bit much for me to swallow given this isn’t my normal cuppa, but if I ignored that part to a degree it wasn’t that different from how the story would have unfolded if he had been human, and just a defense engineer (or similar). Thankfully he looked just like a normal person, except hotter. If that hadn’t been the case I would not have been able to get past it. Okay, he was really strong. Got it… possessive alpha characters usually are. He had access to unusual technology. Again, not uncommon for possessive alphas who, as of the last few years, seem to have a tendency to microchip their captives (sorry- I meant “romantic interests”) and have their entire compounds wired for spying (I mean “security related video and sound monitoring”) on their “romantic interests.” I realize that my use of quotation marks indicates that I scoff at these aspects of story, but obviously I am reading them, so… no. I admit that OTT possessive alpha characters are my jam. Even if they are a bit stalker-y. Maybe even more so if they are a bit stalker-y.
Okay, DEFINITELY more so if they are a bit stalker-y. There must be something wrong with me.
Anyway, all I’m saying is that a person who is normally completely uninterested in books of this genre may want to give this a chance if they are otherwise a Zaires fan.
I do not see myself reading anything else from this genre, but I plan to finish this series. Because, Zaires. I’d read her grocery list if she published it.

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For college student Mia Stalis, the invaders—the beautiful, mysterious Krinar—are only stories on the news. Rumors about them abound: about their impossible strength and speed, their intentions toward Earth… their vampiric tendencies. None of it concerns her, though—until she catches Korum’s eye.

Powerful and terrifyingly seductive, the Krinar leader will stop at nothing to possess her. Helplessly drawn to her magnetic captor, Mia is plunged into the dangerous, secretive world of the Ks and forced to choose between truth and lies, her people and her lover… her freedom and her heart.

An Escort for Christmas aka Unwrapping Mr. King

An Escort for Christmas

An Escort for Christmas by A. Zavarelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable fluff

Aaah, this was just what I needed- a quick, fluffy novella. The literary equivalent of Hostess Snowballs- no nutritional value, it doesn’t fill you up, but it tastes good all the same.
It takes place at Christmas time, so it would likely be even more enjoyable at that time of year (being “in the spirit,” and all that). There isn’t insta-love, thank goodness. The main characters develop feelings for one another over the course of two weeks spending every day/night together, but not love.
Recommended if you’re in the market for a quick, easy read that doesn’t get too deep.

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Harper Nichols is in a desperate situation.

After her Aunt’s passing, she’s been left with a mounting pile of medical bills and other debt. Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, she loses her job… only weeks before Christmas.

The very roof over her head hangs in the balance, and so far her job leads have been less than fruitful. As a last resort, she accepts her friend Katia’s offer to work for her dating service. The only stipulation? Extras are off the table.

But when she meets wealthy real estate mogul Jameson King, things aren’t exactly what she expected. Hired to spend two weeks with him at his family’s home over Christmas, she quickly realizes that some rules are just meant to be broken. But what will happen when this business transaction is over? Harper might be richer, but at what cost to her heart?

Hear Me

Hear Me

Hear Me by Skye Warren

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unique and different

Well, that was unexpected. This book was different from the boatload of “kidnapped and trained” stories out there. It wasn’t about what happened while in captivity, but what happened after. Even what happened beforehand wasn’t covered (revealed) until nearly the end. And, quite honestly, I’m still a little confused. But not confused in a frustrated/mad way, just in a “I need to talk to other readers about this” kind of way.
The main character can’t remember her name. Her life before the facility where she’d been held. Pretty much anything. She wakes up in a cabin, terrified and believing she’s been sold and is now with her new owner. She also can’t speak. This lends considerable intrigue to the story since you don’t know her name, how she got there, where she is, or where she’s from. The whole thing was just so mysterious.
This book did leave me with questions. I wish there had been more information about the background of the main character ending up where she’d ended up, about what another character’s plans had been for her later in the book, about how she’d ended up at that particular cabin, and confirming (or not?) what she’d feared later in the book. So many questions!!

TRIGGERS: dubious and non-consent, physical abuse is alluded to.

Anyway, a good standalone read if you can handle dark, and understand that not all questions will be answered.

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“Beautifully written, and just so much to experience…” – Maryse’s Book Blog

She doesn’t remember her past, but none of that matters when she wakes up in the warm, rustic room. The only man there is distant but kind. There’s only one problem: there’s no way to leave the island.

Longing for the shackles of safety, she pulls from the last dregs of her will to prove her worth. It seems to be working. He responds first to her innocence and next to her confidence. The secrets of his past haunt the cabin, fraying the tightening bond between them, but it is her own memories that may finally unravel it.

Niccolaio Andretti: An Enemies-to-Lovers Mafia Romance Novel (The Five Syndicates Book 2)

Niccolaio Andretti: An Enemies-to-Lovers Mafia Romance Novel (The Five Syndicates Book 2)

Niccolaio Andretti: An Enemies-to-Lovers Mafia Romance Novel by Parker S. Huntington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sadly, this one dragged for me. I ended up skimming a bit through the flashbacks to get to the relationship sections. I was going to stop with the series, but the sneak peek of the next one at the back drew me in. I ended up enjoying Ranieri’s book much more than this one.

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From USA Today bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes a steamy, slow-burn love story full of enemies-to-lovers banter and secret roommates.

He has a million-dollar bounty on his head. She’s fighting for her sister.

Dating men for money isn’t what most girls dream of doing when they grow up.

But after graduating from college, I can’t catch a break.
No job offers.
No place to live.
Not even a couch to dig for change under.

If I don’t find a job and a place to live fast, I can’t adopt my little sister from foster care.
I’m desperate.
A little unhinged.
And dating a trust-fund baby twice my age for his money.

Who cares if we have no chemistry?
Who cares if I hate his hot, mysterious neighbor who pushes my buttons every chance he gets?
Who cares if his neighbor stares at me like he’s picturing me in his bed?

Then, Mr. Money Bags dumps me.
I get shot at by strangers.
And the arrogant neighbor I loathe?
He. Saves. Me.

I should cut my losses and be grateful I’m still alive.
Instead, I do something crazy.
I blackmail him into letting me be his roommate.

Niccolaio Andretti is an 80,000-word standalone novel in The Five Syndicates mafia romance series.

Ranieri Andretti: A Second-Chance, Enemies-to-Lovers Mafia Romance Novella (The Five Syndicates Book 3)

Ranieri Andretti: A Second-Chance, Enemies-to-Lovers Mafia Romance Novella (The Five Syndicates Book 3)

Ranieri Andretti: A Second-Chance, Enemies-to-Lovers Mafia Romance Novella by Parker S. Huntington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pleasantly surprised!

Well- color me impressed! I usually do not like novellas, and sometimes not even standalones, due to the limited pages in which to build characters/a relationship. However, THIS novella being a second chance story where the feelings were already there, it worked! Hallelujah!
I actually liked this better than the previous entry in the series which WAS full-length.
I liked the bully/high school aspect in the flashbacks because, let’s face it, that never gets old. I liked the secondary characters- they were there, but the author didn’t spend an extensive amount of time on them. And thank goodness for that since there were only so many pages to work with. I thought the inclusion of the female main character’s new best friend was excellent. She needed him, and he created some extra drama by making Ranieri jealous.
All in all, a pleasantly surprising novella. I probably won’t re-read, but my threshold for what would constitute a re-read is pretty high at this point given my wildfire-like consumption of books from this genre. So, that is in no way a ding against the book.
Recommended for a quick, enjoyable second chance read. It could be read as a standalone, but I imagine you wouldn’t enjoy it quite as much if you haven’t read the preceding books.

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From USA Today bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes a steamy, slow-burn love story full of enemies-to-lovers banter and second chances.

We were best friends, then we were enemies.

Loved. Protected. Cherished.
There was a time when Ranieri Andretti made me feel those things.
That was before his family came after mine.

He was supposed to forget me.
We went our separate ways.
It should have stayed like that.
But now he’s back in my life, and he’s my new boss.

I want to hate him.
He’s my ex-best friend.
My tormentor.
The head of the Andretti family.
But no matter how hard I try…
I can’t stay away.

Ranieri Andretti is a long standalone novella in The Five Syndicates mafia romance series.

I Know What Love Is (I Know…, #1)

I Know What Love Is (I Know…, #1)

I Know What Love Is by Whitney Bianca

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Torn between four and five stars

Was this book technically perfect? No.
Did it make me uncomfortable? Sure did.
Was it unique and different? Yep.
Do I think it will stick with me, and be a book I remember for a long time? Also yep.
This book was DARK. It doesn’t start out nice. It isn’t nice in the middle. And it isn’t nice at the end. Is it even a romance? That’s arguable. Dark erotica? Probably a better description.
I couldn’t put this book down. It was different than nearly anything I’ve read. I’ve read a few books before with crazy anti-heroes, but not quite THIS crazy. And he’s not even a mafia/cartel guy- just a normal, everyday guy. With massive mental/emotional problems. Who doesn’t understand boundaries.
Also, he’s hot. So that helps.
I was all over the place reading this. Not unlike this review. Is it okay that I thought some parts of it were hot? Even though the (anti-)hero unquestionably attacks the heroine multiple times? Kidnaps her? Hurts her? Ties her up? I’m kind of ashamed of myself right now.
There were some mental issues going on in this book with both of the main characters. Elliot’s issues seemed to have been there all along, not necessarily increasing in severity but maybe being revealed in pieces. In contrast, Joan’s issues could very well be attributed mostly to her “special times” with Elliot. Untreated trauma can do funny things to people. That is the only explanation I have for Joan’s behavior in this book.
Again, I couldn’t put it down. There is a strong possibility of a future re-read. And I am not proud of myself for that. My only defense is that I read this like a suspense novel.
I do wish we had gotten to see more of the back story on Elliot. Whose house did he live in? How did he get to be the way he is? Was he born that way, or did that evolve? I’m curious.
With careful reminder of triggers and the dark content of this book, I do recommend it as a suspenseful read to mess with your head.

TRIGGERS: Non-consent, dubious consent, kidnapping, stalking, murder, attempted murder.

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This is not a love story.

A chance encounter in a dark bar changed my life forever. I’ll never forget the events of that night and the days that followed. I’ll never be the same. He tried to break me, but now I’m stronger than ever.

I want him to pay. I want him to suffer. I want to be just as much of a monster as he is.

But maybe, deep down… I want him just as much as he wants me. Maybe we deserve each other. Maybe he knows me better than I know myself.


But I know what love is, and this is not it.

Warning: This dark erotic tale contains violence, explicit sexuality, and adult situations. The content may be considered objectionable, so please read at your own discretion.



Wanderlust by Skye Warren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Love this author, but not this book as a whole

I am torn on this book. The concept is new and different- definitely not a tired rehash of something in 100 other books. There were several individual scenes in the book that were pretty hot. Scenes that were exciting. But it didn’t quite come together as a whole for me. Perhaps it was too short to spread its wings to its full potential?
I felt that Evie’s character wasn’t consistent. She seemed to bounce back and forth between enjoying the adventure, and desiring to escape. She wants to call the cops, and then not too long later (she didn’t see him during this in-between period) she swears she wouldn’t call them/wouldn’t send him to prison. I couldn’t quite keep up.
I enjoyed the backstory of Hinter. I (eventually) enjoyed Hunter in present-day. But I didn’t think the backstory of Hunter made sense for present-day Hunter. Without revealing spoilers I won’t get into it, but assuming that his backstory is supposed to be an explanation for why he is the way that he is… I didn’t buy it. I don’t see someone with that backstory displaying the behavior that he does- his acts, his beliefs, even his language.
I do love this author’s writing overall- she writes some of the hottest scenes out there. I’m all about possessive/obsessive/stalkerish alpha men who aren’t afraid to go to extremes, and she delivers. That said, I wish there had been a little more to it with this one. I wish there had been more time to slowly develop the relationship between Evie and Hunter- it felt too rushed. The period of time between Evie feeling negatively toward Hunter (you know, for raping and kidnapping her) to when she became attracted to him was far too short for me. It seemed like she just decided one day that she loved him. And sadly, I didn’t buy in. I WANTED to, because Hunter’s pushiness (a kind way of putting it) came across kinda hot, honestly. After the initial interaction, of course.
Don’t judge me.
Anyway, I liked many of the scenes of this book individually. I just sorely wish there were more of a transition between her negative feelings toward Hunter, and her subsequent positive ones.

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Evie always dreamed of seeing the world, but her first night at a motel turns into a nightmare. Hunter is a rugged trucker willing to do anything to keep her–including kidnapping. As they cross the country in his rig, Evie plots her escape, but she may find what she’s been looking for right beside her.

Wanderlust is a dark erotic novel that explores dubious consent, captivity, and power play. Not intended for those uncomfortable with the subject matter or those under 18 years of age.

NOW LIVE!! The Imperfections

The Imperfections

The Imperfections by Sam Mariano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book starts out with a bang… of triggers. That said, if you were able to handle Untouchable then you’ll probably be fine here.

Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, onward to the good stuff!

Oh, I so needed more Sam Mariano. And here she comes to save the day with another one of her otherwise unlikable anti-heroes. How does she do it?? How does she take a man, who by all accounts is completely unacceptable as a romantic interest, have them do despicable things, and yet by the end of the book scores of otherwise sensible women are ready to fight over him? It defies logic. And yet… whatever sorcery it is certainly works on me. Every damn time.

“If it counts for anything, I’m glad I didn’t kill you tonight,” I tell her.
“You’re a true romantic,” she spits back acerbically.”

Did I love Brant in the first few pages? No. However, I never love her anti-heroes within the first few pages. They need space to spread their terrible wings and do very bad things before she turns on her magic trickery to make us love them.

Brant is not what most folks would call a “good guy.” I say most because it depends on your definition. Does that person have to abstain from killing people? Well, Brant is out. Does that person have to abstain from kidnapping? Assault? Okay, well… he doesn’t pass that hurdle, either. Some might say you are being picky with these requirements, I’m gonna be honest with you. BUT- he doesn’t cheat on his romantic partners! And what’s more? He is very loyal to his family. So there! All is forgiven, eh?

We good here? Did I mention he is also hot, and kinda jerky sometimes? Yeah, I thought that last part would do it.

Alyssa is an interesting character. She is young, but due to growing up in a small, overcrowded house with several hot mess relatives she is somehow more laid back and logical than you would expect for a person her age. She also has a strange approach to threats and/or danger in that she just sort of… bends to it. Rather than being rigid and unyielding (and thus easy to break) she instead adapts to what comes her way. Figures a certain degree of pliability will protect her. And you know what? She’s right. My magic 8 ball predicts that some readers might accuse her of being a doormat, but I counter that with the argument that her ways are what saved her. Her ability to turn a would-be enemy into an ally isn’t weak- it’s enviable. Because if I got kidnapped? My dead body would be thrown from the moving getaway vehicle with a quickness, no doubt.

As is the norm for Sam Mariano the relationship that is eventually forged between these two is NOT a typical progression for a romance. Does she love him? Should she call the police? Is he going to sleep with her, or kill her? Could he possibly be more hurtful? I mean, possibly… but he did do a damn good job of it.

True to her style, this book had me hooked right away. The story popped out of the pages and slapped me right in the face before darting back with a sinister giggle. And quite frankly, that’s how I like my books.

Recommended as always, but be mindful of trigger warnings.

Triggers: non-con, dub-con, violence

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Brantley Morrison is a drinker of whiskey, a solver of problems, and a collector of mutts; the kind of loyal, hardworking guy you want on your side—and you’d best not get on the wrong side of.

Alyssa Walton never meant to find herself on Brant’s bad side—never even met the man until he showed up in her bedroom with a loaded gun and a plan to destroy her.

When Alyssa and Brant collide, his simple problem-solving mission gets a whole lot more complicated. Turns out, Alyssa is nothing like he expected, and she just might be everything he’s ever wanted. Sure, she’s a little afraid of him, but every relationship has its obstacles.

Brant’s never had anyone like Alyssa around, someone loyal and kind who smoothes over his rough edges like she was born to do it. Alyssa’s never met a man like Brant, either, and while she admires the way he looks out for those he loves, she can’t help wondering, who’s looking out for Brant?

Now, faced with wanting the girl he was never supposed to keep, Brant has to make an impossible choice. Does he give up the girl who has brought sunshine into his lonely life, or does he hold on tight, even if it might mean letting down the people he’s spent his whole life protecting?

***The Imperfections is a full-length standalone novel that includes dark and sensitive themes. ***