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

JUST RELEASED TODAY! Wall Street Titan (Alpha Zone #1)

Wall Street Titan (Alpha Zone, #1)

Wall Street Titan by Anna Zaires

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I am enamored with this author. I loved the bejesus out of her previous series, and this book was no different. While this one was contemporary compared to her usual lean toward a darker story, I still loved it. As a primarily dark romance reader I am fussy about contemporary romance, but Wall Street Titan held its own!

The chemistry between Marcus and Emma was off the charts. Their physical reactions to one another exploded off the page. It’s as if their bodies recognized a counterpart in the other before their hearts and minds caught up. And I loved every word of it.

Marcus thought he knew it all, and was about to have it all with the addition of a perfectly perfect trophy wife. He just needed someone to find her for him. Because he was too busy for such nonsense. That’s what he has people for, right? To find things for him. Including a wife. When life serves him up a different dish than he ordered, he slowly (and I mean slowly) realizes that maybe she could be more than a quick one-nighter. Or two-nighter. Maybe even a fling? Or more? Well, let’s not get too crazy… he’d need his analysts to check out the risks on something like that.

Emma is happily (well, satisfactorily… somewhat) buzzing along in the rut where she’s allowed herself to settle. Same job she had in college. Same three cats. Same apartment. Same relationship status she’s had for years (which is to say, no activity). When her friend pushes her to a come-to-Jesus moment she decides to pursue meeting someone. Too bad that someone accidentally turns out to be a man she never would have approached, or met, under any other circumstances aside from the serendipity that occurred that particular night. Or, IS it too bad? Maybe the man she never would have given a second glance is just what she needs. It is starting to look that way. Which, of course, terrifies our young Emma.

Marcus is not exactly his normal, suave self around Emma, which unsettles him to no end. Rather than his usual wine-and-dine he sort of trips and falls face first into his attempts with her.

Despite his inability to bring his A-game, he ends up charming her. Better than he would have with his A-game, actually, because she likely would have been skeptical as all hell, and rightfully so.

I saw so much of myself in Emma- in her personality, her thoughts, her fears. I loved her. She came across so real. So genuine. She wasn’t perfect, neither in personality nor in body. She wasn’t a stick-thin blonde bombshell with pillowy lips and huge blue eyes. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room everywhere she went. She was everywoman, and I loved that about her.

Overall I loved this somewhat Cinderella story of the downtrodden, realistic woman who meets the arrogant, prince-like man. Neither is looking for the other, but they are exactly what each other needs. She needs some spark of motivation to shake herself out of her comfort zone. He is very likely the most motivated person she has ever met. He needs to let go of this notion he has of what he needs to be, what he should have (i.e. a trophy wife), and learn to embrace the freedom of pursuing what you actually want. In that capacity they will free each other. If they can get over their own fears, that is.

I loved that, even though Marcus and Emma’s story is not complete, it isn’t really a cliffhanger at the end of this book. Thank goodness- I don’t fare well with cliffhangers.

So, fellow bingers: I generally wouldn’t recommend starting a duet or series before all of the books are out (see inability to handle cliffhangers above), but you’ll be okay with this one! It is more of a natural break. The start of a new life chapter, if you will. It doesn’t leave you hanging off the side of a cliff by three fingernails. It is more like sitting in a waiting room because you arrived hella early for an appointment. In other words, feel free to dive in!

I can’t wait for the next book to see how far Marcus will go to show Emma that he is worth the risk!

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A billionaire who wants a perfect wife…

At thirty-five, Marcus Carelli has it all: wealth, power, and the kind of looks that leave women breathless. A self-made billionaire, he heads one of the largest hedge funds on Wall Street and can take down major corporations with a single word. The only thing he’s missing? A wife who’d be as big of an achievement as the billions in his bank account.

A cat lady who needs a date…

Twenty-six-year-old bookstore clerk Emma Walsh has it on good authority that she’s a cat lady. She doesn’t necessarily agree with that assessment, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Raggedy clothes covered with cat hair? Check. Last professional haircut? Over a year ago. Oh, and three cats in a tiny Brooklyn studio? Yep, she’s got those.

And yes, fine, she hasn’t had a date since… well, she can’t recall. But that part is fixable. Isn’t that what the dating sites are for?

A case of mistaken identity…

One high-end matchmaker, one dating app, one mix-up that changes everything… Opposites may attract, but can this last?

Free Books on Amazon (11/17/19)

A lovely list of free books put together by blogger Books with Kathy!

Books with Kathy

Happy Sunday!!!
It’s a day of cleaning and reading in my house today.
Let’s see what books are free right now.
Buy links embedded in photos.

Contemporary Romance

Historical Romance

Holiday Romance

Mystery & Suspense Romance

New Adult & College Romance

Paranormal Romance

Science Fiction Romance

Western Romance

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Keep Me Safe (Dark Nights, #0.5)

Keep Me Safe (Dark Nights, #0.5)

Keep Me Safe by Skye Warren

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, let me start by saying I love this author. I love her books. I was recently beside myself with love for a duet of hers. But this one? Sadly, this one didn’t do it for me.
I saw the trigger warning. This isn’t about it having triggers. Which it DOES- if non-consent is a trigger you best run far, far away from this book.
That said, I didn’t feel the development in this book- not of the story, and not of the characters. I feel like this short novel could have been it’s own duet, and it would have been much better. It is too much meat, not enough potatoes. There just wasn’t enough real estate between the covers for this story to spread out. The “relationship” the heroine refers to (she questioningly refers to it as a relationship) with the hero was actually just one morning. And yet they were in love at the end. It was too insta-love for me. I felt like maybe a chunk of the book had gone missing from the middle. When had they fallen in love?
Additionally, the action was too compressed for me. The book is 129 pages, and the heroine got kidnapped three times in succession. It felt rushed. I can suspend belief and be on board with someone being kidnapped three times. But three times in the space of a day or two timeline is a bit much for me.
I didn’t feel connected to the characters, nor to their relationship. Which bummed me out because I know this author can slay in that department. Her writing is solid. But this particular book was just too short to do this story justice, at least for me.
I am still going to read the other two books in this series, and since this is the initial book of said series I can’t very well say I don’t recommend it because I am not a fan of reading parts of a series. But I’ll say this- if considered as a standalone I wouldn’t recommend this particular book, nor plan a re-read. BUT, I since it is part of a series I have to say that if you plan to read the series I imagine you’d want to start with this one.
Also, final disclaimer: I really do very much enjoy this author’s work. I just don’t think this particular book, on it’s own, is a great representation of what she can do. If this is going to be your first book of hers I implore you to go back and read the Masterpiece Duet instead.

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“KEEP ME SAFE is a very intense, well-written story. Ms. Warren does not play it safe in her writing and has no remorse about it!” – The Forbidden Bookshelf

When Rachel is abducted by a group of thugs, one man steps in.

Zachary wants her for himself, and she has no choice but to trust this stranger to keep her safe. When danger strikes again, Rachel’s body may endure the pain, but will their tenuous bond survive the abuse?

KEEP ME SAFE is a dark romance novella that explores captivity and power. Not intended for those uncomfortable with the subject matter or under 18 years of age.


The books in the Dark Nights series: ½. Keep Me Safe (prequel novella)
1. Trust in Me
2. Don’t Let Go

Praise for Keep Me Safe:

“I couldn’t help but put everything I was working on aside and read all 125 amazing pages of it. It’s dark, gritty, disturbing, and amazingly fantastic!” – Day Dreaming

“It’s well written, and I was riveted from the very first line until the very end and read it in one sitting. There is plenty of heat along with mystery and suspense.” – Romance in Review

“Very hot. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, the story takes an even darker and twisted path.” – The Forbidden Bookshelf

The Imperfections by Sam Mariano is coming November 22nd!

From the author’s page:

#TeaserTuesday #ComingSoon #Standalone

🖤 Forbidden romance
🖤 Age gap (hero is older than heroine)
🖤 Gruff, loner hero with a dark side

We have just over a week until THE IMPERFECTIONS releases!! 😁
I’m so ready to share this story with all of you. I can’t wait for you guys to meet Brant! I grew sooo attached to him while writing this book, and it’s almost your turn! ☺️

Releasing November 22nd!

ADD IT TO GOODREADS ➙ https://www.goodreads.com/

Endless Obsession

Endless Obsession

Endless Obsession by Alex Grayson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid read

I enjoyed this book. Unfortunately I did figure out the identity of the villain (which was the big twist), so that took the wind out of my sails a bit. But still, I enjoyed it.
This was a long book, but it had to be long to get everything in. It wasn’t needlessly so.
I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters- the friends, the romantic relationships, the coworkers… all of them. I thought they were well done. The story kept moving without lulls. I couldn’t put it down for very long. I couldn’t wait for Poppy to discover the secret. When would she find out? How would she react? I NEEDED ANSWERS.
I recommend this book for a fun and different read!

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I’ve silently watched her for a year, staying hidden in the shadows, biding my time.

She may know me as two different men, but she doesn’t have a clue what I’ve done.

She unknowingly became mine the moment my eyes touched her beauty.

But I’ve done things… things she may not be able to forgive.

I know all her secrets, her habits, her preferred coffee, what she does in her spare time, her favorite lingerie brand, and that she sleeps naked.

At night, I watch her from her window. During the day, I watch her from my computer. She innocently bares her heart and body to me, and I soak up every fucking second of it.

I’ve stayed away, but I’m tired of watching her from afar. It’s time Poppy finds out just who I am and what I’m willing to do to take what’s mine. She may hate me when she finds out the lengths I’ve gone to with the things I’ve done, but she has no choice but to accept it. She will be my wife. She will mother my children. I will claim every part of her heart, body, and soul. Anything else is unacceptable.

Poppy Lexington has become my endless obsession. I will become her uncontrollable addiction.

Asher Black (The Five Syndicates #1)

Asher Black

Asher Black by Parker S. Huntington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good read, but it didn’t knock my socks off

I liked this book. I’m not shouting from the rooftops in joy, ready to chomp at the bit for any new release, but I enjoyed it. And considering that this was the author’s first book? That’s huge. I’m looking forward to reading a few more to see what happens with these characters.
I liked that the main female and her friend are smart (and I mean smart) and strong. I wished that Asher was at least a few years older because I think it would’ve lent more credibility to his maturity level and accomplishments, but here we are.
The banter between Asher and Lucy was fun, but I didn’t feel quite as much heat between them as I would’ve hoped. There was suspense woven in not just from the romantic developments (or lack thereof), but also from the unexplained assassination attempts, the threat to Asher’s place on the board of his own company, Lucy’s dorm nemesis, and even Lucy’s past. It kept the story moving for me.
All in all an enjoyable read, and a really impressive first release. I plan to read the next one.

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From USA Today bestselling author Parker S. Huntington comes a steamy, slow-burn love story full of unexpected love and banter.

It started with my bladder.

I didn’t mean to witness a shady deal in the restroom hallway.
I didn’t think twice when I called the cops.
And I certainly didn’t know who the club belonged to.

Asher Black.
Former mafia hitman.
Billionaire CEO.
New York’s most eligible bachelor.

When he shows up at my college, looking for the girl who called the cops on his business, I know I’m as good as dead.
What I don’t expect is his offer–he’ll pay my tuition and set me up with a cushy job after I graduate.
All I have to do is… be his fake fiancée.

Asher Black is a 90,000-word standalone novel in The Five Syndicates mafia romance series.

Stutter: A Dark Billionaire Romance (Bleeding Hearts Book 2)

Stutter (Bleeding Hearts #2)

Stutter by A. Zavarelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid wrap up, but less suspenseful than the first book

First off, I really enjoyed this duet. Let’s get that out of the way. The suspense was great (particularly in the first book), and I loved Ryland and Brighton. I think the author did an amazing job with the supporting characters, the back stories, and incorporating multiple mysteries to keep me intrigued. For each answer that was revealed, several others remained.
That said, the second book (again, still great) didn’t sing quite as loud for me. The suspense I felt in the first one- the anticipation of one of my most favorite tropes (secret baby- oh, baby!), and the joy of having been gifted one of my other favorite tropes (forced/coerced relationship), would have been hard to top. I acknowledge that. Echo is a hard act to follow. I tore through it like a hurricane, damn near shaking with anticipation for Stutter as I wrote my review.
Overall, still a five-star duet. Although, that is due to my overwhelming love for Echo since Stutter wasn’t quite as great as Echo for me. The suspense was still there, but just not quite as high.
I definitely recommend this duet if you are a fan of forced relationships, secret babies, dark alpha heroes, and solid writing.

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*Book Two in the Bleeding Hearts Series*

Someone once told me that happiness is fleeting.

I can see now that he was right. I’m trapped in a black hole of darkness I can’t seem to crawl out of. My twin and my lover want each other dead and I’m pregnant with a baby I don’t know how to protect.

Ryland says he will do anything to get me back, but how do you trust the man who almost killed you? When every option before you comes at a cost, how do you choose the right path?

People say that history has a way of repeating itself. Six years after the fact, my father’s actions are still haunting me. When I learn about an old debt yet to be settled, everything changes. It might not matter who I trust anymore when my every breath brings me one step closer to the end of this twisted game.

Echo (Bleeding Hearts, #1)

Echo (Bleeding Hearts, #1)

Echo by A. Zavarelli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! I don’t even want to take the time to write this review- I need ANSWERS!
In yet another episode of “searching Goodreads lists for my favorite tropes” I was over the moon to discover a book by A. Zavarelli on one of the lists.
Say what? One of my favorite authors has a book with one of my favorite tropes, and I haven’t read it? Thank you, Jesus! This is just what I needed right now! I haven’t had a good reader high in too long.
Obviously I thoroughly enjoyed this book- from start to maddening finish. Coerced relationship? Check. Over-possessive alpha hero? Check. Stalkerish tendencies that would yield a restraining order in real life. Yep… check. Be still my unhinged heart!
I was frustrated in the best way by the push and pull of Ryland and Brighton. And all of the suspense woven in? I LOVED IT. There are still mysteries left to unravel in book 2, even beyond that cliffhanger (gearing up for one of my very favorite tropes in book 2, which I won’t name because spoiler). Gah- I’m so excited I found this duet!
Me thinks I won’t be getting any sleep tonight- I have a VIB (very important book) to attend to. So now I’ll go skipping off to read book 2!

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A Dark Billionaire Romance

How far would you go to save someone you love? Would you give up your body? Your mind? Your heart?

I did and it cost me everything.

He says he owns me. And it’s true.

I’ve signed over complete control of my body and life for six months to a man I don’t know. Five years he’s been planning this. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. But my blackmailer serves it up white hot. He’s addicted to my innocence, and I’m addicted to him.

He likes to hurt me. I love to let him. He brings me to life. He sets me free. He makes my heart feel things it shouldn’t.

But he also scares me. He holds the fate of my brother’s life in his hands. A life behind bars for crimes I know he didn’t commit. My blackmailer can’t give up his revenge on my family, and I can’t be with him if he doesn’t. But I’m nothing more than a butterfly caught in his net. Do I really have a choice?

The Deal (Off-Campus Book 1)

The Deal (Off-Campus, #1)

The Deal by Elle Kennedy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable NA (college) read

This was my first read by this author, and I really enjoyed it. There was suspense coming from several angles- not just the main relationship. It kept the book moving- no lulls.
I do wish there had been some resolution for Hannah’s parents, but everything else I can think of was resolved.
I need my stories to have an HEA, and this one delivers. Granted it is more HFN than HEA, but this is NA- they are young. Let them be!
Everything about this was good. The writing was good. The story, the characters’ back stories, the supporting characters, even the teasers laid for the next book (will poor Logan find love? My guess is… most likely)- all really good.
That said, I’m on the fence as to whether this would be a re-read for me. But, to be fair, my re-reads are generally darker (kidnapping, forced marriage, etc.). That’s not to detract from whether this is a good NA book- it really is. I’d like to read more from this author, perhaps her romantic suspense.
All in all, definitely a recommended NA read!

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New York Times bestseller Elle Kennedy brings you a sexy new Off-Campus novel that can be read as a standalone

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

The Tycoon’s Vacation (Baby for the Billionaire, #2)

The Tycoon's Vacation (Baby for the Billionaire, #2)

The Tycoon’s Vacation by Melody Anne

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Struggled to finish

This was my second read in this series, and is likely to be my last. I struggled to finish this one, but momma didn’t raise no quitter. So here we are.
I didn’t feel any suspense or action in this book. And where the first book was at least (one-sidedly) an enemies-to-lovers this one was just (again, one-sidedly) reluctant and scared-to-lovers. It didn’t give any urgency. I found it to be dull. I need some intrigue! Some suspense! Without that, what other than a pathological need to complete something will get me to finish the book? The answer is: nothing. I had no desire to finish this book. I made myself do it.
I found the reason Trinity was mad at Drew to be weak. I’m sure almost any man who met a woman in a situation like that would lie. Unless he was only trying to get her into bed, of course. Outside of that, lying would make the woman get to know him as a person, not as a billionaire executive. That changes things- either dollar signs flash in the eyes, the woman becomes intimidated, or perhaps she even decides to bail due to a stereotypical distrust of wealthy men (which would have been my move). If I were Drew I would have lied, too. And he didn’t lie for a nefarious reason- it is understandable to want to be just “Drew” and not “Drew, the billionaire resort owner.” Trinity held her grudge ENTIRELY too long. She assigned a disproportionate amount of distrust.
Anyway, I did not personally enjoy this book. The writing was decent, but it meandered along like a lazy river, and unfortunately I was bored.

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This is the second book in the Baby for the Billionaire series. Drew Titan decides it is time to take a vacation at one of his exotic resorts, and ends up literally running into Trinity Mathews while he is surfing. They end up having a steamy romance over the week long vacation, until she finds out he is the resorts owner, and had lied to her. She has sworn off all business men, since she couldn’t seem to find one who knew how to remain faithful to her, which is what landed her at the resort in the first place. She goes back home to discover that her first impulsive thing she has done in her life has left her pregnant and alone, that is until Drew finds her and will not go away until she agrees to marry him. Come enjoy the adventures Drew and Trinity take together in this fun filled story that has love, passion, fighting, and making up. Drew’s cousins Derek and Ryan add humor and even more love to the adventure, and will leave you wanting a hunk of your own.Coming in October, the final story in the series, The Tycoon’s Proposal.