Bound by Temptation (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #4)

Bound by Temptation (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #4)

Bound by Temptation by Cora Reilly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked the story of Lily and Romero. Toward the end I did not see how they were going to make it, especially after the wedding to Benito was allowed to happen. I was in disbelief when she said “I do,” honestly. I sighed in relief when Luca decided to allow war rather than exact harsh punishment on Lily and/or Romero. I’m not interested in books without an HEA, so I am very satisfied that Lily finally got hers. She tried to do the “right thing” and “do her duty,” but just couldn’t stomach the life she would be subjected to at the hands of Benito, especially knowing that Romero, and her happiness, were out there.
Looking forward to the next book in the series, as usual!

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Liliana Scuderi has been in love with Romero from the moment she first saw him. After her sisters were married off for tactical reasons, she hopes she might be allowed to choose a husband for herself, but when her father promises her to a man more than twice her age that hope is crushed. No begging can make him change his mind. 

Romero has always ignored Lily’s flirting. Her age and status made her off-limits but even someone as dutiful as him has only so much control. Wanting her when she’s supposed to marry another man could mean war between New York and the Chicago Outfit, and Romero has always put the Famiglia first. Lily suspects her sisters and Romero would risk everything for her, but is her happiness worth that much? Is love worth a war between the New York Famiglia and the Chicago Outfit? 

Because of You (Because of You #1)

Because of You

Because of You by Sam Mariano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unfortunately my original review didn’t save, and it has now been six months since I read this book. My rating DID save so the five-star rating was determined immediately after having finished the book. This is the first book in a duet by Sam Mariano, currently my favorite author. Every single one of her books is just truly that good. One-click good. Rate-it-five-stars-before-I-even-read-it good. Just kidding about that last part- obviously I read her books before I rate them five stars.
This duet was the perfect length to fully explore the story of these two main characters. One book would have done it a disservice, and two would have dragged.
As with anything by this author I highly recommend this duet. It isn’t quite as dark as her Morelli series (my all-time favorite series ever, not just my favorite series by Mariano) so those with more delicate sensibilities might do better with this if looking to check out this author.

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When the only thing that’s remembered about your mother is how she died in a murder-suicide killing the wife of her ex-boyfriend, you know life isn’t going to be a piece of cake for you. Add to that a never-present father with more affection for his beer bottle than his daughter, and a too-hot-for-his-own-good surviving son of the victim of said “accident,” and you have a problem—or at least, Nicole Harmon certainly does. 

When the surviving son, Derek Noble, sees an unsavory opportunity for revenge in the form of a heated one-night-stand, he decides to take it. It is intended to be an unkind but relatively uneventful interlude, but turns into the catalyst that unknowingly casts Derek and Nikki into the shadow of their parents’ sordid past. 

What begins as a hateful game of revenge soon evolves into something they never expected and a love neither of them ever wanted. With the fragments of their tumultuous family history hanging over their heads, the second generation of star-crossed lovers begin a love story all of their own… 

Forever Mine (Tormentor Mine #4)

Forever Mine (Tormentor Mine, #4)

Forever Mine by Anna Zaires

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hallelujah! The conclusion to Peter and Sara’s story has arrived, and it was SO worth the wait! I usually don’t read a series until all of the books are out, but got into this one without realizing that the fourth book had not yet been released. Thank goodness I only had to wait a month.
This book. This series. This whole world Anna Zaires has created… it is just so butterflies-in-my-tummy excellent. Do I love Peter? Yep! Do I love Lucas? Yep! Do I love Julian? Well, honestly, not quite… but, I love Nora so it works out. And, truth be told, I think Julian did redeem himself a little in this book. Finally. He is growing on me.
Back to this book- we have suspense, drama, our beloved characters from previous books (including the deliciously unsettling Yan), crushing loss, several near-misses, and lots of action. Both the Bruce Willis kind AND the skinemax kind. Yum.
Aagh, I loved it. I loved it so much. I loved the epilogue with the glimpse into the future as well. Don’t we all want to know how things turn out for our favorite characters? Of course we do.
My only disappointment with this book is that it is the end of this world. Or, IS it? Anna Zaires, if you read this (Yan), I would like to formally request (Yan) more books from this world (Yan).
So worth the wait. Each series in this world just keeps getting better. I’m so glad I found this author, and so glad I found this series (and the two series connected to it).
Five “I love me a possessive alpha” stars!

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I fought against fate, and I won. I made a deal with the devil to keep her.

It was supposed to be over. We were meant to be happy.

Too bad my enemies had other plans.

Note: This is the conclusion of Peter & Sara’s story. It is strongly recommended that you read Twist Me and Capture Me trilogies before embarking on this book, as there will be major spoilers for those series.

Crime Lord’s Paradise (Crime Lord #4.5)

Crime Lord's Paradise (Crime Lord #4.5)

Crime Lord’s Paradise by Mia Knight

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Note: review originally written in April 2019


I was unpleasantly surprised at the end of the previous book (Carmen’s story) to find that it was going to extend to two books, but the author stated at the end that the second book would be out in early 2019. Ok… it IS early 2019, so surely that means it is coming soon? Perhaps there will some forward momentum of the story line in Crime Lord’s Paradise?
No, and no. This book did not move the storyline forward- it only ran parallel to part of the last book. There was no real suspense or mystery. Effectively it examined the relationship between Gavin and Lyla while they are in Bora Bora on vacation. Then, at the end, the author addresses the expected release of book five (part two of Carmen’s story) by saying it will be released some time in 2019. A check of her reader group yielded a post that she is going to start writing it this week.
I was disappointed by the lack of meat in Crime Lord’s Paradise. Honestly a reader of this series could skip this book altogether and not miss anything except the delay of the expected release date of the next book.
Shucks. I like this series, but I don’t really recommend this book. If you just need more Gavin and Lyla and sex, then knock yourself out. But know that it isn’t much more than that.

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After Gavin Pyre steps down from his position as crime lord, he and Lyla focus on picking up the pieces of their lives and creating the paradise they deserve.

Author’s Note: This novella intersects with book 4, Awakened by Sin, so books should be read in sequence.
This is a dark romance novel with triggers, violence, and mature themes that may make some readers uncomfortable

Awakened by Sin (Crime Lord #4)

Awakened by Sin (Crime Lord #4)

Awakened by Sin by Mia Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I found this book to be very emotional, and less suspenseful/action-packed than the other books. While it was still good, I admit that it didn’t hold my attention the way the others did. I kept reading waiting for something to emerge as the mystery that would be solved, but all I got was the mystery of Marcus vs. Angel. And let me tell you, Marcus did not impress me toward the end there. Nor did Angel, honestly. I was half hoping that Carmen would blow off both of them and move to New York with Lyciana to get a fresh start. THAT’S an ending I’d love to see. I don’t think Marcus deserves Carmen, and I don’t think Angel would be good for her. Crazy on crazy would surely be a bad combo, right?
That said, I am super curious how Carmen’s story will end. The author said Carmen’s second book will come out in early 2019, so off I go to her reader group to look for an update.

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Carmen Pyre had it all until her husband was murdered by a madman who threatened everyone she loved. Now that her husband has been avenged, it’s time to move on… she just doesn’t know how. 

Two men who fill her husband’s former roles offer to help her move forward with her life. Should she choose the dangerous new crime lord who will feed her dark cravings or the man who will anchor her and give her the deepest desires of her heart?

Author’s Note: This is a dark romance novel with triggers, violence, and mature themes that may make some readers uncomfortable. Also, books must be read in succession!

Once A Crime Lord (Crime Lord, #3)

Once A Crime Lord (Crime Lord, #3)

Once A Crime Lord by Mia Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good series

I was disappointed to find that I had correctly guessed the villain in the first book, but still pleased with this series overall.
The relationship between Lyla and Gavin is so turbulent. So angsty. He just can’t stop messing up- it’s pathological. He makes some ground with her, and then before long he can’t help himself but to try and spoil it. And boy, he nearly did it in this book… more than once. That, coupled with the external threats, made for a fast-paced read.
I was horrified by the level of violence and gore in this book, but I suppose that shock value is necessary to relay the depravity of the world this author has created. There is no question that these main characters encounter true sociopaths in this book. Men who thrive on pain and loss of hope more than anything else. It’s terrifying that there probably are actual places out there like the one described in this book. Makes me want to hide in my house and hug my dog.
Anyway, another good entry for this series. I was thrilled by all of the new characters that were introduced in the second and third books, and can’t wait to read Carmen’s story next!

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It all ends here. 

It’s been two years since the Pyre family was ripped apart by a sadistic killer who will stop at nothing to take Gavin Pyre’s position as crime lord of the Las Vegas underworld. 

Lyla and Gavin’s relationship will be put to the ultimate test when her ex rolls into town and the killer decides to finish what he started by making his final play… 

This is a dark romance novel with triggers, violence, and mature themes that may make some readers uncomfortable

Recaptured by the Crime Lord (Crime Lord #2)

Recaptured by the Crime Lord (Crime Lord, #2)

Recaptured by the Crime Lord by Mia Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gripping series

I am really enjoying this series. The mystery of the identity of the new crime lord really has me riled up. I have my guess at who it is, but I’ll just have to wait and see if I’m right in the next book.
This book thrilled me with a forced marriage (one of my favorite book tropes) by an overly obsessive alpha (one of my other romance book favorites). A killer combination. Throw in a loyal bodyguard who secretly has a heart, and sees all, and I’m all about these Sin City characters. More Gavin! More Lyla! More Carmen! More Blade! And… for sure more Eli! 😉
Can’t wait for the next book to see how completely bonkers Gavin goes now that he finally has what he wants, and it is being threatened. Lyla has unleashed the lion.

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Lyla Dalton is a shell of her former self. She and her cousin have been traveling cross country in an RV, trying to outrun their pasts, but that’s about to come to an end.

Gavin Pyre is out of jail and he’s coming for her. This time, when he catches her, there will be no escape.

Author’s Note: This is a dark romance novel with triggers, violence, and mature themes that may make some readers uncomfortable

Crime Lord’s Captive (Crime Lord #1)

Crime Lord's Captive (Crime Lord, #1)

Crime Lord’s Captive by Mia Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Wow- this one is sad. There are a couple of deaths in it that I kept hoping weren’t true, but sadly I was wrong. Just… so sad.
This book did a great job establishing characters, and getting the reader to feel something for them (intrigue, dislike, disgust, frustration, affection). You can understand the internal turmoil of the heroine as she struggles to reconcile that she has ended up back in Las Vegas under the thumb of the ex-boyfriend that she had escaped three years prior. It is also easy to see that said ex is trying to prove himself to her, to prove that he wants her to WANT to be there with him.
When all hell breaks loose it is time for these characters to rise to the challenge. Do they pass? Do they fail? Do they manage to make good decisions? What relationships, if any, survive the storm?
Overall a great read, and I am looking forward to the next book!

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“Come to me, Lyla, and I’ll let your father live.”

Three years ago, Lyla Dalton fled from the glittering lights of Las Vegas and the ruthless man who rules the criminal underworld, Gavin Pyre. She created a new identity and has been living a quiet life, but that’s at an end. He’s found her and is bringing her back to where she belongs. 

As Lyla navigates through the dark secrets of her past, she’s forced to face a man who won’t accept no for an answer from the woman he still claims as his. 

Author’s Note: This is a dark romance novel with triggers, violence, and mature themes that may make some readers uncomfortable

The Bad Guy

The Bad Guy

The Bad Guy by Celia Aaron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An easy and enjoyable read

This was my first read by this author. Often I struggle with standalone books after getting so used to the character/story development afforded by a series, but this book did it well. There wasn’t an exorbitant amount of backstory, but the characters were still explained enough for the story to work.
I thoroughly enjoyed that the characters, by the end, were not all who they had seemed to be at the beginning. Surprise- the “psycho” was not the bad guy when it came down to it. He was still a bad guy, just not THE bad guy.
As always with dark romance I loved the level of obsession, the lengths to which Sebastian went to for Camille. Hey, it’s fantasy, right? Don’t judge me.
I liked the inclusion of Sebastian’s father, and his feelings and actions toward his son. Drawing a parallel to Dexter (the TV series), this book took a person who had been diagnosed as psychotic and really painted him in a sympathetic light. Damaged? Yes. But it isn’t his fault, and it presents a real problem for him in trying to live his life.
Overall, a very enjoyable read. Right before this book I’d just finished something so gritty and violent that it was hard to get through it, so this was a very welcome palate cleanser. This is more the level of dark that I prefer, to be honest. I’m not into physical-abuse dark, which seems to be part of a lot of dark romance these days.
This book promises a dark romance with an HEA, and it delivers!

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My name is Sebastian Lindstrom, and I’m the villain of this story. 
I’ve decided to lay myself bare. To tell the truth for once in my hollow life, no matter how dark it gets. And I can assure you, it will get so dark that you’ll find yourself feeling around the blackened corners of my mind, seeking a door handle that isn’t there. 
Don’t mistake this for a confession. I neither seek forgiveness nor would I accept it. My sins are my own. They keep me company. Instead, this is the true tale of how I found her, how I stole her, and how I lost her. 
She was a damsel, one who already had her white knight. But every fairy tale has a villain, someone waiting in the wings to rip it all down. A scoundrel who will set the world on fire if that means he gets what he wants. That’s me. 
I’m the bad guy. 

Author’s Note: This is a 90,000-word romance with dark themes and a HEA.

Spark (Stronger Series #3)

Spark (Stronger, #3)

Spark by Jay Marie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent series

As with the other books in this series, don’t go looking here for romance-you won’t find it. This is not a dark romance. I’ve seen it described as an erotic thriller, and I have to agree that is a better description. There are hot sexy times, but that is not to say that’s what all of them are. The male main character in this book/series is unforgivably cruel to the female main character. I don’t see there being a possibility for redemption there. I don’t anticipate an HEA involving those two being together. EDIT: the author has gone on record to state that this series is not intended to be a dark romance- it is an erotic thriller, or similar. Point being, this is not a romance series.
That said, if you go into this with your eyes wide open to the idea that it is not a romance of any kind, then it is an excellent book/series. The author really captures the emotions and viewpoints of the different characters. You feel Jaden’s fear, and Darren’s rage. For that matter you also feel Jaden’s rage. As with the other books this one made me sad. It upset me. It made me sick. It bothered me to a degree that I can’t stop thinking about it. And I am pretty sure that is the author’s point. She isn’t painting a pretty, fake Stockholm Syndrome picture a la dark romance. She is peeling back the mottled veneer and showing what is underneath. The beatings, the rape, the degradation. The control, the hopelessness, the loss of self. It is heartbreaking to read. And it is disturbing to know that, though this story is fictional, this situation is happening all over the world. Women are being kidnapped, and bought/sold by malicious people who capitalize on the evil of others in pursuit of the almighty dollar. They trick these women, kidnap them, etc. and then rip their lives away to sentence them to a fate that is oftentimes worse than death. I’m getting nauseous writing this review.
Again, this is an excellent book, and an excellent series. It is very dark material, and readers need to understand that before cracking it open. Understand it contains horrifying subject matter, and it is not a dark romance.
With that disclaimer in mind, I 100% recommend this book/series to those who have the stomach for it.

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There are not enough words to describe my internal torment. I knew there would be consequences for what I did. I knew this would be hard. But it’s so much harder than I ever want to admit. Physically broken, mentally drained, and legally dead, I now find myself wasting away on an island in the middle of the Bahamas. Darren has left me in isolation for my own recovery and the only thing I can be grateful for is the fact that my isolation includes him. But I know he won’t be able to stay away for long. Eventually he’ll be back to reclaim what’s his and remind me of all the things I hate about him. How he’s able to twist fear with pleasure to create the most destructive combination, how it rushes through my blood and simmers under my skin, making me come alive and burn for more. Sometimes I don’t know who I hate more, him or myself? After everything that’s happened, after everything I’ve allowed myself to feel, I deserve a little self-hatred. I can feel my will to continue fighting diminishing, the fire in my heart barely more than embers, but I promised Jason I would find him. I promised my family I would find a way back to them. Darren may own me, but he doesn’t own my intentions. And even though he may have broken my body, he will never break my will to survive. I’ll find a way. Somehow, I’ll find my way out of the dark, even if it’s with the tiniest little spark. 

Nothing plagues my mind more than that goddamn, stubborn ass redhead. Too often, I find myself thinking of nothing else, and no matter how many miles I put between us to focus on my work, Jaden still finds a way to kick the damn door down and pull me under. I may not have been able to keep her out of my head, but I was able to keep her hidden away on my private island in the Bahamas. I wanted to ensure her recovery would remain uninterrupted from other potential distractions. It would be pretty tough to escape from an island in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by guards with broken bones and a broken ego. Jaden wasn’t going anywhere, not this time, not until I was ready to take her back with me. She had a lot to prove until then. I knew she was more than physically damaged. Her confidence in herself shattered the night I crushed her in my arms and I had a feeling it was going to take a lot of inner strength for her to put it back together. But that was the one thing I knew she had a never-ending supply of. Her strength was admirable and I was confident she’d find it again. I just had to make sure it lacked one thing when we eventually returned home – her desire to kill me. There were two ways I could accomplish that – positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. I suppose the technique would depend on Jaden’s ability to adapt, but knowing her, I was going to have to fight this at every angle … and didn’t I always love a good fight. 

WARNING: Contains disturbing content that may be offensive to some readers. 

*NOTE: For every book that is sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charity that benefits victims of human trafficking.*