Family Ties (Morelli Family #4)

Family Ties (Morelli Family, #4)

Family Ties by Sam Mariano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lord have mercy, this was a LONG one. Good, but very long.
I liked that this book tied up a couple of loose ends from the previous book, which makes sense as it follows the development of Francesca and Salvatore’s relationship, which took place during the same timeline as the previous books. So basically this book, in addition to building that relationship, also gave other viewpoints/additional information about events that had already taken place. It also kind of turned on a couple of existing characters, making them less appealing than they had been in previous books. I found it interesting that I was so easily swayed into having a different opinion about those characters. How fickle I am. Disloyal. The Morellis would not approve.
Overall a great book, but very much NOT a standalone. The experience would be very different if someone tried to read this without reading the series (in order). And why would someone do such a thing, anyway?

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Francesca Morelli. 

Sweet as sin, like the cupcakes she slings at the Morelli bakery. Her sweetness and killer looks are what reeled me in, but her unexpected vulnerability really sealed my fate. I don’t care if there’s a war brewing between our families. I don’t care if I have to go through her evil dictator of a brother. I will break down Francesca Morelli’s walls, I will make her mine, and I’ll keep her—no matter the cost. 

Salvatore Castellanos. 

If good men exist, I’ve certainly never met one—until the day my brother’s rival sauntered into my bakery. Raised around manipulation and unimaginable dysfunction, I know better than to invest in dishonest, dangerous men. I also know Salvatore is exactly that type of man—only, it turns out he isn’t. After years spent living in a shell, Salvatore opens me back up. He’s sexy and sincere, making well-intended promises he’ll never be able to keep. Even knowing he’ll ultimately break my heart, I can’t resist falling for him. 

But tensions are rising between our families, and whichever side wins, I know our love won’t make it out alive. Salvatore may be a man accustomed to getting what he wants, but as much as I wish otherwise, I’m the one thing he can never really have. 

*** THIS IS NOT A STANDALONE. This is book four, and read alone it will be confusing and weird. Also, you have to be as invested in the Morellis as you will be after books 1-3 in order to care about the Morelli madness accompanying this love story. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FIRST, IT WILL BE A BAD TIME. ***

Once Burned (Morelli Family #3)

Once Burned (Morelli Family, #3)

Once Burned by Sam Mariano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE THIS SERIES!! I love this world, these characters, this drama. How does Sam Mariano do it? How do I feel anything other than hate and disgust for Mateo? Kinda makes me disgusted with myself, honestly.
Still- loved the drama. Love the head games and power plays from Mateo. Love the budding relationship between Adrian and Elise- him coming to realize that he can just step back and let her be who she is, and she will be happy. Love the planting of the seeds of the future books.
I can’t wait to see what happens now- on to the next book!

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Adrian Palmetto. 

Mine is a name known by every lowlife in Chicago. Mateo Morelli’s right hand man: problem-solver, hit man, chief strategist, confidante—whatever he needs, I’m his guy. Kinda funny, since I hate the bastard. At least, that’s what I’ve told myself over the last five years, serving a man I consider despicable—a man I once considered my closest friend. It’s what I had to do, if I wanted Elise. And I wanted Elise more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my godforsaken life.

Thing is, I’m free now. I don’t have to be Mateo’s guy anymore. I paid the price for Elise’s freedom and now I can start building a life with her. Only it’s not that simple. Nothing ever is in this damn family. Elise carries emotional baggage from her own time served, and Mateo’s in deep shit without me. 

You’d think I would’ve learned my lesson about the evils of Mateo’s family at 8, when they ruined my life, or maybe even at 28, when they stole it. Now here I am, 33, faced with one final choice: do I escape this family once and for all, or do I dive back into the flames to save Mateo’s ass one last time?

**Recommended for readers 18+ due to violence. Book 3 of 4 in the Morelli Family Saga. NOT a standalone. None of these are standalones. Start with Accidental Witness or suffer the consequences! (The consequence is that you’ll be really confused. No one will murder you or anything. But I don’t advise it.)**

*** It’s also strongly recommended that you read Irreparable Damage and Irreparable Lives prior to this one. This book has ALL the spoilers from that duet, so if you ever wanted to read it, you’ll want to do that before this book. ***

Misadventures with the Boss

Misadventures with the Boss (Misadventures, #11)

Misadventures with the Boss by Kendall Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Redeemed! I was admittedly disappointed in the most recent book I read by this author, but this one made it all better. The sexy times were hot, the characters made sense and were likable. I’m not sure I can see a red skirt without thinking of Jackson’s description of what he would (and did) do with it. HOT.
I wish the story had been longer to allow for more development, more building of tension after Piper finds out her news, and before Jackson finds out. That part felt a bit rushed. That said, it was still good. I would recommend this for a fast, easy HEA read.

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At age twenty-nine, Piper Daniels is having the longest dry spell of her life. When she agrees to be set up on a blind date, she never expects it to end with the hottest sex of her life. 

But when she discovers that her very well-endowed secret lover is also her new boss, heartless womanizer, and cutthroat CEO Jackson Dane, she chalks it up to a one-time mistake and puts up her best professional front. But Jackson isn’t used to rejection, and if Piper thinks it’s going to be easy to move on from their tryst, she’s underestimated his determination.

Misadventures is a romantic series of spicy standalone novels, each written or co-written by some of the best names in romance. The stories are scandalous, refreshing, and, of course, incredibly sexy. They’re the perfect bedside read, a ‘quick blush’ for the reader who loves a page-turning romance.

Surviving Mateo (Morelli Family #2)

Surviving Mateo (Morelli Family, #2)

Surviving Mateo by Sam Mariano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finished Accidental Witness yesterday, and Surviving Mateo today. And wow- am I loving Sam Mariano!
Mateo is… awful. Maddening. Terrifying. Unstable. Unpredictable. Controlling. Surprising.
This book really kept it moving for me. I hate it when a story lags in the middle. None of that here! I can’t wait to keep reading the Morelli series! I love the characters. And the person who disappeared during this book? I gotsta find out what happened to them!
After Accidental Witness I couldn’t imagine rooting for Mateo. He was just too awful. Unforgivable. Irredeemable. What he did was not excusable regardless of his intentions. That said, somehow, he softens in Surviving Mateo and I found myself rooting for the HEA. Not just for Meg, but surprisingly, for Mateo as well. Maybe because he is a damaged loose cannon, and perhaps she can reign in some of that volatility.
Can’t write anymore- gotta go read some more of this series!

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Mateo Morelli.

The mere mention of his name is enough to strike fear into the hearts of grown men. The most ruthless crime lord in Chicago isn’t a man you dare cross. But when the second most feared crime lord shows up on my doorstep the night of my husband’s wake, he doesn’t give me much of a choice. 

My late husband owed Antonio Castellanos a lot of money, but the magnanimous boss is gonna do me a solid—I get to pay my debt, and keep my daughter alive. All I have to do is one little favor.

That favor?

Seduce and kill Mateo Morelli.

**PLEASE NOTE: These are not standalones. Mateo’s story starts in Accidental Witness (and continues in Once Burned). If you don’t read Accidental Witness first, you will not have the background you need on his character and you won’t follow his story very easily. *** 

Accidental Witness (Morelli Family #1)

Accidental Witness (Morelli Family, #1)

Accidental Witness by Sam Mariano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bye bye, sleep. Need to read more Morellis!

Oh my god, I love this book. This whole series. This author. I put it off because, and I know this is stupid, the cover came off more “suspense” than “dark romantic suspense” to me. I now see the error of my ways! What a great loss if I hadn’t taken the plunge! Now I read everything this author writes, “follow” (stalk) her on social media in pursuit of news or extra bits of content (which she gives in her Facebook group, by the way), and basically can’t get enough. And it all started with THIS BOOK.

The build up of the interactions between Vince and Mia is hot, and the suspense of “does he know” (yeah, he does), “does his family know?” (yeah, they do), and more kept me flying through the pages to see what happened next. The games his family plays are just… diabolical.
I love that this author really embraces the dark side. Some authors in this genre dip their toe into the dark pool. Sam Mariano goes running past those weenies and does a cannonball right into the deep end, jackknife leg and all.
If you are a fan of the dark romance/dark suspense genre like I am (“fan” is putting it mildly) then you will love this book. Also, make sure you have a LOT of free time so you can immediately move on to the remaining books in the series. Because you will. You’re welcome for the warning.

Trigger warning: non-consent, dubious consent

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“It’s not an easy thing, loving a Morelli.”

Vince Morelli.

The closest I ever wanted to get to him was several rows away in English class. We’d never spoken, but of course I heard the stories about his family. I know they’re dangerous. I know he’sdangerous. Vince never had a reason to notice me, anyway—until I inadvertently witnessed his first mob hit. 

His family doesn’t believe in leaving witnesses alive, but Vince seems different. He knows the best thing he can do for me is stay away, but something keeps drawing us together. Despite knowing the risks of getting mixed up with him, I can’t resist. Only problem is, Vince is a package deal—you don’t get him without getting swept up in his family’s dark games. 

Now entangled with a notorious Chicago crime family, will my life ever be mine again?

**Obligatory trigger warning: While not wholly dark, this is a mafia romance with elements of DARK ROMANCE. There are no knights in shining armor to be found here.
Sensitive content not recommended for those under 18, or those who loathe the dark romance genre. **
This is a continuing story series. The story continues and evolves in each book until you get to the end.

Don’t Let Go

Don't Let Go

Don’t Let Go by Willow Winters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this author’s writing in general, and it was a fun change of pace to read these short stories, different than the longer novels I love so much. She wrote at the end of Infatuation that she’d like to revisit that world and wrote more, and I’d LOVE to see that! What happens with Lila and Alec? What is the deal with the cryptic references to Annabelle (Belle)? Why does Drew care about any of it? So many questions.
Loved these short stories- good for when you are addicted to reading, but know you don’t have hours and hours to devote to a novel at a particular time.

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Seductive. Addictive. Captivating.

The irresistible heroes in these stories have those three features in common.
Some stories are second chance; others are fated love. But every single one of them, you’ll crave to the last page.

This is a collection of tales published by Willow Winters but no longer available. These stories touched my heart, but were exclusive at the time so if you didn’t snag them then, they were lost to you forever.
I wanted to make sure you could read all of my work and now you can. Happy reading, xx

The stories available in this collection are:
** Infatuation, the first novella in the USA Today best-selling bundle, Drawn to Him.
** Desires in the Night and Keeping Secrets, both shorts published in exclusive bundles with best-selling author Adriana Locke.
**Bad Boy Next Door, a novella I wrote years ago that I still often think about. The damaged hero and second chance love in this romance is one I wish I could go back to often. It’s the final tale included in this collection for a total of 4 stories not available anywhere else!

Dishonorable (The Amado Brothers #1)

Dishonorable (The Amado Brothers #1)

Dishonorable by Natasha Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The chemistry between Raphael and Sofia had me ALL bothered. I’m a sucker for a cocky guy who gets in the heroine’s space, stands too close, presses himself up against her, boxes her in against something…. Raphael does all of these. To which I say, “Yes, please!”
I loved the various twists and secrets- it kept me interested. I can’t be bothered with a schmexy story with no storyline, so I love that the author gave intrigue as well.
My heart broke for how cruel Raphael’s father was to him and his mother. No wonder he was a bit messed up and angry. Of course he is, with what he endured.
Raphael was fearless and tough to Sofia’s tentative and unsure, and I loved it.

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I knew little of Raphael Amado’s history with my family, but when he turned up on our doorstep demanding restitution, my grandfather quickly conceded. That restitution? Me.

Six months later, on my eighteenth birthday, Raphael came for me. He stole me from my home, taking me to his Tuscan estate, where from the crumbling chapel to the burnt-down vineyard, to the cellar that haunted him, the past stalked him like a shadow. It waited for him, hid behind corners for him and trapped him at every turn. 

As much as Raphael’s cruelty terrified me, his darkness seduced me. But in the end, it was his tenderness that devastated me.


Sofia came to me like an offering. Like a virgin to be sacrificed at the altar. But truth was, her grandfather betrayed her. I guess we had that in common. He’d screwed me too.

I knew hate. I’d vowed vengeance. This was never supposed to be about anything else. But in the end, her innocence broke me. The very thing I would destroy, destroyed me.

**Update April 13, 2017: Disgraced, Damon and Lina’s book will be out late May!

Behind His Eyes Box Set (Consequences #1.5, 2.5)

Behind His Eyes Box Set (Consequences, #1.5, #2.5)

Behind His Eyes Box Set by Aleatha Romig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this series, so it was interesting to read pivotal scenes from Tony’s POV. I am very glad the author didn’t completely rewrite the books from Tony’s POV- that would have been a lot on everyone. The scenes she DID include were the ones I would have wanted to see, anyway.
I highly recommend reading this AFTER reading the series- at least after reading the first two books. Ideally, after reading the first three books unless you have the self-control of a saint, and can not read the epilogue or timeline in the back (spoilers for the third book).
This series has SO much going on- it spans multiple locations, a very large cast of well-developed characters, and a span of several years (not counting flashbacks). I’m not sure I consider it a regular dark romance, but maybe a dark thriller with romance tendencies? That way I can stomach what took place in the first book.

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Behind His Eyes Box Set 
Behind His Eyes Consequences and Behind His Eyes Truth together 

The box set that answers the question… 
What was Tony thinking? 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig delve into the mind of the man who slowly realizes that there is more to life than money and power. Witness his thoughts as his control is not only challenged but lost, and he must come to terms with the consequences and the truth. 

These companions are not a total re-writes and must be read after the Consequences series. 
Through significant scenes and behind-the-scenes moments from the first two books dive in and learn about the man who thought he set the rules and delivered the consequences. With this new insight, learn how Tony’s well-designed existence is incomplete. 

In BEHIND HIS EYES CONSEQUENCES Tony’s motivation is explored. 
Control? Acquisition? Domination? Love? 

In BEHIND HIS EYES TRUTH with past sins and motivations revealed, Tony’s truth is made clear. 

Once upon a time, a man signed a napkin that he knew was a contract. As an esteemed businessman, he forgot one very important rule—he forgot to read the fine print. It wasn’t an acquisition to own another person as he’d previously assumed. It was an agreement to acquire a soul. —Aleatha Romig, CONVICTED

Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet #1)

Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1)

Captive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a day to digest this and be able to write a review. I found the writing to be sound- the grammar was a lot better than many of the books in this genre, the characters had backstories, there were good descriptions used to give the reader good visuals of the characters and locations.
That said, I almost didn’t finish this book. The scene relatively early with the belt was just too violent for me. I’m not offended by a belt spanking, but that’s not what happened there. That was a beating. A whipping. And I’m not ok with it. Then relatively shortly thereafter is a scene where he forces her into anal sex against her will (whether she later claims to enjoy it or not is immaterial to me- consent should be granted prior to penetration). Once I got past that the book got much more palatable, but those two scenes nearly made me put it down. I don’t so much consider this a dark romance as a dark tale of human trafficking/slavery. I can’t wrap my head around how Livvie could ever develop real, genuine feelings for the man who (physically and mentally) abused and humiliated her. I feel like Stockholm Syndrome and/or PTSD would be more likely than love. But I digress…
I like the writer’s voice/style, and once I got past those hard scenes that made me feel a bit sick I was gripped by the story. Would she get away? Would he find her? What would happen when he found her? Although, real talk, I feel like I would’ve shot him when I had the gun before I ran off. She didn’t, and he was right on her heels with a quickness. Granted it turned out she had jumped from the pan into the fire and he ended up helping her, but if she had shot him to begin with she wouldn’t have been so desperate and may not have ended up with Tiny anyway. But then, we would have a different story where she gets saved, moves home, meets a nice boy, and has her HEA with him. So again, I digress.
I gave four stars because, even though it was a little too much for me, I did find it to be a good book.
If you have relatively steely nerves you will probably love this whole book. I DO recommend it to such people. If you are a little more squeamish like me, and look away from acts of harsh violence even in movies and TV shows, then this might not be for you. It is for this reason that I won’t be reading the second book right now. Or maybe ever. We’ll see.

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Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.

Print Length: 261pgs
Kindle Locations: 3669
Word Count:72,000

All the Rage

All the Rage

All the Rage by T.M. Frazier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked the humor injected into this book by way of Rage’s reactions and thoughts- I don’t remember any humor in the other King series books (well, maybe SOME with Preppy). I get that this is a standalone, but it is in the King universe so I consider it a King series book.
Still, this was my least favorite of the King series. I think it’s because of the scene toward the end where Cody insists that Smoke have sex with Rage. I just didn’t believe that that’s what Cody would have done in that situation. He spent years obsessing over her- learning about weapons and explosives, even killed for her. It seemed odd to me that someone so obsessed would then, just as he is about to have sex with her himself, hand her over to Smoke and insist that Smoke do it, especially since he felt that Smoke had taken Rage away from him. That would have made more sense if Cody had rambled on about Nolan having taken what was his, what he should have taken that night after the prom. THEN forcing that interaction with Nolan looking on would have made more sense. But, even in that case, it still would have made more sense for Cody to do it himself. It just stuck out as so odd that it took me out of the story. Maybe I just didn’t see it.
That said, I liked the rest of the book. 🙂

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They call me Rage. 
My real name is like a shadow, always close behind, but never quite able to catch up to me. 
I fly under the radar because no one ever suspects I’m capable of the kind of brutal violence I commit each and every day. 
You see, I’m a girl. I’m nineteen. 
And I’m a killer. 
I look like a goddamn cheerleader, but can take out a man three times my size in more than as many ways, without hesitation. 
This life is all I know. It’s all I want to know. It keeps the shit buried that I need kept buried. It allows me to live without thinking too much. 
Without dwelling on the past. 
Until him. 
It all changes when an ordinary boy becomes my next target.
And my first love. 
I have to choose. 
The only life I’ve ever known has to die, or he does. 
Either way, I’ll be the one pulling the trigger…