Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke (King, #8)

Up in Smoke by T.M. Frazier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So good! This is considered book #7 of the King series, but can be read as a standalone. It has many of the great main characters from the King series, but not the significant others for the most part. Love these “hate turns to love” stories. Loved how Frankie and Smoke both started out lost (figuratively) and alone, and throughout the story grow into one another. I was a little surprised at the willingness of both Zelda and Nine to help Frankie before the truth came out (while she is still captive).
Looking forward to Rage and Nine’s stories!

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A King Series Novel.

I’m a man without a conscience. 
I deal in murder and mayhem.
I’m the best at what I do. 
Frankie Helburn is supposed to be an easy job. 
A means to flush her father out of hiding.
Except there isn’t anything simple about Frankie or the secrets she’s keeping. 
She’s stubborn as hell and the sexiest god damn thing I have ever seen, sending dark, dirty animalistic desire coursing through my veins. 
She’s cocaine with legs. A f*cking addiction that makes me question things I’ve never questioned before. Want things I’ve never wanted before. 
I might have her, but she isn’t mine to keep. 
If her father doesn’t show his face, she will be mine. 

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Three (King #7)

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Three (King, #7)

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Three by T.M. Frazier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fitting end to a great series. I loved these characters, and am so glad they all found their way and found their happiness. I’m super glad Dre got pregnant again, because if she genuinely couldn’t it would have been too sad.
Preppy was such a strong character. I couldn’t believe it when he “died” in the first book. Could NOT believe it. He was too great a character to be snuffed out. I actually put off reading his books because I couldn’t see how they would be HEA since he had died. Alone. I figured they either had to precede book 1, or he would be a ghost, or something other than him being alive and getting his HEA. I finally looked further into it, and my jaw dropped when I realized Preppy was alive, and that his books will tell his story and give him his HEA. So, thank you for that! For giving Preppy his own books. Because he deserved them. He deserved to live. He deserved his HEA.
I still need to read All the Rage and Smoke, and am looking forward to doing so. I’m not even sad that there aren’t more Preppy books. I think his story got wrapped up perfectly.

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The bowtie is BACK! 

Dre was just a beautiful stranger when Preppy saved her the first time around. Now, he has to save her again, but she’s no longer some stranger, she’s family, and he has no idea who or what he’s up against. 

What he does know is that putting his family back together is the only acceptable outcome. 

Preppy’s to-do list? 

He’s alive…and he’s out for BLOOD. 

Preppy Part Three is the third book and conclusion of Preppy and Dre’s story. It’s also the 7th book in the King Series, which should be read in order starting with KING & TYRANT. 

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two (King #6)

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two (King, #6)

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two by T.M. Frazier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So. Good. I love this series. I love that Preppy is finally coming around to a happy ending. Because, ya’ll… I was mad when he died in the first book. Real mad, actually.
The author did a great job capturing the torment he was experiencing in his own head, and with his own emotions. I thought the cutoff point between this book and the next was great as well. Preppy book #1: lays the foundation of he and Dre’s relationship, and lightly scratches the surface of what he experienced during his time “away.” Preppy book #2: he is clawing his way back mentally and emotionally, and honestly is messing it up a bit. Toward the end it seems the HEA is in sight. But then… Preppy book #3: haven’t gotten that far yet, but seems it will be about him fighting for what is his.
Aaagh. Great series. I anticipate reading this one again and again.

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Preppy finds himself back in a world he once loved, but no longer recognizes. His dim smile can’t hide his inner turmoil and the people he views as family all suddenly feel like polite strangers. 

Except for one person. A girl with dark eyes and even darker hair. 
A girl who isn’t even an option. 

At least, not anymore. 

Dre can’t decide who she’s going to listen to. Her heart, her head, or her body. Because two out of those three things have her heading right back to Logan’s Beach. Closure is what she tells herself she’s seeking, but when she unlocks doors that were never meant to be opened she soon discovers that when it comes to Samuel Clearwater, closure might NEVER be an option. 

This is book six in the King Series and the second part of Preppy and Dre’s story.

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One (King #5)

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One (King, #5)

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One by T.M. Frazier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What did I just… how… what???!
Pretty much my mindset through this book. I was ecstatic that Preppy was alive, then horrified that he is even more messed up than I thought (you can’t go around licking people who are passed out, Preppy- it’s not ok), then mad that he pushed Dre away, then shocked when he was alive AGAIN, and now just falling over myself to get into the next book.
So, good day! I have reading to do.

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You thought Preppy was dead…you thought wrong.

Samuel Clearwater, A.K.A Preppy, likes bowties, pancakes, suspenders, good friends, good times, good drugs, and a good f*ck. 
He s worked his way out from beneath a hellish childhood and is living the life he s always imagined for himself. When he meets a girl, a junkie on the verge of ending it all, he s torn between his feelings for her and the crippling fear that she could be the one to end the life he loves. 
Andrea Dre Capulet is strung out and tired. 
Tired of living for her next fix. Tired of doing things that make her stomach turn. Tired of looking in the mirror at the reflection of the person she s become. Just when she decides to end it all, she meets a man who will change the course of both their lives forever. 
And their deaths. 
For most people, death is the end of their story. 
For Preppy and Dre, death was only the beginning.”

Bound by Hatred (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #3)

Bound by Hatred (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #3)

Bound by Hatred by Cora Reilly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a ride! I thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs of the broken road that brought Giannna and Mateo together. After reading the first book of this series I was most looking forward to this one (#3). I nearly skipped #2 in my impatience, but I’m glad I didn’t.
The author does a good job capturing Gianna’s state of mind as it changes throughout the story. It did bum me out that everyone believed that she had “lost her virtue” during her escape, and that she suffered so much for that mistaken belief. I was glad that it at least came out within her immediate circle (Matteo, Aria, and Luca).
Toward the end I was getting impatient waiting for Gianna to finally admit her feelings for Matteo and stop torturing herself, which made it a great story for me. I got invested in it.
Looking forward to the next book in the series!

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When Gianna watched her sister Aria getting married to a man she barely knew, she promised herself she wouldn’t let the same thing happen to her.
Matteo – The Blade – Vitiello set his eyes on Gianna the moment he saw her on his brother Luca’s wedding, and Rocco Scuderi is more than willing to give his daughter to him, but Gianna has no intention of marrying for any other reason than love. A few months before the wedding, Gianna escapes her bodyguards and runs away. She has enough money to flee to Europe and begin a new life. But staying undetected when the mob is searching for her is a challenge that takes everything, especially as one of their best hunters and assassins is after her: Matteo Vitiello.
After six months on the run, Gianna finally settles into a tentative routine in Munich, but then Matteo and a couple of her father’s soldiers find her with another man.
Despite her pleads they kill her boyfriend, and Gianna is forced to marry Matteo. Her emotions alternating between guilt over having dragged an innocent into her world and hatred toward Matteo, Gianna is determined to make life hell for her husband. But Matteo is a master at mind games and their struggle for power soon turns into hate-fueled nights of passion.
**Book #3 in the “Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles”. This book can be read as a standalone.**

Bound by Duty (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #2)

Bound by Duty (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #2)

Bound by Duty by Cora Reilly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My heart ached for Valentina. She thinks this is her second chance at a real marriage, but Dante is cold and distant. She tries so hard to get his attention, to get him to notice her, to get him to LOOK at her. The author does great job capturing Valentina’s despair at his indifference. I was so anxious for him to come around and give her what she needed.
Can’t wait to dive in to book #3!

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Dante – The Boss – Cavallaro’s wife died four years ago. On the verge of becoming the youngest head in the history of the Chicago mafia, Dante needs a new wife and Valentina was chosen for the role. 
Valentina lost her husband, too, but her first marriage had always been for show. When she was eighteen, she agreed to marry Antonio in order to hide the truth: that he was gay and in love with an outsider. Even after his death, she kept his secret, not only to preserve the honor of a dead man, but also to protect herself. But now that she’s about to marry Dante, her castle of lies threatens to crash. Dante is only thirty-six but already feared and respected in the Outfit, and he’s notorious for always getting what he wants. Valentina is terrified of the wedding night that might reveal her secret, but her worries prove unfounded when Dante shows her the cold shoulder. Soon her fear is replaced by confusion and indignation. Valentina is tired of being ignored. She’s determined to get Dante’s attention and desire, even if she can’t get his heart that still belongs to his dead wife.

Bound by Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #1)

Bound by Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #1)

Bound by Honor by Cora Reilly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it. I loved how the author took her time letting Aria and Luca get to know each other… no insta-love (although sometimes that works), and no “I hate you now, but in six minutes we’ll hop into bed and then I’ll love you.”

I kept looking at where I was at in the book, amazed that they hadn’t slept together yet. And loving that for how different it is in this genre. I also loved how Luca treated Aria with respect on their wedding night. It was a good introduction to the Luca behind closed doors, and how different he can be from the public Luca.
I’m really looking forward to the other books in this series, especially Matteo and Gianna’s story!

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Born into one of the leading Mob families in Chicago, Aria Scuderi struggles to find her own path in a world where no choices are given. Aria was only fifteen when her parents betrothed her to Luca – The Vice – Vitiello, the oldest son of the head of the New York Cosa Nostra to ensure peace between the two families. 
Now with eighteen, the day Aria has been dreading for years is looming dangerously: her wedding to Luca. 
Aria is terrified of marrying a man she hardly knows, especially someone like Luca who got his nickname ‘the Vice’ for crushing a man’s throat with his bare hands. Luca might be one of the most sought after men in New York thanks to his good looks, wealth and predator-like charisma that radiates power, but the society girls throwing themselves at him don’t know what Aria does: that the bad boy aura isn’t just a game; blood and death lurk beneath Luca’s striking gray eyes and arrogant smile.
In her world a handsome exterior often hides the monster within; a monster who can just as easily kill as kiss you.
The only way to escape the marriage to Luca would be to run away and leave everything she’s ever known behind but Aria can’t bear the thought of never seeing her family again. 
Despite her fear, she decides to go through with the marriage; Aria has grown up among predators like Luca and knows that even most cold-hearted bastards have a heart and she has every intention of working her way into Luca’s.

Mature content

Books in the Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles:
Bound By Honor 
Bound By Duty
Bound By Hatred

Giovanni: A Dark Mafia Romance

Giovanni: a Dark Mafia Romance

Giovanni: a Dark Mafia Romance by Natasha Knight

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Spoiler Alert**
I’m a Natasha Knight fan. Her books push the envelope on my comfort zone in an exhilarating way. Giovanni was sexy and strong, although admittedly I thought he and Em fell into bed a little fast. Not because I’m a prude, but because he effectively broke in, kidnapped her to dinner the next day, and broke in again after dinner. On the second break-in (while she is sleeping) he pulls the blanket off of her, and goes down. It gave me a little whiplash. I would have loved a little more tension buildup before they got to that point. It felt rushed.
That said, I loved that Em keeps escaping, but he always finds her. I love her industriousness, and his maddening (to Em) omniscience. I squirmed when he made her go to the club in the open-back dress, and I was glad to see he recognized it as being a mistake when he saw in her face what it did to her. It redeemed him for that harsh act. I find that this author sends her dark heroes careening off the side of a cliff of seemingly irredeemable cruelty, and then somehow finds a way to snatch them back into our good graces. It makes it exciting.
I loved the Benedetti collection, although Sergio was almost too much for my fragile HEA-loving heart. The injustice of it got a few tears out of me, I’ll be honest. I recommend the whole series if you haven’t read it yet!
I will definitely be continuing to read Natasha Knight.

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I’m the right-hand man of the mafia king. 
She’s a girl with a past she’s desperate to hide. 

But I need something from her. 
And I know she won’t help me. Not willingly.
She’ll need some persuading. 

Lucky for her, I can do that. 

Something about this girl makes me curious, though, and it’s more than the scars that line her back. She’s on the edge of something. Something bad. She’s like a perfect, beautiful doll coming apart at the seams. And the last string is about to snap.

She thinks I’ll hurt her. Break her. 
But thing is, she’s already broken. And she and I, we’re two peas in a pod. She’s my match, the perfect opponent. She’ll fight me to the finish, but I’ll win. I always do. 

Because I’m a man used to getting what I want. And what I want is her. 

Author’s Note: Giovanni is a STANDALONE dark mafia romance set in the Benedetti Brothers Mafia World. It’s an emotionally gripping enemies-to-lovers romance with a hard-earned HEA.

Raw (RAW Family #1)

Raw (RAW Family, #1)

Raw by Belle Aurora

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Spoiler Alert**
There were a few smallish sections that seemed slow for me, but mostly this book hummed along. I was a bit distracted by the name Twitch because it seems a bit silly and nonsensical to me, but to each their own. I have read books with stranger nicknames than that.
Anyway, I HATED it that Michael died. Couldn’t you have mercy on us, and just have him get seriously injured? A coma, perhaps? That gutted me. Such a sad tragedy.
And then to seemingly kill off Twitch as well… poor Lexi. Jesus. What a horrific period of time that was for her. I am so very glad that it turns out Twitch is still alive. I was gonna be a little mad about it if he was really dead, I’ll be honest. I already bought the third book (reading out of order- so sue me) to find out the rest of Twitch and Lexi’s story. Overall it wasn’t a five-star for me, but still a solid read.

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***Author Note: This is not a love story. This is a story of love gone wrong.***

Growing up the way I did, you’d think I’d be more screwed up than what I actually am.

Soon as I turned sixteen, I left that bump in the road I called home and took my chances on the street.

Best decision I ever made.

Now, at the age of twenty six, I’m educated, employed and damn good at my job.

My friends have become my family. Like me, they know what it’s like to grow up unloved.

But the saying is true.

The world makes way for those who know where they are going.

That’s me.

I know where I’m going and I’ll get there eventually. On my own terms and at my own pace.

But then there’s him.

I feel his eyes on me. I see him hiding in plain sight. He watches me.

He makes me feel.

It’s unconventional.

But it’s real.

I’m sure you’re wondering how a person falls in love with their stalker.

So am I.

This isn’t a story.

This is my life. 

Take Me Back

Take Me Back

Take Me Back by Meghan March

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Meghan March, but this was my least favorite of her novels. I had put it off as the description didn’t really grab me- it sounded like a story about a married couple emotionally trying to find their way back to one another during a trip away. While that is part of it, that isn’t ALL of it. That is arguably the side story, but is presented as the entire story. I WILL say the book is better than the description led me to believe, but still… my least favorite.
It came across as very different from her other books (with which I am inarguably obsessed), and that bummed me out. I ran through her entire catalogue with the exception of this last book, and am left chomping at the bit for more. I’m about to re-read the Beneath series to scratch my Meghan March itch while I wait for her next release (can’t wait!).
It was still worth a read, but I don’t recommend that this be your first Meghan March novel. If you’re new to this author I suggest you check out the Mount Trilogy, the Beneath Series, or the Dirty Billionaire series. Those books are on FIRE.

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We fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything. 

Two damaged people. 

Countless secrets. 

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.