First Touch (First and Last #1)

First Touch (First and Last, #1)

First Touch by Laurelin Paige

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I am SO glad this is a duet. This story could not have been wrapped up properly within one book. I was glued to my Kindle, racing through the pages to find out what was going to happen. I can barely make myself write this review before leaping headfirst into the second book.
Reeve. Oh my, Reeve. So in control. So seemingly apathetic. He really makes her work for it. And I LOVE it.
I like the backstories. Even that is very involved, and really sets up who these characters are, and how they came to be the people they are today. The sources of their respective damage.
I enjoy the secondary characters as well, like Joe and Chris. Reeve does NOT approve of Emily spending time with Chris, mainly because he knows Chris wants to get her into bed. He gets possessive. And jealous. And why is that so hot in a book when it is so terrifying in real life?
Anyway, excellent book. My first from this author, but certainly won’t be the last. I seem to have found a new author to fangirl over- yay!

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Emily Wayborn is finally her own woman.

After a string of shameful relationships and reckless partying with her best friend Amber, she’s now a successful voiceover actress, her wild past and everyone in it firmly behind her. Until she receives a cryptic voicemail from her former friend that sends her spiraling into the darkness she thought she had outrun. One thing is clear from the message, Amber is in trouble.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that leads her to Reeve Sallis, a gorgeous and equally dangerous hotelier known for his power games and shady dealings. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must return to her playgirl ways to uncover his secrets and track down her friend. But as she becomes more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve and his depravity despite her growing conviction that he may be the one responsible for Amber’ s disappearance.

The Bratva’s Bride: A Dark Mafia Romance (Wicked Doms #2)

The Bratva's Bride: A Dark Mafia Romance (Wicked Doms)

The Bratva’s Bride: A Dark Mafia Romance by Jane Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good read

I admit that the whole dom/sub thing isn’t my jam. I am not opposed to some swats on the behind here and there, but that’s the extent of my comfort zone. As such, this exceeded my comfort zone. That said, I chose to read it even after the first book had the same element, so I knew what I was getting myself into. I enjoyed this book outside of the punishment elements.
I can handle a book where the main male character starts out as a real jerk as long as he redeems himself, and is sorry, by the end. Luckily Jane Henry gave us that with this book, and it was delicious.
I liked the suspense of what would happen to the other characters, when (or if) he would find out about her, and how he would react. Would the politician get his hands on her? Would her friend try to save her? There was a lot to keep me interested! I do still wonder what went through one character’s head toward the end when he sold out one character for another. I won’t name names or get any more specific to avoid potential spoilers, but… I would be very interested in what he was thinking.
Overall, an enjoyable read. I would recommend this book, and its predecessor, to those who enjoy captive/kidnapping/mafia. And I do. I really, really do.

Trigger warning: this contains elements of dubious consent at the beginning, and what I would argue is physical abuse although the book refers to it as “spanking”- caning, strapping, multiple instances of whipping with a belt.

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Bratva life is simple:

You steal from the brotherhood, you pay with your life.
But the thief is a woman, and she’s too beautiful to die.

My wedding band will be her collar.
Our vows will be her shackles.

She will be my captive bride.

Island Captive: A Dark Romance

Island Captive

Island Captive by Jane Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another win for Jane Henry

I can’t explain why I am so fond of Jane Henry’s books considering that I don’t like the whole dom/sub thing, but I sure keep reading ’em. And liking ’em.
This is my third read from this author, and my favorite. There was suspense, and while there was some dom/sub stuff it didn’t go very far. Often such books include the male character hurting the female character, often repeatedly and sometimes severely. I am not into that at all. Bruising, screaming, crying… no thank you. But this didn’t have that. Thank goodness. I really like Jane Henry’s stories, and had to try to overlook those components in the other two books of hers that I’ve read. The whole “I’ll break her, I’ll beat her into submission” thing isn’t for me.
I really liked this book. I will probably read more by Jane Henry, but will try to stay away from anything with the word “dom” in the title.
Recommended for an enjoyable, breezy read.

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“Deep, dark, and sensual.” ~USA Today bestselling author Alta Hensley 

I was hired to apprehend a monster – a Dom who’d been sentenced to life for killing his submissive. 
I’ve seen what he’s capable of, and the images will haunt me forever. 
I swore I’d stop at nothing to put him behind bars. 

But then our plane back to the States crashes.

We are the only two survivors.

And the monster will make me wish I’d died along with the rest of them.

Please note: this book is dark romance, containing some mild themes of dubious consent, violence, and kinky, sexual scenes. If such subject matters offend you, please do not read.

The Bratva’s Baby (Wicked Doms #1)

The Bratva's Baby (Wicked Doms #1)

The Bratva’s Baby by Jane Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Decent read

I wouldn’t say this is one I’d read again and again, but I enjoyed this book. It kept my interest, and kept me reading. I couldn’t put it down.
This was an easy read with a good jerk-turned-decent guy. I like it when the jerk turns decent. I do NOT like it when the jerk stays a jerk, and we are expected to be cool with it. So thank you for not doing me like that, Jane Henry.
Overall I recommend this book for a breezy read if you’re a fan of kidnapping and/or mafia like I am. I even got two more books to add to my TBR out of the excerpts at the end. Off I go to read them!

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USA Today bestselling author Jane Henry brings us a torrid, captivating tale in the brutal world of the Russian Bratva.

My orders are simple.
Capture her.
Marry her.
Take her inheritance.
Get rid of her.

The bookish little recluse is worth more than she knows.

She’s an unassuming librarian.
I’m the brigadier of the Russian Bratva.
She has no friends.
I command a small army.
She’s a modest woman.

And now she’s mine.

Please note: this dark romance contains dubious consent, elements of violence, and kinky, sexual scenes. If such subject matters offend you, please do not read.

Devil’s Bargain

Devil's Bargain

Devil’s Bargain by Natasha Knight

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good, but the end felt rushed

Sigh. I was loving it. I was. Then when I looked down, thinking I was probably 70% in, I saw that I was 94% in. And my heart sunk. There was too much remaining to resolve. There weren’t enough pages left to do it justice.
I think this book needed to be longer. The feelings between Melissa and Hawk developed too quickly for me. Insta-love doesn’t feel genuine. It leaves me empty. Like a rice cake.
I was also disappointed in the resolution at the end. It felt like everything got wrapped up and glossed over within the space of a few pages. I wanted more. What happened to the villain? Or the man from the party? It is alluded to, but that’s about it. So much time was spent painting the villain as this boogeyman, and then the air is let out of the sails at the end with a vague and hurried mention. How about Liza? What happened to her? Do Hawk and Melissa eventually have children?
I would have loved for this book to be considerably longer. It would have given the love time to develop. It would have left room to wrap up what felt (to me) rushed. It would have been much more satisfying. It was so close to the end, with so much unresolved, that I honestly wondered if I had accidentally started an incomplete duet/trilogy.
I do like this author. This was a four-star for me all the way up until the end, but that ending felt so cut off that I had to give it three stars.
Recommended, but be forewarned of insta-love.

Trigger warning: the hero whips the heroine, arguably brutally, with a belt. This is a big turn-off for me, personally. Physical violence to the point of dark bruises, crying, screaming, etc. is a hard limit.

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One Night.
His Rules.
It’s a Devil’s Bargain.

She calls it a devil’s bargain. I call it a deal she can’t refuse.

I was owed a debt and I expected payment. That payment? 

One night in my bed. 
My rules. 
The debt cleared, and she could walk away. 

There are worse things. And besides, debtors can’t be choosers.

The night started as it should. She obeyed as she should. 

But then something happened. Something I was unprepared for. And what I saw changed everything.

I broke my own rules after that. And I didn’t keep my end of the bargain. Because walking away was no longer an option I would grant her, no matter the cost.

Author’s Note: Devil’s Bargain is a Standalone Romance from the author of the Benedetti Brothers Mafia World and the Dark Legacy Trilogy.

Savage Mafia Prince (Dangerous Royals #3)

Savage Mafia Prince (Dangerous Royals #3)

Savage Mafia Prince by Annika Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars!

Could not put it down! And Kiro’s innate animal-like feelings of possession over Ann? Flamethrower hot. Someone call the fire department.
This was hands-down my favorite read of this series. I struggled a bit with lags in the second book, but none here! This one kept me up, flipping pages in a frenzy to find out what was going to happen. How the characters would react when faced with one another.
Also, Kiro. ❤
Kiro was my favorite hero of this series. He is so strong and independent. So capable and fierce. And yet, he is so starved for affection and love that I couldn’t help but feel sad for him. I wanted him to find that so badly.
I liked the romantic buildup in this book- I thought the pace was appropriate. I loved that we got a peek inside several different characters via their POV’s. I loved the suspense created, and the details about the journey that takes place.
To me, this was definitely the best book from this series. I do not recommend reading it as a standalone because you would miss too much background on the characters and story line.

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Where is Kiro?
He’s the lost Dragusha brother, heir to a vast mafia empire—brilliant, violent, and utterly savage…and he’s been missing for years.

*A standalone HEA romance!*

I’m supposed to be doing simple undercover research at the Fancher Institute for the Mentally Ill & Dangerous, but I can’t keep my mind off Patient 34. He’s startlingly young and gorgeous, but it’s not just that. He’s strapped way too tightly to that bed. And there’s no name or criminal history on his chart. What are these people hiding? My reporter’s instincts are screaming.

Here’s the other thing: the staffers here believe he’s so sedated that there’s not a thought in his head, but I catch him watching me when nobody’s looking. Our connection sizzles when I enter the room. When our eyes meet, I know he understands me in a way nobody else ever has.
I’m supposed to follow my editor’s orders—I have secrets, too—but everything about Patient 34 is suspicious. How can I not investigate?

Wicked Mafia Prince (Dangerous Royals, #2)

Wicked Mafia Prince (Dangerous Royals, #2)

Wicked Mafia Prince by Annika Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good series

I am liking this series thus far, and can’t wait to read about Kiro, but this book lagged a bit for me. I didn’t feel that urgent NEED to keep getting back to it.
I enjoyed the suspense of waiting for Tanechka to remember her life before the convent. To see if she would escape. What would happen to her? What would happen to the other women from the brothel? I thought that suspense was built up well. I didn’t quite feel as much heat between Viktor and Tanechka as I had expected given their personalities. I guess I was hoping for more fire.
Overall I liked this book. I like this series. I’m curious about Kiro, and even Lazarus. I’m really looking forward to the third book!

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“My brothers think I’m obsessed. Imagining ghosts. But I’ll always know you.” ~Viktor

Who is the nun who never shows her face?

Ever since killing the love of his life, the beautiful and fierce mafia assassin named Tanechka, Viktor has lived in utter torment.

Now, years later, he comes upon a nun who will never show her face.

Viktor is sure this is Tanechka herself — that she has improbably, impossibly survived. Is it obsession? A figment of a guilty conscience? Or is this their second chance?

Dark Mafia Prince (Dangerous Royals, #1)

Dark Mafia Prince (Dangerous Royals, #1)

Dark Mafia Prince by Annika Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a fan. Kidnapping, mafia, old family secrets, action sequences, betrayal, suspense. Yes, please!
This is my first read by this author. I enjoyed it, and will be continuing the series. I wouldn’t say it is in my top ten, but I would recommend it for an easy mafia kidnapping read with suspense and plenty of sexy book boyfriend potential.
I like Mira’s strength and ingenuity. I enjoy the stark brutality of Aleksio’s brother Viktor even more than I enjoy Aleksio. There are parts in the book that I won’t go into detail about, but that made him seem a bit weak to me. He started out so strong and scary at the beginning, but I lost my lady boner toward the end there. Now Viktor’s crazy arse, on the other hand… break me off a piece of that.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in this series.

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Don’t look at me like that. So trusting.
Like you think I’m not a monster.
Like I won’t wrap your hair in my fist and bend you to my will.
Like I won’t sacrifice you, piece by piece, to save my brother.
I’m the most dangerous enemy you’ll ever have because every time you look at me, you see somebody good. That friend who died.
And when you look at me like that, I die again.

I spent years making myself invisible.
A good girl, apart from the noise.Then you came back, beautiful and deadly in your Armani suit.
Don’t look at me like you still know me, you say.
But I remember your smile and those sunny days.
Before they lowered your small casket into the ground.
Before they told us the prince was dead. (less)

Mafia Daddy (Vegas Underground, #4)

Mafia Daddy (Vegas Underground, #4)

Mafia Daddy by Renee Rose

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t care for this book. I wouldn’t have read one this short to begin with, but it was included in the anthology I’m currently reading. To be fair I don’t generally like books that are under 175-ish pages. It doesn’t leave enough room to develop the characters/storyline. And 70 pages is WAY too short.

Here are some of the issues I had aside from lack of development of the characters/story:

Two words: nether lips (cringe)

Daddy passage 1: “You know what happens when you’re naughty, baby?” I wiggle my fingers inside her but I can’t quite reach her G-spot.
“What?” she breathes.
“You take your daddy’s big cock. Are you ready for it?”
“Yes.” She rocks over my fingers. “Yes, Daddy,” I correct her. I don’t know why I’m getting into being her daddy so much, but I am.
“Yes, Daddy.”

Daddy passage 2: I ease forward. “Be a good girl and take every inch of Daddy’s cock. Tell me you want it.”

Daddy passage 3: “You like being filled by Daddy’s big cock?”
“Yes, Daddy!” she cries.

It was an awful lot of Daddy talk for such a short book.

The resolution to the story was completely at odds with romance novel mafia rules as we know them. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll know what I mean if you read it. It was just too easy. If nothing else the author missed an opportunity for conflict.

I feel bad when I leave a negative review. It is not my intention to bash this book or its author. Based on previous reviews there are other readers who really enjoyed this book, so perhaps you will, too. Personally, it was not for me.

Regrettably I do not recommend this book.

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Don G gave me an order–find his daughter.
Straighten her out. Bring her home.
Sure–taking the mafia princess in hand will be my pleasure.
But she’s not going home–she’s staying with me.
Because despite the marriage contract to another family,
Jenna Pachino has always been mine.

Publisher’s Note: This is a steamy stand-alone short story from the Vegas Underground series. It originally appeared in the USA Today bestselling anthology Daddy’s Demands.
It contains graphic sex including spanking. If such material offends you, do not read this book.

Carter Reed (Carter Reed, #1)

Carter Reed (Carter Reed, #1)

Carter Reed by Tijan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not this author’s best

I hate to give a low rating to an author I’ve otherwise liked, but I cannot rate Carter Reed higher than two stars. It most definitely didn’t do it for me.
There were considerable technical issues with this book, to include a serious lack of development of the relationship between Carter and Emma, inconsistencies in the story (for example, he “tests” her when they reunite to make sure it is really her, and then shortly thereafter admits he has been watching her for years and thus would have known it was her). There was a memorable scene where the same character (Ben) had the same surprised reaction, over and over, to one decision Emma had made. I am referring to the scene where Emma tells them that she has to go away for a little while, if you’re curious.
There were multiple instances where a character told the reader (or another character) how they felt, but that feeling or reaction was so out of left field and without context that I was left scratching my head as to how they would have reacted that way.
Another scene that threw me off was when Emma is in Theresa’s apartment for the first time, and Noah shows up. When Theresa runs to the ladies room Noah asks Emma if she is trying to get in with Theresa for her money. Even though he knows she is set up all pretty in a fancy apartment with designer clothes and a driver courtesy of HIS friend. He laughs at himself that he forgot about her “connections,” and then muses that maybe Theresa is after Emma for HER money. Even though he had confirmed moments before that Theresa is not aware of her connection to Carter, and thus is not viewed as a person with money. The whole exchange was nonsensical, and made Noah come across as pretty dumb.

Emma is in first-person POV, Carter is in third-person. Whether or not it was intentional I can’t say, but I don’t care for it. It distracted me.

In another scene Emma is taken back to Carter’s apartment following a gunfight, “swaying” in her weakened state, and is guided to a stool. Carter tells her to go take a shower, to which she replies “I can’t walk.” So… somewhat recently she sees her roommate being actively raped, shoots the guy, and manages to keep going pretty well. At a younger age she witnessed her brother get beaten to death with a bat. She crawled out of her hiding spot on her own. But now, seeing a gunfight in which she did not participate and during which no one she knew was injured, she goes into shock and can’t walk or hold herself up.

At 42% I determined that, for the first time, I had encountered a heroine that triggered my TSTL alarm.

I hope this review does not come across as nitpicky- that is not my intention. I consider it even more important to be specific with a negative review than a positive one. I made some notes while reading this book, and then waited a day to rate it so I had time to think about it further.
Regrettably, I do not personally recommend this book.

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Emma decided to skip the gym and went home early. It was the last easy decision she made because she found her roommate being raped by the boyfriend. She had two choices. Call the cops and be killed by his family’s mafia connections or kill him first and hope to survive. There was no choice to her. She killed the bastard first and went to the one person who could protect her. Carter Reed. He’s a weapon for the rivaling mafia family, but he’s also Emma’s secret. Not only was he best friends with her brother, but she’s the reason he became that weapon in the first place.

This book is not for the faint of heart.