Monday, September 29, 2014

Indulging Box Set Cover Reveal

The Amazon Bestseller, Indulging in Irelyn and
the sequel
Being Zolt, are now together in one book.

Indulging in Irelyn

Warning: Don't read this book if you hate effed up alpha males, strong female leads, hot sex, and a kismet love story six years in the making. Oh yeah and a plot twist that will leave you reeling.

NFL quarterback, Zolt Hamil was America's heartthrob until a career ending injury changed his life. Years later, he's picked up the pieces and carved out a new path for himself. But the mental and physical scars of that day have left him moody and reclusive, and his only relief is indulging in pleasure and pain with his many one night stands. Though many women have tried, Zolt refuses to care about any of them. Only one woman has his heart; a hallucination of a young, sable-eyed, blonde beauty whom he conjured that painful day on the football field.

On the first day at his new job at a law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, Zolt comes face to face with his hallucination, Irelyn Wilkes. Their fateful connection, and explosive passion for each other pulls them together, and this time, Zolt refuses to let her slip from his life.

But Irelyn has her own demons to fight, and her controlling boyfriend is one of them. He doesn't take kindly to other people playing with his toys, and he'll stop at nothing to keep her by his side.

Can Irelyn and Zolt defy the odds and find a way to be together? Or, will the events set in motion years ago keep them apart forever?

Being Zolt
Irelyn Wilkes was Zolt Hamil's seraph. His angel. His hallucination suddenly real. But her abrupt departure from his life has sent him into a tailspin of nameless women, alcohol, and drugs. When Zolt realizes that Irelyn lied to him, he sobers up and sets into motion a public rescue, making an even greater enemy of Marcus Xavier.

Marcus doesn't take kindly to people taking what is his, and he's not about to let Zolt and Irelyn ride into the sunset without a fight. He's already murdered her brother; taking out Zolt Hamil would make his day

Can Zolt and Irelyn mend their broken relationship and find a way back to each other? Or will Marcus succeed with his plans to separate this fated pair forever?

the Author
Dawna Raver didn't always want to be a writer, but the voices in her head keep sending her stories, ranging from new adult, romantic fantasy and contemporary romance.
When she's not spending time in her fantasy world, Dawna loves football, reading, and pretending she's a top chef in the kitchen. Oh, and fawning over her dogs and husband, sometimes in that order.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Trent and Trey (Inked Heat #2) by Harper Jewel

Trent and Trey (Inked Heat #2)Trent and Trey by Harper Jewel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TRENT & TREY by Harper Jewel has heat, love and a little bit of mystery.

The second in the Inked Heat series, Trent and Trey follows the Buchannan brothers and fiery red head Cassie St. Cloud. The brothers are notorious players when it comes to women in the town of Tyler, Texas. When one of them meets Cassie and falls for her innocent charms, it's all over for both brothers. Realizing right away she is the girl they have been waiting for. When Cassie's life is in danger, the brothers will move heaven and earth to protect the woman they plan to make theirs at all costs.

Cassie St. Cloud is running from a violent past. Brought up in the world of organized crime, she is forced into the witness protection program. She tries hard to stay under the radar, but grows lonely and frustrated with her life in hiding. One day she decides to change her hair and get a tattoo, and this day proves to be the beginning of a roller coaster ride of a lifetime.

This is a really nice short story about Cassie, a sweet girl forced into hiding because of horrible events that happened in her past at the hands of her father's second-in-command. She lives in fear that one day, Vince will find her. When she decides she is done being a victim, the fun begins.

Cassie is all for being in a polyamorous relationship, has even dreamed about it numerous times, but she wonders if that's what Trent and Trey really want from her. She finds out quickly what their intentions are. The writing was good, the author kept me interested in the outcome of these three characters. The sex scenes were well written and definitely steamy. If you are in the mood for a little ménage quickie, this is a good one.

Received copy by the author from The Romance Review website link below.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reaper's Stand (Reapers MC #4) by Joanna Wylde - ARC Review

Reaper's Stand (Reapers MC, #4)Reaper's Stand by Joanna Wylde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reaper’s Stand – Book Four in the Reaper’s MC Series by Joanna Wylde

This is Reese Hayes story, we all know him better as “Picnic” the dangerous President of the Reapers MC. He’s scary and sexy as hell all at the same time. Even when he’s bad he’s so good.
London Armstrong is a small business woman, who has had some hardships in her life, but managed to keep it all together. She will do what she has to, to protect her family, even at the expense of her own life and happiness.

We first met Picnic in Reaper’s Property he was kind to Marie showing her pictures of his young daughters. Yet when he needed to be a badass he did it without hesitation. He’s managed to raise his two daughters and run his club without letting his pesky feelings get in the way. He doesn’t have time complicated entanglements with women. Relationship free since his wife’s passing, he refuses to be tied down and lives his life free and easy. Until London cleans her way into his life and wreaks havoc on his no strings attached world. London needs his help, her young cousin who she’s raised like a daughter is in danger getting herself mixed up with a drug cartel. The only one who can help her is the man who is more dangerous to her heart. Can she save her family? Can she shield her heart? Will Reese be able to deny the pull he feels towards her? All those questions answered and much more in this exhilarating installment of the MC series that has us on the edge of our seats. Hop on for the thrill of a lifetime you won’t regret it.

“London filled my head until I couldn’t hardly think straight.”

“Something about him… The way his eyes followed me. Like he wanted to eat me, and not in a nice flower and candle lit dinner kind of way.”

Joanna Wylde has done it again. She finally gave us Picnic’s story, the one we all have been waiting for and it’s so worth the wait.

“I wanted London and I definitely planned to keep her for a while.”

This installment is packed with excitement, suspense and surprises you won’t believe. I knew I would love Picnic and London’s story, Reaper’s Stand did not disappoint. We are treated to steamy well written sex scenes as well as emotional dramatic revelations. London does things that you will hate her for one minute, then root for her the next. Picnic does things that will make you cringe and feel bad, but then he melts your heart. We are presented with some new characters as well as revisiting with some previous characters like the ever sexy and humorous Horse. As well as the rough around the edges Ruger. Em and Hunter and her sister Kit also show up. Some very emotional scenes between Picnic and his daughters I always find it endearing to read their interactions.

This story is of two very flawed people coming together and learning to accept and forgive each other’s mistakes and see where the future will take them. Picnic and London are made for each other and it shows with the heated chemistry between them.

“This wasn’t sex, it was revenge and it was perfect.”

“It’s right between us isn’t it? You feel it, too.”

There is a bonus epilogue at the end that will keep you guessing about what the incredible mind of Joanna Wylde has in store for us in future MC books.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Funeral (No Weddings #2) by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion - ARC Review

One Funeral (No Weddings, #2)One Funeral by Kat Bastion

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book two in the No Weddings series by Kat and Stone Bastion. We fell in love with Cade Michaelson and his charming ways in No Weddings. Now we get to read the continuing journey of this emotionally damaged couple from Hannah’s POV. One Funeral is a slow burn that leads up to an explosive climax that is well worth the wait.

Hannah is drawn to Cade Michaelson like she has never been drawn to anyone before. He makes her want to forget her past mistakes and heart break and dive head first into a fairy tale romance with him. Cade promises they will take it as slow as she needs, while still doing everything he can to win here affections. Cade is willing to wait for Hannah to be ready to commit to a relationship. But can she trust him? Does Cade trust in the future that they could have? Their chemistry is undeniable, will it prove to be enough to move forward into a new beginning for them both.

“We’re caught in each other’s gravity”

This series has surprised me once again. When I read Cade’s POV in No Weddings I fell in love with him from the start. He flirted and cajoled Hannah into becoming his friend and then when he realized he wanted more from a woman for the first time in a long time he made his intentions known. I love Cade, he is such a gentleman, but a hot alpha male, who goes after what he wants all at the same time. I felt this from him in book one and it came through in book two but through Hannah’s eyes.

“The man destroyed me and saved me, all at once.”

When I realized One Funeral was from Hannah’s POV I wondered if I would like it. I didn’t think I would like Hannah’s side of things as much as I adored Cade’s. I was so wrong! This book made me care about Hannah. I liked her before, I felt bad for her bad breakup. But I didn’t feel like I wanted to be her friend. Then Hannah starts to grow and change to better her life realizing her self-worth.
She starts to take risks like putting herself out there in an effort to make some friends. Also coming to terms with her abandonment issues from having a distant mother and losing her grandparents. Very touching moments in therapy. I love how honest, these two people are with each other, it’s refreshing. No game playing. The banter between them is just as fun as it was in the first book.

“Think you can take a leap of faith with me”

Book two is a natural progression of a real relationship that will stand the test of time. This series is not your usual boy meets girl, they fall into bed and then fall in love in a day. This series is a real account of how two damaged souls can come together and heal each other. Very enjoyable and I am excited for the next installment. I am addicted to this series.

“You are the best thing I’ve ever waited for”


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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Spice of Life - by Jake Furie Lapin

The Spice of Life (The Transformation, #1)The Spice of Life by Jake Furie Lapin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Spice of Life follows Jake Furie Lapin, a 37-year-old sexaholic and loving Dom and Kelli Lemberg a successful sex therapist in a sexless marriage who is contemplating having an affair.

I felt bad for Kelli right away, she tries so hard to get her husband Paul to notice her sexually and he rejects her time and time again. I thought I would be bothered by the "affair" parts of this book, but honestly I wasn't. I found that the book surprised me by telling how sex and physical attraction is just as important in a marriage as being compatible in other ways. If your partner is not attracted to you sexually that definitely messes with your self esteem which in turn can ruin your relationships.

I liked Kelli right away. I am not so sure about Jake, I liked him but I don't love him yet. At times I found him to be very alpha male and sexy when he recounted his stories of sex and submission during his therapy sessions. But I felt like he was just telling me stories, I need to read more of him actually interacting with Kelli and showing his dominance to her. Maybe in the next book. It was exciting to read how he came to be the confident Dom he is today from being a depressed overweight guy before.

The author definitely has me curious about what will happen between Kelli and Jake and how their relationship will play out in the next books. Will Jake and Kelli begin a D/s relationship, will Kelli leave her husband or just have an affair. Will Kelli realize the significance of a particular story Jake told her in the last chapter. I picked it up, went back and re-read the line twice, and I wondered "Kelli girl how could you not get that part of the story hello?"

Jake's retelling of his life and how he transformed into the person he is today were hot, steamy and sexy. They were also sweet, endearing and sometimes sad.

This book was definitely different then other books I have read recently I look forward to the continuation.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

The Life of Anna Part 1 - Enslaved by Marissa Honeycutt

The Life of Anna, Part 1The Life of Anna, Part 1 by Marissa Honeycutt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Life of Anna, Part 1 Enslaved by Marissa Honeycutt

So a few days ago I got an email from one of the blogs I follow and a cover catches my eye.
The Life of Anna, Part 1 Enslaved. I thought, huh, interesting, then I start reading the teasers, the synopsis the warnings. Content may be offensive to some people, meant for mature readers only, this book contains sexual situations of slavery, rape, menage etc. stuff like that. Now my curiosity is peaked, so first I add it to my TBR and thought maybe I will read it. Then the cover and title catches my attention again and I wonder, "What is Anna's story?" So I pre-ordered it, today I finished up an action adventure romance that was nice enough and then I saw Enslaved had downloaded on my Kindle app, I thought why not? I needed something other than the cookie cutter romance novels I have been reading lately all of them good but didn’t necessarily grab me.

Oh boy, was I on the ride of my life reading this book today. Unbelievable story of a young girl’s suffering and confusion about life and love. This is by no means a romance novel with flowers and sweet chaste kisses. This is more than that, it's dark and gritty and so not your mama’s Harlequin romance novel. The book follows Anna a girl who lost her parents at 11 and is awarded to a guardian Jack. She believes him to be her savior and Devin her parents other friend her champion. They turn out to be anything but, one worse than the other. She begins training by her sixteenth birthday in the ways of sex, submission and seduction, her masters are cruel. I thought Anna was sweet and naive yet tough in her own way. The horrors she faces and still manages to think positive and go on are just astounding. She believes herself in love with Devin. At times I actually found myself believing the soft spoken words of affection he spoke to her. Then he would do something that would disgust me and make me want to scream and cry for Anna. The Manor, where the slaves live holds all sorts of dark mystery waiting to be unfolded.

When Anna finds a bright spot in her life like spending time with a young German fellow and his family the happiness of those moments are ripped away from her. But she can’t deny the connection she feels to Alex the eldest brother. I found myself wondering if Anna will ever find happiness in her life, will she get away from her tormentors. Will there be a man she could truly trust that will save her from her life of torture. So many possibilities I can’t wait to explore in the next book.

The writing was fantastic, I felt every pain Anna felt, I warmed at every joy, cried at every sorrow. The story flowed from chapter one, to the last page which included an excerpt of book 2. Yes, it’s a series and that’s ok because I don’t think my heart could take reading all of it in one book. You need to spread it out to catch your breath and then get the rest of her story. Because yes, that’s what I did when I read this book, I held my breath every time Anna was uncertain of what her fate would be that day. Would she be hurt? Would she be loved?

I never read a book before that as soon as I finished the last word I wanted to go back and read it all over again on the spot. If you are easily offended by graphic sex, and violent material then this book is not for you. If you have an open mind and would like to read a really different out of the box novel then you should get this book now. It will definitely surprise you, you will need to know Anna’s story.

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Wild Nights - (Justiss Alliance #3) by Tina Wainscott - ARC Review

Wild Nights (Justiss Alliance, #3)Wild Nights by Tina Wainscott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Justiss Alliance series, I was concerned I needed to read the first two books but this one can be read as a stand alone. I do, now want to read the other two books to learn the stories of the other ex-Navy SEALs and their lady loves.

I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saxby Cole is an ex-Navy SEAL who has only ever committed to his SEAL brothers and to getting the bad guys. After being discharged from the SEALs along with 4 of his brothers from a mission gone bad he starts to work for the Justiss Alliance. He is put undercover to get information on a possible date rape drug ring at a resort in the Bahamas. He meets Jennessy Shaw who is fresh out of a long term relationship. Taking the Caribbean trip without her cheating ex to find out if she has a wild side. Sax and Jennessy click right away on the plane. Unfortunately Sax is undercover and can't act on his attraction to Jennessy and immediately rejects her advances. Jennessy feels horrible and tries to avoid Sax once they get to the resort. Jennessy becomes a victim of the date rape drug ring and ends up in Sax's room. They start working together to find out who is behind getting women at the resort drugged and selling them for sex to guests. There is danger, there is some intrigue and along way Sax and Jennessy become involved their relationship turns sexual. Sax swears its not in his DNA to be monogamous, Jennessy tries to convince him he is selling himself short. She sees a completely different man than Sax believes he is. I found him sexy though somewhat silly at times for thinking it was in his genetics to not be faithful. But I guess growing up around men who constantly cheated gave him a false sense of what relationships should be. Jennessy was a tough girl who gave as good as she got. The small spots of the other guys in the Justiss Alliance had me wanting to go back and read Risk and Julian's story. I am also very interesting in Knox and Chases' stories as well. Also Chad who lost is legs Sax's cousin there's a great story there I am sure. If you like a bit of adventure with your romance this is the book for you.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Longing (Club Inferno #2) by Jamie Schmidt - ARC Review

Longing (Club Inferno, #2)Longing by Jamie K. Schmidt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Longing (Club Inferno #2) by Jamie K. Schmidt
ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
We met Anya in Heat when she became friends with Mallory, I liked her right away. Being plus size myself I could definitely relate to her insecurities. I found it interesting that her chosen perfection was modeling and acting when even going for plus size jobs your physical appearance is always critiqued. How she made her living required confidence but she didn’t have much in herself in real life. To me Clint came across the same way, he worked as a Dom and a stripper both requiring confidence yet when it came to his personal life he let his insecurities get in the way. These two people kept coming together two steps closer and three steps back. When they finally were on the same page it was magic. I thought they had great chemistry and I loved their banter. Their sex scenes were hot and steamy. I felt like I was taking the same journey as Anya learning about what she like in the BDSM lifestyle. Clint was showing her how to be a little submissive and have fun with sex and get to know her body. Anya was helping Clint realize he was more than just some ones boy toy. Anya’s nemesis Rita shows up as the mistress of her ex-boyfriend Cesare these two were a trip, they certainly deserve each other after what they tried to pull coming between Anya and Clint.
It was also fun to read about Nefertiti and Istavhan, I don’t know if they will get their own story but the surprise that shows up in their relationship was a dozy I would like to see how that plays out.
Colleen is her usually bossy self, but I noticed that Chase just might break her resolve from the small glimpse we got through Anya’s eyes when she sees them together. What might be going on with those two?
I love a good epilogue and this one was great, nice HEA for a really fun couple.
I am enjoying this series, I would like to get more stories from the people who live and love at Club Inferno. Keep them coming

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Heat (Club Inferno #1) by Jamie Schmidt

Heat (Club Inferno, #1)Heat by Jamie K. Schmidt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heat (Club Inferno #1) by Jamie K. Schmidt
Mallory is running from an abusive relationship, she goes to her sister who runs a resort called Couture that specializes in all things fashion and apparently all things sex. She has a secret sex club within the facility called Club Inferno. Mallory and her sister Colleen’s relationship seemed strained to me but yet Mallory still felt Colleen would help keep her safe and she did. Colleen had one of her employee’s take her under his protection as her bodyguard. Max works at Couture as a martial arts instructor in the resort and as a skilled Dom in the sex club, setting up erotic scenes for club members. There is an immediate spark between Mallory and Max. Max is very much attracted to Mallory and he plans to show her that BDSM and sexual fantasy can be fun. Max is a sweet Dom who guides Mallory into a whole new world. He helps her work through her fear of her ex-boyfriend David and helps her to get her life back. She helps him to get over his abusive childhood and deal with a tragedy in his life. Their relationship builds nicely.
I almost gave 3.5 stars because the story dragged a little at times but the author picked it up for me at around 68% into the book, then at the end tying up (pun intended) the main plots with the main characters. The sex scenes were creative and steamy Max really knows how to set up a scene. I would not call him a 24/7 Dom I felt that Max came off as an in the bedroom kind of Dom which seemed to work for the story. Mallory is submissive in the bedroom but considering she is new to all of the BDSM stuff I don’t think she would have been believable as a submissive all the time.
Mallory’s ex-boyfriend issues, Max’s daddy issues and their relationship all gets put together at the end I like that in a series. Nice HEA for this couple as well as giving us a glimpse into the next couple Anya and Clint (Longing). I was a little disappointed that Colleen and Chase’s story isn’t next because I was really intrigued by their story even though we only got bits and pieces of their issues.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fitting the Pieces (The Riverdale Series #3) by Janine Infante Bosco - Cover Reveal


You’ve laughed with them. You’ve cried with them. Now it’s time to say goodbye to the Lanza Family, in the final installment of The Riverdale Series.
Luke Lanza is a man who has always done the responsible thing. He has faced a lot of challenging obstacles in his life; from raising his daughter on his own, to building a successful business, even being the only viable donor that could save his brother’s life.  Knowing this about his brother and knowing that he was going to die, Jake asked him to look after the love of his life. Now Luke is torn between the promise he made to his brother and the pull of something he’s never known before.
 “Promise me, I need to hear you say it, Luke.”
Luke swallowed. “I promise I’ll take care of Cara, you don’t have to worry about her.” A tear slipped down his cheek as he finished his vow to his little brother.
Jake smiled slightly and closed his eyes. “I could always count on you.”

Cara Sloane is struggling with the loss of her first love and the power of addiction. Jake had been her rock for so long, with him gone she realizes how broken she is. She doesn’t want to feel anything, least of all the emptiness in her heart.
“I know you’re at peace and I should be thankful for that, but I can’t be. I never realized what a selfish person I was. You were suffering and all I could do was pray for you not to leave me.”
A tragic accident leaves Luke and his family pleading with Cara to change the course of her life. Can Cara face her demons and learn there is life after Jake?  Can she learn that she can hold onto to the beautiful memories they made together and still live her life?
“I don’t want to fix her because she’s broken.” He said with his own voice sounding a bit broken. “I want to help her because losing her too isn’t an option.”
Individually they try to heal, together they wonder if they can fit the pieces of the broken lives.

Coming September 30, the final installment in the Riverdale Series…
Fitting The Pieces
Here is the pre-order link on amazon

Chapter One

      Luke Lanza glanced into his rear view mirror as he pulled up in front of Riverdale Elementary and watched his daughter as she looked out of her window.
      “Here we are, my lady.” He said as he put the truck in park and twisted in his seat to face her. Ava unsnapped her seat belt and grabbed her book bag from the seat beside her. She slung it over one shoulder and leaned over the console. She smiled at him with her lopsided toothless grin and eyed him as if she owned him, which he could admit, she did.
      “Give me some sugar.” She said pointing her finger towards her cheek.
      Luke laughed, his daughter never ceased to amaze him with her wit. He leaned over to shower her cheek with kisses before pointing to his own. She wrapped her arms loosely around his neck and kissed his cheek with a smacking sound.
      “That’s my girl!” He said before moving his hand to ruffle her hair.
      “Dad! Don’t you’ll mess my hair!” She cried exasperated.
      Luke held his hands up in the air as if he had just been caught red-handed. “Okay, fine!” He said surrendering to his seven year old. “Don’t forget, you’re going home with Aunt Sam today, and then I will pick you up after work.”
      “Okay, oh and it’s Friday! Pizza night!” She exclaimed reminding him of their weekly ritual.
      “It’s a date.” He confirmed with a smile as he watched her open the door. He hesitated for a moment, wanting to get out of the car and help her out, but stopped himself because she claimed it would be too embarrassing. She jumped out of the car and when she landed firmly on her two feet, Luke sighed relieved. “I love you.” He called out before she could shut the door.
      “I love you too.” She whispered before slamming the door shut.
      He ignored the car behind him that honked for him to pull away and looked after Ava until she made her way safely into the school. The horn honked again and with a smile he pulled away from the school.
      Friday’s were usually a day full of routine for Luke, who was he kidding, his whole life was one big routine. There wasn’t a day of the week he didn’t have mapped out. However, Friday’s was the day he went to his late brother’s tattoo shop. He had been delegated the responsibility so, once a week he made his way over to the shop and checked on everything. He was certain the shop would be up to par, it always was. When Jake had died, his good friend and right hand at Riverdale Ink, Pete DeSantis had agreed to run the tattoo parlor for the Lanza’s. Everyone in the family agreed that Pete was best suited for the job. He worked beside Jake for years watching him grow his business. It was the right decision because Pete was undyingly loyal to Riverdale Ink and even with its owners passing the business was still striving.
      Luke pulled up into the spot in front of Riverdale Ink. It was still early and the shop didn’t open until noon, but Pete would be there for his and Luke’s weekly meeting. He stepped inside the place and like every time before something inside of him ached. The bell chimed letting his presence be known as he glanced around, noticing everything was just as Jake had wanted.  Not a thing was altered, except he wasn’t in the first booth wiggling his eyebrows at the first person who walked through the door. He made his way towards Jake’s station, it was clear to see no one had used any of his equipment. On the counter sat some of the sketches that Jake had been working on, and on top of the pile sat the drawing Jake had tattooed to his chest. There was no mistaking the beautiful women staring back at him in the form of black and white. She was the woman who haunted his dreams. Luke lifted the piece of paper, realizing he was probably the first person to ever touch anything in his brother’s area since his passing. How fitting, he thought, as he stared down at the drawing of Cara.
      “He was one talented son of a bitch.” Luke heard Pete say from behind and quickly placed the sketch back in its rightful spot. “I still can remember how he pleaded with me to make sure when I inked him I captured her just as he drew her.”
      Luke turned around to face Pete, who stood just outside of the cubicle. “My brother was a perfectionist when it came to his work.”
      Pete nodded in agreement as Luke stepped out of Jake’s station and they walked towards the lounge area in the front of the shop. There was no office in the shop because there was no need for formalities Jake had figured. They each took a seat on the black leather couches.
      “We had a decent week.” Pete said, handing Luke a manila envelope. “The spreadsheets are all in there, along with the credit card receipts.” He handed him another envelope. “There should be two thousand there. Everyone’s been paid but there are a few bills that came in, those are in the manila envelope.” Pete said as he leaned back against the sofa, his tattooed arms sprawling out along the back of the couch.
      Luke placed the envelopes on top of one another and then looked up at him. “So everything’s good.”
      “Yeah, we’re all good.” Pete paused and then ran one of his hands along his shaved head. “There’s just one thing.”
      Luke arched an eyebrow and peered at Pete.
      “I fired Spike.” Pete said flatly and waited for Luke to respond.
      Luke drew his eyebrows together as he tried to put a face to the name. “The guy who does the piercings?” Pete nodded. “What did he do?”
      Pete blew out a breath and leaned forward as he looked across at Luke. “He’s been selling pills and I’m not a hundred percent certain but he could’ve been selling them out of here a few times.” He paused and let Luke digest his news then continued cautiously. “To Cara.”
      Luke tore his eyes away from Pete and looked down at the floor. “He was selling pills to Cara?”
      “She came here a few times. She wasn’t herself man, she was strung out on something.” Pete said remorsefully. “Spike has been dealing for a few months now. He calls himself the Street Pharmacist so my guess is she’s killing the pain with prescription pills. Last night she came in here like a bat out of hell and went straight towards him.  I was inking someone so I couldn’t just stop but I saw the exchange and by the time I was able to check out what was going on, she had already left out the back door.”
       Luke swiped his hands down his face and let out a breath. Cara was spiraling out of control and he blamed himself. He blamed himself because he knew about this for months and it was still going on, and now it was probably worse. He should’ve put an end to it already; he vowed to himself right then and there, that he would now. It didn’t matter what it took, he wouldn’t fail her or his brother even though he felt as if he already had failed his brother in more ways than one.
      “I’m sorry Luke. I didn’t know what else to do. I had to tell someone, she needs to get help.”
Luke looked up at Pete and shook his head.
      “No you did the right thing.” He sighed heavily. “I know she needs help.” He looked at Pete evenly. “I’ll do everything I can to make sure she gets it.” He slapped his palms against his knees before he stood to his full height and leaned down to grab the envelopes. He held them up to Pete. “Thank you.”
      Pete nodded and stood as well. “No problem man.” He followed Luke towards the door. “When are you going to let me finish your piece?” He asked him.
      Luke looked down at his arms and stretched them out before turning them slightly. His inner right forearm had the outline of a warrior with wings symbolizing Jake’s fall from the greatest battle of his life. Pete still had to shade it in.  His left forearm had his daughters name scripted across it, Ava Rose, which was complete. He glanced up at Pete. “I’ll be in touch maybe next week.”
      “Sounds good. Oh, and good luck with the Cara situation.” Pete said as Luke waved a hand above his head and walked out of Riverdale Ink. He was going to need a miracle not luck, he thought as he made his way to his truck. He pulled his phone out of his pocket to call her. The date stared back at him and he froze in his tracks. Today was the day she was supposed to marry Jake. He threw his phone onto the seat of his truck and slammed his palm against the roof trying to figure out what he should do. It was no use, he was fucked.

* * * * * *

      Cara Sloane made her way up the steep green grassy hill in the cemetery. Her feet walked robotically up the incline to the willow tree that sat perched on top of the hill. The two most important people in Cara’s life now rested eternally a couple of yards away from one another. Her mother who had died when she was just a teenager and the only man she ever loved. The man she was supposed to marry on this day.
      Jake Lanza had become her whole life. Still she wondered how she never noticed all those years they had been best friends, that, she had been in love with him. That was just another regret to tack onto the list. Had she not been too frightened to take that leap and let him know she wanted more than to be just his friend, they would’ve had more time. She could have been standing in front of his headstone as his wife and not just his fiancee that held him as he left this world.
      Cara stared at the headstone with bloodshot eyes. It still felt surreal to her that he was gone, and all that was left was the stone in front of her.
      “Today should’ve been the happiest day of our lives.” She said flatly. “Instead I’m talking to your tombstone, wondering for the love of God, why I am still here?” She looked up at the clear sky. She had never questioned death when her mother had passed, but now it was all she could do. “I know you’re at peace and I should be thankful for that, but I can’t be. I never realized what a selfish person I was. You were suffering and all I could do was keep praying that you wouldn't leave me."
      She paused for a moment then glanced back at Jake’s headstone and lifted her bare left hand. “I’m not wearing your ring anymore. Your sister and Nick are engaged.  They’re really going to get married; you always said they belonged together.” She frowned and let her hand fall to her side. “I guess seeing them so happy and on the brink of a wedding made me feel a little ridiculous. Sam’s wearing a ring that is full of promise and represents the future, when all mine did was represent the past and something that will never be. I will never be your wife.”
      She let out a shaky breath that she seemed to be holding in. “I guess that’s what it meant all those times I dreamt of myself getting married.  In my dreams I never saw who I was marrying; there was no one there waiting for me at the altar.”
      She kneeled before his head stone, not caring that the ground was moist and her jeans would surely stain. She reached into her pocket book and pulled out a black leather bound journal. Her fingertips grazed the cover before she averted her eyes back to his stone.
      “I found your journal.” She said her voice hoarse and full of emotion as she tapped the cover of the book she held in her trembling hands. “There must be something wrong with me because every page made me madder and madder.” She closed her eyes and shook her head slightly. “I’m so mad at you, because each letter is a goodbye. You knew we weren’t going to get married.” She opened her eyes and the tears slipped from the corners as she did so. She lifted the book to the stone as if he could see it. “It’s all right here in your own words. You expect me to move on with my life when all I can think about is how angry I am that you knew you would leave me. You said your goodbyes while all I got to do was watch you die.”
      She wiped her tears away with the back of her hand before she slipped the book back into her bag. “Well now wherever you are it’s your turn to watch.” She straightened her posture and stared at his name. “You can watch me exist...” She wouldn’t dare say live, because she knew that was anything but what she was doing. No, exist was the better choice of word. She stood up and brushed the fresh grass clippings off of her jeans. “…Until I don’t anymore.” The last part of her sentence came out in a harsh strangled whisper. She sniffled before leaning down to press her lips against the cold headstone. Her warm lips full of life against the slab of stone only reinforcing the fact that she was alone. She stood straight and reached into her purse to pull out the orange prescription bottle that was her salvation. She unscrewed the cap and threw her head back as she shook the pills into her mouth. She closed her eyes as she swallowed the pills. Her eyes slowly fluttered open and she turned on her heel without another glance towards Jake’s tombstone.
      Her phone rang as she made her way back down the hill. She reached into her purse and pulled out the phone. She cringed when she saw it was Luke who was calling her. She declined the call just as she did every Friday. He’d leave a voice mail telling her he deposited the profits of Riverdale Ink into her checking account. He’d end the call with “I hope you’re okay, please call me back.” She had the whole voicemail down pat. Too bad she never called him back.

* * * * * *

      “Goddamn it!” Luke said as he threw his phone across the office and slammed his fist against the desk. He ran his hand threw his hair and cupped the back of his neck in frustration.
      “What the hell is with you?” Nick asked standing in the doorway of the office they shared. He took a step inside and picked up the phone Luke had thrown, examining it before handing it back to him.
      Luke took the phone and let out a breath before shaking his head. “It’s nothing.”
      Nick crossed his arms against his chest and cocked an eyebrow at him, calling bullshit. Luke rolled his eyes at his friend before shoving the phone into his back pocket.
      “I’m just stressed out.”
      “You’re throwing shit and slamming your fist.” Nick said observantly.
       “Yeah and? We all deal with stress differently.” He turned around and began to shove some order forms for parts around. “Did the transmission come in for the Chevy?”
      “Yes and it’s installed.” Nick peered at him. “Are you trying to blame this place on your stress?”
      Luke looked up and shot Nick a look. “No but at the current moment you seem to be raising my stress level.”
      “Yeah you’re blood pressure is probably high too.” He said as he motioned to his own forehead. “You have veins popping out all up in this area.” Then he crossed his arms again and cocked his head to the side. “You might want to get that checked out.”
      “Are you finished?” Luke asked as his patience wore thin.
      “I’m not sure.” Nick said and then sat down in the chair in front of the desk. “Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on with you? If not I can keep going…”
      “When did you become so annoying?” Luke asked before sliding into the chair behind the desk. His shoulders slumped in defeat. He sighed heavily and glanced over to his friend. “I’m worried about Cara.”
      “Ah hah…and there it is.” Nick said leaning forward and holding Luke’s gaze.
      “Today is the day she and Jake were supposed to get married.” Luke felt his hands clench into fists beside him. The significance of the day coupled with not hearing from her, had him on edge. He couldn’t shake the feeling in his gut that was telling him that she needed him. “I can’t get a hold of her.”
      “She probably wants to be alone.” Nick offered. “She seemed fine when we went to dinner a couple of weeks ago.”
      Luke nodded absentmindedly. She wasn’t fine that night either, sure he was able to catch a glimpse of the Cara he once knew, but she disappeared quickly as the night progressed. He saw the change in her after Nick and Sam had asked them to stand up for them at their wedding. He should’ve known today was going to be hard on her. He should’ve planned a way to help her get through it. He kicked himself, as he thought of all the places he could’ve whisked her away to, so she could forget. Luke could’ve been the one to make things okay for her today. It could’ve been him who made her forget the pain and not the pills but instead he was sitting here feeling like helpless fool.
      “You can’t keep beating yourself up. I know you made a promise, but sometimes things are just out of our control.” Nick said breaking Luke from his train of thought.
      Luke’s eyes met Nick’s and he shook his head slightly. “I won’t give up…not on her.” He glanced at the clock and pushed out of his chair. “I’m heading out.”
      Nick’s eyes widened but he didn’t say a word as he watched Luke walk out of the office.

* * * * * *

      Later that night Luke was sitting across the kitchen table from Ava, sharing a pizza. Only the slice that sat in his dish was barely touched. He managed to smile though when he stared across at his daughter who was licking the sauce off her thumb.
      “You love pizza.” He told her as he handed her a napkin.
      “Yep! It’s my favorite.” She said before she took another big bite. He laughed and folded his slice before taking a bite. He watched her enjoy her dinner and knew that Fridays were just as much her favorite night of the week as it was his.
      “I bet they don’t have pizza at Melanie’s birthday party.” She said before taking another bite.
      Luke’s eyebrows furrowed at her comment. “Was Melanie’s birthday party today?” She nodded as she chewed.  “Well, how come you didn’t tell me?” He put his pizza down and looked at his daughter with concerned eyes, praying she hadn’t told him and he forgot.
      She shrugged her shoulders. “Because Friday night is our night and besides it was a spa party and all the other girls moms were going.” She looked up at her dad. “Can I have another slice of pizza?”
      Luke swiped his hands over his face before he placed another slice in her dish. He looked at her for a moment trying to get his words right. “It would’ve been okay if you wanted to go to Melanie’s birthday party. We could’ve had our pizza date another night.”
      “But then what would you have done? Eat pizza by yourself?” She stared down at the slice he had just put into her dish. “That isn’t nice.” She glanced up her blue eyes meeting his.
      He smiled at her as he pushed out his chair and patted his lap. “C’mere.” She slid off her chair and walked around the table jumping into her father’s waiting arms. Luke placed a kiss on her forehead. “I love you, Ava, more than anything in this whole world.” He said as he tucked some of her hair behind her ears. “I don’t want you to worry about me. You’re a kid you shouldn’t be worrying about anything. I want you to have fun and always smile.” He paused for a moment. “You could’ve told me about Melanie’s birthday party and we could’ve asked Aunt Sam to go with you. She loves spas and parties.” He winked at his little girl.
      Ava looked up at her dad and she sucked in her bottom lip before she spoke. “Is it too late to go now?”
      Luke glanced at the clock and then back towards Ava. “I tell you what. I’ll call Melanie’s mom and tell her you would like to go to the party but the party will probably be over before Aunt Sam gets dressed and ready to take you. I can go with you if you’d like.”
      Ava’s eyes widened and she wrapped her arms around Luke’s neck. “Dad, I love you but I can’t take you to a spa party.” She kissed his cheek. “It’s okay I can go by myself.”
      Luke smiled at her and lifted her off his lap, settling her down on her own feet, before standing himself. “Okay then. Go get ready while I call Melanie’s mom.”
      “Thanks daddy! You’re the best.” She said in a singing tone as she hurried out of the kitchen.

* * * * * *

      The Emergency Room was bustling and Leah felt as if she had been on the clock for two days straight. She placed the last chart on top of the nurse’s station and was just about to remove her stethoscope and call it a night when the head of the E.R. called over to her.
      “Leah we have a trauma coming in.” The doctor called. Leah took a deep breath so much for going home and raiding her stock of ice cream. She ran to the door beside the doctor as the E.M.T.’s wheeled a patient on a stretcher.
      “What do we got here?” asked the doctor beside Leah.
      “Female Caucasian. Twenty-nine years old. Breathing on her own but unconscious. She may be bleeding internally. She was the driver of the vehicle you might want to do a toxicology report.”
      Leah stared down at the female body that was bruised and battered. She gasped when her eyes landed on her face. Cara laid on the gurney unresponsive. Her head was cradled by a brace and she was bleeding from her temple.
      “Leah can you grab her identification and see if you can contact a next of kin.” The doctor ordered, forcing her out of her trance. She watched as a team of doctors wheeled her into the nearest trauma room and began to work on her.
      ‘Here Miss, this is what we were able to recover from the crash.” An officer said as he held Cara’s pocketbook out towards her. Leah wondered for a moment where he had come from before she took the purse from him. “License says her name is Cara Sloane.”
      “Thank you.” She said before she found her footing and made her way to the nurse’s station. She typed in Cara’s name into the registration log and listed as her next of kin was Jake Lanza. Leah closed her eyes of course Jake would be her emergency contact person. She picked up the phone and as much as she hated the position she was in, she dialed the one person who came to her mind. Luke hadn’t really left her mind since the night she called him out on having feelings for Cara. The moment the words had escaped her mouth she had regretted it and now she was about to call him and tell him Cara needed him. He’d come running of course, because as much as she regretted accusing him of caring for Cara, she knew it was undeniably true, even if he didn’t realize it.
      “Hello?” Luke’s familiar voice spoke into the phone.
      “Luke, its Leah.” She said with a hoarse voice and cleared her throat before she began again. “Cara was in a car accident. They just brought her into the E.R. and Jake was her emergency contact…”
      “I’m on my way…” He said exasperated and then the line went dead.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Once Perfect (Shattered Past #1) by Cecy Robson - ARC review

Once Perfect (Shattered Past, #1)Once Perfect by Cecy Robson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once Perfect (Shattered Past #1) by Cecy Robson – New Adult Series

If you like reading about characters who survive awful circumstances and come out strong and on top you will enjoy this book. It’s an inspirational story of love, survival and family.

Evelyn originally came from a rich upbringing, tragedy pushes her out of her privileged life into a world of poverty. She struggles to put her life back together, but something in her past she can’t seem to run from haunts her sleep. Until she meets Mateo, he is an ex - army guy who ended up in prison. At first Evelyn is afraid of him because of what she hears about his past. But she is still strangely attracted to him as well. He is more then what he seems, Teo is kind and gentle to her. They start a friendship that soon turns into love. As they explore their feelings for each other they both slowly reveal secrets about their pasts. Will their troubled childhoods stop them from having a future, or will their violent pasts bring them closer together.

I really adored this story I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up liking it. The beginning was a little slow for me and I wondered where the author was going with the characters at first. But it picked up around forty percent into the book. Then I could not put it down I had to find out what happened to Evelyn in her past that she couldn't remember. Boy was it a doozy. Her new found relationship with Mateo triggers some memories that her mind pushed away because they were just too horrible to think about. When she finally remembers, Mateo is with her every step of the way when she has to face horrific events from her childhood. As Evelyn starts to recover we learn more about Mateo’s shattered life and the violence that has pledged his sisters and mother at the hands of their abusive father. I thought the author handled this sensitive subject matter of violence, rape, alcoholism and drug use very well. I truly felt for the characters and sensed a realness to them. The background characters that I hope to read about in the series, like Lety and Brody (which is the next book Once Loved due out in January 2015) as well as Sofia and Killan were really fascinating. I also thought the surrounding friends were a great group of people, Dee Dee and Big Chris and Noelle and Ant. I hope to read more about these characters as well, either in their own stories or in the series.
This was my first Cecy Robson book and it will not be my last. This is a very thought-provoking New Adult read and I highly recommend it. There is an HEA and no cliffhanger though we do hope for the stories of other characters that were introduced in the book.
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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