Review: Carter Reed by Tijan

Carter Reed
Series: Carter Reed, #1
Author: Tijan
Narrator: Lucy Rivers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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.


I’m really shocked to be saying this, but Carter Reed was almost a DNF for me. I’m surprised because up until about two-thirds of the way in, I was wrapped up in the story. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Emma and her friends. Somewhere along the way, I lost interest.

Carter Reed started with the brutal rape of Emma’s friend and her decision to kill the rapist. Not knowing what else to do after, Emma runs to Carter Reed. With his mobster past and her childhood link to him, Carter’s the only person who can help Emma. Emma knows going to Carter will change her life, but she has no idea how much. The minute she approaches him, her chance for freedom is gone.

I feel weird saying this book started strong since it starts with a rape, but it did. It immediately grabbed my attention and made me sympathetic to Emma and her friends. The events at the beginning and everyone’s reactions to them made want to know where the story would go. I felt bad for them all, and really hoped Emma going to Carter would help them.

I enjoyed the tension between Emma and Carter, and was excited to know how their love story would play out. Sadly, Emma and Carter’s relationship never went deep enough for me to understand their love for each other. They had a combined history, but there wasn’t a non-platonic relationship between them before this story takes place. She comes to him for help, he’s super hot and instantly they’re in love. It made no sense to me. They hadn’t seen each other in years. Carter was constantly running off to take care of things. They spent so little time together. I wanted to spend more time getting to watch them fall in love.

The lack of real love story and the weird plot twists that kept popping up started to wear thin for me around that two-thirds finished that I was talking about earlier. I didn’t care enough about the characters or the story to finish it. I pushed myself to finish it so I could honestly review the whole book. I’m a fan of Tijan’s books, but Carter Reed wasn’t for me. I wish the end of the book would have had the same draw as the first half or so of it.

Review: Hard Stick by L.P. Dover

Hard Stick
Series: Breakaway, #1
Author: L.P. Dover
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He carries a big stick. And he’s not afraid to use it.

On the ice, I’m Kellan Carter, powerhouse enforcer for the Charlotte Strikers. Off the ice, I’m just a regular guy. The last thing I want is to get mobbed by a bunch of groupies who are only after me for my fame and money. My ideal woman knows how to enjoy a little good, clean fun—and maybe some not-so-clean fun too. That’s the kind of girl I’d never let go.

When Kristen Robinson, the gorgeous, down-to-earth bartender I’ve been crushing on, agrees to let me take her out, I’m thrilled. We have an amazing night together, culminating in the most electrifying kiss of my life—and that’s it. Kristen tells me we can’t see each other again, but I know that kiss meant as much to her as it did to me. What I don’t know is that Kristen has a dangerous secret. . . .

I’ve proved to Kristen that she can trust me with her body and her heart. But when her past comes back to haunt her, I need to prove that she can trust me with her life. And I might have to get my hands dirty after all.


Hard Stick was my first foray into reading L.P. Dover’s novels. I was impressed with her writing style. I loved that she chose to use first person dual narration in her adult contemporary romance. So many authors use third person, and it makes it a lot harder to identify with the characters.

The characters in Hard Stick were a lot of fun. Kristen had been through and lost so much in her life. She rebounded well and had an inner strength not many people would have. I loved that Kristen did what she needed to do to live her life, and how serious she was about her physical strength and preparedness. Kellan was a reformed hockey bad boy who was looking for more in a woman than just one night together. He was a genuinely nice guy, and I loved how he wasn’t going to let Kristen dismiss him without proving himself to her. They were so cute together, and had amazing chemistry.

Hard Stick was a sports romance, but I didn’t realize it was going to have a romantic suspense aspect to it. I actually think it would be better characterized as romantic suspense. There was way more of that than hockey moments. I’m not complaining, though. Romantic suspense isn’t normally my favorite thing to read, but I did like it in Hard Stick. It was well written, and added a cool dimension to Kristen and Kellan’s relationship. I could see where the twist in the story was going to go from the minute I met Kellan, but it was fun watching everything unfold.

Hard Stick may have been my first L.P. Dover novel, but it won’t be my last. I am so excited to see what’s next in the Breakaway series. I’m really hoping Dallas’ book is next! I loved Kellan’s hockey buddy, and I think he’s got a special romance coming his way.

Review: Wrong Turn, Right Direction by Elle Casey

Wrong Turn, Right Direction
Series: The Bourbon Street Boys, #4
Author: Elle Casey
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tamika Cleary takes a wrong turn up a one-way street—and straight into Thibault Delacroix’s leg as he steps into the road. But Mika’s in a hurry, and she certainly doesn’t have time for a guy who can’t even look both ways before crossing, even if he does have a cute face, a body to die for, and the darkest, thickest eyelashes she’s ever seen.

Unfortunately for Mika, fate has other ideas. When she’s threatened by her employer, a Russian mafia boss known as “The Thief”, she’s forced to accept Thibault’s help. As the co-owner of the Bourbon Street Boys security firm, he believes he can keep her safe. But Mika has a whole load of trust issues—and the pushier Thibault is about helping, the more stubbornly she tries to resist.

Mika may have taken a wrong turn the day they met, but will she finally let someone steer her in the right direction?


I love Elle Casey’s writing, but The Bourbon Street Boys series has been a little hit or miss for me. Wrong Turn, Right Direction was in the miss category. I wouldn’t say that it was horrible or that I didn’t enjoy reading it, it was just missing something major.

Wrong Turn, Right Direction started out strong.Tamika is trying to get out from under her horribly corrupt boss and ends up in a medical situation that has her turning the wrong way and into Thibault. Thibault wants to do anything he can to help the beautiful and tentative Tamika get on the right side of the law, but first he has to get her to trust him. Tamika’s background and current situation were very interesting and I wanted to know more about them. They made the plot of this story entertaining. I liked how Tamika’s involvement with her boss worked meshed with the Bourbon Street gang.

Where the story lost me was the romance between Tamika and Thibault. I didn’t feel any sort of connection between them at all. I know Thibault was there for Tamika during the most personal experience of her life, but I didn’t feel an emotional connection made at that moment. Nor did I feel one later on as they got to know each other. Tamika was too reserved and kept too much from Thibault. I didn’t understand how he could fall for someone he knew was constantly hiding something. She was so standoff-ish. Their relationship just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t believe it. That was where this story failed for me. I wanted a stronger relationship for Thibault.

Despite not falling in love with Thibault and Tamika’s relationship, I did enjoy the twists and turns of the story. I also loved seeing the rest of the Bourbon Street gang and hearing what they were up to. So, overall, Wrong Turn, Right Direction was a good read.

Release Day Review: Girl in the Mirror by Elizabeth Reyes

Girl in the Mirror
Series: Looking Glass, #1

Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A girl without a past.

Margaret Hellman wakes in a hospital with no memory of the horrific accident that claimed the lives of her sister and their best friend.

After years of struggling to regain a fraction of her memories, Maggie is left with no choice but to accept her past is gone. Despite the tormenting void in her heart.

Then the triggers start.

Tiny indiscernible but profoundly emotional glimpses of her past. The day she meets him, at her sister’s graveside sets off the most explosive trigger to date. It’s so overwhelming Maggie’s convinced she’s supposed to remember—she needs to.

As the puzzling pieces of her past start to come together, it’s clear something’s amiss. But nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality of what really happened that fateful day seven years ago.

Girl in the Mirror is a psychological romantic suspense with a twist you’ll NEVER see coming!


I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Reyes’ writing since I stumbled across her Moreno Brothers series. I love her independent women, alpha males, and the little twists she adds to her romances. I’m not a big romantic suspense fan because they aren’t always as entertaining as I want them to be. I usually avoid them, but I knew if anyone could craft a good one it would be Elizabeth Reyes.

I have to admit I was thrown off a little by the writing style of Girl in the Mirror at first. It didn’t really have the same feel to it as Reyes’ prior novels. So much of the beginning of this book is told to the reader by Maggie, the first person narrator. There wasn’t a whole lot of character interaction. It made more sense to me as the story went on, it just threw me off a bit at first. Maggie’s story did pull my in from the beginning, though. I was caught up in the mystery of her situation.

As the book went on, I was enthralled with the story. There was more to Maggie’s past than the blurb hints at. I loved trying to figure out what was going on and who was involved. Some of the answers were easier to guess than the others. Plus, as the romance and drama began to appear, that Elizabeth Reyes feel that I was talking about finally makes an appearance.

Another thing that surprised me about The Girl in the Mirror was the way the book wrapped up. I wasn’t expecting to move so quickly into where Maggie was now. I would have loved to see the period that wasn’t included. I wanted more of the romance of the story!

Girl in the Mirror was a great romantic suspense novel. It had fun twists, amazing characters, and kept me guessing. I’m really hoping some of the characters that were introduced get a book of their own.

Release Day Blitz Review: Chain Reaction by Tara Wyatt

ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Chain Reaction
Author: Tara Wyatt
Series: Bodyguard #3
On Sale: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Formats: Mass Market
Price: $7.99 (mass market)
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SYNOPSIS

Blonde. Beautiful. Talented. Alexa Fairfax is practically Hollywood royalty. But growing up in a family of legendary movie stars also puts her in the spotlight for danger. And after she discovers a plot more deadly than any movie script, Alexa desperately needs a bodyguard. A man like Zack De Luca. A true friend with a good heart, a protective nature-and the hard, chiseled muscles to back it up.

Zack has always been wildly attracted to Alexa. But since he’s training day and night to be an MMA fighter, he’s afraid his gorgeous friend will only distract him from his goal. Indescribably sweet and irresistibly sexy, Alexa needs Zack to pretend to be her boyfriend after her life is threatened. Now this fighter-in-training will have to fight his own intense feelings-to keep their little charade from turning into a major disaster . . .

BODYGUARD SERIES
Bodyguard #3
Series Page on Goodreads

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REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Romantic suspense is one of those tricky genres for me. I either find myself deeply involved in the storyline or completely bored with it. In the case of Chain Reaction, it was deeply involved.

Tara Wyatt’s writing quickly pulled me into the story. It was fast-paced and moved the story along quickly. Nothing was too drawn out or boring. The story contained just the right amount of suspense, and was entertaining. I found myself easily connecting to the characters.

Alexa and Zach were so adorable! I loved how the author set up their back story. It turned what could have felt like insta-love into a believable romance. They way they tried to avoid a romantic relationship but couldn’t was cute. And once they acted on their feelings for each other — dang! The story took a super steamy turn. The last third of the book was over the top sexy times. I loved it!

The only slight issue I had with Chain Reaction was that it was written in third person dual points of view. This isn’t my favorite style of narration, but it worked for the most part in this story. The only problem I had with it was at the beginning when Zack is introduced. His character is presented in the middle of a party and his name kind of got lost in the mix of other male characters to me. It took me a while to remember who he was. That could be related to the fact I hadn’t read the previous two books in the series and had no idea who all of the other characters I was being quickly introduced to were. Had the story been told in first person, it might have been easier for me to navigate.

Overall, Chain Reaction was a great romantic suspense novel. It kept my attention the entire time, and had me invested in the characters’ lives. I highly recommend it to readers who like a series with interconnected characters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Wyatt has been making up love stories ever since she fell head over heels for the Backstreet Boys almost twenty years ago. Winner of the Unpublished Winter Rose Award, Linda Howard Award of Excellence and the Heart of the West Award, Tara lives in Hamilton, Ontario with the cutest dog in the world and a husband that makes all of her heroes look like chumps.

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Review: Lauren by Leigh James

Lauren
Series: Silicon Valley Billionaires, #1
Author: Leigh James
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Jack’s House Publishing, LLC
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Two Headstrong, Driven CEOs. One Undeniable, Scorching Attraction.

Being a scientist gives Lauren Taylor a purpose in life. At twenty-five, she’s the CEO of a billion-dollar biomedical company, Paragon Laboratories. On the brink of a major discovery, Lauren lets nothing interfere with her work. Until she meets Gabriel Betts, the gorgeous and brilliant CEO of another Silicon Valley startup, and is forced to face her inconvenient and overwhelming attraction to him.

Billionaire Gabriel Betts is a successful scientist in his own right. He’s made his way in the world by being an early adopter and never losing focus. Captivated by Lauren’s brilliance and unselfconscious beauty, he’s determined to win the reclusive female CEO over at any cost.

But what neither Gabe nor Lauren are prepared for is the white-collar danger that’s lurking in Silicon Valley… The danger that threatens not only their companies, but their very existence.

* This is an update to the previously released High Interest and contains significant edits.


I’m not sure if it’s the mood I’ve been in lately or what, but romantic suspense novels haven’t really been my thing. Unless they’re super fast-paced and have a storyline that really pulls me in, they all end just being okay.

I had that experience with Lauren. It was fast-paced and eventful, but I wasn’t into the danger Lauren faced. I felt like it was lacking a little suspense. I’m not sure if that was because I knew how smart Lauren was supposed to be and could get herself out of a jam, or if I just didn’t fall for the storyline.

I didn’t connect well with Lauren. She was immature, and all I could blame it on was her devotion to her job at such a young age. While I really love the idea of a brilliantly smart woman CEO as a main character, I didn’t like that Lauren had to be reclusive. Her inexperience with people and the way she communicated was unattractive. I wasn’t sure what, besides her looks, held Gabe’s interest.

Gabe was your typical alpha male. He took charge from the minute he met Lauren. Gabe forced her to believe in him and give him her trust. That worked well for them as a couple, and brought out a sexy side I wasn’t quite expecting from Lauren.

This review sounds a bit negative, but overall it was a good read. I just wasn’t as into the storyline as I could have been. I think a lot of romantic suspense readers will probably really enjoy Lauren. It just wasn’t for me.

Review: Taking Care of the Target by Cindi Madsen

Taking Care of the Target
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Vince DaMarco always liked Cassie, the shy waitress who works at the restaurant that serves as a front for his mob boss uncle. Unfortunately, she witnesses a back alley hit, and while fleeing, she’s struck by a truck. Now she’s at the top of the hit list. Desperate to stop anyone who’d draw out Cassie’s death, Vince volunteers to take care of it.

Cassie Dalton has no recollection of her accident, but she’s told she’s lucky to be alive. A few years are missing from her memory, and the unsettling feeling that something isn’t right—along with the creepy sensation that she’s being watched—won’t go away.

Vince shows up right when Cassie needs him most. In a world of confusion, the rugged stranger is the one thing that makes sense. But little does she know, she’s found refuge in the arms of the very man who’s been sent to kill her.


This is a difficult review to write. I wanted to love Cindi Madsen’s new release, Taking Care of the Target, but I had a hard time reading it. The writing was good — I just never connected with the characters or the mob-related story. I tried several times. I would put it down, and then come back later to see if it was a mood I was in or something. Sadly, I just wasn’t pulled in enough by a third of the way through to care about what was going on or to have a desire to finish reading it. I wish that wasn’t true. I have no doubt Taking Care of the Target will speak to other romantic suspense reader, but it just wasn’t for me.