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.

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind

 

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HOOKED ON TROUBLE
Over the Top Book 3
Author: Kelly Siskind
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Forever Yours
eBook: $3.99 

SYNOPSIS:

Reality bites.  Hard.

The last time Raven did “real” was sixteen months ago, when she spent one unforgettable night with the tattooed, impossible sexy Nico, and then he disappeared the next day.  Since then, she’s kept her guard up and her feelings to herself.  She doesn’t have time for relationship drama when she’s busy searching for her long lost sister.

Nico hasn’t stopped thinking about Raven—her sultry curves, inked skin, or the fact that he ditched her after their night together.  Now that they’re living in the same city, he knows this is his chance to make things right.  What better way to prove to Raven he’s for real than helping her find her sister?  But when the lines between right and wrong start to blur, putting his job on the line, Nico has to decide if the risk is worth the ultimate reward.

REVIEW:

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

I’ve been waiting a long time to find out what went down between Nico and Raven in The Perfect Mistake. I knew it had to be something big based on Raven’s reaction to him in A Fine Mess. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it created a multi-layered story for Hooked on Trouble.

Each book in Kelly Siskind’s Over the Top series has been different. They’ve all included her witty dialog and amazing characters, but with each new book the series has gone a little deeper and dealt with darker issues. Kelly Siskind has a way of surprising me with her characters’ stories.

Raven’s history was so much more than I expected it to be. She seemed so confident and kick ass in the previous books, but there was a vulnerability I wasn’t expecting from her. The mystery behind her missing sister brought so much depth to Raven’s story and gave such great insight to her actions and reactions.

Nico was exactly who he seemed to be in the previous two books. He was a by the book guy who tried to make the right decisions all of the time. His job as a police officer gave him an even more serious edge. He was definitely not the fun-loving one in his group of friends. Nico had more at stake and needed to be the rock for his friends and family.

Raven and Nico had amazing chemistry. They were so freaking sexy!!! I wasn’t surprised by that after seeing bits and pieces of their connection in the rest of the series. I was surprised at the depth of their emotional connection, though. They completed each other in an unexpected way. Their relationship truly brought out the best in each of them. The moments they spent together were the bright light of Hooked on Trouble.

I found it really hard to compare Hooked on Trouble against the first two Over the Top books. I gave both of those 5 stars. They had tough issues, but they also had a humorous side to them that I really loved. This one felt like it was missing its fun side. There were a few funny moments, but it otherwise felt heavier than the other books. I debated giving it 4 stars, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized what an amazing book this was. I truly enjoyed the way this story unfolded. I loved the issues it touched on. The things that connected Nico and Raven were very raw and real. It may not have had all of the laughs of the other two books, but it was definitely special and 5 star deserving read. I would highly recommend reading it.

EXCERPT:

His large hand presses against my knee under the table. “Can we talk?”

Jesus, his touch. It’s the first time I’ve felt the weight of his palm on me since Aspen. It’s heavy. Huge. Callused. Instinctually I shift forward, my body no longer mine to command. He doesn’t move his hand. Just his thumb. It presses harder, dragging downward. I grip my armrests to keep from sliding to the floor. He stares at me, waiting for my answer.

Yes. No. Maybe. I choose silence.

The way our lives are entrenched with our friends, I’ll have to spend time with him, and I can’t keep pretending I can block him out. Moving here was about starting fresh, which means letting go of this grudge. But talking about Aspen could stir up more feelings, the same way the experience spurred my need to find Rose. If we talk about our time in the hot tub, it could unhinge me further.

Our waiter arrives to take our order, and Nico’s thumb moves again, a tiny brush, his skin against mine, sending a pulse between my thighs. My sanity plummets. I shout, “Chicken,” like a lunatic as I push away from the table.

Nico’s hand slides from my knee, but his eyes don’t waver. I feel his gaze on my back as I hurry to the bathroom. The second I get inside, I close the door and lean against it, thankful it’s not a public room with several stalls. I take a few deep breaths.

How can that bit of contact turn me inside out? The smallest touch?

Memories of his other touches flip through my mind, snippets of skin and ink, flashes of ecstasy.

My back arching.

His fingers exploring.

The curve of his inked shoulder.

His huge hands.

The sheer size of him.

We might not have had sex, and the details may be fuzzy, but there’s no doubt it was the hottest night I’ve ever had. What isn’t fuzzy is the time I spent with him in the hot tub prior, and how he took advantage of my vulnerability.

Goddamn Nico. And Goddamn Aspen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Siskind CREDIT Eirik Dunlop

A small-town girl at heart, Kelly Siskind moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario, Canada.  When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.

She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all.  She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

www.kellysiskind.com
www.facebook.com/authorkellysiskind

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Review: All I Want by J. Daniels

29327970All I Want
Series: Alabama Summers, #2
Author: J. Daniels
Publication Date: November 20, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Luke Evans is a heartbreaker.
I didn’t want to give mine to him. Not when he kept me out.
He gave me enough, just enough to make me fall in love with him. I say this to convince myself. But I know the truth.
I would’ve fallen in love with him at a distance.
Handing my heart over to Luke was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I was naive when I wished for more, when I hoped he wanted the same things I did.
I try to hate him. I try to forget him.
But it’s not that easy.
Love is a ruthless bitch, and I’m her latest victim.

Tessa Kelly is a man-eater.
When she sets her sights on you, she doesn’t just consume your heart, she goes for your soul.
What we had was perfect, real, and all I would ever want.
But she destroyed it.
She destroyed us.
I try to hate her. I try to forget her.
But it’s not that easy.
Love is for people who have hope, and I have none.

Warning: this book contains adult themes. 18+. All I Want is a standalone novel, but to fully appreciate the f****ed-up mess that is Luke & Tessa, pick up Where I Belong first.


The minute I finished reading Mia and Ben’s story in Where I Belong (Alabama Slammers, #1), I had to immediately read All I Want. I couldn’t get their friends Luke and Tessa and their volatile relationship out of my head. I had to know what was going to happen to them.

All I Want wasn’t your typical romance novel. Through most of it, Tessa and Luke are at odds. They’re not together. Neither wants to admit they might have made a mistake handling their break up the way they did. They’re both so busy holding onto their anger at each other that they make some horrible decisions. All I Want is Tessa and Luke’s second chance at love.

I kind of loved this crazy book. There was something special about it. The drama, anger and bickering between Tessa and Luke felt real, like something one of my friends would have gone through when we were younger. I liked how it showed the reader that love isn’t always easy and perfect.

All I Want wasn’t only about the dysfunctional parts of Tessa and Luke’s relationship. There were also some very sweet moments between the two. They truly did have a deep connection. Their ability to forgive each other and themselves was a nice aspect of this story. They also some very sensual moments between them. Those were really hot!!!

I enjoyed all the ups and downs that All I Want gave me. I loved getting to know Luke and Tessa better and learning more about the Alabama Slammers gang. I’m really looking forward to reading Reed’s story next! This is a fun series you don’t want to miss out on.

Review: Where I Belong by J. Daniels

25676369Where I Belong
Series: Alabama Summers, #1
Author: J. Daniels
Publication Date: June 27, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When Mia Corelli returns to Alabama for a summer of fun with her childhood best friend, Tessa, there’s only one thing keeping her on edge. One person that she’d do anything to avoid.

Benjamin Kelly. World’s biggest dickhead.

Mia hates him with a fury and has no desire to ever see him again. When she decides to start her summer off with a bang and finally give away her v-card, she unknowingly hands it over to the one guy that excelled at making her life miserable, learning a valuable lesson in the process.

Always get the name of the guy you’re going home with.

Ben can’t get the girl he spent one night with out of his head. When she leaves him the next morning, he thinks he’ll never see her again. Until he sees her lounging by the pool with his sister.

Mia is determined to hate Ben, even though she can’t forget him.

Ben is determined to prove he’s not the same guy he used to be.

What happens when the one person you wish never existed becomes the one person you can’t imagine being without?


I’m late to the J. Daniels party. I didn’t come across her books until earlier this year with the release of Four Letter Word. I loved that book and J. Daniels’ writing so much that I decided I needed to start reading her back list. I’m so happy I did!

Where I Belong hooked me from the moment I started reading it. Mia and Ben’s dual points of view were perfect. I also loved the enemies to lovers theme in it — especially since Mia unsuspectingly hooks up with her nemesis and gives him her virginity. It made for all sorts of fun — and awkward — moments. Where I Belong was filled with Daniels’ trademark humor and witty conversations. I couldn’t get enough of this book. I devoured it.

I loved Mia and have great things to say about her character, but Ben really stole the show in Where I Belong. He was that in tune with his feelings guy that all of us girls dream of. Ben knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to put himself out there to get it. He pursued Mia with a cockiness and force that I loved. Ben made the book for me. Well, Ben and then his chemistry with Mia. This book was so dang hot, people!

Ben and Mia weren’t the only characters to catch my attention in this story, though. It was filled with so many great characters! I loved Tessa, Luke and Reed. I can’t wait for their stories! My favorite side character was Nolan, though. That guy stole my heart! His role in the story was too cute.

I truly loved Where I Belong. I would have given it 5 stars if it weren’t for some craziness toward the end. I couldn’t wrap my head around one of Mia’s responses. Her actions surprised me, and I wasn’t sure if I liked how she handled something. When it came down to it, the unexpected twist didn’t ruin my reading experience, though. I would still highly recommend reading this book. I plan to read the rest of the series ASAP because I just know it’s going to be good!

Blog Tour Review: Sugar Free by Sawyer Bennett

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Sugar Free (Sugar Bowl, Book #3)
Sawyer Bennett
Release Date: October 11, 2016

Synopsis:

Sela and Beck’s deliciously sinful tale of sex, lies, and vengeance reaches its explosive conclusion in the final chapter of Sawyer Bennett’s Sugar Bowl trilogy, which began with the novels Sugar Daddy and Sugar Rush.

For years Sela Halstead dreamed of revenge, but the quest for payback has been anything but sweet. Now, once again, she finds herself at the mercy of Jonathon Townsend, his hands crushing the very breath from her body. And even though she escapes with her life, Sela fears she may never recover. In desperate need of shelter and comfort, she runs to the one man she can trust. Beckett North has stood by Sela since the beginning. But can he handle the brutal truth?

Beck will do anything to protect what is his—and make no mistake, Sela belongs to him, heart and soul. The passion between them runs hot, even as their world begins to unravel. With the legacy of his ruthless business partner hanging in the balance, Beck stands to lose everything: his fortune, his family, his freedom. But each touch of Sela’s mouth on his skin, her nails down his back, makes it harder to let her go—and it might not even be his choice to make.

Goodreads

Purchase Sugar Free (Book #3)

 The Sugar Bowl Series is a romantic suspense trilogy, and cannot be read as standalones. Get the first two books of the series here:

Sugar Rush (Book #2)
Sugar Daddy (Book #1)

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Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This series is so addicting! Each book ends in a cliffhanger and after that ending in Sugar Rush I had to read Sugar Free immediately. I needed to know what happened!

Sugar Free begins immediately following the cliffhanger in Sugar Rush. The reader gets the answers they needed to know. It also shows just how far Beck is willing to go to keep Sela safe. The sensuality of their relationship continued to be off the charts hot, but the situations they were dealing with took a greater focus than their sex lives.

I continued to love Sela and Beck despite some moments of major stupidity on their parts. Beck continued to be a stand up guy, doing everything he could to keep those he loves safe. I didn’t agree with many of his decisions, but I liked what he was trying to do. Sela’s character felt more helpless in this installment than the others. She lost a little bit of her spark and determination, but it was understandable.

My favorite thing about Sugar Free was that I was so wrapped up in the story I didn’t see the ending coming. I was definitely surprised by how everything wrapped up. I really loved how everything tied up.

The only thing I thought went a little overboard were the multiple time jumps in the epilogue. It was fun to see how life was later for everyone, but I would have been happier with just one major time jump. I guess I’m just not a fan of extending the ending multiple times.

Sugar Free was a great ending to a really fun story. I would highly recommend the Sugar Bowl series if you enjoy books with a lot of sexy time and a little suspense.

**I received an ARC from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

About the Author:

author-photo-sawyer-bennettSince the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions. A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone. Sawyer likes her Bloody Mary’s strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.

Connect with Sawyer:

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Sign up for Sawyer’s newsletter: http://sawyerbennett.com/signup/

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Blog Tour Review: Wicked Bond by Sawyer Bennett

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Wicked Bond
The Wicked Horse Series Book #5
By: Sawyer Bennett
Release Date: September 13, 2016

Synopsis:

Bridger Payne is an enigma that no one can figure out. Wise beyond his years, eerily intuitive and sexy as hell, every woman in The Silo wants him. None can have him. Not the real man, anyway. He might wield the lash for you if you ask prettily, but he’ll get no gratification from it. He’ll definitely make you scream, but he won’t think twice about you when he walks away. Bridger carries the darkest of secrets. He’s filled with too much pain. He’s utterly untouchable. Until she came along. **Warning: this book has sex in it. Lots of sex. Dirty sex. The Wicked Horse Series is a bit different than what Sawyer Bennett normally writes. While you’ll still enjoy fabulous characters, a suspenseful story, some witty banter and an epic romance, there’s just… a lot of sex. You’ve been warned.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31247847-wicked-bond

Purchase Wicked Bond:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cOjfsq
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iBooks: http://apple.co/1RZbvjO
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Kobo: http://bit.ly/2cePMrC

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REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Sawyer Bennett saved the best for last with her fifth and final book in The Wicked Horse series. In Wicked Bond we finally get Bridger Payne’s story. We’ve gotten a glimpse of him throughout the series, but he’s been somewhat of a mystery. I loved getting to know Bridger, his past and his motivations. He was everything I hoped he would be.

This story wasn’t all about Bridger, though. Sawyer Bennett created the perfect woman for Bridger. Maggie was sweet a woman who needed saving, but also a lot of strength inside her. She was just what Bridger needed in his life.

Wicked Bond was an amazing conclusion to a raw, sexy and gritty erotic romance series.

**I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

needsilo About the Author: Bennett_photo_2014

Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions. A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone. Sawyer likes her Bloody Mary’s strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.

Connect with Sawyer:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bennettbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BennettBooks
Instagram: https://instagram.com/sawyerbennett123/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Sawyer_Bennett

Sign up for Sawyer’s newsletter: http://sawyerbennett.com/signup/

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Steadfast
Series:
True North, #2
Author:
Sarina Bowen
Publication Date:
July 12, 2016
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

 

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

 

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

 

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

 

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.


  ★ ★ ★ ★ 


I’ve been a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s books since I stumbled upon The Ivy Years series a couple of years ago. I admire the way she takes on complex social issues within her sexy romances. It gives them a realistic feel and something deeper for the reader to think about. Plus, her writing is captivating. I’m always consumed by her books from the very first page.

I went into Steadfast expecting another fun, sexy farm romance like I found in Bittersweet (True North, #1). What I got was something completely different, maybe even better. It was a grittier story, filled with the hope of second chances and redemption.

“My name is Jude Nickel, and I am an addict. Also, I’m a big fucking idiot.”

I loved the care with which Sarina Bowen tackled Jude’s substance abuse. She stripped addiction down and made it both understandable and relatable. I have to admit, Jude’s perspective has made me look differently at the lives of those I know who struggle with drug addiction. I really respected Jude and the choices he made in this story. He accepted his past, dealt with it and made the changes he needed to move forward. There was such strength in his character. He might not have thought he was one of the good guys, but underneath it all he truly was. Jude just needed to know someone loved and believed in him.

“Of all the things I’d lost – my good name, the chance to get a decent job, my carefully restored care – none of them mattered as much as Sophie.”

Luckily, that person was Sophie. Her support of Jude was admirable. She went above and beyond what I would have expected from an ex-girlfriend whose life was destroyed by his actions. Although, I do have to admit I did question Sophie’s thoughts on the accident that ripped their relationship apart at times. She never seemed to hold a grudge against Jude for what happened or even fault him. She was angry with him for breaking her heart, but not for causing the accident. It surprised me a little. Anyways. It didn’t detract from my love of this story, so it didn’t take any stars away from my rating.

Jude and Sophie’s clandestine affair was sexy as hell and they shared such a beautiful connection, and this is normally where I would go on and on about it, but it wasn’t what kept my attention. For me, this book was all about Jude and his recovery. Their relationship was part of that, but it wasn’t what I fell in love with. That’s kind of weird since this is a romance novel.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Steadfast really touched me and I want to thank Sarina Bowen for writing such a profound second chance love story. It was so beautifully written, amazing and should be on every romance fan’s to-read list.

Seriously. Get your copy as soon as it comes out tomorrow.