Reading Between the Wines Book Club

A book blog that provides readers with quality reviews from their favorite authors throughout the romance genre as well as fun interviews, guest posts and fabulous giveaways for our readers.

#Review: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris - 4 Wine Glasses

17696131Title: The Fine Art of Pretending 
Series: The Fine Art of Pretending #1
Author: Rachel Harris 
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Published: September 30th 2014 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
ISBN: 1939392284 
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Netgalley
Reviewer: Linda
Rating: 4/5

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want. 

Linda's thoughts:
“If you want to recreate yourself in a new image, you must embrace your inner vixen.” 

THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING by Rachel Harris is a sweet New Adult romance told in alternating hero/heroine POVs. I'm a huge fan of Rachel's wonderful romances and this is certainly another gem! Her books always me laugh - and her trademark humor is certainly evident herein.

THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING is the story of seventeen-year-old Alyssa "Aly" Reed, our heroine, and Brandon Taylor, our hero and Aly's long-time best friend and now pretend boyfriend.  At Fairfield Academy, the boys classify girls as either a casual or a commitment.  Aly is tired of being passed over for dates because she's rated a commitment so she rebels against the system and decides to remake herself as a casual because that's what she believes guys want. LOL! Aly's project is humorously nicknamed "Project Hot To Trot" and "Operation Sex Appeal." Her end goal and the ultimate determinant of her project's success is to snag a perfect date at the prom with Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy's biggest hottie. What could possibly go wrong as two best friends navigate the perils of becoming more than friends?

From Aly's identity issues to Brandon's inability to admit his feelings, this story takes you right back to high school.  With just 57 days to turn from a tomboy to a sensuous bombshell to garner the all important prom date with Justin, there's no time to waste. But there's a complication because even as her plans to snag Justin are going as planned, her long-time friendship with Brandon is falling apart. 

I loved both Aly and Brandon. I really appreciated the different perspectives used to tell the story as it allowed me to get into each of the character's heads and better relate to them. They each came across as real and genuine and they cared for each other - they just didn't realize how much until their relationship was put to the test.

Supporting characters shined here also. I'm hoping that future installments in this series will feature Justin's, Lauren's, Gabi's, Kara's and Carlos' stories too! 

Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from this endearing romance:

“Dude, what're you waiting for?" Carlos calls. "Plant one on her."
I lift my eyes and am shocked to see Brandon is staring at my mouth. He swallows audibly and flicks his gaze to mine. the emotions darkening the soft green color are too confusing to name.
Does he want to back out?
An exhale of breath leaves Brandon's lips, almost like a laugh, and he scoots closer to me on the blanket. I twist my legs under myself, sitting tall as I face him. He cups my chin and tilts it toward him, drowning me in the now dark-green depths of his eyes, the cologne I gave him for his birthday filling my head. It's woodsy and yummy and I always loved how it smelled on the store testers, but on Brandon, it's even sexier. My eyes flutter closed, and I inhale again, this time slowly. Goose bumps prickle my arms, and my head gets fuzzy.
Brandon slides his hand down the column of my neck and brings the other up, threading his fingers through the hair at my nape. His breath fans across my cheek, and everything south of my bellybutton squeezes tight.
When his mouth first meets mine, it's hesitant, questioning. But as I move my lips with his, he quickly grows bolder, coaxing them apart.
Desire, pure and raw, electrifies my veins as his tongue sweeps my mouth. A whimpering sound springs from my chest, and instinctively, I wrap my arms around his neck, tugging him closer. Needing more. My teeth graze his full bottom lip, and I pull it, sucking on it gently.
He moans and knots his fingers in my hair, and a thrill dances down my back.
Brandon is an amazing kisser, just as I knew he would be. I have no control over my body's reactions. I lose myself in his lips, his tongue, and his strong arms, forgetting time and space and even my surroundings...” 

“Can guys get PMS?"
"More like MBHS," Gabi replies. "Male Butt-Hole Syndrome. It's an epidemic.” 
“I probably should just shut up and enjoy it." I take a deep breath. "But I'm starting to think maybe I'm just not built that way."
As soon as the words leave my mouth, I know it's the most honest thing I've said in a long time.” 

“I miss kissing you. I dream about it, Aly, and I'm at the point where I might just go insane if I can't do it again.” 

“Pulling to a stop in front of Aly’s house, I take a deep breath. With a flick of my wrist, I cut the engine and listen to the silence. I’ve sat in this exact spot more times than I can count. In many ways, Aly’s house is like my sanctuary. A place I go when my own home feels like a graveyard. I glance up at the bedroom window of the girl who knows me better than anyone, the only person I let see me cry after Dad died. I won’t let this experiment take that or her away from me.
Tonight, I’m going to prove that Aly and I can go back to our normal, easy friendship.
Throwing open my door, I trudge up her sidewalk, plant my feet outside her front door, and ring the bell....
With the clacking sound of Aly’s shoes approaching the door behind me, I remind myself again about tonight’s mission. All I need is focus. I take another deep breath for good measure and rock back on my heels, ready to greet my best friend. She opens the door, wearing a black dress molded to her skin, and I let the air out in one big huff.”

This is a light-hearted, predictable, but still quite delightful tale of the importance of finding out who you are and what you want. I like that this contemporary ends with three poignant moral lessons. 1) that you should be true to who you are, and 2) trust that at some point you'll meet someone who appreciates the real you, and 3) that changing yourself doesn't necessarily mean it will be for the better. 

The theme herein of being true to yourself is definitely something I think that all of us of any age can identify with. If you’re in the mood for a sweet high school romantic comedy, definitely look no further than The Fine Art of Pretending.  It's the perfect book to lift the spirits of hopeless romantics everywhere!


#Review: Dragon Her Back by Susannah Scott - 4.5 Wine Glasses

23604931Title: Dragon Her Back 
Series: Las Vegas Dragons #3
Author: Susannah Scott
Format: ebook, 225 pages
Published: December 15th 2014 by Entangled: Covet (first published December 14th 2014)
ISBN: 1633751570
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Netgalley
Reviewer: Linda
Rating: 4.5/5

A paranormal category romance from Entangled's Covet imprint… 

How To Claim Your Dragon...

As the head of security of Vegas's Crown Jewel casino―and its hidden dragonshifter sanctuary―ice dragon Darius Dachien commands respect. Unfortunately, that respect isn't always reciprocated. In fact, when it comes to the stunning Mei Chen, hostility might be a better word. Which makes things even harder for Darius, since Mei is his dragon mate. Without her, his dragon form is fading fast... and once lost, will be gone forever. 

Mei can't deny the fierce chemistry that simmers between them. If Darius were ever to discover who―or rather, what―she really is, she wouldn't just lose him, but her place with the dragonshifters. The moment Mei's past comes crashing into her present, she realizes her time for secrets has ended. Now she must reveal her true self... and risk both her life and her heart with the one man who could destroy her. 

Linda's Thoughts:
“She'd just gone ice princess on him. As an ice dragon himself, he knew something about frigid.
Mei made frigid look like a balmy day on the equator.” 

DRAGON HER BACK by Susannah Scott is another winner in Susannah's Las Vegas Dragons series! DRAGON HER BACK is the third installment in the series and shares interconnected characters with the previous books, but it could easily be enjoyed as a standalone, if that's your preference. However, I highly recommend reading the entire series in order because each of the books has been copiously creative and highly entertaining. The books in the series to-date and in order are:

• #1, LUCK OF THE DRAGON (Alec's & Lucy's story)
• #2, STOP DRAGON MY HEART AROUND (Leo's & Tee's story)
• #3, DRAGON HER HEART AROUND (Darius' and Mei's story)

I confess that I'm kinda' in love with her heroines and I seriously love her dragons.

If you have been reading the books, you are acquainted with both our hero and heroine in DRAGON HER BACK as they've appeared in the previous books. Mei has been giving Darius the cold shoulder for six years, even though it's well known that she's his dragon mate. Without her, he's a goner. I'm glad they finally got their story told as it's a good one and we certainly don't want Darius to waste away!

I loved, loved, loved Darius Dachien, our hero. He's one of Alec's lieutenants at the Crown Jewel casino in Vegas in charge of security. Darius is a sexy, utterly swoon worthy ice dragon. He's an awesome lover, a talented gymnast, a smart security expert and just a seriously good guy! He knows what he wants - and her name is Mei. He's determined to finally win her over and, to that end, he's trying some new tactics. He doesn't want her, though, to come to him because he is waning, but because she wants him too. Little does he know that Mei is full of surprises - and has baggage he couldn't imagine.

I liked Mei Chen, our heroine, too. She's also a dragon, courageous and strong, but stubborn to a fault. There were good reasons for her maddening secrecy, though I wish she'd been honest with Darius much earlier. In her defense, Mei has led a rough life. When she was given her job at Vegas' Crown Jewel casino, she turned over a new leaf, and didn't look back. But her dark past has now come knocking; it's complicated and not pretty. Dragon politics and age old secrets will be revealed. The world as the dragons know it will be changed forever. The end of the road is in Mei's future and anyone close to her will suffer even worse consequences.   “She was screwed by the fates. Cursed with a mate she wanted but couldn't have.” 

Following please find two of my favorite ooh la la quotes illustrating some of the hotness to be discovered in the pages of this book:

“He loved her lips. He could imagine them wrapped around his cock even now., leaving a red circle...a brand. A red brand on his cock.” 

“You can lead if you want." He whipped them around so he moved backward, pulling her with him across the floor.
"You're still leading," she said.
"Perception is a tricky thing." He kissed the side of her neck, and shivers followed.
"I know one way to lead."
She dropped her hand from his shoulder to the band of his shorts, and slipped her hand in his waistband. He sucked in a breath, and her hand snaked downward. She stroked the length of him, feeling him grow hard and rigid.
"Mei." He pulled her closer...”

One of my favorite scenes occurred when Mei came upon Darius as he was working out in the gym. His workout evolved to a steamy his-and-her workout near the pommel horses. I enjoyed it as the interaction between the two rocked. There was scintillating sex, but also mucho humorous dialogue in which the two magically clicked. Following is a short excerpt from the end of that scene.  

“Best workout ever." Darius sat next to her and rested his back against the soft mat.
She laughed and fumbled to put on her bra. He lifted the weight of her hair from her back and helped her pull down her silk shirt.
For a moment, he held the length of her hair in his hand as he had the swing rope. He tugged gently to turn her face to his, and then released it. His face was open and relaxed, his pale blue eyes warm and content.
His knees fell open to rest against hers. The feel of skin on skin, bone to bone, was easy, the most natural thing in the world. "Next time we should try the pommel horse."
Mei laughed. "You still got pommeling on your mind?"
"Oh yeah." He signed and tilted his chin to the ceiling, exposing the length of his throat. "Some pommeling and tumbling would be good. We've got time to make up for.” 

Susannah's writing is first-rate, as always. The world she has created of dragon shifters running a casino in the heart of Las Vegas, hidden yet in full view, is an original masterpiece. I enjoyed reading Darius' and Mei's story. It was a page-turner, for sure, with touches of mystery, dashes of humor and a steamy romance! It's a must-read for fans of the series.  I highly recommend DRAGON HER HEART AROUND to anyone who loves action-packed, steamy paranormal romances!

Audiobook #Review: Meet the Earl at Midnight by Gina Conkle - 4.5 Wine Glasses

18480550Title: Meet the Earl at Midnight 
Series: Midnight Meetings #1
Author: Gina Conkle 
Format: Unabridged Audiobook (Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages)
Published: May 6th 2014 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402294271
Narrated by: Marian Hussey
Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | B&N 
Source: Author
Reviewer: Linda
Rating: 4.5/5

It's going to take a Beast to tame this Beauty 

Enigma Earl. The Phantom of London. That's what the gossip pages call Lord Edward Greenwich, a mysterious nobleman who doesn't show his face in London Society. With a reputation like that, no wonder Lydia Montgomery is horrified to be dragged from bed and packed off to live with him to save her mother from penury.

While Lydia has received all of the training a lady should endure, she's decidedly un-ladylike. She despises her corset and isn't interested in marriage. She'd prefer to remain unmarried and spend her time improving her art. But if she wants a chance at happiness, she'll have to set aside her fear of the earl and discover the man hiding behind the beast.

Will Edward and Lydia's greatest discovery be each other before time runs out?

Linda's Thoughts:

The warm wool blanket dropped to the floor, and Lydia set her hand in the earl’s firm grip. She stuck her foot outside, but awareness wasn’t with her. That cavernous black doorway claimed her attention, and therein was her problem. Trouble came in mere seconds, as it usually did for her. The step was slick. She slipped. The sole of her leather shoe slid off the step’s edge. “Oww!” she yelped as her foot banged the graveled drive hard. Legs buckling, down she went, like a graceless sack of flour. What’s worse, she slammed into the earl, her shoulder punching his midsection. 
“Ooomph!” Lord Sanford grunted but moved quickly to save her from falling all the way to the ground. Her face mashed against leather and linen. Strong hands held her arms. At least she didn’t knock the earl down. Grabbing for purchase, her fingers touched warm wool…buttons…skin. Her face pressed into fabric, she murmured, “I’m so very sorry.” Lydia tried to right herself, but relief turned to horror: she was a mortified eye level with the pewter buttons of Lord Sanford’s breeches. 
MEET THE EARL AT MIDNIGHT by Gina Conkle is a wonderful Georgian romance  reminiscent of one of my favorite fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast. This fractured re-telling is the story of Lydia Montgomery, our feisty heroine, and the "Phantom of London" Lord Edward Christopher James Sanford, the ninth Earl of Greenwich,, our scarred and emotionally bereft hero. Edward was an enigma who shunned society. Like the Beast, Edward only showed his true self to those close to him and he rarely left his castle.
The tale begins with a clandestine meeting that snared my attention right away. Lydia's wily stepfather and brother had been caught embezzling from Lord Greenwich's business, Sanford Shipping, where they were both employed. In lieu of pressing charges and having Lydia's family put in debtor's prison for their crimes, Edward agrees to an exchange involving forgiveness of their thievery for Lydia as Edward desperately needs an heir. But, no one told Lydia of any of this prior to the meeting.
I really liked both Edward and Lydia. They were similar in many ways. They came from different social classes, but neither gave much credence to society's rigid definitions. They were each free spirits who enjoyed their independence. Each was driven by a purpose; Edward's was botany science and Lydia's was art. However, both were so intensely passionate about their separate interests that a compromising middle ground in which their interests could co-exist and they could each find happiness did not seem attainable, but I held out hope. 
I have to credit this books with piquing my interest in botany and art.  I find myself looking at art differently now, as it was explained in the story that there is a difference between looking and seeing just as there is between studying and learning. AND my curiosity demanded that I look up one of the plants that was featured in the tale.
One of my favorite scenes occurred near the beginning of the book. The quote shared at the beginning of this review occurred right after the clandestine meeting and had me laughing out loud. Lydia is tired and stressed after the late-night meeting and Edward has insisted that she accompany him to her new home directly. Lydia loses her footing as she exits their carriage which leaves her in a compromising position.
Following please find two more of my favorite quotes from more favorite scenes:
Lydia swayed into him, her back arching, but his hands caught her. His warm hand splayed wide against her upper back. The other ventured lower, massaging circles, lower, lower. Edwards’s hands, like his kisses, belonged to an explorer, not a ruthless conqueror. Testing and checking, his firm but gentle caresses enticed her into his web of curiosity and question. His kisses, his touch were not the rehearsed moves of a long-practiced rake, but genuine affection and sensuality braided into an explosive mix that promised to incinerate them on the spot if they didn’t stop.
He gripped her hips, and standing up, slowly pushed volumes of silk with him. Blue fabric puffed and pillowed between them. His hand traced a slow caress the length of her from knee to hip. Edward’s nostrils flared, as did his eyes, when his roving hand slipped behind her, grappling bare skin. She quivered from tantalizing male touch exploring forbidden flesh. Lydia read Edward’s face, the flush of tanned skin and mouth unable to close, as knowledge seeped into his brain: she’d said her vows, eaten dinner with the utmost decorum, and chattered politely with all and sundry in this secret state of undress. Edward groaned and jammed her body hard against his. “You’re naked under your skirt.”
Supporting characters shined from Edward's mother, the rigid Countess Lady Sanford, to the beautiful housekeeper, Ms. Claire. Mayhew, to Jonas, Edward's business associate and more. 
Marian Hussey, the narrator, did an excellent job at bringing the characters to life and capturing the essence of the characters.. Her accents and mannerisms enhanced this delightful tale. She differentiated well between the characters making it easy for the listener to know who was speaking from her voice. I had never listened to anything Marian had narrated previously, but I would not hesitate to pick up another book that she has narrated.
This was the first book I've ever read or listened to by Gina; I will certainly pick up others by her in the future as it was quite the entertaining read and her writing style was very engaging. I really enjoyed the way she seamlessly combined humor and their romance that alternated between sweet, hot and something in-between. With great atmosphere, clever, witty dialogue, well-defined, genuine characters with great chemistry and a rich plot, this tale will keep readers spellbound up to an exciting, heart-stopping, but very satisfying ending. I highly recommend MEET THE EARL AT MIDNIGHT to anyone who enjoys sensual historical romances.


#Revew: Something Reckless by Lexi Ryan - 4 Wine Glasses

22434551Title: Something Reckless 
Series: Reckless & Real #1
Author: Lexi Ryan
Format: eBook/Paperback, 248 pages
Published: December 22nd 2014 by Lexi Ryan
ISBN: 1940832802
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Tour Co.
Reviewer: Crystal
Rating: 4/5

He talks dirty to me, but I don’t know his name.

He wants to tie me up, but I don’t know his face.

He turns me on, but I couldn’t point him out in a crowd.

I’ve fallen for an anonymous stranger, and now the anonymity ends. I want more than typed secrets and texted promises. I want something reckless. Heat. Passion. The thrill of being entirely possessed.

Because I suspect this anonymous stranger isn’t a stranger at all.


Lizzy Thompson met riverrat69 online through a service promising to deliver meaningful relationships by forbidding its users to share names or photos until they’ve reached a certain benchmark. She was looking for love. He was researching an investment. They hit it off. Talked and flirted, hid behind screen names and cartoon avatars.

Now they’re breaking the rules and meeting in person. But Liz is prepared. She’s picked up hints and followed clues. She’s nearly convinced she’s discovered the identity of her dirty-talking online friend.

She wonders if her ex-lover Sam Bradshaw knows her identity too.When she rolls the dice on one reckless night, her chance at something real could crumble.

Something Reckless is part one of the Reckless & Real series. Part two, Something Real will be released in 2015.

Crystal's Thoughts:
Another fabulous read from author, Lexi Ryan, filled with mystery, drama, and plenty of romance! I'll admit, was a little skeptical coming into this story because for some reason the prequel (Something Wild - FREE) just did not jive for me. But I ended up loving Something Reckless, and I couldn't put it down! 

Lizzy Thompson was humiliatingly rejected by her teenage crush. In the years since though she's had a few chance hook-ups with Sam Bradshaw that didn't end up much better. And no matter how much she's tried to keep her heart guarded, he always ends up stealing it from her. But last summer's mistake might have ruined any chance she has with him in the long term...until tink24 meets riverrate69. The understanding, dirty-talking Something Real user who wants to tie her up can be no one in their small town of New Hope other Sam. So meeting in person after months of on-line chatting shouldn't be a big deal. But what if Lizzy is wrong about the man she has been exchanging sexy messages with? 

Missed chances, demons from the past, familial intrusions...there always seems to be some bump in the road to true love for Sam and Lizzy. Frustrating and heart-breaking but equally hot and sexy, Something Reckless will have you eagerly and nervously turning the pages to see what perils await this would-be couple next. But there is no denying that true love is where their journey should end. However, author Lexi Ryan doesn't make it easy for these two. Oh no. With a plot teeming with twists and turns, and expertly brought to life, I couldn't help but want these two to just leave the past in the past and openly communicate their true feelings for each other so that they could reach that happily-ever-after. If I could jump into the pages and give them that little extra push I would. I guess it wouldn't be much of a story though if there wasn't some drawn out, heart-pounding conflict. ☺ 

Pieces of mystery were weaved into the plot with plenty of angst and lust to keep me glued to the story.  Though the big twist wasn't a surprise for me, I couldn't believe when I reached the last page and looked down to see, 'The End'. The story flew by! I really enjoy all of the characters of New Hope and each were knit into the story, which I loved. Sam and Lizzy have a soul deep connection and sizzling chemistry that was undeniable. March can't come soon enough, and I'm on pins and needles waiting to see what happens next. I expect loads of drama, heart ache, frustration, and more spine tingling romance! Another fabulous read from author, Lexi Ryan. A must-have on your reading list! 

#Review: Hungry Like the Wolf by Paige Tyler - 4.5 Wine Glasses

21898402Title: Hungry Like the Wolf 
Series: SWAT #1
Author: Paige Tyler
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Published: January 6th 2015 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1492608475
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Netgalley
Reviewer: Crystal
Rating: 4.5/5

They're tight
They're on target
They're as alpha as men can get.

The Dallas SWAT team is hiding one helluva secret . . . they're a pack of wolf shifters.

The team of elite sharpshooters is ultra-secretive—and also the darlings of Dallas. This doesn't sit well with investigative journalist Mackenzie Stone. They must be hiding something . . . and she's determined to find out what.

Keeping Mac at a distance proves impossible for SWAT team commander Gage Dixon. She's smart, sexy, and makes him feel alive for the first time in years. But she's getting dangerously close to the truth—and perilously close to his heart... 

Crystal's Thoughts:
Author, Paige Tyler, masterfully melds thrilling suspense and alluring paranormal to create the perfect romance! 

Gage Dixon, commander of the Dallas SWAT team, and his team are hiding a big secret. A secret not many would believe, even after seeing it for themselves. But journalist Mackenzie Stone thrives on secrets, and she knows in her gut that what the SWAT team is hiding is huge. All she needs to do is charm the rugged commander so that she can get closer to his team and dig deeper. For the sake of the pack, Gage tries to keep Mac at a distance, but when passion ignites between the two neither of them can deny the simmering chemistry, nor the feeling of rightness to it. But will Gage's secrets destroy their burgeoning relationship, or will Mac's commitment to share the truth be a hurdle they can never overcome? 

Hungry Like the Wolf was my first read from Paige Tyler, but I can tell you right now that it won't be my last! This is the first book in the new SWAT series and it started with a bang. The premise intrigued me and the story did not disappoint. Sparks fly from the first electrifying meeting between Gage and Mac, throughout the action-packed plot as the fanged and furry SWAT team take down one of Dallas' most notorious bad guys, and continues into the lust, intrigue and suspicion simmering between Gage and Mac as they gradually grow to trust and love each other.  

Paige Tyler's writing was superb and her creativity brought the story to life, dropping me right in the middle of it. Stories surrounding a group of sexy, strong and totally alpha SWAT men are an aphrodisiac to begin with, but throw in red hot werewolves and you have a book that you will kick yourself for not reading ASAP! The lore of the One was an interesting twist on the mates fable, as well as the history behind how the werewolves came to be and what ignited the Change. Though I wish the author would have delved a bit further into the mythology of it all. However, the exciting, fast-paced plot kept me glued to the pages with it's action and romance. Mac and Gage made an explosive couple, whether they were exchanging verbal barbs or heating up the sheets while each character captivated me from the beginning.

Bottom-line, Hungry Like the Wolf should be on every readers radar for 2015! It doesn't get much better then this for paranormal, romance, and suspense fans, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the SWAT series! 

#Review: Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole - 4 Wine Glasses

18746546Title: Dead of Winter 
Series: The Arcana Chronicles #3
Author: Kresley Cole
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Published: January 6th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Reviwer: Crystal
Rating: 4/5

Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions 
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory 
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a frozen and perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on The Lovers and the vast army they command. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them once and for all may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned 
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first? 

Crystal's Thoughts:
Delicious torture. That's what The Arcana Chronicles are. 
I knew Dead of Winter was going to end. I knew there would be an awful cliffhanger that left me perched on the precipice as well. And as my heart was hammering in my chest and my breaths became short and choppy, it happened. The End. And now I am left desperate for more. 

The world as Evie knows it is ash. Mortals are becoming an extincted race and those that are left fight to survive baggers, slavers, plagues, and a barren post apocalyptic world after the Flash. In the meantime though, the Tarots continue to form alliances and battle for supremacy. But Evie doesn't want to play the game. She doesn't want to take out her fellow Arcana or fight for immortality, and she plans to end the game for good. But first she must escape Death and rescue her one-time-lover Jack from the perverted Lovers' clutches. And then she must choose between her first love of this life, and the love of her lives...

As the third book in this captivating series, Dead of Winter was just a gripping as the previous two. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2015 and I couldn't put it down. I was on pins and needles throughout the story. The premise of the Arcana Chronicles is unique and inventive. One that will truly ensnare you with it's mystery, romance, and endless action. KC embodies her characters, and despite which leading man I may root for I was helpless in falling in love with Jack, Evie, and Aric from the beginning. The secondary characters, cards, are intriguing as well and easy to become attached to. I love the growth that each character shows with each new installment, nothing about these stories are stagnant. 

However, the love triangle between Evie, Aric, and Jack became tedious and drawn out halfway through the story. I wanted to reach into the book and give Evie a good shake. It created a lot of unnecessary angst when all I wanted was for the story to progress a little farther. I was surprised to find so many repetitious sentences as well, they should have been culled out during the editing process. Then at the end, after staying up all night, chewing my nails to the quick, and cursing Evie up and down... I think we're finally about to get some honest to goodness answers when.... BAM! The whole world is turned upside down once again. NOOOO!

That all being said, Kresley Cole is an evil, evil genius who I equally love and hate right now. An evil genius that I would seriously consider selling my first born to if it would gain me the next book right now. The emotions that she exposed me to during this epic journey rival a hormonal teen. Bottomline, if you haven't picked up The Arcana Chronicles yet, you are missing out on something huge. Don't let the fact that this is a Y.A. series scare you away because every book is a must read. And they must be read in order so start at the beginning. I'm going to slowly whither away until I can get my hands on the next book and I am praying to the publishing Gods that they won't make us wait a year for it. That's cruel and unusual punishment if so. Oh yes, and #TeamDeath till the end! Don't make me step into these books, Evie! *squinty eyes*

Reading order:
The Arcana Chronicles, #1 - Poison Princess - Review | Purchase
The Arcana Chronicles, #2 - Endless Knight - Review | Purchase
The Arcana Chronicles, #3 - Dead of Winter

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Audio #Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa - 5 Wine Glasses

17331828Title: Talon 
Series: Talon #1
Author: Julie Kagawa 
Narrated by: Caitlin Davies, MacLeod Andrews, Chris Patton
Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins 
Format: Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:10-28-14
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN: 0373211392
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Source: Jukebox
Reviewer:  Linda
Rating: 5/5

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons. 

Linda Thoughts:
"For one moment, with Garret’s lips on mine and his arms trapping me against him, I was neither human nor dragon. Just me."

TALON by Julie Kagawa is an epic young adult fantasy! It's a thrilling debut for Julie's new Talon Saga series teeming with secret societies, forbidden loves and a good vs. evil theme. I'd previously inhaled Julie's awesome Iron Fey series and with my current anything-dragon infatuation, TALON was a must-read for me. I was certainly not disappointed! I've read that Hollywood has already optioned it for film and I hope they follow through. It would be so awesome to see this tale played out on the big screen!

The book features two competing secret societies. There's the organization of Talon, a clandestine dragon network with a purpose shrouded in secrecy and there's the Order of St. George , a society of dragon killers. Both are controlling, hush-hush organizations whose followers must fall in line... or else.

Ember and Dante are hatchling members of Talon and an anomaly in dragons as they're twins. We meet them as Talon has deposited them at a safe house on the beach in sunny, California for the summer. Their assignment is to assimilate in human society by observing, blending in and learning how to engage with humans. They're both thrilled to have some distance from Talon where they've been ensconced for as long as they can remember. Ember is more of a rebel enchanted with the novel pleasures of her new life including riding the waves, playing video games and eating ice cream at the mall, and just hanging out with friends. Dante is more of a straight arrow committed to strictly following Talon's edicts. When a boorish guy on a secluded beach makes unwelcome advances against Ember, Garret enters the scene and comes to her rescue.

Garret is also on assignment - but he's a member of St. George's army sent to find and take out sleeper dragons in the same sunny California locale. St. George has received intelligence that there are sleeper dragons in the area - they just don't know specifically who they are. Ember and Dante are near the top of Garret's suspicion list so being her knight in shining armor works to gain Ember's trust so he can spend more time with her. The only problem is that the more time he spends with Ember, the more Garret's attracted to her. 

I loved Ember. Garret and Riley! Ember perfectly fits the mold of a fierce, stubborn and determined heroine. She refuses to blindly follow rules, is determined to decipher what's true and fights for what she believes in even when it puts her in danger. She's also a typical teenager with yearnings that she doesn't understand. 

Garret, a highly trained human with bright, intense "predator" eyes and amazingly fast reflexes, is a tortured character. Until he met Ember, he'd never questioned what he'd been told by the Order of St. George that all dragons were bad and must be taken out. While still committed to what he'd been trained to do, his mind begins opening to other possibilities. 

Riley is a golden-eyed, rogue dragon on the run from Talon. He's made it his job to rescue dragon hatchlings from Talon's clutches and open their minds to the truth about Talon. But he's wanted by both Talon for escaping and by St. George for being a dragon. I fell in love with him the moment he rode his motorcycle into a scene. He comes across as a bad boy women can't resist. 

Dante, Ember's twin brother,  was not one of my favorite characters in this book but perhaps he'll redeem himself in a later installment. Through Ember's POV, I mourned the loss of the closeness they had shared up till now. 

As with many other YA books nowadays, there's a love triangle as Ember is attracted to Garret, who holds her human heart, and Riley, who makes her rebellious dragon's heart go pitty pat. It's a difficult decision for me between the two but I'm leaning towards Garret right now. I reserve the right to change my mind as this series evolves. :-)

TALON is told in three POVs with three narrators: Caitlin Davies as Ember, MacLeod Andrews as Garret (and a short stint as the voice of a dragon), and Chris Patton as Riley. Because readers are privy to the secrets in each of their heads, we understand what drives each and why they make the decisions they do and why. Each of the narrators did a terrific job of capturing the essence of the characters and bringing them to life. Their voices were clear and distinct and I was able to easily differentiate between the characters from their performances. The production was well-paced. The cast of narrators positively enhanced the production. I was so intrigued by their performances that I worked out even longer than normal and squeezed in extra workouts to give me more TALON listening time.

Following please find a few of my favorite quotes:

“I wanted to spend more time with her; she was constantly in my thoughts, and right now the only thing I wanted was to lean in and kiss her. Which was, of course, disastrous for the mission, but I couldn't help it. Somewhere between that day on the beach when I'd met her for the first time and the night of the party when we'd kissed in the ocean, she had become something more than a potential target. She had, very inexplicably, become the most important thing in my life.
And that terrified me.” 

“But I remember the strange dragon's eyes, the look on his face as he stared at me, the way my blood had warmed at the sight of him. I remembered the heat of his gaze, the instant awakening of something fierce and primal inside me when our eyes met. 

The rogue dragon was trouble. Plain and simple. 

And I was intrigued.” 


“Because you're exactly like me- you don't want your whole life planned out. You're tired of following Talon's rules, of not having any say in your future. You want to know who Talon really is, but it's even more than that, isn't it? You want to be free." His eyes gleamed, golden and brilliant in the shadows. "And I can show you how.” 
“Rnesh karr slithis," I hissed back, which was Draconic for eat your own tail, the dragon version of go screw yourself. No extra translation needed.” 

“I clenched my fist around the railing, finally forcing myself to acknowledge what that meant. I'd always known, of course. It was always there, at the back of my mind; I just didn't want to think about it. But if Ember was the sleeper...I would have to kill her.” 

I had so many favorite scenes in this book that it's difficult to pick just one. However, I will say that I've been unable to forget Ember's and Garret's kiss in the ocean with the waves breaking around them. Here's a short excerpt from that scene: “Kissing her in the ocean and feeling my entire world stop. Wishing I could be normal, if only to be with her. Because she hadn't just taught me how to surf and shoot zombies and to scream while plunging down a roller-coaster drop. She had shown me how to live.” 

Julie's writing is first rate, as always. Julie is one of my favorite authors as I know that when I pick up one of her books, I'm guaranteed a treat.  I'd love to live in a world where dragons were real and living amidst us. Julie is so talented that she makes this scenario seem genuinely authentic. Be warned: TALON is a highly addictive read with loads of action, adventure and YA romance! I need the next book now as there is a major cliffhanger at the end.

The good news is that, ROGUE, the next installment in this series, is due to be released April 28th by Harlequin Teen so I don't have that long to wait! The cover has already been revealed. It's a magnificent cover of purple dragon scales - my favorite color! I can't wait! In the meantime, I'll keep searching the skies for a glimpse of those elusive dragons... 

4 Wine Review - Pure Death (Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto Mystery #1) by Liah Penn


Title: Pure Death
Series: Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto Mystery #1
Author: Liah Penn
Format: eBook, 202 pages
Published: December 23rd 2014 by Etopia 
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Purchased 
Reviewer: Lexi
Rating: 4/5

An Impure world, a perfect murder…A murdered society debutante, her body sprinkled with 89 Costa Rican butterflies. A headless, gutted corpse washed up on shore with a beautiful, dead teenager. The case is anything but straightforward, and in an uncertain future, where resources are limited and the genetically defective are banished to a ghetto territory for Impures, Chief Detective Ina Stone and her partner, rookie detective Sam Fujimoto, must cross into Pure Territory to... find a killer. An Impure herself, Ina must overcome her defect. And when her life is threatened, she must learn to rely on Sam, whose interest in her seems more than just professional. Yet the Pures may have created a world in which even they don’t want to live anymore. Resources have become too scarce to hide, and a black market for medicine comes to light. When a third murder is discovered, Ina and Sam know there’s a connection. With too many suspects and not enough time, they must find that connection before the killer strikes again.

Lexi's Thoughts:
Pure Death is a world full of prejudice, hatred, and secrets, a well written debut that will keep you captivated and suck you into Ina and Sam’s story. And when Ina stumbles into the underground medical black market the mystery really begins.


Penn created a tangible world where the Pure society is segregated from the Impures. Ina and Sam live as Impure but must cross the border to solve a Pure death. But once Ina and new detective Sam begin to put the pieces together, Ina’s life is threatened and she begins to realize there are bigger players controlling everyone’s lives.


Ina is a tough woman; she has lived her whole life with a birth defect that cast her out of Pure society. She is smart and can do more with her one hand than most of her team can do with two. Ina is well written and human in her emotions. The connection between her and Sam grows naturally and fits into the story perfectly.


The main characters are great and you will love them, but the villains are where it is at. Mostly because you know something isn’t right but not exactly what or who is pulling the strings. Then some more Pures die. Penn gives us hints of the Yakuza, these tattooed master minds, but she keeps them hidden. All we see is the results of their actions and are left with a growing sense of unease.


This debut novel is a great read. If you enjoy dystopian worlds with well-crafted characters and a thrilling story line, pick up Pure Death. This reader can’t wait for book two!


#Review: Deathblow by Dana Marton - 4 Wine Glasses

19265116Title: Deathblow 
Series: Broslin Creek #4
Author: Dana Marton 
Format: Paperback, 230 pages
Published: December 16th 2013 by Dana Marton
ISBN: 1940627036
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Library
Reviewer: Linda
Rating: 4/5

Former small-town football hero turned cop, Joe Kessler never met a linebacker, perp, or a woman he couldn't handle. Then a troubled single mom walks into his life, and the only place this hot jock will ever see 'easy' again is in the dictionary. 

Hiding out in Broslin, PA was working pretty well for Wendy Belle until Cop Casanova took her under his protection. Now she’ll either lose her life to one man, or her heart to another.

Linda's Thoughts:
His last encounter with Wendy... Hell, she'd been the one to hurt his feelings.
The best sex of his life, and she'd kicked him out as soon as it was over, told him not to bother with calling because it was strictly a one-time thing. Told him, actually, while he'd still been inside her.
He groaned at the memory as he slipped behind the wheel, turning on the heat the second he had the engine started.
His day was shaping up to be an ass kicker. Which was saying something, considering that the day before included his arrest, a concussion, and a near drowning.

DEATHBLOW by Dana Marton is a very good romantic suspense read!  It's the fourth book in Dan's Broslin Creek series. Each book in this series features a different officer in the small town Broslin Police Department as a lead character and each has their own stories, so any of them can easily be enjoyed as a standalone out of series order. 

DEATHBLOW is a fast-paced, intensely realistic, action-packed thriller with a compelling romance featuring Wendy Belle as the damsel in distress heroine and Joe Kessler as the sexy law enforcement hero.

Wendy had moved to New York at a young age to become a model. It was a rough life and she'd gotten involved in an abusive relationship from which she was still trying to extricate herself from. She had a young son - fathered by the abuser. She had just one friend left, Sophie, who we met in book three, DEATHTRAP. When Sophie walks in on a violent altercation between Wendy and her abuse, Sophie insists that Wendy escape to Sophie's house in Broslin, an offer that Wendy reluctantly accepts. If you have read book three in the Broslin Creek series, you'll recognize Sophie. She is in a relationship with Broslin's Chief of Police Bing. 

As Wendy moves to Sophie's house in Broslin, Bing asks Joe to protectively shadow Wendy for the next couple of days until he can figure out how to ensure Wendy's safety. The only problem is that Wendy doesn't like Joe. They had a brief hot fling three months ago which did not end well. Joe hasn't been with another woman since; He still can't stop thinking about her - but Wendy had been adamant that she didn't want to see him again. Now Joe and Wendy have to work it out as he has to be in the same house with her to keep Wendy safe from her ex. Will Joe be able to walk away when all is said and done?

I liked both Wendy and Joe... a lot!  They were genuine down-to-earth characters who seemed so real - shaped by fears, past heartbreaks and betrayals. The chemistry between them was sizzling but it appeared that their pasts wouldn't allow them to pursue a relationship. In the beginning, Wendy had a low opinion of herself. I loved seeing her develop a backbone as the story progressed. She's a great mother but she needed to learn how to trust in herself and others. Not everyone is as contemptible as her ex.

Joe was the town's high school football hero. Now he's the town's untarnished golden boy - liked by everyone, a very good cop with an undeserved reputation of being a Casanova. He's definitely a swoon-worthy character and hero extraordinaire in my book! 

The villain was veritably despicable with severe psychological control issues; He made my skin crawl. Reading about violent abusive relationships is difficult. Dana handles it well. I actually learned about common tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship from denial of a problem, to self-image issues, to the person being abused believing that they provoked or deserved the abuse. Thankfully, the total focus of the book is not on abusive relationships as there are sub-plots with gangs, a murder to solve, humorous elements and a not-to-be-missed sweet and hot romance, but I hated the way the villain terrorized Wendy for a good part of the story. On the good side, I was so glad to see Wendy take her life back - bit by bit - and start to move on as her social safety net strengthened.

Following please find a few of my favorite quotes:

The man's gaze hesitated on the four-inch cut on Joe's left cheek, courtesy of the log that had slapped him in the face on the river. With twenty-some stitches sticking out, the wound looked like a giant red caterpillar was crawling across Joe's face.
"Well, that'll disappoint the ladies." But then the captain grunted. "Never mind. With you, they'll probably like it, think it's all manly." He peered behind Joe. "Anyone naked in there?"
Joe stepped aside. "I'm having an off morning."

Wendy Belle wasn't the type of model foreign princes married. Yes, tall and graceful, but she didn't radiate a Grace Kelly-like cold beauty. Her lips were too sensuous for that, her eyes too mysterious. Her face was beautiful and perfect in its own way. More than beautiful - interesting. She was the type of woman a man could look at for a lifetime and not get bored.

One of my favorite scenes occurred in Joe's home on his couch. No sex, but lots of cuddling and some humorous dialogue. The sweetness was mesmerizing and left me and Wendy, it seems, with a smile. You can get a taste of the humor from the following excerpt:

"It's all messed up," she said.
"What is?" he asked quietly from behind her.
"We're doing okay."
"I didn't set out to trap you or anything." Keith had accused her of that a hundred times.
"I don't feel trapped."
"I'm a simple guy. I have a beautiful woman in my arms. What's there to complain about?"
"I'm hardly beautiful. I look like an eggplant."
"Purple is my favorite color."
"There's a really annoying dinosaur you might want to watch with Justin over breakfast." But she smiled into the darkness.

I love Dana's writing. It's first-rate, as always. She a master at keeping the adrenaline climbing with plenty of mystery, danger, romance, and heat!

You will most definitely want to read DEATHBLOW in one sitting. I have to confess that I was totally caught off-guard with the surprising twists at the end! Wow! If you're looking for a book with a rich storyline, breathtaking action and romantic suspense that keeps you turning the pages until the very end, then I'd highly recommend DEATHBLOW!

A Huge Thank You to the author, Dana Marton, for donating her Broslin Creek series to my local library. :-)


#Review: Guardian Agent by Dana Marton - 4.5 Wine Glasses

Guardian Agent (Agents Under Fire #1)

Title: Guardian Agent 
Series: Agents Under Fire #1
Author: Dana Marton 
Format: Kindle Edition, 61 pages
Published: June 17th 2011 by Dana Marton
Links: Goodreads | Amazon 
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Reviewer: Linda
Rating: 4.5/5

A commando unit on the trail of a rogue soldier.
A determined young woman who will sacrifice anything to save her brother.

Recognizing one of the hunters as her teenage crush is definitely a shock to her system. Can she convince him that her brother was framed? Can she stop from falling in love with him all over again?

Linda's Thoughts:
Jasmine hurried along the Grand Canal, dodging a group of diehard revelers, glancing back over her shoulder for the hundredth time. She couldn't see Gabe Cannon anywhere.
Her teenage fantasy man was hunting her brother. She sure hadn't seen that coming. Freaking surreal.
He looked just as good as when she'd first met him at that airport and had fallen instantly in love over pizza and chips. One of those unavoidable pitfalls of life, really. He'd been more handsome than any of her pop idols, and her teenage emotions had been just begging for an outlet.
She cringed in embarrassment when she thought of all the melodramatic drivel she'd written about him in her high school diary.

GUARDIAN AGENT by Dana Marton is an ultra fast-paced, intense romantic thriller that grabs your attention from the first page and never lets go. It is rather short novella at just over 60 pages but the character development surpasses that of many full-length books I've read. I read it in one evening - there was absolutely no way I could put it down once I started it. 

GUARDIAN AGENT is the first in the Agents Under Fire trilogy  - each installment features an ex-military as the hero. The series embraces danger, non-stop action, dirty politics, blackmail, payoffs, espionage, undercover operations... and hot romance. This installment ends with a pseudo cliffhanger, but, thankfully, the rest of the series is available - so you don't have to wait to find out what happens. AVENGING AGENT (Jake Tekla's story) is the second book and WARRIOR AGENT (Troy's story) is the third. You actually now have two edition choices - you can buy the trilogy as three individual stories or altogether as the AGENTS UNDER FIRE box set. (If I had to do it all over again, I would have purchased the box set!)

GUARDIAN AGENT features Gabe Cannon as our macho hero and Jasmine Tekla as our feisty heroine. The story opens in Venice, Italy and much of the tale takes place there. Gabe is part of a private security team tasked with taking out Jake, his old Army Special Ops buddy, who has gone AWOL. Gabe's family desperately needs the money he's to be paid upon completion of his assignment. Jake is wanted dead or alive as he purportedly killed other Army personnel since going missing. However, Gabe has misgivings about the operation - something about it just doesn't feel right. On a stake-out, Gabe grabs someone he thinks is Jake - only to discover on closer examination that the prisoner is Jake's sister, Jasmine, who has developed alluring womanly curves since he last saw her. Jasmine claims her brother has been framed and her family needs Gabe's help. So... does Jake complete his mission or does he go against his orders and then what??? His teammates are on their way to Jake's hideout ... time is running out.

Following please find two more of my favorite quotes from this awesome read:

He registered the empty room a split second before she dropped on him from the storage shelf above the bathroom door, nearly knocking him off his feet.
"Hey. Stop that." He tried to twist to get hold of her, but his temple caught her sharp elbow and he saw stars. He staggered toward the bed and flipped her down at last, but she managed to hook her leg behind his neck and he ended up on the boom somehow, with her sittinbg on his chest.
Her wild, shoulder-length waves framed cheeks pink from effort, her chest heaving as she leaned forward to pin his hands next to his head on each side. She ended up with her fine breasts inches from his lips.
He could have subdued her in two moves, but he liked her on top of him.

“They faced each other in silence for a long minute, both of them clearly uncomfortable. He hated all the awkwardness between them.
To hell with that. He smiled at her. "So do I get to know what's in that diary?"
She blushed crimson. "That diary got you into this mess. You could have been killed. How can you joke about it?"
"No joke. I'm sincerely interested." An understatement. He would have given his antique baseball bat collection to know what she'd written about him ten years ago.
"I was a foolish teenager."
"And now?" He stepped closer.”

Dana's writing, as always, is exceptional.  Now I'm dying to read the rest of the series as I didn't initially purchase the box set (Durn it!).If you enjoy gripping suspenseful thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat through-out with uber sexy military heroes, you won't go wrong with GUARDIAN AGENT! It's a thrill ride!!!


#Review: Twisted by Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott - 4 Wine Glasses


Title: Twisted 
Series: Lost in Oblivion #2
Author: Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott 
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Published: November 29th 2014 by Rainbow Rage Publishing
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 
Source: Author
Reviewer: Crystal
Rating: 4/5

He’s always saved her. Now she’s going to return the favor...

Gray Duffy never thought he’d end up as the co-lead guitarist of Oblivion, one of the hottest rock bands in the country. Even better? He's sharing the experience with his best friend, Jazz. Since the day she’d showed up as his family’s new foster kid, Gray has protected her. Loved her. And not just platonically either. After all these years of wanting her in his bed, he still doesn't know what it would be like to have her mouth on his.

Except for that one time. The time he’d shared her with Nick. The best worst night of his life.

Now they’re living their dream. They’re making music together and spending every waking moment trapped in tight quarters. With success at their fingertips, the time is right for him to finally make his move toward the woman he needs.

He just never figured he would lose control. Or that she would find out.

They’ve loved each other through everything. But what if this time love just isn’t enough?

Crystal's Thoughts:
Twisted is aptly named! It is a twisty, convoluted story of a forbidden love long denied only to be ripped from the couples grasp after finally being realized. Wow, what a gripping ride it was! 

Oblivion just finished their first tour and are getting settled with their new label. They're set to start recording their next album but first their new manager wants them to take a writing separate sequestered locations. And if they break the rules it could mean the end of their band. But Jaz has finally decided to take the plunge where Gray is concerned and being isolated from him is not going to work for her. 

It has always been a case of wrong place, wrong time for Gray Duffy and Jasmine Edwards. First as foster siblings when Jaz had everything to loose, including the family she had always dreamed about. And then as band mates and friends, when in-the-moment decisions twisted already convoluted feelings. But Jaz is done letting life get in the way of what she feels for Gray. And nothing is going to stop her; whether it be well endowed drug dealers, snarky managers, unfriendly family members, or even Gray himself. 

I absolutely love these muddled and blemished rockers of Oblivion! We first saw the dynamics of the relationship between Gray and Jaz in Oblivion's prequel, Seduced. That is also were the legendary threesome between Nick, Jaz and Gray took place which started Gray's downward spiral and gave Jaz the push to finally recognize her feelings for Gray. Technically, Twisted can be read as a standalone because the authors provide some good background information without bogging down the story-line for series readers. However, I'd recommend you reading the series in order. There is a lot of good scenes you'll miss if you skip ahead, including the mentioned threesome. 

The story is told through alternating chapters of then and now, past and present which I thought gave a great insight to the relationship between Gray and Jaz. How it become, how it built, the hurdles they've overcome, and the deep-rooted connection between the two. There is no denying the chemistry between Jazz and Gray, then or now. I thought the authors handled the whole foster-sibling issue with decorum and it didn't come across as weird or anything, which having foster and adopted family members myself I was a little worried about. ☺ When Gray and Jaz finally gave in to that chemistry the pages sizzled! I loved seeing these two finally together because they were so gosh darn perfect. Cute, sweet, funny and downright sexy. 

The future of Oblivion is on a razor sharp edge though and if these band mates can't get their act together the label, a.k.a. their bull-nose manager Lila, is threatening to drop them or even replace them. And unless Gray can manage to clean up his life and right the decisions he has made it could cost him not only his band, but his girl too, and maybe even his life. Twisted had everything that you could imagine a story centered around rock stars having. Drugs. Sex. Danger. Rock & Roll. Lust. Love. Angst. Anger. Drama. I am on tenterhooks waiting for Nick's story now, his sexy surliness captivated me from the start. It's going to take all of my patience to hold out until book four, Shattered, though. Wah! I can't wait! 

Reading Order:
Seduced - 0.5: Amazon (FREE) | Review
Rocked - 1 : Amazon | Review 
Rock, Rattle & Roll - 1.5 : Amazon

Early #Review: Rock Solid by Samantha Hunter - 3 Wine Glasses


Title: Rock Solid
Author: Samantha Hunter
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Published: February 1st 2015 by Harlequin
ISBN: 0373798377
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Netgalley
Reviewer: Crystal
Rating: 3/5

Opposites ignite… 

Champion stock car driver Brody Palmer's bad-boy reputation has forced him into early retirement. What no one knows is that his "retirement" is actually a publicity stunt. All Brody has to do is clean up his act and settle down. Unfortunately, every single woman with a pulse is now gunning to become the new Mrs. Palmer. 

Hannah Morgan needs to shake things up, and Brody is the best way to do just that. So they strike a deal—a fake relationship…with all of the sexy strings included! Brody gets his improved image, and Hannah gets a whole lot more of Brody's unpredictable wildness. Hot days, hotter nights—it's the perfect plan! Provided, of course, they don't do something to wreck it, like fall for each other… 

Crystal's Thoughts:
Rock Solid is a charming story about taking chances and finding love at the least expected time.

Brody Palmer is a race car driver who lights up the track with a fast and fiery reputation to match. But his sponsors are tired of the bad publicity he's been garnering lately and give him an ultimatum; retire for a season and clean up his image or loose his sponsorship. So Brody quietly retires to his family ranch. When the one woman who Brody ever found a connection with shows up at his door looking for adventure, he seizes the opportunity Hannah Morgan brings to give him a clean and wholesome image for his sponsors. But when their fake engagement becomes a little too real will Brody take the chance on something outside of the track?

Neither Brody and Hannah are looking for a relationship when they meet again after six months apart. Brody is trying to get his life and career back on track, and stock car racing is the only thing he has ever wanted to do. While Hannah is determined to reinvent her life from the boring one she was leading before with a new career and a new, take-chances attitude. But they have a past relationship and their is no denying the chemistry they still share. They restarted their relationship as a ruse to placate Brody's sponsors and ignite Hannah's photography blog traffic but it gradually turns into far more. There is lust and attraction from the start and Brody and Hannah quickly rekindle the flames between them but as feelings start to develop they each begin fight that connection for their own reasons. Hannah doesn't think that Brody wants a relationship or that she could ever hold his attention for long while Brody, in typical guy fashion, doesn't realize what is right in front of  him until it is almost too late. There are many ups and downs in the plot, some that are Bordy and Hannah's own making, and others outside of their control like nosy media personas, pompous publicists, and family drama. 

While somewhat predictable, Rock Solid was a sweet story. The story-line did tend to drag in areas though and towards the end I found myself more interested in a secondary couple's story. Abby and Reece are best friends of Brody and Hannah and they have their own story in I'll Be Yours for Christmas which I will be checking out at a later date. All in all though, Rock Solid was a well-written, nice read without all of the angst that is common in today's romance world and some sizzling scenes that kept this reader happy. 


#Review: Mayhem by Jamie Shaw - 4.5 Wine Glasses


Title: Mayhem 
Series: Mayhem #1
Author: Jamie Shaw
Format: ebook
Publication: January 20th 2015 by Avon Impulse
ISBN: 0062379615
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Edelweiss
Reviewer: Crystal
Rating: 4.5/5

When college freshman Rowan Michaels meets gorgeous, up-and-coming rock star Adam Everest, she knows a player like him is the last thing she needs after her ex-boyfriend shattered her heart. But she can't stop thinking about the kiss they shared on his tour bus.

On the first day of school, Rowan is stunned when Adam saunters into her French class. He's soon failing miserably, and, on a whim, she offers to tutor him. But Adam doesn't recognize her as a makeup-free, glasses-clad college student—a far cry from the beautiful, mysterious "Peach" he met at his concert.

During a wild weekend on tour with the band, Rowan can't help falling for the sweet guy buried beneath Adam's rocker persona. Yet she knows she could never compete with the girls constantly throwing themselves at his feet. She'd just end up hurt … again.

Peach is all Adam thinks about, though, and when Rowan realizes this, she has a decision to make: stay just friends to protect her fragile heart … or reveal the truth about the night they met and admit she's fallen completely, hopelessly in love with him.

Crystal's Thoughts:
If you read only one rock star romance this year, make it Mayhem!

College freshman, Rowan Michaels, is at a local concert with her best friend when she see's her live-in boyfriend of three years with another woman. Distraught and heart-broken, Rowan seeks some quiet and fresh air just to let it all go when she is interrupted by the lead singer of the band she is there to see, Adam freaking Everest. He comforts Rowan in a way that she'll never forget. But when she arrives on her first day of french class she is shocked to see Adam in class as well, only she obviously wasn't as unforgettable as he was because he doesn't even notice her. Not until she saves his butt by covering for him with their professor and agreeing to tutor him. When one weekend of french tutoring turns into a weekend of concerts, after parties, strawberry pancakes and too many groupies though Rowan knows that she must keep up her just-friends facade if she has any hope of not having her heart broken a second time. 

Mayhem took me by surprise in the best possible way. I really had no idea what I was getting into starting this book since I only took a cursory glance over the synopsis and there weren't many reviews available at the time. What I received when opening this book was a captivating story with intriguing characters and an enchanting dialogue that kept me up until four in the morning reading non-stop. And I wasn't even upset over the three measly hours of sleep I managed to get because of it. 

Rowan was a refreshingly real eighteen year old woman whose life was turned upside down when she found her boyfriend in the arms of another woman. Confused, angry, and afraid to have her heart trampled on again she insists on a friends only policy with sexy rocker Adam even though she desires him with every fiber of her being. Adam in turn was a perfectly imperfect hero to the story who grew with every page from a self involved womanizer to a caring friend and loving partner who would do anything to make Rowan happy. It's a slow, but burning, build to the sex between Rowan and Adam and there was no denying the chemistry that sizzled between these two from the start. However, the gradual shift from friends to lovers worked well for these characters and didn't drag down the plot one bit. In fact, the plot itself was fast-paced and intense. I honestly could not put this book down. The book set up the series well also with little glimpses into the secondary characters, each who I loved. Especially band mates Mike and Shawn. I do so hope it isn't a long wait before their stories. The book is told completely from Rowan's perpective until the very end were we get a peek into Adam's head in the epilogue which I thoroughly enjoyed! 

The only reason that I am dropping my rating down to 4.5 instead of 5 is because the story has been done before and while reading I couldn't help but think I've read this same story-line somewhere else. Despite that though, Shaw somehow delivers a captivating story I couldn't get enough of. Putting her stamp on the well-loved bad boy rock star and nerdy girl romance trope. 

A stellar new voice in the new adult romance genre, Jamie Shaw is an author to keep your eyes on! Mayhem is definitely going on my favorite books of 2015 list. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, Riot, and I look forward to more delicious tales centering around these heartthrob rock stars. 

#Review: Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher - 4 Wine Glasses


Title: Never Never 
Series: Never Never #1
Author: Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher 
Fomat: ebook
Published: January 8th 2015
ISBN :1310382727
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source:  Purchased by Reviewer
Reviewer: Crystal
Rating: 4/5


Best friends since they could walk.
In love since they were fourteen.
Complete strangers since this morning.

He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.

Crystal's Thoughts:
With an undertone of romance, Never Never is a full-embodied mystery and suspense novella that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering along with the characters, just what in the heck is going on?! 

Never Never is the first novella in the self-titled series centering around two seventeen-year-old's, Charlie and Silas, who wake up in their high school history class with no memory of who or where they are. Their whole life is a puzzle. They don't even remember each other but from those around them glean they are a couple. So they decide to team up to put the missing pieces together. Yet, nothing and no one is what they seem. Not even Charlie and Silas... 

Never Never was my first encounter with author's Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher's writing, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. The story was well written and intriguing with alternating chapters between Charlie and Silas, as well as the authors themselves. I loved the chemistry between Silas and Charlie, even if their minds don't remember it, their bodies do. However, there was a notable lack of romance though you could feel it just under the surface waiting to emerge.

The only down side to Never Never was the high price for a book of such short length. And if I had known before hand that this was only a novella, and not even a complete story (part of a series), I probably wouldn't have purchased it right away. Just when you're getting into the story and catching on to the plot, and you think some answers will finally be revealed, it ends. *pouty face* I am highly anticipating the next book in the series, but the wait for it is disappointing. Never the less, I will most likely grab it as soon as it release. If you loved Lexi Ryan's Here and Now series, then you won't want to miss Never Never


Hush - Cherry Adair Danger and passion lurks in the jungles of Venezuela in Cherry Adair's romantic suspense novel, Hush.

Acadia Gray is a boring Midwest woman who has always played it safe. But when she comes into some good fortune, Acadia decides to step outside her box and get a little wild. Zakary Stark was suppose to disappear after their one night together in the small Venezuelan hotel. Risk seeker and adventurer extraordinaire, Zak is everything Cady is not. But when she wakes up, she not only finds Zak still in her bed but armed men surrounding it. Kidnapped by an unknown assailant; Acadia, Zak and his brother, Gideon must make the dangerous trek through the word's most deadliest jungles. And when a chance for escape appears, find their way out of them alive.

Hush begins after a night of wild, unrestrained love making between virtual strangers, Acadia and Zakary, and quickly develops into an all out thrill ride filled with action, danger, mystery, desire and death. Though I enjoyed this romantic suspense, there were a few issues about the story that bothered me.

First; the recapping of the character's parental history became redundant. If the person you're romantically interested in couldn't remember that your fathered died a few months ago without constantly having to repeat the sad story then the person isn't for you. Though, I think this was more of an editing error and not a lack of interest between characters.

Secondly; how many times do I need to read about the heroines "apricot nipples"? This phrase was beyond repetitive in the dialogue causing me never to want to eat an apricot again. Again, something that should have been pinpointed and fixed during editing.

There were a few surprises in Hush. I thought that I had figured out the villain early on but when the climax finally came a big, loud buzzer sounded because I was wrong! The twist was interesting but the entire showdown scene was a bit ridiculous and unbelievable, and I didn't like the out come of it. At all. And I hope, hope, hope, that that was not the end. *fingers crossed* There was also a paranormal element that was weaved into the plot that was intriguing but I'm not convinced that it was entirely relevant for the story. However, from what I can tell, the rest of the series is based on this sixth sense aspect so I'll try to keep an open mind about it when reading forward. Which I will eventually. ☺

The writing and world building was well done and I enjoyed the characters of the story. Zak was a bit of an anti-hero and the heroine stepped up big time in the crazy circumstances they were thrown into. Also, if you're familiar with the author's T-FLAC series, you might recognize a few characters. I'm going to be looking into that series now since it is new-to-me. For my first read from Cherry Adair, Hush, was a decent story. Not great but not bad either, and like I said - I do plan on reading more.

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