Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: All Chained Up by Sophie Jordan

There are bad boys and then there are the men of Devil's Rock....

Some men come with a built-in warning label, Knox Callaghan is one of them. Danger radiates from every lean, muscled inch of him, and his deep blue eyes seem to see right through Briar Davis's most secret fantasies. But there's one major problem: Briar is a nurse volunteering at the local prison, and Know is an inmate who should be off-limits in every way.

Knox feels it too- a shocking animal magnetism that drives him to risk his own life to protect Briar's. Paroled at last, he tried to resist her. She's too innocent, too sweet, and she has no idea what Know is capable of. But a single touch can lead to a kiss- and a taste... until the only crime is denying what feels right...

When the prison doors are open, the real dragon will fly out."- Ho Chi Minh

I honestly went into this book a little unsure of the plot. I am not usually a fan of bad boy romance, when the boys are actually bad.. like a legitimate felon bad.. and Knox Callaghan is the epitome of the real bad boy. After reading the first teaser chapters that were released by the publisher on social media they caught my attention and I knew I had to read this book. I am so glad I took yet another chance on Sophie Jordan, she is a gamble that pays off every single time.

Briar is a nurse who volunteers to help her boss working with the inmates at Devil's Rock, in hopes of advancing her career. She knew working in a prison wouldn't be sunshine and roses, but she never expected her career decision would result in her risking her life and her heart.

Knox was dealt a bad hand. Did he commit the crime he was convicted for? Yes. Would he do it again? Probably, just not to the same extent. He sees his mistake as causing a snowball effect and he carries some heavy guilt on those big strong shoulders. The first time he sets eyes on the innocent nurse he can't get her out of his head. When he hears of a plot to hurt her, he knows he must do whatever it takes to protect her, and he does. His parole is granted shortly after and when he runs into his damsel in distress again outside the prison walls all bets are off. He thinks he's not good enough for her, and she may have to prove to him exactly how wrong he is...

All Chained Up is a story about second chances, making mistakes, learning. growing and loving. The relationship that develops between Briar and Knox feels real. If you like a story full of action and fog up your car windows, let's call the fire department HOT, you don't want to miss this book.  All Chained Up gets 5 SHINING STARS from this reader. Sophie Jordan proves yet again that she can write any genre and knock it out of the ballpark (speaking of ballparks-my favorite genre is sports romance, think you can tackle that one next, Sophie?)

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Note: I was granted access to an ARC copy of this book. I LOVED this book and will be buying a paper copy for my keep forever bookshelf.. it was that good. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

5 STARS for Rushing the Goal by Toni Aleo!

Introduced in Toni Aleo's Bellevue Bullies Series, it's the Sinclair brothers' big sister's turn to find love int eh next installment of the New York Times and USA Today best-selling series, the Assassins.

Lucy Sinclair was no stranger to pain.

She grew up with three younger brothers, met a bad boy, got pregnant by him, married him, and then suffered through a nasty divorce from him. Pain. That was pain. To top it off, she even had to go through the heartbreaking divorce of her parents. Through it all, she survived. All she cared about was making sure her daughter was happy and taken care of. Despite an ex-husband hell bent on ruining her life, she fought to overcome. She's gotten to the point that she's okay with being just okay. She never cared about herself because she never had time. It was Angie and only Angie she focused on, but that all changed when Benji Paxton offered to help her daughter on the ice.

Benji knew the moment he saw Lucy, he'd never be the same. Especially when she came with a bundle of crazy that was her daughter. His heart wasn't ready for them. After years spent sobering up and finding who he was without alcohol, he never forgot he was being punished for not appreciating the love he had when he was younger. Because of his past, he had gotten used to being alone, a recluse. but even he had to admit it was getting old. He was lonely. Hockey wasn't enough anymore. He wanted a family; he wanted true love, and Lucy and Angie were just that.

Benji and Lucy were just two lost souls.
Floating through life with no purpose.
But finding each other gave them direction, a chance at a future.
And that had them both Rushing the goal to be together.

I expected this book to be good going into it, because honestly I am a fan of Toni Aleo's writing, and her Assassin's and Bellevue series are both favorites of mine. This book met and exceeded my expectations. I loved Benji & Lucy's story.

Benji's not really looking for love, he's still getting over the loss of his family many years ago and his battle with alcoholism. Once he sets eyes on Lucy he knows she's special and so is Angie. He needs more of Lucy.. well more of both of them. This is one package deal he can't walk away from... ever.

Lucy's got her guard up all the time. She's is fiercely protective of her daughter, it's her job and her job alone to make sure they are both okay. Her willingness to sacrifice herself and things in her life to do what's best for Angie made her quite possibly one of my favorite fictional heroines ever.

I love the way the story introduces a child with ADHD and integrates the things that she needs in her life to cope/thrive with this disorder. As a parent of a child with ADHD, I've experienced the stigma that is associated with that label. Lucy's ex-husband's reluctance to accept her diagnosis as a medical issue and not a behavioral issue, infuriated me and made me hate him even more than I did from the start.  Benji's quick acceptance of Angie and the almost instant bond he forms with her quickly earned him a spot in my heart as well. I love that he was Angie's friend before Lucy finally opens her eyes to see the amazing man that was falling in love with her as well!

This is not your fluffy love at first sight, small fight, quick make up and happily ever after romance. Both of Benji and Lucy each are battling their own demons before they even meet for the first time. I loved the steady building, yet unpredictable at times plot. It kept me hanging on and wanting more. The character development is spot on, if you like a book that gives you "the feels", look no further.  I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, laughed and cried as this story unfolded before me.  I gave Rushing the Goal 5 STARS. I can't wait for what's next from this series and this author!

PS> If  you haven't read Toni Aleo's Assassin Series and Bellevue Bullies books so far, stop what you are doing and read them! They are the stuff binge reads are made of! Rushing the Goal can absolutely be read as a standalone book. However, I recommend reading the earlier books in each series. For me knowing the backstory of earlier characters and their family trees made Rushing the Goal an even more amazing read. I love when a series has characters that feel like family. Toni Aleo does a fabulous job of keeping this series addict happy by perfectly inserting past characters into the current story. (PS> Shea Adler will always be my favorite Assassin).

Buy Links for Rushing the Goal:
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants.

WOW! Thank you Kindle Unlimited form helping me find another amazing book/author I may have missed otherwise. When the Wall of Winnipeg and Me posted as a suggested book in the Kindle Store, I read the blurb, it sounded good, so I snagged it. This book sat on my Kindle for a week before I got around to reading it... oh what precious time I was wasting. I seriously couldn't put this book down!

Aiden's a pro-football player, he's a loner, he's brooding, he's hot, a little oblivious, self-centered and maybe just a tiny bit mean. Vanessa is/was his Assistant, she did EVERYTHING for him and he barely acknowledged she was alive.. until she quit. She was moving on with her life until she opens the door to her apartment to see Aiden on the other side. Aiden needs her to come back... but in a different capacity, as his wife... to help him get his U.S. citizenship.

LOVED the slow building relationship between Aiden and Vanessa. These two go from employer/employee, to friends to so much more. The steady pace of the story allows you to really connect with each character, to feel as if you know them. Once Aiden and Vanessa finally connected romantically I had butterflies in my stomach. This book will give you the feels like no other. This book gets 5 STARS from this reader and  is one of the best books I've read recently. I tried it with my Kindle Unlimited subscription and have since purchased it. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is a book I felt like I needed to own, not just borrow. If you love a well written, well paced, true romance you don't want to miss this book!

PS> I purchased Kulti another book by this author and it's next on my list to read. Review to come!

Monday, March 7, 2016

REVIEW: Losing an Edge (Portland Storm #8) -Catherine Gayle

USA Today bestselling author Catherine Gayle presents another novel in the Portland Storm hockey romance series.

Tired of being the second-best Babcock, Levi "501" Babcock is ready to outshine his older brother. Outranking his brother proves harder than he imagined- until he meets a sinfully sexy gold-medal-winning figure skater. She might be the prize he's been searching for all along.

Bubbly and spirited Cadence Johnson is determined to escape the shackles of her former partner. Moving to Portland gives her the fresh start she's craved, but the last thing she can afford is a distraction like Levi Babcock.

When Cadence's past comes back to threaten her and her life is on the line, Levi might be the safety net she never realized she needed. But will Levi still care about Losing an Edge to his biggest rival, or can he finally step out of his brother's shadow to become the hero in his own game?

Fans of Catherine Gayle's Portland Storm series will not be disappointed with her latest release. Levi Babcock was living in the shadow of his brother on paper and also in the heart of this reader. Jamie Babcock (Icebreaker- Portland Storm #0.5Taking A Shot (Portland Storm #2.5) & Dropping Gloves-Portland Storm #7) is one of my favorite heroes in this series, so to compete at his level Levi's story was going to have to be REALLY good, and it was!

Cadence is the sister of Cam Johnson aka Jonny (Delay of Game- Portland Storm #4), so this book is definitely keeping it inside the Portland Storm family. Cadence is coming out of a bad skating partnership and relationship. The last thing she needs is a distraction.. and Levi Babcock is most certainly a distraction. Levi has his work cut out for him, not only does he need to convince Cadence to give him a chance, he also has to avoid being assaulted by his teammate when he finds out he's making a move on his sister! Levi slowly worked his way into Cadence's heart and won this reader's heart just as subtly.

I gave Losing An Edge 5 STARS. This book could absolutely be read as a stand alone, however I recommend reading this series in order. Fans of the Portland Storm series will love the way this story comes together with many familiar faces playing a big part in Cadence & Levi's happily ever after. The plot builds at a perfect pace with Levi & Cadence's growing relationship, her search for a new skating partner and her ex's reluctance to fully let her go. I loved the protective brother, the loving Babcock family, and most of all the way Levi proves on and off the ice that there is another Babcock brother in town. Sports romance fans will love the way Catherine Gayle masterfully writes the on-ice action. There are times I felt like I was watching a real game and sitting on the edge of my seat, the details are spot on. Catherine Gayle writes a buildup to a goal both on the ice and off the ice like no other.

Click HERE to add this book to your goodreads shelf!

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Author Links: 
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I was given an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I honestly loved this book!