Review: Wicked Lies (Wicked Bay #3) by L.A. Cotton

Title: Wicked Lies
Author: L.A. Cotton
Series: Wicked Bay #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The third book in the bestselling Wicked Bay series from L A Cotton

To the outside world, seventeen-year-old Kyle Stone has it all. A future playing the sport he loves, money and status, and his forever girl by his side. But Kyle’s good at pretending; hiding what he doesn’t want others to see. Because Kyle has secrets, the kind that can change everything.

Pretty, popular, and dating one of Wicked Bay High’s rising football stars, Laurie Davison is living the life most girls only dream about. But behind closed doors, she feels like a fake. Keeping up appearances is exhausting, and the one person she should be able to turn to is the person pushing her away.

They say love conquers all, but lies destroy. And when the truth comes out, hearts don’t only get hurt.

They get ruined.

My Review:
Another fantastic addition to the Wicked Bay series, and a book I devoured in less than twenty-hour hours. I have adored Kyle in this series to date, and I couldn’t wait to read his story. Lianne did not disappoint. I really felt for our boy, and this was an emotional, heartfelt read. He made some silly mistakes, and hiding stuff from those you love is never a good idea but it all came full circle and ended up in a good place. Kyle is such a great character and I loved his banter and his swoony romantic side – a definite addition to my book boyfriend list!

I floved seeing Rick and Lo so much too, and seeing how united they are just warmed my heart, but I’m anxious for what’s coming next with them with Maverick heading to college and Lo having to face Caitlin during senior year by herself. I have a feeling the angst and drama are about to be ramped up, and I cannot wait for Wicked Games.

Another well-written, angsty romance that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you are a fan of this series, you will definitely want to read this one, and if you haven’t picked up Wicked Beginnings yet, what are you waiting for??!!

Review: Black Swan Affair by K.L. Kreig

Title: Black Swan Affair
Author: K.L. Kreig
Series: standalone
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
I’ve loved him as long as I can remember.

The gangly boy with big brown eyes and unruly hair who grew up into an intoxicating man. He wears scruff like he invented it and ambles with a swagger that makes panties drop.

Killian Shepard.

Shep.

We grew up together. We played Ghost in the Graveyard. Had our own rock band. It didn’t matter that he was five years older than me. It didn’t matter that he looked at me as a kid sister even as I grew into woman. It didn’t even matter when he left me behind to go to college and start his adult life.

He’d be back.
He was always meant to be mine.

He came back, all right. But instead of smelling of promises, he stunk of betrayal. And he destroyed me—us—the day he married my sister instead of me.

So I did the only thing a girl like me in my position could do.

I got my revenge.
I married his brother, Kael.
Now we’re one big happy f*cking family.

***mature content appropriate for 18+

My Review:
Amazing, loved it. Could hardly put it down, and when I did I was thinking about it obsessively. Superb writing, tons of angst and emotional complexity, and the author had me switching my mind constantly over what was going on and with which guy. Loved how it turned out, as I was rooting for that one all along! What a gem of a new author discovery for me. *Runs to KU to check out more of her work.*

Review: Dare to Kiss (Maxwell #1) by S.B. Alexander

Title: Dare to Kiss
Author: S.B. Alexander
Series: Maxwell #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
I never asked for him to save me, but he’s determined to try.

I had the perfect life, the perfect future, and the perfect family. Until one night everything was ripped away, including my desire to play the sport I love. I’m trying to move forward, but it’s hard when I’m plagued by triggers and haunted by nightmares.

But then I met him…

Kade Maxwell makes my mouth dry and my belly tingle. Through his own pain, he shows me that I’m stronger than I think. But I’m not so sure when I learn Kade has a violent enemy who is determined to use me to get to him. To make matters worse, I’m faced with a bully who does everything he can to keep me in “my place.”

With my life spinning wildly out of control, can Kade help me rebuild the scattered fragments of my life? Or will I end up losing him, too?

Intended for audiences 18+

My Review:
OMG, how am I only discovering this series now? I just love those Maxwell boys! Very entertaining, well written, with a strong MC you can root for and a plethora of gorgeous boys. And I loved all the drama and angst. Onto book 2.

Review: Stanton Series Box Set (Stanton #1-3) by T.L. Swan

Title: Stanton Series Box Set
Author: T.L. Swan
Series: Stanton #1-3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The complete Stanton series, Book1 Stanton Adore, Book 2 Stanton Unconditional and Book 3 Stanton Completely

She’s kryptonite.
Sensual, sweet, and as annoyingly perfect as she was when I left 7 years ago.
My body remembers the way she felt underneath me, and wants her again.
My heart remembers the way she crushed it and wants as far away as possible.
But she’s everywhere, haunting me, torturing me, driving me past all logical reason.
I need to forget her, move on and get her out of my system, but to do that,
I need to have her one.
Last.
Time.

It started as a kiss.
We never meant to fall in love.
But I was 17 and carefree,
And he was 19, beautiful and forbidden.
Our families never would have accepted it…
And I broke his heart to save his future.
Now the boy I loved 7 years ago is the man I can’t have.
He’s grown into everything my body craves, my heart demands…
and my sense of decency rejects.

My Review:
This is one of the most frustratingly-brilliant compulsively-readable series I’ve read in a long time. Once I started, I found it almost impossible to put down. At times, when I was forced to put it aside, it played on my mind. Always a sign of a great read.

I only came across this series as a reviewer of my book mentioned the similarities, (first cousin romance with a suspenseful side plot) and I had to check it out. I must thank that reviewer for bringing this series to my attention because I became invested very quickly.

Josh and Natasha have the most messed-up dysfunctional relationship ever, but it had me gripped from the very start. I loved that Natasha was a psychologist who knew better but she was powerless under the electric attraction and the deep bond she shared with Joshua. Her education, her experience, and her gut told her she should stay away from him, especially after they continually hurt one another, but the story shows what it’s like to be human. Her mind knew the right thing to do was to stay away, but her heart wouldn’t let her.

God, I’ve never wanted to bash two fictional character’s heads together as much as I wanted to bash these two, lol. The toing and froing was angsty and over the top dramatic and I freaking loved it. It messed with my head and made mincemeat of my heart but I lapped it up. If you don’t like train wreck love stories, with a taboo twist, you should probably give this one a miss.

The romance, chemistry, and sexy times were excellent. This was a scorching hot read and our mains have a sizzling chemistry that is undeniable. I swung between loving and hating both characters as I read, groaning at the double standards, and miscommunication but unable to put it down, like the worst type of addict. This book will seriously mess with your mind and twist your emotions into knots (in a good way.)

I thought the character and plot development were excellent. I guessed who was messing with them, but it was still very well done. With so many enemies, it did keep me guessing. The writing gets better with each book, and it flows at a fast pace. There wasn’t much filler, and it kept me glued to my Kindle for days. I really loved all the secondary characters, and I’ll definitely check out their books. I have Dr. Stanton downloaded to my Kindle already.

The only reason this is a four-star rather than five-star review is down to the lack of professional editing. As an author, I cannot, in all conscience, rate this five stars even though the story and the characters merit it. The writing and editing let it down, and I can’t write this review honestly without mentioning the atrocious grammar—run on sentences, redundant and incorrect words, awkward sentence structure, dangling modifiers, typos etc., etc. While most readers probably wouldn’t notice these things, I did, and it pulled me out of the story so much it became frustrating. I found myself correcting things in my head, and it annoyed me because I like to read for enjoyment and not be “mentally editing” a book as I read. I couldn’t help but do it with this series as it was so commonplace.

If you don’t mind such a glaring lack of editing, and you enjoy dramatic, angsty romance that will leave you breathless and swoony, then I highly recommend this series.

Review: Discovering Alexis: Truths & Lies (Bad Boy Rebels Book 7) by Jessica Sorensen

Title: Discovering Alexis: Truths & Lies
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Series: Bad Boy Rebels Book 7
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
My name is Alexis and up until a day ago, I thought the worst thing that ever happened to me was catching Blaine and Masie kissing. Boy was I wrong. Like really, really wrong. Now my life is filled with crazy hackers, dirty lies, and three hot guys trying to protect me. And who knows what tomorrow will bring.

My Review:
I LOVED this volume and I’m enjoying Alexis’ character way better than Zharas. The boys aren’t quite as captivating as the boys in Zhara’s harem, but West and Steel are smokin’ hot and very intriguing. Ellis not so much. This one was a fantastic read, plenty of laughs, sexual tension, and mystery. Initially, I was peeved that the story was splitting between Zhara and Alexis but after this volume, I really don’t mind. I hate that they are so short because I’m so stuck into it and then, bam, it’s over. Aaggh! I’m hungry for more even though I can’t really complain as I’ve read these all back to back.

Totally addicted to this series – I need more like, yesterday, lol. Please tell me the next volume is coming soon? Can’t get these guys out of my head!

Review: Discovering Zhara: Sweet Lies & Kisses (Bad Boy Rebels #6) by Jessica Sorensen

Title: Discovering Zhara: Sweet Lies & Kisses
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Series: Bad Boy Rebels #6
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
My name is Zhara and my life is filled with drug lords, threats, lies, secrets, and kissing…
It’s making separating my real life with my undercover life complicated.

The Bad Boy Rebels series is a novella series that follows Zhara and six guys who are part of a secret detective program. It contains a lot of kissing, steamy scenes, with a bit of suspense, and mystery.

My Review:
5 hawt stars for all the gorgeous, interesting guys but 3 stars for the gullible heroine, weak premise, and plot holes. That said, Zhara is growing on me as she becomes more forthright but the premise behind the story is not believable and I’m consistently rolling my eyes at how she has to “prove” she’s dating six guys. There is no credible reason for it or the fact that others are demanding proof. But, I really enjoy the detective agency side of it and the mystery is intriguing, and I’m one hundred percent invested now.

And that scene with Benton and Xavier was hot (even if ridiculous that they were asked to do it.) Hoping for steamier scenes as it progresses and I’m definitely loving the RH aspect.

Wish I knew when the next Zhara episode was out, but Jessica is very prolific and she releases quickly so I’m confident we won’t have to wait too long. Usually, I’m not a fan of serials like this but I’m really enjoying this one (complaints aside.)

Review: Exploited (Zero Day #1) by A. Meredith Walters

Title: Exploited
Author: A. Meredith Walters
Series: Zero Day #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Links:

Blurb:
In this pulse-pounding novel from the bestselling author of Butterfly Dreams, a vigilante hacker plays a seductive game with the agent who’s chasing her online—and sharing her bed in real life.

At first glance, I’m nothing out of the ordinary. I am a daughter. A sister. A friend. When you look at me you won’t see anything that warrants suspicion. I don’t look like a criminal.

My name is Hannah Whalen, but most people know me as freed0mov3rdr1v3, or “Freedom Overdrive”—one of the world’s most prolific and notorious hacktivists. My goal—my purpose—is to shed light on the evil that lurks behind the corporate and government lies we have been force-fed for too long.

My story begins with the best possible intention. Devoting my life to exposing the corrupt. The dishonest. The unethical. For that, they label me a cyber-terrorist. Wanted by the FBI, I’ve always been one step ahead.

Until I fell in love.

Because I’m sleeping with the man who’s hunting me. And he has no idea that I am his prey. Now I have to decide what’s more important: my freedom or my heart.

Note: Exploited ends on a cliffhanger. Hannah’s story continues in Aftermath.

My Review:
I got very excited when I first came across this novel and even more excited when I was approved for an ARC and I had been itching to read it. I finally managed to squeeze it into my reading schedule last weekend and it was so worth the wait.

Occasionally, I come across books that I feel were written specifically for me and Exploited is one of those books. Man, where do I start? I loved the perfect blend of mystery, intrigue, and romance. I loved the tech/hacker backdrop that had just enough detail to add substance without bogging the plot down in unnecessary or boring passages. I ADORED Mason, the hot, rugged, FBI agent who was ignoring his gut instincts and falling for a girl who was deceiving him. I thought I would struggle to connect to Hannah but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong – I hated that she was betraying him in the worst way but her heart was in the right place and her initial motivations were pure.

I was suspicious of Toxicwrath from the get go and couldn’t understand how Hannah aka Freedom Overdrive was so trusting. I knew it was all going to end badly. I love books that keep me guessing over the villain’s identity like Exploited did. The end seems to be implicating a certain person from her past but I think that’s too obvious. My money’s on Kyle or Madison or maybe they’re working together. Either way, I can’t wait to read Aftermath to find out.

The romance was great between our couple and it was a nice build up with a fair amount of toing and froing which I love. Hannah was really battling her feelings but in the end, she caved. I was so rooting for Mason and Hannah but I don’t know how the author is going to pull back from that cliffy ending (LOVED it! Pure torture of the best kind!) All I know is I can’t wait to find out!

I’ve read books by this author before and her writing is as sublime as I remembered it.

If you enjoy well written romantic suspense with swoon-worthy romance and complex characters and a mysterious, intriguing plot then you MUST check this one out. Highly recommended, and one of my top reads for 2017 so far.

Thanks to the publisher for supplying an ARC which I have voluntarily reviewed.

Review: Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Coming Up for Air
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

My Review:
Combine high school romance, best friends turned lovers, and a competitive sports environment and you have one heck of a great read!

I chose to read Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker just before I read this book as I wanted to familiarize myself with the Hundred Oaks series and with Miranda’s writing. While I enjoyed both those books, I felt they were lacking on the romance front and I didn’t like the fact that our couple only got together at the end. Coming up for Air was a vastly superior read, for me, because the romance was much better written and I loved how our couple got involved at a much earlier point in the story.

I adored both Maggie and Levi and was rooting for them from the start. Both are very focused on a future career in swimming and very dedicated to their craft with one key difference. Levi has regular hook-ups to alleviate stress where Maggie has barely even kissed any boys. When she proposed that Levi “coach” her so she was better prepared for college it was obvious the way this was going to go. I didn’t mind that though, and I enjoy that trope so I happily went along for the ride. What I didn’t like was how Levi used that evil witch to help push Maggie away and I was screaming at my Kindle in blind rage at that scene. Maggie was the more mature of the two even if she was way more inexperienced than him. She knew better than to treat her best friend that way.

Miranda seems to excel at abrupt ends that leave you scratching your head, and this book was no different to the others I’ve read in this series. I hated that it ended so suddenly and I don’t feel like I have proper closure which is the only reason this is a four-star rather than five-star review. I did enjoy the epilogue in Sam Henry’s narrative and it explained a little more but I wish the ending wasn’t so rushed.

Overall though, this was a superb read. It gave me all the feels and I adored the setting, the characters, the best friends to lovers trope, the writing and the pacing was spot on.

I look forward to reading other titles in this series at some stage.

Thanks to the publisher for supplying an ARC of this book via Netgalley. I have voluntarily reviewed same and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Review: Hollywood Dirt (Hollywood Dirt #1) by Alessandra Torre

Title: Hollywood Dirt
Author: Alessandra Torre
Series: Hollywood Dirt #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.

My Review:
Absolutely loved it. A fantastic enemies to lovers story with real heart. And The Rehearsal Dinner from Hell – ha, ha, loved it, not sure what that says about me! Can’t wait to see this one on Passionflix soon.

Review: Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

My Review:
I really enjoyed this although the ending let it down. Characterization was superb and it was full of witty banter and laugh out loud moments. It was a little light on the romance for me and I wanted more of a grand gesture/more swoony moments at the end but still a really good read. Recommended.