Review: Michael’s Wings

tl;dr: wonderful and heartwarming edition to the Original Sinners canon

The Story:

If you have read and enjoyed Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners books (which I have), then this novella is a lovely addition to the overall canon. It fills in some blanks that weren’t addressed by the main series about the engagement of Michael and Griffin, the circumstances leading up to popping the question and then some fun times with Mistress Nora in her play room. It’s a sweet story about a lot of things that have come up in Michael’s life; how he’s dealing with them, how the age difference between him and Griffin affects their relationship, and other outside influences.

This book is actually a collection of novellas, but the first story, Michael’s Wings, is a new one for this fan. The other stories were previously freebies on her website (but have since been removed because of this publication). Some highlights include Gauze, where Michael has to overcome something that gives him PTSD to his suicide attempt, and Christmas in 37A, detailing a time where Griffin and Michael went through a bit of a hurdle in their relationship. All are delightful details that really round out the relationship between these two men.

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Review: Totally His

tl;dr: sexy fling between cop and actress thwarted by con man father

The Story:

I was incredibly underwhelmed by the previous book in this series, but decided to give this one a try since I hadn’t disliked the writing of the other book, just the plotting. And while this book suffers from a few of the same problems, the general arc of the story is much more compelling.

Finn Kelly spots a lingerie clad actress trying to sneak back into her burning theater, and follows her inside to make sure that she isn’t in danger. Sophie Birch is desperate to save the only copy of a script she feels will be a game changer for her small theater. Of course, with so much skin on display, Finn is really feeling the heat in the room. And Sophie is really digging the heroic cop display from Finn.

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Review: Take The Lead

tl;dr: sexy Dancing With The Stars-esque romance by #ownvoices author

The Story:

I want to start by saying that I loved this story. It was something I’d heard some buzz about and decided to read because of that. I was so happy that I did! Reality TV isn’t really something I enjoy, but this book really doesn’t require much investment into that, as the settings and characters are so richly developed.

Gina Morales is on her third season of The Dance Off as a professional dancer, and she’s got the trophy in her sight. So when her producers take her into a remote region of Alaska to meet this season’s partner, she’s hoping for some kind of superstar athlete, but instead, meets Stone. Her tongue nearly falls out of her mouth after she spots him for the first time, bare chested and swinging an axe. Stone Nielson turns out to be a mountain man, part of a reality show of his own, that follows his family living off the grid in the wilds of Alaska.

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Review: Play Dates

tl;dr: Undeveloped heroine but cute love story nonetheless

The Story:

When Monica Rayburn strikes up a conversation with a hot “Saturdaddy” at the park, she gets more than she’s bargained for. Colm asks her out to dinner and she accepts, but he makes a strange request: they don’t talk about their children and they keep it no-strings. Monica makes a half-hearted effort to correct his misconception—Emma is her niece, not her daughter—but then decides not to. After experiencing a super hot night together, Monica feels conflicted about the deception, although she believes that based on their agreement, she’ll probably never see him again. But Colm has decided that he likes Monica a lot, and wants to pursue things.

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Review: Too Beautiful to Break

tl;dr: too little explanation for character hangups

The Story:

The fourth and final book in the Romancing the Clarksons series, Too Beautiful To Break, finally gives us the romance between Belmont and Sage, a relationship that’s been simmering since book one, so obviously, I was looking forward to it.

But I was a little disappointed by this book. I felt like a lot of the trials in the previous books were handled better, but in this one, Belmont and Sage both have mental anguish and hang-ups that aren’t clearly defined in ways that make sense.

Let’s start with Belmont. He had a horrible event happen to him when he was young, where he spent several days at the bottom of an abandoned well. Belmont closes himself off from his family, and more specifically his younger brother, because of this. The reasons for why he feels like he has to do this make sense, but what doesn’t track is why Sage of all people can magically cure his anxious episodes. Aside from her being slight and pretty and somewhat dainty, she doesn’t seem to have a specific thing that makes him calmer. I also feel like Belmont’s general “I hate change” phobia doesn’t make as much sense as his apparent and understandable claustrophobia.

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Review: Tempting Fate

tl;dr: a great story about native peoples and culture that I really enjoyed

The Story:

Naomi lives a solitary life, and has taken some time from her busy jewelry business to spend some time alone in the Colorado mountains. Unfortunately, her relaxing vacation is cut short when two escaped cons from a nearby prison accost her and assault her. She manages to get away, but falls and injures herself. She’s found the next day by Chaska, who is an emergency rescuer, his sister, and their “pet” wolf.

Chaska and his sister are members of the Lakota Nation, and slowly, Naomi begins to realize her roots are there, too. The story from there involves a lot of interesting aspects of tribal customs and ceremonies. Naomi gets a lot of questions about her past and future answered, along with the eventual capture of the two cons and a run-in with parts of Naomi’s past that she’d rather not revisit.

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Review: In His Hands

tl;dr: amazing story about love, faith, and doing what’s right

The Story:

This series so far has been one hundred percent my jam. It combines a real plot with hot and steamy romance, the characters well-developed and the conflict completely absorbing. All three of Adriana Anders’ books in her Blank Canvas series take place in Blackwood, West Virginia, a small town settled in the mountains. Anders weaves interesting stories around a small but growing cast of central characters. However, each book is completely stand-alone, and reading them out of order won’t ruin the enjoyment of the books at all. It’s fun to see characters you’ve seen before pop up again, but you never feel like you’re missing large chunks of the story if you haven’t read them all.

In His Hands is the story of Luc Stanek and Abby Merkley. Luc owns a vineyard that is adjacent to a plot of land inhabited by a strict orthodox protestant cult. Abby is concerned about the lack of medical attention for the children, in particular an adolescent boy named Sammy. He exhibits signs of epilepsy and also has Downs Syndrome (which is identified by other characters since medical care is not part of the cult’s ethos), and she wants to earn money to get him out of there and get the care he needs. She asks Luc for a job, and he isn’t too keen on the idea as he is escaping his own demons and wants to be left alone.

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Review: Sexsomnia – Sleepless in Manhattan

tl;dr: some spice but a smidge too skeezy

The Story:

Consent is sexy.

It’s really not possible for non-consensual acts in a romance novel to ever be okay, at least in my eyes. In modern romance novels, the rapist doesn’t get the girl. (As he shouldn’t.) While rape isn’t particularly the problem between the hero and heroine in this book, the lines blurs where informed and enthusiastic consent can be given. And that part of it turned me completely off of this story and I just can’t redeem it.

The description of the book was entirely misleading. I assumed that the reason that Abigail withdrew her application from the administrative assistant position was due to the sexsomnia, but instead the plot is completely focused on how Abigail just thinks that Jayden is a huge jerk. Which, he is. He only becomes less of a jerk when he is jealous of her being within 50 feet of any other man and decides he has to commit to her in order to chill out his caveman self.

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Review: A New Leash on Love

tl;dr: story with life, loss, love, and adorable animals

The Story:

I have gotten a lot of stinkers since I started reviewing books for NetGalley. I don’t expect to be able to get access to the really amazing and established authors, but when I first signed up, I hoped to be able to read some less famous but equally good writers. Coming from fanfiction, where there are so many amazing amateur authors, it really makes you realize that not all the great writers are published. And that there are more authors than just those that wind up on the bestseller lists. The flip side of that, of course, is that sometimes published works are terrible, and not just because I didn’t enjoy them. I can fully acknowledge that some books I did not like were well-written and good; because I didn’t like them doesn’t mean they were terrible. (See my reviews for Eleanor & Park and The Royal We for books that are deserving of kudos but not my jam.)

That was a lot of rambling for me to say that my faith in my original mission of discovering amazing new writers has been restored. I loved this book. I don’t think I would go so far as to rate it as high up there as Tiffany Reisz (which, you all know, is my gold standard these days), but it was heartfelt, well-written, well-plotted, not entirely predictable, and just lovely. It had heart and lightness, it was both sad and happy at times, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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Review: The Red

tl;dr: completely insane but satisfying erotica fantasy

The Story:

If you are unfamiliar with Tiffany Reisz, you may want to mentally prepare yourself. This book is bananas, but in the best possible way. The Red is about a young woman named Mona, who comes from scandalous beginnings (her mother was a free love kinda gal, and invited a man to impregnate her without any strings because she wanted a child) and is now faced with a arduous task of saving her late mother’s gallery from financial ruin. She’s gone over the books, and the prognosis in grim. Right at the moment she decides she can’t fight it any longer and needs to sell it, a mysterious man shows up, and offers her the money it will take to bring the gallery back from its debts IF she agrees to submit to his sexual appetites with a carte blanche agreement.

Mona is intrigued by the man, and really doesn’t want to sell the gallery, so she agrees. They embark on a year-long steamy affair, where she is given hints about their encounters from a variety of paintings. He shows up every few months for many hours of debauchery, which begin to become strange and twisted, and nearly unbelievable. She wonders if her imagination is that good, or if he’s drugging her somehow.

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