♥♥ 5 Stars ♥♥
Seriously, everything I’ve read by this author so far has been amazing. Her writing style is so good and it just pulls you in. I love the slow burn of how she develops relationships; it’s so sweet and still so hot, and I have no clue how she does it but I love it.
Diana is raising her nephews after their parents died. They just moved into a new house and she meets her neighbor, Dallas, in a unique situation; in Zapata’s style, he’s pretty standoffish and they don’t have this instant love connection. But when Dallas starts coaching her nephew in baseball, they get to know each other and their relationship evolves into something more.
Both Dallas and Diana have so much depth to who they are and they have to fight to let each other into their lives. Dallas is struggling with his past and Diana isn’t sure she’s ready to let anyone into her and her nephews’ lives yet. I love that Diana and Dallas act like real people with real fears. Diana’s situation with the boys is so emotional and there were times where I’d tear up over their circumstances. This was emotional and well-developed, and another home run for Marana Zapata (see what I did there?).
♥♥ 5 Battle of the Sexes Stars ♥♥
This book is literally everything I love. Daisy and Lucas have hated each other since they were wee babies.
“Lucas Thatcher and I have been in competition with each other since day one. Yes, the actual day one, the day on which we were born, all of 58 minutes apart.”
“I am the Annie Oakley to his Frank Butler and I firmly believe that anything he can do, I can do better.”
Naturally, when Daisy returns home to work at a family practice after med school, she’s shocked to find that Lucas has returned to work at the same place. What ensues is a hilarious battle of wills to drive each other out of the practice. The sexual tension and chemistry is through the roof, and I had to set my kindle down a couple times to breathe deeply.
“His eyes narrow. ‘I didn’t realize you were a puppet now. If I stick my hand in you, will you do my bidding as well?'”
I don’t know what it is about books like this, but they make me feel so hard. Lucas is so sexy and Daisy is so blind and I basically relate to her on every level. I’m basically only capable of fangirling over this, so yeah, 5 stars for me.
♥♥ 4 Hunky Highlander Stars ♥♥
Okay, so my classification of this is kind of confusing, and that’s because I don’t know where exactly it fits. Alec is a sexy highlander, and he wears sexy kilts and lives in a castle…in North Carolina. His family has been tasked by the goddesses to protect the heart stone, which is responsible for giving humans a reason to live. Kind of cheesy, but cute. They’ve been thrown from the tenth century into present time so the stone can be protected, and they’ve created this highland theme park. Enter Sadie, who is an aspiring screenwriter. She has a demon of a sister, who owns the motion picture company Sadie works for. She’s basically stomped all over by everyone except Alec and his family. Sadie and Alec
Sadie and Alec have some good chemistry, and I loved how much Alec supported her. What bothered me was how Sadie just took her sister’s shit and it took until the climax for her to stand up for herself. There was some insta-love going on too, and seriously the timeline of how their relationship developed was a little too much for me… My other issue was how Sadie learns about Alec’s origins. She was understandably skeptical when he tried explaining it to her, but then she just has this epiphany and blindly accepts everything he’s telling her.
Despite this, I still really enjoyed reading it. I love time travel in my books, and I really love sexy highlanders, so that was enough to keep me reading mostly happily. Sadie’s sister was a real bitch, had no work ethic, and basically had no respect for anyone but herself. There was enough going on in the plot that I never got bored and I loved watching Sadie come to accept herself. This was an easy and quick read; perfect for the summer!
♥♥ 2 Fandom Stars ♥♥
Reading the synopsis, I was completely sold on this. There’s fandoms, geeks, and Hollywood stars — what’s not to like?! Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to what I was hoping for.
Jake Reese, a hot and sweet actor, literally runs into Hailey in a coffee shop while running away from some overzealous fans. Hailey, independent, blunt, and struggling for money, helps hide him and they make a connection. When Hailey has a family crisis and cuts their date short, they think they’ll never see each other again. But when Hailey needs a favor from him to save her sisters’ bookstore and Jake needs someone to pose as his girlfriend, they strike a bargain. In essence, I love this trope and always enjoy it. But I found both the hero and heroine naive and kind of annoying. Hailey doesn’t do relationships; she does one-night-stands. I’m all for women having the sexual freedom they desire, but it was annoying that in order for Hailey to not want commitment, Jake had to be weak and borderline emasculated. Why can’t they both be strong and independent? This just took the gender role reversal too far for me and made it difficult for me to connect to the characters.
Additionally, the tension in the plot was a tad over-contrived. I won’t give anything away, but I felt like the characters didn’t adequately address the threat, and Jake was pretty oblivious to the people messing with his life. The climax was…anticlimactic. I found myself rolling my eyes a little too often and almost marked it as DNF. Overall I was disappointed; I think the tension could have been developed better and the characters could have used their heads a little more.
**ARC generously provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.
♥♥ 5 Nail-Biting Stars ♥♥
Different reactions while reading…
I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve fangirled over a series like this. This dark romance is amazing and brings so many different factors to the table. For one, it’s hella sexy and has a lot of kinky sex, and who doesn’t like that? It deals with forced seduction and how two people can build a real relationship after having such a rocky start, and how far they’ll go to protect each other.
The last book left us hanging with Valentina running from Gabriel. She takes her brother with her and tries to start over, but she’s dealing with conflicting emotions. She thought she’d be happy to have escaped his manipulations, but finds that she still misses him and cares for him even as she’s accepting her new future without him. Of course, Gabriel won’t let her leave him and does everything in his power to find her. I won’t spoil anything, but Gabriel’s plan for saving Val in the last book backfires, leaving a mess of miscommunication and angst on both sides.
When Gabriel finds Val, they try to start their life over, moving out of his mother’s house. Val’s past is intricately tied with Gabriel’s family, and we get a lot of answers as to why Gabriel’s mom hates her so much. As they fall in love, they both struggle with accepting that they can have something real, and it leads them to both make some stupid decisions. Gabriel killed me and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smack him for being so dumb or if I wanted to wrap him in a bear hug for being so selfless. Either way, Val’s response to Gabriel’s actions had me tearing up for basically half the book and let’s just say that their connection is the only thing that keeps her going for a while.
I was so pleased with this series for so many reasons. I’ve found it so hard to find dark romances that have solid character development and plot arcs, and this had it all. Great plot, packed with action and sexual tension, and a sizzling connection between the hero/heroine that went beyond the physical. A must read!
**ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review**
♥♥ 5 Dubious Stars ♥♥
This gave me all of my recent cravings all rolled into one intense book. There’s servitude to repay a debt, dubious consent/forced seduction, and mob/mafia influence. Set to release this October, it’s definitely one to put on your tbr shelf.
Valentina is a vet student who takes care of her brother after he suffered serious brain damage in a car accident. Set in Johannesburg, there’s a lot of poverty and paying people off for protection. Val finds her brother gambling one night and discovers he owes a debt to a loan shark for 400,000 rand. Obviously, Val doesn’t have the money to pay the loan shark, Gabriel, off so she’s forced to work off the debt for nine years. What she doesn’t know is that Gabriel wants to make her his and doesn’t plan on letting her go at the end of the contract.
However, Gabriel’s mother, who runs the family business, wants both Val and her brother dead. She puts Val through grueling tasks to set her up for failure, but Val doesn’t break. Meanwhile, Gabriel trains her to desire his body and what it can do to her, and she struggles with her heart and her mind’s attraction to him. Gabriel starts having deeper feelings for Val and he devises a plan to ensure her safety from his mother.
I thought this was really well-written because it felt real; Val’s reluctance with Gabriel was believable and I loved that she didn’t really secretly desire him outside of the bedroom. When the heroine starts falling in love with her captor right after a sexual encounter, it kind of ruins the whole dubious consent thing, so I really appreciated this. It also showed Val’s desperation and strength through all her interactions with Gabriel and his mother. There was solid character development and many secondary characters started to steal my heart. I can’t wait for the conclusion to the story!
Arc provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review
ARC provided through NetGalley
Unfortunately, this was a DNF at 48% for me. There was just too much going on that I kind of hated to let me get through the whole book. Kian is the ‘spare’ to the heir of Wildemar. When his brother disappears, he is forced to drop his party boy ways and start acting in his brother’s place. Kian is flirty, hot, and hates politics. He meets Savvy during an event at the castle where she was working as a waitress.
They apparently have this insta-love connection that I just didn’t see. Kian doesn’t know anything about her, and as he tries to find where she lives so he can talk to her again, he can’t stop thinking about her. I’m not trying to say that their first meeting is forgettable, but it doesn’t warrant the emotional connection that was established in my opinion. And on top of that, I just didn’t see Savvy reciprocating his feelings basically at all. We’re told that she is from her POV, but her actions didn’t convince me. If anything, she seemed to be playing with him and didn’t have any interest in him at all.
The other thing that really bothered me was just how twisty the plot was. It seemed like every chapter there was some new groundbreaking plot twist that changed everything. From who Savvy is to the circumstances surrounding Kian’s brother’s disappearance to even just Kian’s interactions with others. The way Kian’s body guards watched Kian at Savvy’s house was way too much like babysitting when they could have just looked through her place and kept surveillance. Overall, I was just not very impressed and there was too much going on that didn’t seem believable to me to keep me interested.