Category Archives: 4 Stars

GRIGORI (Brothers of Ash and Fire #1) by LAUREN SMITH

Standalone in a paranormal shifter series.

SYNOPSIS

He’s one of the last of a powerful but vanishing bloodline …
Grigori Barinov is the eldest in an ancient line of dragon shifters and the guardian of his family’s lands and fortune. Sworn to protect their history and magic, he won’t rest until he neutralizes any threat to their existence. When he discovers an ancient manuscript that exposes his family and their dragon lineage has fallen into a mortal woman’s hands, he knows he must get the book back by any means necessary. If that means seducing a nosy American woman with an intoxicating scent, he is more than willing to carry her off to his palatial home deep in the heart of Russia.

She’s the one woman who could expose him to the world…
Madelyn Haynes has never fit in. As an adopted child she grew up in a loving home but never felt as though she belonged. Plagued by mysterious dreams she’s had of a silver scaled beast ever since she was a little girl, she is convinced dragons are real. While in Russia working on her PhD in mythology in order to escape the ridicule from fellow professors, she unexpectedly crosses paths with the sexy and dominating Grigori, and after just one night with the man whose eyes seem to burn, she starts to change inside. Isolated in the Russian wilderness Grigori calls home, Madelyn can’t help but fall under his sensual spell, yet something deep inside her calls out that she can’t trust him. She has to show the world dragons are real to salvage academic reputation, even if it means costing her the heart of the dragon she’s falling in love with.

GRIGORI is available to purchase below

          


Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte 

“All that matters is that I found you. After nearly two thousand years of being alone, I found you.”

After coming off an intense and angsty read, we were in the mood for a story to lose ourselves in, a chance to suspend reality for a moment in time and Grigori, the first book in the Brothers of Ash and Fire by Lauren Smith, a new to us author, provided exactly that! We were captivated by this book! We love our PNR and easily devoured this read. We’ve read all kinds of PNR books but have to say, a Dragon Shifter is a first for us, and well, after witnessing those spectacular dragons on Game of Thrones, we were pretty excited to see what this was all about!

“Here there be dragons,” he echoed in a husky whisper.”

The series explores the Russian Barinov Brothers; Mikhail, Rurik and Grigori, the last three in a line of centuries old, Barinov dragon shifters. Grigori Barinov is the first brother we meet and his story sets up the series (which we’re dying for more of) perfectly. We were immediately drawn into Grigori and Madelyn’s fierce and fast romance. Yes, things do move very quickly for these two but the author does a splendid job of creating her world and providing reasoning for the intense and rapid feelings experienced between Grigori and Madelyn.  There’s a familiarity between them that is later explored and explained.

‘The little human was bringing out old instincts in him, ones he thought he’d mastered long ago.’

Madelyn Haynes, a professor of medieval mythology, has been reading and researching dragons for years. Her studies take her to Russia on a fact finding mission to uncover the mythology of the dragons that have consumed her thoughts. Convinced they’re real, she uncovers a manuscript detailing the brothers Barinov and soon she meets two of the Barinov brothers first hand, confirming her beliefs.

‘He may have worn an expensive suit and looked like an Armani model, but he acted like an ancient warrior – one who took what he wanted. God help her, she liked it.’

Grigori has gone to great lengths to ensure his family secrets do not become public knowledge so when word hits him that a woman from America is seeking information, he acts quickly to find out more about this nosy American woman and veer her off their trail.  What he didn’t count on was the fact that he may have just found his mate, the woman he has been searching for his whole life. But, Madelyn is human, he’s a dragon shifter – he’s immortal and couldn’t bear the thought of outliving Madelyn. After all, dragons are so connected to their mates, they grieve so deeply and don’t live much past the passing of their one true love, so Grigori must tread carefully.

‘Holding her like this felt right, natural, just like it felt to fly. In that moment he wanted to share himself with her, open his heart to her.

Of course, the heart rules the head in this case with Grigori providing so much of what we love about paranormal escapism. The one true mate, the intense attraction and chemistry, the alpha possessive male, the woman who his heart beats for; and let’s not forget the epic battles, the threats and problems that plague them. It all went into making this a fabulously entertaining read.

“It doesn’t matter what you are. You are mine and I am yours. The fates brought us together for a purpose and I will not forsake you.”

For us, this gave off a Twilight meets Game of Thrones vibe – oh don’t worry, it’s very tame (not murder GOT), but the dragons were very reminiscent of the series and their history the author provided was fascinating! If this first book is anything to go by, we’ve just found ourselves a new PNR series to fawn over and you can bet we’ll diving straight into Mikhail’s books when it releases in January. Oh, won’t his be a tale to tell! There was so much mystery surrounding this man who had lived a lot of his life in exile.  If, like us, you love the mystery, history and romance of these types of stories, you can bet you’re gonna love Grigori!

“What I promise you is a vow of love and loyalty. A vow to never leave you. Mates become one beating heart, one infinite soul.”

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BATTLE SCARS by JANE HARVEY BERRICK

Standalone Military romance.

SYNOPSIS
From the dusty plains of Afghanistan to the sleek corridors of the New York Times, journalist MJ Buckman seeks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. What she doesn’t expect to find is a man who’s her complete opposite … and fits her perfectly.

Marine Sergeant Jackson Connor knows that relationships don’t work for men in the military. He’s living proof of that. But when a steely-eyed temptress in a flak jacket, who carries her moral cause in front of her, crosses his path, he’s furious, curious, and all kinds of in-lust.

* * *

A grown-up love story about two people who aren’t looking for love, but realize how precious it is when they find it. They don’t play games and there are no stupid misunderstandings, just life standing in their way.

Can they compromise? And what does that look like in a modern relationship between two driven people?

Assignment Vs deployment.

They’re always traveling in different directions. What relationship can survive that?

BATTLE SCARS is available to purchase below

          


Reviewed by Gitte & Jenny

‘They’ve left behind their families, their community leaders, everything they’ve known, and all they carry with them is their fear and anger.’

There is absolutely no question that Jane Harvey-Berrick writes the most detailed and researched military romances; we never question that this Author knows exactly what she’s writing about. There is also no question that this type romance is very close to her heart and that she puts her soul into her writing it. Battle Scars is an in-depth and topical snapshot at the world we live in today and whilst there’s a beautiful romance running through it, it certainly has a strong message and pulls at the heart-strings as well.

‘Where did such hatred come from?’

We found Maggie and Jackson to be two very mature no-nonsense characters. There was no unnecessary drama and we fully believed every moment we spent with them. They were each beautiful in their own way, their lives, struggles and love believable. We slowly fell in love with them as the story progressed and found Maggie to be one of the strongest female heroines we’ve come across in a while.

‘I knew. I’d met the love of my life. And I wasn’t letting him go.’

We have to say that the writing was stellar in Battle Scars; we felt the dry heat and sand in the back of our throats, we smelt the aftermath of fire and we felt the desperation and fear. What began as an instant attraction became a deep searing love story continuously tested by the battles, wars and circumstances people face today.

“I don’t know what this is, Maggie, what’s happening here, but it feels good. And I don’t want it to stop.”

This is a story of friendships, loyalty, respect, hope and love. It’s a story of finding the one person who makes you want to fight for, no matter the cost. It’s a story of sacrifice and compromise. It’s a story of life and the world we currently live in.

‘…we’d both learned that it was pointless to worry about things that hadn’t happened yet and maybe never would; you had to live for today. Control was an illusion.’

If you’re looking for an easy read military romance that literally transports you into the very poignant world of Maggie and Jackson and a wonderfully well written romance, then Battle Scars should definitely be added to your reading list.

“It’s okay, Maggie,” he whispered as my shoulders shook. “You’re home now.”


MORE JANE HARVEY BERRICK – TBB RECOMMENDATIONS
CLICK ON THE COVERS FOR PURCHASE LINKS & INFO


THE TRAVELING SERIES


LIFERS – Standalone


SUMMER OF SEVENTEEN – Standalone


THE RHYTHM SERIES – Standalone’s

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NIGHT SHIFTS BLACK (NSB#1) & TRACING HOLLAND (NSB#2) by ALYSON SANTOS :: DUAL REVIEW

Emotional Rock star friendship and rock star friends to lovers

SYNOPSIS – NIGHT SHIFTS BLACK

His name is Luke. But nobody knows that. He was an iconic musician before he gave up music. But nobody knows that either. They also don’t know he’s twenty-seven, that he used to have an infectious laugh, and that he’s way too young to be widowed. They certainly don’t know the rest of his tragic story. All they know is that he comes into their café at the same time every morning and stares at the same chair at the same table. They know he’s strange. They know he interrupts their breakfast with a cold blast of air as he hovers in the doorway, mustering the courage to confront a piece of furniture.

No one asks why. No one cares. He’s fine with that. He’s done with life. This isn’t even his story anymore. It’s actually Callie’s, the young writer who sat in his chair one day.

THE NIGHT SHIFTS BLACK SERIES is available below

Night Shifts Black Book One 

          

Tracing Holland Book Two

          

Viper Book Three

          


Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

Night Shifts Black 4 Stars

‘He’s Luke Craven. A force. A god. He’s not real. Just a fantasy outside the grasp of our own realities. A face. A body. A cover. A story. A goad for aspiring models.’

First off, be sure to have Tracing Holland (NSB #2) on hand because, believe us, when you finish Night Shifts Black, you’re going to want to dive straight into book two to see how the story eventually concludes! We know we couldn’t have functioned until we devoured both!

We crave good rock star romances, in particular the ones that give us that ‘rock star feel’ , the ones that make us believe we’ve been allowed a backstage pass to peak behind the scenes of the rock star lifestyle. On that note, as far as the rock star feel of this story went, Alyson Santos absolutely delivered. This author’s clear knowledge and passion for the industry shone through making us feel as though we were part of the musical process of the band, Night Shifts Black.

We have to say, Night Shifts Black was different to what we had expected. We anticipated a gritty rock star romance but that wasn’t the case. What we read was a sad yet hopeful story of depression, self-loathing, guilt, about believing in yourself and demonstrates beautifully how one person, through a kind word, a show of compassion, a mere listening ear, can make such a difference. How one moment can impact our lives so dramatically….maybe even save a life.

“It all starts with believing in yourself. No, that’s a lie. It starts with accepting yourself.”

In retrospect, we found the ‘rock star romance‘ element in Night Shifts Black to be non-existent. Don’t get us wrong, there was a love aspect, however it didn’t come via Luke and Callie, instead their relationship was based on a beautiful, lasting and honest friendship.

“…don’t fall for him. Please.”
“Are you worried about me or him?”
“Both. He can’t be worshipped right now. He needs an anchor not a dreamer.”

We had initially expected love to eventuate between these two, however on reflection and at the time of reading we realised that Alyson Santos never lead us to believe there were romantic feelings between Callie and Luke so we weren’t blindsided in that regard as we always knew their relationship was born from compassion and a mutual respect. With Callie’s heart being stolen elsewhere…but it’s all good! We won’t spill anymore…but it’s okay…you’ll see!

“Promise me one thing though, Callie. No matter what happens with the two of us, we will always be there for him. I can’t lose him, too. I can’t.”
I squeeze his hand. “Neither can I.”

As we delved into Luke’s past, and as we slowly, very slowly, peeled away the layers and learnt Luke’s story, we realised Callie had demons of her own. Luke cut such a sad and lonely figure throughout Night Shifts Black and it was with heavy hearts we read, desperately wanting him to find the ability to forgive and believe in himself. In return we needed for Callie to learn her worth as a person which she discovered through her tenacious yet tentative quest, to see beneath the man, the rock star, never standing in judgement no matter what he divulged, and giving him the will to carry on with her selfless kind heart. Luke and Callie’s was a love story all of its own kind, in that we felt a genuine love, borne of deep friendship, and it was a relationship that was exquisitely written.

“What do you say to a monster you love who’s finally figured out what he is?”

This is our first read from Alyson Santos and she floored us with her enormous talent. Her writing was enriching, intelligent and unique as she unequivocally captured all the emotions associated with her subject matter. As soon as we finished Night Shifts Black, we had to devour Tracing Holland.


SYNOPSIS – TRACING HOLLAND

Second chances are hard enough when you deserve them. Then there are the ones you don’t.

Callie asked if I was ready. And that’s the question, isn’t it? Ready for what? The spotlight? The music? Or ready for life. Ready to face the reality that what I was is going to attack the very fabric of who I am now. No one knows I’m a different person. Well, no one except the two most important people in my life, which is why there’s a remote chance I might actually pull off the comeback I never saw coming.

Then again, that was before Holland Drake crashed into my life. I didn’t ask for her. Heaven knows she didn’t ask for me. But sometimes it’s not about what makes sense; it’s about accepting that not everything will. It’s learning you have a choice when it feels like you don’t. It’s believing even the worst past can still have a future.

And sometimes it’s none of that. Sometimes it’s survival. A blind fight through the pain as you cling to any shred of hope you can find. And it’s those moments, those desperate pleas into the darkness for a flicker of light, when you have no choice but to confront the blessing that often feels like a curse:

You’re still alive. You’re still significant.

You’re once again Luke Craven, frontman for Night Shifts Black.

Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte

Tracing Holland – 4.5 Stars

******Warning: Possible Spoilers below for Night Shifts Black *******

“I’m going to be in love with you, Luke Craven,” she breathes into the peace. I smile. “I’m going to be in love with you, too, Holland Drake.”

Tracing Holland picks up a couple of months after the ending of Night Shifts Black as we’re left wondering what was to become of Luke, Callie, Casey and Night Shifts Black’s future as a band. Could Luke make a comeback? Could he be healed? Well, it was all answered…and more in the second book.

Tracing Holland sees Luke’s recovery, we witness him facing his demons head on and it’s heart wrenching at times what he has to endure on his road to healing.

Never far from his side are his best friends Callie and Casey, for whom Luke acknowledges he wouldn’t be where he is if it had not been for their intervention. These two kindred souls singlehandedly saved Luke’s life, but it’s a long road back and it’s fraught with triggers, demons and mixed emotions.

“You’re not broken, Luke. Just lost.”

We discover a more mature Luke in this second book. He still cuts a lonely troubled figure but he begins to open himself up to Holland Drake, the front woman for the band, Tracing Holland who are supporting Night Shifts Black on their return.

Holland was such a beautiful character. Honest, loving and a perfect sounding board for the unsettled Luke. Their shared love and passion for music initially sparked their friendship, their understanding and belief in each other ignited deeper feelings to progress.

“It’s ok, Luke. It’s ok to feel something good, it’s ok to let go.”

It wasn’t an easy road for Luke. His story was emotional, difficult yet at the same time inspirational and beautiful.

We absolutely recommend grabbing these books – and to ensure you experience the whole journey, make sure you read Night Shifts Black then Tracing Holland as you need to feel Luke’s journey from its troubled beginnings to its beautiful end.

“I don’t need a man to complete me, to give me value. I want one, but I don’t need one. Sure, maybe one day I’ll find someone who will fit into the box I created for my life, but it’s a measured choice, nothing more, nothing less….and then you come along.”

What NSB may have lacked in romance, Tracing Holland more than makes up for, by delivering a heartfelt, slow burning love story that touched our hearts.

 

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ETHAN’S FALL – A CHOICES NOVEL by DEE PALMER :: REVIEW

Standalone emotional erotic Romance

SYNOPSIS

They say once bitten…

Ethan Cates is anything but shy. A little time away from his playboy playground has hardened his heart. After returning from his travels, he has every intention of keeping it locked away. This summer his plan is for the three S’s: Sun, Sea and Surf…It’s just not his entire plan. Three more S’s: Sex, Sex, and more Sex. Ethan loves women. He is just never going to love only one woman; this summer he is on a mission to prove it.

Twice shy…

Everyone has a story but not everyone wants to tell about it. Ada is hiding and has no choice but to stay that way, because she needs to find the person who means the most to her more than her next breath. If she is found and identified, she knows she will never get that chance. It’s not a life choice; this is self-preservation. She’s lost too much to give up now.

For the first time since moving to the small coastal town, Ada feels isolated in her opinion of Ethan, the town’s favourite prodigal son. He is arrogant, rude, and a complete arse to her. But, the first time in forever, Ada is distracted by a man who seems to delight in torturing, teasing, and playing a game Ada can’t afford to lose— one she can’t afford to play at all. 

ETHAN’S FALL is available to purchase below:

          


Reviewed by Gitte & Jenny

‘He has destroyed my life, ripped my family apart, and has left me in a million, shattered pieces, numb and desolate.’

This is our first book by Dee Palmer and we really enjoyed it, we fell in love with so many parts of this story as it surprised us along the way. What we loved was how this story showed the innate human resilience to tragedy and heart-break through an ingrained survival instinct. To say this is just an erotica read would be doing it a great injustice. Ethan’s Fall is a mix of double crossing families, wrong-doings and scandalous moments peppered with erotic passion. Whilst this book is billed as a standalone, we did feel we were missing a connection with Ethan from not having read the Choices trilogy of which this is a spin-off. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our first Dee Palmer read.

“I’m smart enough to know love like this doesn’t happen every day so there’s no fucking way anyone is taking that from me.”

Ethan is quite the complex character and we have to admit to not really connecting with him through the first half of the book. He was almost too arrogant with quite hurtful and aloof behaviour, we wanted to slap him. This is where we struggled; and we think, that had we read the trilogy we may have understood him better and related to where he’d been to correlate to where he is now. He did however grow on us as he slowly showed his heart and we couldn’t help but fall in love with him.

‘I’m not crazy; I’m angry. I’m unbelievably angry and hurt. I’ve been betrayed by the one person I loved in this world, and I’ve been deceived by the people who are supposed to love me most in the world.’

Now, Ada was the mysterious slip of a girl who was clearly in hiding. We get snippets and hints as well as a back story which completely broke our hearts. Her inner strength, her sassiness and her big heart won us over immediately and we were rooting for her throughout. Her journey is so twisted with never-ending harrowing circumstances and when it comes to her heart there’s no question it loves with all its might.

‘Was I really any different? Maybe not, but I am now. I wouldn’t recognise that silly, foolish, trusting girl from back then if I saw her standing right in front of me.’

If you enjoy your erotica and your characters being put through the wringer then this is a book for you. We will definitely be checking out more from Dee Palmer.

‘The fact that she is torn about her feelings for me is like a signed declaration that she is already mine.’

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TAINTED BY LOVE by GILLIAN JONES :: REVIEW

Standalone emotional ugly cry love story

SYNOPSIS

My name is Hendrix Hills.
When I was twenty-nine, I fell in love with a girl.
We loved fast. We loved hard.
But our love was tainted.

My name is Trinity Adams.
When I was twenty-seven, I fell in love with a boy.
We loved fast. We loved hard.
It’s too bad my blood was tainted.

Warning: Not your traditional HEA. May contain emotional triggers for some. There will be things that you won’t like and some you will, but I hope you have fun finding out!

TAINTED by LOVE is available below 

          


Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte 

“She’s my home, you know…my happy….”

We have so many mixed emotions about this book. Even now, a day after finishing Tainted by Love, talking about, and getting our thoughts and feelings in check, we have no idea how we felt about this book. Was it compelling? Absolutely. Was it emotional? Yes, some parts brutally so. We sobbed hiccupy, headache sobs at one point. Did we enjoy it? We’re not sure enjoy is the right word, but one one thing we DO know, is that we couldn’t put this book down and we can’t remember discussing a book so deeply whilst we read.

The opening pages of Tainted by Love led us to believe it was going to something quite different to how the story played out, and that’s perfectly okay, because as readers, we love to be tested, have our boundaries pushed and revel in having the element of surprise bestowed upon us. And Gillian Jones most certainly managed all three.

The story starts with Trinity, then 20, in love with her college boyfriend and losing her virginity. The gut punching relevance of these steamy opening moments soon came into play as we turned to the next chapter;  thrown for a loop. Nothing could have prepared us for how the cruel and heartbreaking consequences that relationship would deliver. It hit us like a sledgehammer.

‘It turns out it’s easier to judge me than it is to love me.’

We’ll hold our hands up and admit we found it confronting, and unbeknownst to each other, we both had put the book aside at one point. A few text message later saw us discussing our feelings at length…and Trinity’s story had only just begun at that point. One thing’s for sure though, even as we questioned how we felt, there is no doubt we were compelled we were to continue this story. Without question we would forever wonder ‘what if’  about Trinity and Hendrix’s story if we didn’t finish it. And so we braced ourselves for what we thought was to come.

27 year old Trinity Adam’s received crushing news that would forever change her life. In every sense of the word. It would only be through the understanding and love from Hendrix Hills that her life would take on some semblance of balance and true happiness, however they would forever live with a dark cloud hanging over them and so we read this book with a mixture of determination and dread.

‘Hendrix sees me. He sees all of me: the person I am today, the girl I’ve always been, and the woman I might become. I just hope he also sees the Trinity that is looking right back at him, the one who already loves him so much.’

When reading a story we always put ourselves in the heroines shoes, however in Tainted by Love, we found ourselves in both Trinity and Hendrix’s shoes, asking ourselves; ‘what would we do, how would we react?‘ if we were in both their situations. Would fear and ignorance rule our hearts, or would we open pummel through the boundaries and open our hearts to the possibility of love and happiness? We found Gillian Jones schooled us in so many ways, as she made us confront our feelings, question our reasoning’s and ensured we talked into the wee hours about this book…..between gut wrenching sobs that is! We just couldn’t stop thinking about it!

‘Knowing my biggest truth, Hendrix Hills still wants me.’

We absolutely applaud this author for taking on such a difficult subject, it couldn’t have been easy to write because it certainly wasn’t easy to read. Whilst the subject matter was extremely honest, this author dealt with Trinity and Hendrix’s story in an inspirational, loving and sensitive manner.

We found our issues with Tainted by Love came by way of the book having an overabundance of sex scenes which, for us, had a adverse impact on the emotion of the story at times. When reading a story so brutal and emotionally poignant, our thoughts were that the sex scenes would have benefited by being more fade to black as to not almost undervalue this important storyline. We found the constant descriptive sex distracted us from the emotional element of the story and for that, we were a little gutted. However, in saying that, the latter part of this story hit us and hit us hard. There is no way we had expected, nor were prepared for the way in which Gillian Jones would move Hendrix and Trinity’s story. We ugly cried, closing the book and attempting to decipher our thoughts and feelings long after finishing this thought provoking story about acceptance, self preservation, survival and soul deep love. A love that refused to be restrained by boundaries.

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