“Stay still, Tillie. I’m sick and tired of chasing your crazy ass around town,” I snarl out to the insane female I have pressed up against the wall.
A perfectly round ass is wiggling all too enticingly against my already hardening cock, and I let out an exasperated sigh. Stupid dick. Clearly, it doesn’t know what’s good for us. Peppermint and some kind of floral soap assail my senses. I almost back away so I can take a harder look at this blonde bombshell, but I refuse to be fooled again. I’ve been hunting this woman down for weeks, and every time I’ve managed to catch up with her, she has somehow managed to give me the slip. Not again. She missed her court date, and it’s my job to bring her in. I have something to prove, being the new guy on the block. I’ve only been on the job for two weeks, and I’ve spent most of it chasing this criminally deranged woman. True, her crimes consist mostly of bounced checks and small thefts, but the way she has managed to evade me these past two weeks only proves one thing—she’s a damn criminal mastermind.
“I’m not Tillie, you big oaf. Let me go. Now!” the crazy lady says while trying to turn her body toward me.
I press her harder into the wall with my body and groan. Fuck, she feels too good. She’s trying to kill me. I’ve been stabbed, beaten, and shot at plenty in my six years as a bounty hunter, but I’ve never been more convinced that someone was trying to kill me than at this moment. And she is using that smoking-hot body as the weapon. Fuck my life.
Funnily enough, I’ve never once felt this pull toward Tillie while I’ve been tracking her. But, now that I am up close and personal, I cannot help but want her. Everything about her is calling to me. Her voice, her smell—this woman is fucking intoxicating.
“Cut the bullshit, darlin’. I’ve been watching you for weeks now and you know it. I watched you walk in this door not ten minutes ago. I’m taking you in, collecting my money, and getting a good night’s sleep tonight.” I’m so over this shit.
“God dammit, let me go. I am not Tillie.” She’s talking to the wall, but I’m mostly paying attention. “I’m Millie, and you are ruining my gig. My fans are expecting me up on stage any minute,” she says.
I take a look around this dive of a bar that smells like bacon and stale beer, trying to hold my smirk back. Grabbing the handcuffs around Tillie’s wrists, I spin her around to face me.
“Babe, karaoke is not a gig, and if you think it is, then we got bigger problems than a few bounced checks and some petty theft charges,” I say, taking in her curvy body, starting at the tips of her pink-painted toes. I want to pull those gorgeous toes out of the high-heeled sandals she’s wearing and take a nibble, but I know that, the moment she thinks I’m distracted, she’ll take off on me again.
My eyes make their way up smooth, tanned legs until I hit the hem of her pale-blue dress with white polka dots right above her knees. And damn, that dress perfectly hugs every curve of her body. My hand almost involuntary makes its way up to the long strand of pearls dangling around her neck. I want to pull her closer with them so I can smell her again or maybe run my tongue over her plump, pink-stained lips. Big, angry, bright-blue eyes snap me out of my lust-fueled fog. Fuck. This girl is fucking gorgeous, and I immediately know I won’t be taking her in right away.
“You’re new around here, aren’t you?” she snaps at me, the ice in her blue gaze freezing me.
The corners of my mouth tip up in a barely there smile. God, I love a sassy woman.
Meet the Authors
About Miranda Miranda is a loving wife and barely surviving mother of three occasionally good kids. Her hobbies include lying to herself about the calories in donuts and banana pudding, as well as running out of excuses when procrastinating. She’s been an avid reader since she was a young girl. Whether she’s by the pool, curled up in bed, or hiding in the closet, as long as she has a book in her hands she’s happy.
About Amie Amie Knight has been a reader for as long as she could remember and a romance lover since she could get her hands on her momma’s books. A dedicated wife and mother with a love of music and makeup, she won’t ever be seen leaving the house without her eyebrows and eyelashes done just right. When she isn’t reading and writing, you can catch her jamming out in the car with her two kids to ’90s R&B, country, and showtunes. Amie draws inspiration from her childhood in Columbia, South Carolina, and can’t imagine living anywhere other than the South.
Always Crew, the beautiful and epic conclusion of the Crew series by New York Times bestselling author Tijan is available now!
For the longest time, I was Bren Monroe. I lived in Roussou, California. I had no parents, no brother, but I had a crew. Then things started to change. I never planned for any of it. I didn’t think I’d fall in love. I didn’t think I’d have a relationship with my brother again. I didn’t think that he’d come back. Now I’m in Cain.
My crew is in college. They’re growing, going through their own things. And here I am, figuring out my life. There’s always hurdles and obstacles to overcome. That was never my hardship. That was my regular. But living? Being content? Being happy? Those were my challenges now. Everything was going well…
Until it wasn’t. Again.
A/N: Always Crew is the conclusion of the Crew Series, and a 106k novel.
If I didn’t stop, he’d start. I had to stop. I had to stop for him.
“We have to go. It’s done.” That was Cross, but he was the leader speaking now. “Get her in the truck.”
Jordan carried me over. Zellman hopped up and Jordan lifted me to him. I could’ve climbed up myself, but there was something about my crew doing this for me. Handling me. They needed to do this, and a part of me needed to let them.
I glanced back as Jordan was climbing up, coming behind us.
Cross was bent over the guy. He was talking to him. A second later, he pulled his phone out, punching some numbers. Then the phone was back in his pocket, and he was coming for the truck. His eyes held mine for a brief moment before he got behind the wheel.
Cross drove us back as Zellman and Jordan huddled on both sides of me.
My hands were still bleeding, but no one moved to cover them.
That felt fitting, for some reason.
Just let me bleed.
Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing a new YA series along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.
When you crave something exceptional, exciting and enchanting, Top Shelf Romance promises this and more.
Tori… For the record, I’m not going to hook up with my boss. I’m a lot of things—a screwup, a basket case, a flunky. But when I take a nanny job to be near my pregnant sister, I swear to myself I’ll walk the straight and narrow, which means I cannot fall for my insanely hot boss. I don’t want to be tempted by that rugged rancher. By his chiseled muscles or southern charm or the way he snuggles his kids at bedtime. Ethan Carter won’t get the key to my heart, no matter how much I want him.
Ethan… Between us, she’s the last thing I need as I finalize my hellish divorce. What sane man trying to rebuild his life wants a hot nanny with long, sexy hair, curves for miles, and a smart mouth? A perfectly kissable, pouty mouth that I shouldn’t notice. My focus is on my kids and my ranch, not the insufferable siren who sleeps in the room next to mine. It doesn’t matter that she wins over my kids in a heartbeat or runs my life better than I do. Tori Duran is the one woman I can’t have and shouldn’t want, no matter how much I crave her. RECKLESS is a standalone companion novel in the Texas Nights series.
About the Author:
Lex Martin is the USA Today bestselling author of the Texas Nights series (Reckless/Shameless) and the Dearest series. She writes contemporary romances, the sexy kind with lotsa angst, a whole lotta kissing, and the hot happily ever afters. A former high school English teacher and freelance journalist, she’s lived all over the country but currently resides in her hometown of San Antonio with her husband and twin daughters.
Find out more about her upcoming projects, visit Lex Martin Writes for more details. Get an email alert, subscribe to Lexi Martin’s mailing list to get the latest updates and releases as they come.
Heart Bones, the unforgettable contemporary romance that will pull on your heartstrings and show you the power of hope by #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover is available now!
From #1 New York Times bestselling author of Verity and Regretting You.
Beyah comes from a life of poverty and neglect; Samson from a family of wealth.
When the two find themselves spending the summer as neighbors, they soon realize money is one of the few things they don’t have in common.
Their bond is too intense to ignore, but with only ten weeks separating them from the start of their new lives on opposite ends of the country, Beyah and Samson decide to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling.
What they don’t realize is that a rip current is coming and it’s about to drag both their hearts out to sea.
Samson’s knee brushes high up on my inner thigh and I’m glad he can’t see anything from my chin down, because my body is covered in chills right now.
“I didn’t think there were many people in the world like me,” he says.
“You think we’re alike?” I want to laugh at that comparison, but there’s not an ounce of humor in his expression.
“I believe we have a lot more in common than you think we do, Beyah.”
“You think you’re as alone in this world as I am?”
He folds his lips together and nods his head, and it’s the most honest thing I’ve ever seen. I never would have thought someone so well off could have a life as shitty as mine, but I can see it in the way he’s looking at me. Everything about him suddenly seems familiar to me.
He’s right. We are alike, but only in the saddest ways.
My voice comes out in a whisper when I say, “When I first met you on that ferry, I could tell you were damaged.”
There’s a flicker of something in his eyes as he tilts his head to the right. “You think I’m damaged?”
He moves even closer in the water, but there wasn’t much space left between us to begin with. It’s deliberate, and so much of me is touching so much of him now. “You’re right,” he says quietly, slipping a hand around the back of my left knee. “There’s nothing left of me but a fucking pile of debris.” He pulls me to him, wrapping both my legs around him. That’s all he does, though. He doesn’t try to kiss me. He just connects us together as if that’s enough while our arms keep us both afloat.
I’m swiftly succumbing to him. I don’t know in what way. All of them, maybe. Because right now, I need him to do something else. Anything else. Taste me. Touch me. Drag me under.
We watch each other for a moment and it’s almost like looking into a broken mirror. He leans in slowly, but not toward my mouth. He presses his lips against my shoulder, so gentle it feels like a graze.
I close my eyes and inhale.
I’ve never felt anything so sensual. So perfect.
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of thirteen novels and multiple novellas. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
Sent by her boss to break up his daughter’s engagement to his irresistible rival, Miles. Susan finds herself in trouble, she wants Miles all to herself…
Susan Johansen is efficient, ambitious, and cool-headed in a crisis, which is exactly why her boss, Charles Dunlap, needs her. As the successful owner of one of the richest old money industrialist conglomerates in the world, he is under the pressure of a different kind when his daughter Alicia becomes involved with internet entrepreneur Miles Middleton.
With an ego as big as his bank balance, Miles has a reputation for a string of affairs and Charles doesn’t want his daughter anywhere near him. And so, he enlists Susan, as a Trojan Horse, burying her deep within Miles’ business interests in the hope that she can sabotage his relationship with Alicia.
It isn’t long before the plan seems to be working… Miles is missing lunches, dinners, and other dates with Alicia in favour of making money and sealing deals. But it’s when he takes Susan away on a business trip and tries to seduce her that she sees him for what he really is. But now that she is close to her goal, Susan suddenly has a crisis of confidence? Is she really still working for Charles or is she now pursuing her own agenda with Miles?
As he continues to get under her skin with his continuous attempts at seduction, Susan finds that she is more conflicted than ever. And the closer she gets to completing the assignment, the greater the chances are that Miles will discover her secret
Susan Johansen is a beautiful and capable woman who works as the Executive Assistant to Charles Dunlap, who has enlisted her help for “Operation Break Alice’s Engagement”. Alice, being Dunlaps’s daughter, currently engaged to Miles Middleton, a well-known womanizer. In the beginning, Susan flat-out turned Charles’ crazy endeavor until he dangled an offer that she couldn’t refuse. She was torn with wanting her career versus going through such an operation to hurt anyone. She didn’t commit to Charles’ proposal until she got hit-on and offered a job by Miles. She didn’t intentionally accept yet but wanting to prove that Miles is typically a man who has commitment issues and wanting to prove to Alice that she chose the wrong man, she took on the offer of working for Miles.
Miles Middleton is the CEO of a rival company of Charles Dunlap. He is a confident, risk-taker that puts him ahead in the industry and is also a self-proclaimed man-whore. He’s “conquests” has been documented in the tabloids immensely. He gives no excuse for his actions or even defending himself in the public. He couldn’t understand why his fascination with Susan happened so quickly. One moment, he was minding his own business at a bar; the next, he ‘pirated’ her to work for him in the same position as what she had but focus on a particular area that Susan wanted. Miles assumes that it’s more of curiosity and if he is able to be a better asset to his company versus Dunlap’s, then it would be a big win for his company in the end.
First of all, I left this last book among the other books sent by Dawn Hill since I don’t know how I feel coming into the side of the “other woman” in the story. I am not a prude and not oblivious that there is always someone who would steal or be dropped by a partner so easily. It’s a common plot in the books offered but I normally steer clear of such storylines. Adding further doubt is the frustrating reason for Miles and Alice’s engagement that felt immediate coming straight to the story – Miles instantly had doubts about the engagement after an “insta-attraction” with a stranger. Something just doesn’t add up.
Secondly, I’m furious with Charles for meddling with his daughter’s future and in such a despicable manner. Instead of talking to her, Charles would rather go into the devious direction of “entrapment”. If he would talk to Alice and share his concerns, maybe they can delay the wedding or have a long enough engagement to really think about what they are getting themselves into. Bottom line: Alice should be able to decide for herself what she wants and would be good for her. Of course, not the case! Charles placed such a precarious position for Susan to even suggest ‘exposing’ or even separating Miles with his daughter. I felt bad for Susan as I started deeper into the story.
Thirdly, the intensity of Miles and Susan’s relationship was so thick and palpable that readers would feel it jumping out of descriptive words used in the book. Miles has little self-control when it comes to Susan. He sees her as his equal at work and in keeping him “managed” on his side. Maintaining the precarious balance between moral integrity and lust between the two characters was hard and I felt each time they had any contact. Whenever they start falling, Susan would bring them back to a ‘safe space’ that would remind her of why she needs no man or relationship – because they will hurt her based on her past.
She had been respectful, pointing only to her own limitations, rather than emphasizing his own faithlessness. It was only when he had the temerity to kiss her that she had responded angrily.
— Susan, Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair
Fourthly, this book’s POVs was a changing one. Initially, readers will get both, Miles and Susan’s POVs, but as the story progressed, we are left with only Susan’s till the end of the book. It’s uniquely done to keep us on our toes The small peek into Mile’s thoughts was a good reprieve for me to get me back to an “objective place” regarding what the story was pursuing. A manwhore at heart with a purpose…not a good combination for Miles as what the readers will read.
He wasn’t really attracted to Alicia, as beautiful as she was; their engagement was ore of a business arrangement. Susan, on the other hand, displayed much more integrity and honesty.
— Miles, Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair
The rest of the story is told from Susan’s perspective. She was described to be level-headed enough to manage her role at work while still finding a way to execute the “operation” but her heart, conflicted with her head, was all over the place and out-of-control based on some of the actions she did. It is very blatantly clear that she loves Miles but was willing to give up on possible love and without talking to him or explain things when he tried so many times. She was blindingly sacrificing without the complete information or even understanding what might be going on based on what Miles hinted. She was a masochist but the good kind. I love semi-gut-wrenching moments.
The cold, distant treatment she had seen when she first came to work for him was a familiar sight. She hadn’t liked it then, she couldn’t bear it now. She knew in that instant that she was in love with him.
— Susan, Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair
Lastly, language use is very British and uses a lot of the more British slang. I had to research a bit to better understand. The writing is good but some avid readers may find it lacking in some parts or even forced. I think it’s a good effort by the author and will improve through writing more to better understand the readers. Without giving away any spoilers, always have this thought “things are totally not what they seem”.
In summary, I would recommend this book for readers who like an easy romance to go through, who like “unexpected” endings and who like reading about “undercover-gone-wrong” in a very good way. Although, it was a bit over-the-top and a bit “too-instant”, there had to be a better explanation of this. I hope readers will bee patient and give this book a chance since it’s a better effort based on the previous book that I reviewed here by the same author. Things did get sorted but till the very end, which was really good!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
Type: Kindle Edition Expected publication: August 26th 2020 Type: standalone, HEA Author: Cynthia Rodriquez Source & Format: ARC – eBook Read: 23 August 2020 Shelved: 24 August 2020 Get here: Amazon USA Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Emerson Kingsley fell in love on a Central Park bench. After months of watching serial dater Maddox Bailey from afar, the quiet heiress couldn’t help herself. She believes that the moment they meet will be spectacular—that she could be the one to slow him down—if she ever finds the nerve to speak to him. Until the day the universe places them in the same New York City taxicab and Emerson realizes that her daydreams are too far from her reality. When she learns Maddox is her newest employee at her father’s recording label, she fights her desires and tries to ignore his disarming smile. But even Emerson can’t deny that real-life Maddox is better than anything she could’ve dreamed—sexy, passionate, and full of possibilities.
Emerson “Emmy” Kingsley loves observing things around her and lets life pass by in front of her on a Central Park bench. She grabs her usual drink at a cafe and goes to the green benches and “people watch”. It’s quite fascinating and directs her focus more with observing Maddox and the people (mostly women) that goes up to him to introduce themselves. She works for her father, Dustin Kingsley, in the music business under Kingsley Records, after deciding to drop out of university. She loves to make music and share it with the world.
Maddox Bailey was just a man that Emmy would observe from afar in Central Park until he wasn’t. He’s a mystery to the readers since the book is all from Emmy’s point of view. We do get to meet him more when he starts his new job with Kingsley Records that would require him to have more interactions with Emmy. He may look like a manwhore as what Emmy describes in the very first chapter but do not be fooled. He is deeper than first portrayed and will push Emmy outside her ‘comfort zone’ that will help her find ‘herself’ later on.
I’ve been excited to be part of this book. It’s a much-anticipated book on my list since I read the blurb. I quickly devoured this book and as I started the book, the opening immediately hit me.
It’s an age-gap romance that I normally stay out of since most of them feel “forced” and “done for the sake of it” but somehow for this book, I was willing to give it a try. I am so glad that I did. I didn’t feel it until their ages were mentioned and other people treated Emmy as too young to be heading a company or even having wine! Emmy seems to match an older outlook, sophistication, and acts ‘mature’ for her age. She seems older than the usual 23 year old around the block.
Live is either a daring adventure or nothing.
— Maddox, The Sound of Serendipity
The start of the book just grabs you. Readers get to dives into her mind immediately at the start of the book without us knowing it…a good kind of ambush. The writing is smart, witty, and genuine. It’s doesn’t try hard since the characters speak for themselves. Emmy’s thoughts and internal dialogues are so raw and forthright that readers are swept way to just feel the moment. Each word and action is purposeful.
The story seems “stalkerish” at first glance wherein Emmy sits in the same park bench each week while keeping an eye out of a particular boy – but it’s not! Although Emmy is known to listen versus speak or participate, I strongly feel Emmy has been “observing” Maddox as she slowly builds her confidence to speak to Maddox. She’s the “admirer from afar” and she is a cautious one. Until they do meet at her workplace, Emmy’s world starts colliding with her real life.
I’ve merely perfected the art of watching from the sidelines, wishing it were me.
— Emmy, The Sound of Serendipity
The chemistry between Emmy and Maddox from the start is an intensely slow one. Emmy feels it inch by inch, living off their “moments” that will surely get readers giddy. Since they work in the same company, they seem to be running into each other more and interacting in a way that pushes Emmy out of her comfort zone; this is aside from having taken more responsibilities in the company. I was patient with the “slower pace” on Emmy and Maddox since I believe Maddox could sense that moving too fast will be inappropriate as they are colleagues and she’s the boss’ daughter…but also because maybe he could sense that Emmy needed to sort out her own “thoughts” before even venturing to anything with him. Maddox gets it right for Emmy. As Hollis said, “He actually gets you Em.”
Emmy’s backstory has its sad parts and it pops up randomly in the book. She feels the music around her through her daily experiences – love, and loss. This shaped her outlook at the start of the book. She went through a few things that had her fearful of experiencing the present with Maddox, with the music, with her impending role in the music business.
Emmy’s social skills are constantly questioned by her work colleagues since she hardly exerts her opinions as strongly as others. She’s the one that wouldn’t volunteer anything but there is a reason for this. This book is not your typical contemporary romance book. Emmy is the anti-hero, the underdog that readers don’t see coming. I hang on to her since I know Emmy’s a very special character who will show everyone at the end, that she’s the one to look out for…the one who will surprise us all and take over this whole book through her silence.
I love the references to some popular areas that I, myself, have been to so it’s a good reminder of the places I missed, given the current travel situation, like Central Park, Union Square Cafe and Ziegfeld Theater. It sort of gave an ode to readers of the heritage and importance of these places.
I wanted to specially mention the supporting characters in this book. Although they aren’t a lot, I loved them all! Hollis is a hoot! Yes, similar to the book. He’s Emmy’s roommate and a good friend who conveniently works for Kingsley Music also in the secretarial department. He’s a great supporting character for Emmy that it’s hard not to site some of his quotes. Strong supporting characters help shape the main characters become the best versions of themselves, which Hollis does with how Emmy becomes a stronger, confident woman. Dustin Kinsley is a very supportive single-parent father, whose wife passed away before seeing his business’ fruition. He is a hardworking and determined man based on how he started the company from the ground up. He, like Emmy, didn’t finish his degree and learned through real-life experiences to get Kinsley Records one of the big names in the music industry. All of his work is through gut instincts and he passed this instinctual gift to Emmy. He is slowly letting Emmy take the reigns to the business but still reminded her of the importance of family and her happiness constantly.
This book is unassuming but it has a ‘pull’ that makes readers fall hard into the story. Emmy’s thoughts and rationalization are all so raw and with grit that it’s impossible not to feel and get emotional. Each breath, step, flashback fills us with unadulterated honesty.
I realize that these moments – the real ones – are the ones worth fantasizing about. Because I’m learning that the same Maddox who can make me crazy with lust, can also warm my heart without words.
— Emmy, The Sound of Serendipity
I am a believer that heroes can be strong in their own unique way, no matter how flawed or broken they come. Emmy is one unique heroine in my mind. She has this quiet critical-thinking strength oozing out of her. Maybe all of this comes from the love and support of her father that transcends to how she approaches and listens to music, how she treats people and how she sees the world – a “quiet strength” that makes her beautiful and elegant in her own way.
There were so many things that I didn’t see coming as I approached the final few chapters, which was poetic that made me hold on to my breath. I shed a tear or two for Emmy’s plight and pain. I felt the shock and despair as Emmy…everything just “happened” at once. Readers will see both, Emmy and Maddox, succumb to the consequences of their actions, and mistakes were made. What they initially did with good intentions suddenly was tainted with betrayal, and doubt. Emmy and Maddox had to find their way back to listen to the other’s “music/sounds” and forgive themselves to become worthy of the other. How the author ended the book felt like being under a waterfall, washing off all the hurt and pain as you come out renewed and hopeful. It came in a rush, readers will come out renewed and hopeful in the best possible way.
I was never afraid of loving you, Emerson. I was afraid of not being good enough for you to love.
— Maddox, The Sound of Serendipity
There is an added bonus for readers is in this edition. Two prequel books are included at the end of the book, The Sound of the Beginning, and The Sound of Maddox. The Sound of the Beginning tells the story of Emmy and Henry Esposito. We find out what happened that changed Emmy’s perception of love. The Sound of Maddox gives us a sneak peek to how and what happened as Emmy first laid eyes on Maddox. It is a great way of reminiscing on the story all over again.
I highly recommend this book – for readers who want to see a different kind of strength for the main character, readers who love New York and its colorful characters, and most of all, readers who are are die-hard HEA fans – finding and trusting love again after all the pain has settled. There is a lot of growing up, being brave finding love, accepting “the random moments”, accepting forgiveness, and healing love. All the ingredients in making this book “epic” for readers.
**Note: I have a habit of highlighting quotes, events, names in books, which is why eBooks are better options for me but with this book, I seem to highlight almost everything in the book since there are a lot of quotable sentences/phrases. This blows my mind because this is rare. I’m amazed at how good this book is!
Cynthia Rodriguez was born in a small Connecticut town. She grew up knowing her creative energy burned brightly and was always getting into some project or other. In February of 2012, she joined the United States Army. During her deployment to Afghanistan in July 2013, she wrote Mystic Waters, and later the sequel, Chasing the Tide. In her downtime, you can find Cynthia watching movies ranging anywhere from classic movies to action flicks–she has a weakness for Marvel adaptations– and reading steamy novels. She is stationed in Germany where she lives with her husband Juan and their Miniature Pinscher, Winnie (as in Pooh).
Type: standalone, series, no cliffhangers Author: Grace Risata Published on: 2 July 2018 Read: 25 August 2020 Shelved: 28 August 2020 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Rating: 5 out of 5.
An interracial military romance…with a twist
After the death of his best friend in an ambush, Dixon Wade returns from the military a broken man. Bitter, angry at the world, and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he feels invisible and forgotten by everyone around him. Everything changes when he meets her. Fiercely stubborn and independent, Alyce is accustomed to doing what she wants, when she wants. Forced to volunteer at a charity in order to keep her job, she burns through every opportunity in town until stumbling upon a place that serves veterans. Once these two volatile personalities collide, a battle of wills ensues. Never one to back down when faced with a challenge, Alyce comes up with some very interesting ideas to get her soldier back on the road to recovery. Just as things begin to heat up for this unlikely pair, mistakes are made that could derail their entire relationship. Will Alyce be able to put the past aside and find a future with her invisible soldier?
Author’s Note: This full length, stand alone novel contains passionate encounters between a man and woman with sizzling chemistry, no cheating, no cliffhanger, and a guaranteed Happily Ever After.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
Alyce (with a ‘y’, not ‘i’) Wendt is a beautiful Asian woman who works as an accountant for a private dental office. She is very anti-social and would normally prefer to keep to herself. Her work requires her to do charity work on top of working for the company, which she hasn’t had any luck finding the right one for her due to either health or unfortunate circumstances. Her last resort is to be at a charity center, ‘Serving Those Who Served’ Veterans Resource Center, to help war veterans. Initially, she had her doubts on the work at the center until she was assigned to Dixon Wade whom she sees the signs of PTSD. She decided right there and then that she would help him cope with his condition by using various tips she got online to help him sort out his past and move to the future with a better outlook. She is outspoken, which is fairs well as she stands up for herself often with Dixon.
Dixon Wade is a dismissed war veteran who ran into some trouble with the law when he came back home. He was charged and was sentenced to either attending a veterans center or jail time for driving under the influence (DUI). His attitude leaves everyone he’s come across with a bad aftertaste and would rather not have to deal with him. He met Alyce when he was at a loss with his dire situation. The friendship evolved to something deeper as he tries to find his way back t society with Alyce’s help and quirky outlook.
The story is from the POV of both, Alyce and Dixon but a lot of the moments are seen from Alyce’s side (she gets a few chapters in) before we even realize that Dixon will have his parts to share for us when he’s good and ready. I like dual POV books since would balance out any doubt as a reader on what the other is thinking. I believe Alyce’s semi-positive outlook and random thoughts make her make the “Dixon whisperer”.
The chemistry was “off the charts” and it shows in each intimate encounter in the book. It was so steamy that even just a glance between them was intense. Their minds just go crazy in need that it was evident in their actions. Alyce can see the truth of their connection but of course, Dixon is the one that doesn’t just see it as a “booty call” situation. I’m glad that he does succumb to the truth in the end.
One of these days, he’ll crack. I have all the patience in the world.
— Alyce, Her Invisible Soldier
I liked the comic relief in between the drama and the intense scenes. It is nice to see Alyce finally making friends whom she doesn’t want to strangle like Nina and Debbie. Their scenes together are hilarious! I guess there’s always that one special person that one can connect with, no matter how anti-social he/she is. One just needs to look harder and start giving people a chance. It’s really eye-opening to Alyce when it comes to friends she thought have her back aren’t really what they seem while those that she just met and started a friendship were the ones that were on her side.
You snooze, you lose. I can’t help it that I’m quick with the names and you didn’t call dibs before I came up with something first. Either Sapphire and Norma are going to the sex store, or Alyce and Nina are going home.
— Alyce, Her Invisible Soldier
Note that this book discusses PTSD – front and center in the book. which is front and center in the book. As per Mayoclinic.com – “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.” It dives into some ways people learn to cope with having it or living with someone. I appreciated the author going through a few research on this, though not full-on dived on to it with a really difficult character. Dixon was just right given the “right motivation”.Dixon has his share of this in the book and although he tries to find ways to get past or even cope with it, he was failing miserably. He was outwardly lashing out to people around him even the ones who try to help him. Alyce piqued her interest with Dixon when she started seeing signs of panic and anxiety base on her own experience as an anti-social person. She knew a few tricks that she had when she was seeing a therapist back when she was younger. She was able to further research various treatments – from simple to complex as they sort out what would help reduce PTSD symptoms, avoid triggers, and improve his daily functions without fear or taking out on people. I appreciate Grace’s discussions, even if it turned serious, on this since it gives readers a raw look on how far people wanted to help Dixon…and to get to find a partner who will understand him in some small way. **Note that due to the author wanting to focus attention on PTSD and healing, it may seem slow to some readers. I hope readers will not be discouraged with this especially the rest of the story is wonderfully written and “rational decisions” for how the characters reacted are appreciated.
Whether you’re sick in body or mind, whether the hurt is seen or unseen, no one wants to endure pain like that.
— Alyce, Her Invisible Soldier
Aside from Dixon coming out broken, he has his own issues when he came back home, which is sad to read through. He has been evasive about it and doesn’t help his road to recovery. Yes, it has to do with his family but with exactly…is quite shocking when I read it. Horrible is not even a good enough word to describe it since it’s not only his parents but his entire family. I was frustrated and to read through this discovery; although to be honest, there are these things coming from my own background that made me sad about reality as an Asian. That’s all I have to say for the matter so as not to spoil the story for you.
Alyce also has her share of “dark issues” with her childhood. The difference between her and Dixon was that she had her grandparents who loved her unconditionally versus her parents left her with a good outlook. Her grandparents took her in when her father was busy working all day while her mother left them when she was still young. She had maternal issues and it showed with how she dealt with fights in school that has affected her self-esteem. Her father is present in the story, guiding Alyce since her grandmother passed away already but readers can see the memories Alyce shared with regards to her grandparents as a while that would leave readers feeling good.
In summary, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I have enjoyed Grace’s books since each one is unique from the other, which is wonderful to show creativity without rehashing old material. The story and characters were great! It has a good balance of drama, angst, and maturity for both main characters that readers will be left with wonderful and lasting moments of Alyce and Dixon, my anti-unexpected heroes. I highly recommend this book to readers who want to have their hearts pulled and squeezed out as these heroes bring the war home and finding love to save themselves or who want to read about recovery from or learning to live with PTSD portrayed in a raw and gut-wrenching way…this is the book for you. The more we speak about PTSD, the more healing is possible through openness and acceptance. One needs to realize that not all romance novels are heart-based pain but it’s also in the mind. The journey of Dixon and Alyce as they sort through healing past wounds and seeing a future together with great supporting characters in the mix.
Slash, an all new sizzling hot 1,001 Dark Nights Standalone Novella in the Slay series by New York Times bestselling author Laurelin Paige is available now!
Camilla Fasbender has a secret. Underneath her posh accent and designer clothes lies the evidence of her pain. Every heartbreak, every bad day, every setback has left a scar. From behind her camera, she shows the world what to see. And it isn’t her. Until him. He sees right through her carefully constructed facade. And he’s going to slash it all to pieces.
**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**
Hendrix didn’t strike me as ridiculous. Or impulsive. Or silly.
Why on earth, then, would he believe that there could be something worth seeking out with me? If that’s what he meant at all. Which…he did, didn’t he?
It’s confusing, and confusion makes me hide, on the whole. But since I can’t hide because I’m the fucking teacher in this class—seriously, how did this happen?—and for some reason the educator is expected to stay present, I find my confusion turning to anger. It works itself through me until the beauty of our night together is cropped out of my memory and what’s left is trite and fleeting. His presence feels nothing like flattery—which it did feel flattering, admittedly, for a half second there in the midst of everything else. Now, though, it just feels invasive and unprofessional and mean.
Perhaps I’d confront him about it, if I were a different sort of person, one who isn’t afraid to stand up to a challenge. One who isn’t afraid to live her life.
But I’m not that sort of person, so after I give out the assignments and send the students on their way, I plan to gather my things and get on my way as soon as possible, so fond of hiding that I am. I was stupid enough to believe—or perhaps hopeful is the better term—that Hendrix would let me do that, as he’d let me leave that night in Paris, not that I’d given him a choice.
He doesn’t, though, of course. Of course. He approaches me, his leather camera bag slung over his shoulder, a man satchel underneath.
“Camilla,” he says in that American accent that makes me both cringe and swoon all at once, and for the briefest of moments I find myself considering something different for a change. I consider staying.
But underneath my long sleeve polo neck, my skin throbs with an intensity that equals the blaring of a car alarm, and I think of Fred waiting for me at home to take him out for ice cream and the dead husband who hurt me as much as he loved me and the ugliness that marks me inside and out. And in the chaos of those thoughts, there is no option to stay.
“You being here is in bad taste,” I say before he has a chance to say anything else. “Don’t do this to me.”
I brush past him then, and with the heat of that brief contact following me in radiating waves, I rush outside to disappear among the Saturday-morning Londoners who are out enjoying the early signs of spring.
With millions of books sold worldwide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Killing Eve, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.
“Gruff but funny mechanic burned by love? Check. Guy who takes in orphaned kittens? Check. Hot as can be when he reluctantly falls head-over-heels? Check. My new book boyfriend? All the checks. Drive Me Wild is your summer must-read!” — Julia Kent, New York Times bestselling author
Drive Me Wild, an all-new flirty and heartwarming, opposites-attract romance by USA Today bestselling author Melanie Harlow is available now!
When Blair Beaufort literally crashes into Bellamy Creek wearing a ball gown and a tiara, I should have towed her car, said goodnight, and sent her packing. I’m a mechanic, not a hotel manager. I’ve got enough on my plate trying to keep my shop from going under, my overbearing mother off my back, and my baseball team in contention for the league championship. I don’t have time for a former debutante with zero street smarts and a cash flow problem, even if she is crazy beautiful. Problem is, she’s stranded in my small town, and I’m hiding a protective streak underneath my grumpy exterior that runs deep. So I offer her a place to stay and keep my hands to myself. For exactly one night. If only she weren’t so gorgeous. So funny. So eager to please. She’s a disaster behind the wheel, but she drives me wild without even trying–at work, at home, in the back of my truck . . . I can’t get enough of the way she makes me feel. But I know better than to think it can last. She wants a fairy tale, and I’m no prince. So when it comes time for her to leave, there’s nothing I can do but let her go. No matter how much it hurts to say goodbye.
Switching off the lights, I followed her out onto the sidewalk, locking the door behind us. “I need a quick shower and change of clothes. Want to come up with me?”
I was following her up the stairs to my apartment, looking at her ass and wondering if she had sexual rules and how long it would take me to break them, when I realized she was still talking.
Shit, had she just asked me a question?
At the top of the stairs, she turned around and faced me. “So? Are you going to?”
I stood close. Ridiculously close. So close I could smell her—vanilla and lemon—and she could probably smell me—sweat and motor oil.
“Am I going to what?”I asked, looking at her lips.
She licked them. “Listen to me.”
“Oh. Yeah. I am.” But at that moment, I was pretty sure I was going to do something else to her too.
Suddenly she stepped back. “Good,”she said, her cheeks flushed pink. “On second thought, I think I’ll wait outside. I’m a little warm, and there’s a nice breeze.”
“Okay. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
Nodding, she turned and descended the stairs so slowly, I wondered if she was dizzy. I watched her hand sliding along the wooden rail, thinking dirty thoughts.
On the landing, she pushed the door open and disappeared from view, but I still couldn’t breathe right.
What would she have done if I’d put my mouth on hers like I’d wanted to just now? Would she have kissed me back? Would she have welcomed my hands on her skin? Or would she have kneed me in the balls and told me to keep my filthy fingers to myself?
She wasn’t like any other girl I’d ever met, which was both the problem and the allure. I didn’t know how to read her.
But damn, I wanted her something fierce.
I took an ice cold shower, hoping it would help.
Melanie Harlow is a USA Today bestselling author. She likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like Schitt’s Creek, Homeland, and Fleabag. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak. She is the author of the CLOVERLEIGH FARMS series, the ONE & ONLY series, AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a pet rabbit.
Will she surrender to the intense sensual bliss Mac’s gift has to offer?
Playing with Her, an all-new not-to-be-missed, sensual romance from New York Times bestselling author Erika Wilde, is available now!
He’s about to push her beyond all her sensual limits.
Brent “Mac” MacMillan never believed he’d settle down again with just one woman. Until Stephanie Randall turned the heated lust between them into love. Now, he can’t imagine his life, and The Players Club, without her in it.
But between their busy work schedules and planning a wedding, their “play time” has become secondary to their hectic lives. Mac is prepared to change that, and Stephanie’s birthday is the ideal night to surprise his fiancée with one of the hottest, most unforgettable gifts imaginable.
Mac’s biggest fear is pushing Stephanie’s limits too far and this unconventional gift will test every one of her inhibitions. Will she use her safe word for the first time ever, or will she surrender to the intense sensual bliss Mac’s gift has to offer?
*PLAYING WITH HER is a complete stand-alone novella for people who haven’t yet read PLAYING HIS WAY, but a sexy treat for those who want to revisit a favorite couple in The Players Club series.
A few hours later, Stephanie looked at her reflection in the bedroom’s dresser mirror as she tried to attach the delicate clasp to the diamond choker Mac had given her for Valentine’s Day a few months back. Well, she referred to it as a choker, while Mac called it a collar for his pet. That pet being her. And she was more than okay with that since Brent MacMillan owned her heart, body, and soul.
“Happy birthday, sweetheart, and fuck me, you look stunning,” Mac said in a low, sexy growl as he came up behind her and brushed her hand away so he could affix the clasp for her.
She briefly met her fiancé’s dark, seductive gaze in the mirror before he returned his attention to securing her necklace. “Thank you, sir,” she teased, appealing to his more dominant nature, and felt a fluttering thrill in her belly when she saw the corner of his mouth curve in a wicked warning.
When she used words like sir with Mac, it usually led to all sorts of fun, hot debauchery, and it had been too many weeks since they’d indulged in more than just a standard, quick fuck. Not that she was complaining, but she missed the longer foreplay, along with Mac’s more assertive tendencies in the bedroom and the push-pull between them that always ended with her acquiescence.
Between Stephanie’s chaotic work schedule, Mac’s recent business trips out of town to sign on a high-profile client to his security firm, Noble and Associates, and her planning their upcoming wedding and reception, they’d both been distracted. Tonight, they’d promised to make time for them, and she was already anticipating the seductive evening ahead.
For her birthday celebration and their evening at The Players Club, she’d chosen a form-fitting red cocktail dress with off-the-shoulder sleeves and a plunging sweetheart neckline that showcased the diamonds now glittering around her throat. Mac was wearing one of his tailored black suits and a white linen shirt that made him look like sex on a stick—which he totally was, every single impressive inch of him.
Even at thirty-eight and eleven years older than her, he made keeping in shape a priority and had a lean, toned body made for sin. Everything about Mac was breathtakingly gorgeous, and she still couldn’t believe that he was all hers. Especially when he’d resisted the attraction between them for so long.
Finished securing the choker, he placed his big, warm hands on her bare shoulders and dipped his head to kiss her neck, just below her ear. She’d worn her long, blonde hair up tonight, and between the idle stroke of his fingers and the caress of his damp lips down the side of her throat, Mac didn’t hesitate to take advantage of all the smooth, exposed skin available to him.
He nuzzled her ear again, his heavy-lidded gaze meeting hers in the mirror attached to the dresser in front of them. “So, my pet wants to look owned tonight, does she?” he murmured, lightly tracing the diamonds encircling her neck that, to him, indicated his possession of her in a place like The Players Club.
She shivered, already craving his provocative touch everywhere else. “I do,” she whispered, and wasn’t surprised to feel her nipples tighten and scrape against the bodice of her dress. “It’s my birthday, so I think I’m entitled to whatever I want.” She deliberately injected just enough sass in her tone to provoke him.
It worked. Behind her, she felt his demeanor change, and a familiar excitement shot through her.
His hands dropped to her hips, holding firm as he turned her around to face him, his expression fiercely dominant. “When you wear this collar, all your entitlement and rights become mine. Or maybe you need me to remind you who’s calling the shots tonight?” He arched a dark brow.
Meet Erika Wilde
Erika Wilde is a New York Times Bestselling author. She is best known for her super sexy Marriage Diaries series and The Players Club series, and has also co-written the Dirty Sexy Series and the Book Boyfriend Series with Carly Phillips, her best friend and writing buddy for the past twenty years. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two daughters, and when she’s not writing you can find her exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. For more information on her upcoming releases, please visit her website and sign up for her mailing list for updates and news!