Category Archives: Best of 2018

Lost in the Shadows by Tracie Douglas

arc review 1blurblostintheshadowsDIZZY IS LOST

Lost in his own grief, Damien Reynolds hides the man he is behind a mask of jokes and laughter. He’s spent years fooling everyone, including himself, hiding the pain he struggles through every day. Now, Dizzy finds himself assigned to the hardest case Cole Securities has ever taken on. He’s wearing a new kind of mask, one that leaves him questioning the goodness of humankind and the world he lives in.

Surviving this mission is the last thing on his mind. Until the night he’s faced with a difficult choice: To save her or not…

PENNY CAPTIVATES HIM

Sold by her family to a group of criminals, Penelope Lopez finds herself lost into a world so dark, very few survive. She must find the strength within herself to endure her new life, but as it is once again tossed into the winds of fate, Penny decides enough is enough and vows to fight. Even if it means losing her life.

But fate has a different plan for her, one in the shape of an imposing man, who casts a shadow about her. A man who, at first sight, decides he can’t ignore the fire in her eyes and makes a vow of his own: To protect her at all costs…

Will Dizzy let her into his heart, allowing her to show him there is still good left in this world? Or will the danger swirling around them be a power even love can’t overcome?

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authortraciedouglasSurviving on caffeine most days, Tracie Douglas lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, two dogs and one really fat cat. She spends her days chasing children and fur babies, all while maintaining the illusion of sanity.

Her nights are spent toiling away at the keyboard, creating a world filled with hot men and strong women. She loves to read and write all types of book but tends to lean on the darker side of the spectrum. She’s pretty handy with a crochet hook too.

Tracie loves to hear from her readers!
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HOLY CRAP!! HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS SERIES?! Lost in the Shadows is the third book in the Lost Series, and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC. I don’t know WHAT I was expecting when I started this book, but I am absolutely captivated by Tracie Douglas and her amazing writing skill, and the story she was able to weave. Reading the first two books in the series probably would have been helpful (getting on that ASAP) but it wasn’t necessary for me. There’s enough background, without giving too much away, for this to be read as a standalone.

This book released today (April 9th) and HOLY CRAP is it good! Not just good but INCREDIBLE. If you’re looking for a dark romance, you need this book. Dizzy, or Damien, left me absolutely heartbroken in his resolute determination that he was too broken for Penny. Dizzy is on a dark mission, one that took nine months to complete, that left him even worse than when he started. He is fragmented emotionally, and tries to deny his immediate reaction to Penny(spoiler: his reaction is mine). Even before he comes to terms with Penny, and her role in his life, he doesn’t want anyone to touch her or look at her.

Penelope, or Penny, was sold by her stepfather to sex traffickers. Due to her virginity, she reaches a higher price. This leads her to meeting the beautifully broken Damien. But, he’s undercover so she believes she’s just been sold to her owner, and she’s not sure what to make of it. When she learns the truth of who Damien is, she vows to make him let her in past his walls, and see they could be wonderful together. She wants to heal him, but she stands by his side giving him the strength to do that.

They heal each other, and it is so wonderful and amazing that I am trying not to cry. This is a dark romance, which I think is obvious with the theme of the book. It is suspenseful, thrilling, and has plot twists GALORE. I was halfway through the book thinking it was almost over, since Damien decided to go all alpha on Penny, when I realized HOLY CRAP THERES MORE.

I’m saying holy crap a lot… but that was my literal reaction to about half of what transpired in this book. I absolutely ADORED this novel, and will be going back to read the others in the series, if only because that epilogue was great and I need more.

Tracie, you’ve got me talking in run on sentences. How dare you. In my humble opinion, this is so much more than 5 stars, it should be 10. I love it. I love Tracie. BRB, I’m going to go stalk her on social media.

GO GET THIS BOOK!! Did I mention the series is free on Kindle Unlimited?
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5star

Living In the Gray

arc review 1blurbin the gray“There isn’t always a clean beginning and ending to every story. Instead of something being black or white, it’s a mixture of both, forming a nice shade of gray.”

Writer Lori Stevens was eighteen when she was assaulted by her mentor, learning people aren’t always what they seem the hard way. She’s found solace living in the gray, keeping everyone at arm’s length with her secrets safely tucked away.
When the biggest story of her career hits too close to home, Lori is forced to face her demons and question everything—like her feelings for Steven Duncan.

Steven was meant to be nothing more than a failed one-night stand, but when a cruel twist of fate brings him back into her life, she begins falling for him.

There’s one slight problem: he’s dating her best friend.

Officer Steven Duncan is no stranger to tragedy, but that never stopped him from searching for his fairytale. Now, he’s dating the perfect girl, only it’s the wrong girl who feels right.

Steven is willing to fight for Lori—to step outside the boundaries of his black and white world—but can they find happiness living in the gray?

***This book can be read as a standalone***

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authoradmccammon

Amber McCammon is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and avid reader who also happens to write contemporary romance/women’s fiction. She currently has two self-published novels, In This Moment and Crushed. In the Gray, releasing April 19th, is the third book in her standalone series. The fourth is expected to release in late 2018.

Amber lives in Tennessee, born and raised, though she recently left her heart in the PNW. She’s a Ravenclaw, fall is her favorite season, and she believes that music is food for the soul.

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review
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First, Thank you. Thank you for writing this book. I don’t normally read love triangles, because they’re messy. I like romances because I escape from reality, and I’ve got enough mess in my life. But when I read the blurb for this book, and had an opportunity to read it, I asked for the chance. Something I forgot about emotional reads? They can rock your world, rip you apart from the inside out, and still leave you wanting more at the end.

Lori Stevens was not a like-able character. God, I wanted to shake her and scream at her so many times it’s not even funny. She has suffered heartache that no one ever should, so she’s been busy pushing everyone away, worrying about everyone else’s happiness, believing she doesn’t deserve it.

Steven Duncan is a nice guy, who I loved from the beginning, who chases Lori as much as possible, but she never lets up. When he meets someone new, someone who makes love easy, he takes it as a sign to move on. The problem? His perfect girl is Lori’s best friend, Cat. WHAT A MESS! Although I loved Steven from the beginning, LORD did I want to throat punch him sometimes. The relationship with Cat, though, allows both Steven and Lori to become close, under the guise of friendship.

There is no cheating happening in this book. Both Lori and Steven try to ignore their feelings for each other, try to be friends, for the sake of Cat. They do not cross physical boundaries. Not once.

Growing up, I think I’ve had the “what is rape?” talk many times. I had to watch a video starring Kristen Stewart on my first day of college detailing date rape, and other kinds of rape. When I watched the video, I felt my heart in my throat thinking “Wait, that’s rape? That’s assault?” They still didn’t cover being groomed for assault. They didn’t talk about the stigma that follows you when you try to report something that happened. “Should women be arrested for falsely reporting rape?” pictures are all over different social media on any given day. We still live in a world that tries to blame the victim because they don’t understand that even though you didn’t say no, or you said no then said yes, you do not want to be in the situation you’re in. This book had me in tears, telling the story of three women suffering from assault that they were trained to believe was not assault. They were manipulated and lied to, so they would keep quiet and never tell their story.

So thank you, A.D. McCammon. Thank you for writing this story. Thank you for giving me Lori and Steven to stay with me forever. Thank you for telling a story that needed to be told. This will be a book I recommend to anyone I can, because it’s that good, and that heartbreaking. Thank you for writing a story about a side of assault we (at least I) don’t normally hear about. Just, thank you.

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5star

Something So Unscripted

blurbnatashamadisonZack 
Finding my teammate in bed with my wife made the decision I had been fighting with for years easier.
It’s time to move on.
A fresh start and a new NHL team in a big city. Most importantly, it’s my son Jack’s best shot.
It would be both of our best shots.
Denise 
After a bad childhood, I made sure I would succeed.
The problem is I die a little with each patient I lose. It’s part of my career at Hudson Children’s Oncology Hospital, but it doesn’t make the sting of loss any easier.
Seeking anything other than a life saved isn’t on my agenda until a NHL player walks into my hospital with his son.
We’re officially off script the moment we meet.
If this love is anything, it’s unscripted.

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authornatasha madisonWhen her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

 

review
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I am so completely and utterly wrecked by this book. I won a copy of this book in a giveaway (join Madison’s Maniacs for updates and more giveaways ;)) from the amazing Women Who Stare At Books, Yamina. I laughed, I cried, I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt, and I died a little on the inside when this book finished. Single parent books always tug at the heart strings, but this one got me. It got me.

Sports star? Check.
Single dad? Check.
Little boy that’s so loveable you want to hug him and squeeze him? Check.
Evil birth mother? Check.
Heroine that loves the little boy like her own? Check.
Big, epic, crazy families? Check.
Alpha males? Check.
DOUBLE EPILOGUE? Check.

Seriously, does this book need anything else? Besides being turned into a movie? This book was so fantastic, I wish I could give it more than five stars. Zack and Denise were so freaking amazing as individuals, but they come together and it’s indescribable how awesome they are. And God, little Jack makes me weep with how strong he is. I want to be just like him when I grow up.

I read Something So Irresistible in preparation for this book, and read it in like five hours, then immediately picked up SSU and just devoured the whole thing. I stayed up all night to read this book. It is that good.  Natasha Madison has somehow created an alpha male that wants to rip someone’s head off for even thinking about his girl, while also being able to show his emotions without being thought of as weak (and Zack has so many reasons to show how he’s feeling). It was so amazing and wonderful to be able to read about a man crying, and not one iota of teasing from anyone else. They are able to fully, whole heatedly, fall in love and wreck me emotionally in the process.

This has got to be, hands down, one of the best novels I’ve read this year (and I’ve read a ton of amazing books this year). This book will forever stay with me. I will come back to Jack, Denise, and Zack when I’m needing strength, when I need to smile, or when I need to drool over some hockey players (lets go NJ Devils!). I’m begging you, go pick this book up today. Now. Buy it in paperback, ebook, I don’t care. You need to read this book. You need to have Natasha Madison in your life, and you need the Morrows, Grants, Hortons, and Stones in your life. You need the Stingers.
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5star

Here I’ll Stay… and cry

blurb

hereillstayI wanted to give up.
I wanted to give into the hurt and not look back.
I wanted to let my demons win and succumb to the pain.
I didn’t want to live because leaving would be easier than dealing with it all.
But leaving wasn’t an option. Not when my best friends held onto me for dear life, and not when my heart had found one more person to beat for.
I was going to fight. I was going to love.
I was Daysie Flores and I was going to find every reason in the world to live—to stay.

Goodreads. Amazon.

 

author

16646808.jpgDominique Laura started off writing under the pen name Rosie C. but grew brave enough to transition to her real name (well, close enough to it). She loves to read and write whenever possible. She’s an advocate for love and happily ever afters, and she’s snarky and sarcastic. She lives in sunny Southern California with her dog, who she’s slightly obsessed with.

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review

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I’m not even going to lie, I usually stay away from Young Adult romances for a couple reasons. One, most don’t have steamy scenes in them. Two, if they do have them, I tend to get grossed out cause the characters are, like, 16. Three, I remember being an annoying teenager, thank you Facebook memories, really needed to see the song lyrics I posted 10 years ago, three times in one day, that spoke to my soul, and when I’m reading about 16 year olds, they’re annoying. Nothing against them, but I want to shake them, just like I want to shake my teen brother when he’s being stupid. But, hey, high school is the time to be stupid. Four, reading about people falling in love in high school makes me want to gag.

While there aren’t steamy scenes in Here I’ll Stay, the story of Daysie Flores is beautiful. This was my first Dominique Laura book, and I’m now going to go stalk her to see what else she’s written. This book spoke to my soul on a level other romances don’t often get to me. (Plus the teenagers, besides Jason, weren’t annoying like I was — which I’m pretty sure is not fair.)

Daysie is abused physically, emotionally, and verbally. Her father is an addict, to pain, alcohol, and drugs. Her mother is addicted to work. Neither should have ever been parents. Daysie has known pain almost her entire life. She has made a list of reasons to stay alive. At the top of the list are her two best friends, Maci and Sarah. Brenton Conners slowly makes his way to the top of the list. Although I would have loved to have seen him punch Jason, just once- please, he worked his way to the top of my list too. And he’s 18 so he can be on my “book boyfriends” list. He is sweet, charming, accepting, and honest. He openly communicates his feelings to Daysie and it is so important for her. Between Brent, and her friends, she makes her own family.

I think I was crying as much as Daysie did throughout the book. I’ve never been physically abused, but I have my own toxic people in my life. People that were supposed to be family saying nasty things to me, while I tried to fight my way out of their poison. Luckily, I had a support system that didn’t include those people, but did include family. Daysie didn’t have that. But I know secrecy, not wanting to tell people about what is happening, not being able to tell people about what’s going on, or how you’re feeling, making excuses for people that don’t deserve them. Coming up with reasons to stay alive.

I think one of my favorite things about this book, is something so little I didn’t notice till about halfway through the book. I was reading along, through tears in my eyes, when I noticed the chapters were reasons. Example, Reason One: Ice Cream. Each reason has something to do with the chapter, but usually they were little things. Things like ice Cream, coffee, or running. It caught me off guard in the worst and best way possible. I’m currently going through the chapters again to see what they all said. I’m mad at myself for missing it to start with.

This book was 5 stars, hands down. Thank you, Dominique, for writing this book. For making the characters believable. For making the teenagers not so annoying, while still making their emotions all over the place. Thank you for writing a beautiful piece of work about a topic that is not easy to write about.

Thank you.

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5star

Release Blits ~ Gillian Jones!


Presents
 
Release Blitz: Fighting Weight
by Gillian Jones
 
AMAZON
Available with Kindle Unlimited
 
Genre:Inspirational Contemporary Romance
 
 
 
We all have that voice inside our heads.
 
The one that speaks to us incessantly. That voice we trust to make the right decisions, to keep us on a positive path, even when others try to bring us down.
 
But what happens when that voice changes? 
When it’s no longer a voice of reason, a voice of comfort giving us a pep talk when we need one?
 
What happens when that inner voice turns into a bully?
 
You’re fat.
Don’t you dare eat that. 
You’ll never be as pretty as her
You’ll never be as good as them.
You’re lazy. You’re stupid.
You are disgusting.
You. Are. Nothing.
What happens when that inner voice makes your body takes its side?
Binge.
Purge.
Binge.
Purge.
And what happens when the bully starts to win?
If your name is Alina Cassidy, then you fight like hell.
Warning: Deals with subject matter some readers might find sensitive. But I promise an HEA.
 

 

About the Author
 
Wife, mother, proud Canadian. Shoe addict, red wine connoisseur, lover of laughter and the friendships that cause it. I’m a sucker for those epic romances that steal my breath and leave me always wanting more.
 
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 Check out my review here!