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Fighting Vegas by Ember-Raine Winters Review

arcblurbfightingvegasCliff

Coming out would ruin his career, but I was done hiding in his closet. Fed up with the games and being a dirty little secret, I did the only thing I could. I left. But fate’s a cruel bitch and my latest job puts me back in his sights.

Randy

I couldn’t give him what he needed. So I let him walk away and focused my attention on the only other thing I love, fighting. Seeing him again, I realize my mistake. I want him. Always. And I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him this time.

Can a closeted MMA fighter go against everything he knows to have the flamboyant designer he needs?

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aboutheauthoremberraineEmber-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.

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This is only my second book from Ember, but she’s quickly becoming one of my go-to authors, especially for MM. I absolutely adored Cliff and Randy’s story. I loved Cliff’s flamboyant attitude, and Randy’s super alpha personality. I loved the representation of homophobia in the world of fighting. I loved everything about this book.

I haven’t read the others in the series, so I don’t know the other characters (but Lordy do I want to now!)  This was my first interaction with the fiesty, flirty Cliff. He was everything I always wanted in a friend: The person to tell you NOT to wear something because YES it makes you look fat, helps you decorate your house, but also is there for you no matter what.

Randy was the guy I would love to lust over: broody, alpha with a past that makes you want to hug him and never let him go. An MMA fighter forced into the closet because his career would suffer if he ever came out of the closet, and in love with a man that doesn’t want to be someone’s dirty little secret. A year before, Randy chose his career over Cliff. But after a year of misery, he sees Cliff again and needs to make a choice: The fear of losing his career forever, or losing Cliff forever.

What will he choose?

This book had it all; heartbreak, love, amazing sex scenes, a crazy ex, and MORE. Oh yes, I said MORE. What I loved about Professor Hot Pants was the inclusion of people’s homophobia and how it affects the relationship and the people. I loved it even more in Fighting Vegas. We love to read romances with everyone accepting the couple, especially for MM because it’s freaking life, people love who they love. But it’s not reality.

The reason this is four stars and not five is because I felt like it moved too fast. This book was jam packed with lots of action, but sometimes it felt like you were just processing something before it was over and something else was happening.

Overall though, amazing book, amazing love, and amazing characters. LOVE.

fightingvegas24star

**All images are from freeimages.com and pexels.com and all fonts are from CreativeMarket.com. For more info on the fonts and images used, please email caitscreatures@gmail.com**

“You’re not hurting yourself are you?”

This is the story I was always too afraid to tell, but I finally put to words how my personal addiction took over. This is not a story I thought I would ever tell, but it’s mental health awareness month, and something in me kept saying to publish it; to tell my story. It’s graphic. It may hurt some feelings. With therapy and love and support from my family- I am recovering. I have my moments, but I no longer let my addiction run my life. I still suffer from anxiety, but I don’t let it rule me. When I feel my anxiety bubbling over the surface, I don’t go near razors. I don’t shave. It’s been 5 years since I took a blade to my skin, and sometimes I still feel the urge to go back to it. Some of the things here are exaggerated, but they are what I felt. This is unedited, and it will remain that way. Writing this took a lot out of me personally. I had to go back to a mindset that was unhealthy in order to remember how I felt, and why I took to self harming. This is my journey as I remember it.

Maybe this well help give you insight, maybe it won’t. But for the first time I’m sharing a piece of myself. A piece that only a therapist really knows about. And now you.

I want to be clear: I am not ashamed of my story. That’s why I’m sharing it. I do not hide the scars I have. I talk freely and openly with those that ask me about it. But writing about it and sharing it with strangers is absolutely terrifying.

I watched the blood drip down my thigh, watched the blood mix with the water, noted the diluted color as both went down the drain. For the first time all day, I could finally take a breath. I relaxed in the shower, laying down in the bathtub as the water pounded my flesh. The combination was better than any massage I could ever get. I closed my eyes, basking in the euphoria that came with inflicting pain on myself. It didn’t last long anymore, so I had to enjoy it while it lasted. When I no longer felt high on pain, I opened my eyes to watch as the blood kept pouring from vein. As always, when the high ended, my head couldn’t stop from asking the same questions that caused me inflict pain on myself day after day: Why are you like this?

I tried to think back to when I first started cutting, but it started long before the first time I took a blade to my wrists. I was 11 when the idea was brought to me, ironically by a therapist. I don’t know why I begged my mother to take me to a therapist, but I did. My brother, who was four years younger, was going to one and I wanted one too. Maybe I always knew there was something wrong with me, I just couldn’t name it. Or maybe I just wanted what my brother had. I didn’t even have a name for it when I was 11, didn’t have a clue that what I felt every day wasn’t normal. I don’t remember much of the first meeting I had with the therapist, but I remember two things from that day. The first, she thought I was depressed so wanted me to be evaluated. The second, was the question she asked that seemed to set the tone for the rest of my life: “You’re not hurting yourself are you?”

The depression evaluation turned out to be total shit. I mean, I was 11. I lied my ass off the entire time, because the guy doing the evaluation laughed at one of my answers.

“Why do you think you’re ugly?”
“Because all the ugly boys like me.”

Cue shitty old man laughter. And then me lying because I didn’t want him to laugh at me again. I mean, why else would I think I was ugly? I always thought I was ugly, but at eleven I didn’t know how to detail all the reasons for that. That was just the only answer I had for him. At the end, he said to me “You’re either a really great liar, or you’re not depressed. So you’re not depressed.” I was actually proud of myself that I was able to lie to an adult, a professional. This interaction with two adults who claimed to be professionals followed me for years.

I never thought I was depressed, really. I mean, I didn’t feel sad all the time, I just felt numb. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I was ok with that because the ones I had were awesome. My home life was shit, but I didn’t really know why. I just knew I wasn’t allowed to talk to people about the bad stuff that went on at home.

“If you tell anyone this, they’re going to take you away, and take your brothers away. You’ll all be put in foster care and you’ll never see them again.”

I never talked about the bad. I never talked about how I was basically raising my siblings while my parents were off doing God-knew what. I never talked about how I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night to an empty house, just me and my brothers sleeping in our beds. I never talked about the fact that my step-dad scared the shit out of me. I never talked about how easy it was for me to just stay home instead of going to school. I never told people how I was failing class because I just didn’t care. I definitely didn’t talk about how CPS had come to my house before. I just didn’t talk.

You’re not hurting yourself are you?

For two years, I thought about this question. I wanted to. God, did I want to hurt myself; I just didn’t have the courage to do it. While my inner voice was telling me I was ugly, that I sucked at school, everytime I couldn’t bring myself to hurt myself, my voice told me it was just one more thing I was bad at. One more thing I couldn’t do. I never told anyone how badly I wanted to hurt myself.

It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I found the courage to do it. I had just moved again, in the middle of the school year. By this point, thoughts of death already consumed my mind. Everyday, I thought of what life would look like without me walking around. Would anyone care? If I died, would anyone go to the funeral? Then, I would think of how I couldn’t even bring myself to hurt myself, how could I kill myself? I didn’t even know I would do it. But I thought about it. But then I would think of my parents, my grandparents, my siblings, and I would push back the thoughts of death. They were there, like the Grim Reaper had taken up permanent residence in my brain, his scythe always at the ready, but always just on the peripherals. If I tried to look at his face, he would disappear, but when I looked away, I would see him out of the corner of my eye.

I was at a friend’s house one night and we watched the movie Thirteen. Another one of life’s ironies. I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about anymore, don’t remember the characters names or the plot line, but I could tell you that I was riveted when one of the girls started cutting. I watched the screen, watched the fake blood drip from her arm, and couldn’t look away. I was entranced.

You’re not hurting yourself are you?

I got home that night, grabbed a knife from the kitchen after everyone went to bed, and hid away in my room downstairs. I sat on the bed, with the TV playing some show in the background, and stared at the knife sitting on my comforter in front of me. Could I do it? I grabbed the knife, and put the tip to my forearm and dragged the tip across my skin. I didn’t do it hard enough to break skin, just scratch the surface, but even that scratch made me feel good. I felt the pain. I had been bottling everything up for so long, never talking about anything and just pushing it down so I didn’t think about it anymore, that feeling the pain made me feel so good. I did that.

I did that.
To.
My.
Self.

It took two years for me to gain the courage to scratch my forearm, but only took a week for me to take a cheap disposable razor to my wrist and slice it. I was taking a shower before bed, shaving my legs when I stopped and stared at the razor, again asking myself, could I do it? The answer? I could. I didn’t bleed much, just tiny droplets that quickly washed away, but for the first time in my life, I swear I felt high. They were superficial cuts, but the high lasted all night. Rumors started around my new school, not that I paid much attention to them. I always wore long sleeves, and if someone had noticed the cuts on my wrist, I told them my cat scratched me. A kid I sat next to on the bus, a kid I had a crush on, one day asked me point blank to show him my wrists because people were saying I cut myself. I laughed it off, told him it was ridiculous; told him my cat was just an asshole.

After school I had freaked out. I knew I wasn’t going to talk to him again. If he found out the truth, he would tell people and then someone would make me stop. I think subconsciously when I first started hurting myself, I wanted someone to ask me if I was ok. I wanted people to look at me and see that something was wrong with me. It wasn’t until the kid asked me if I cut that I realized I didn’t want people to know about it. I only cut a couple times, I wasn’t doing it every day, maybe every couple of days. I usually let the cuts fade before I would try to do it again. That night in the shower I realized I needed to do it so I could calm down. There was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep if I was freaking out the way I was. That was the first time I consciously made the decision to cut to help with my emotions.

One night, after a shower and a session with my favorite razor, I got the courage to talk to my grandmother about cutting. I had a book I got from a Scholastic Book Fair sheet or something literally called Cut. My grandmother had helped my mother raise me, and in some ways she was my mother. She meant the world to me. She could have stabbed me in the back and I would have had a smile on my face because it was her who did it. So I sat down with her in her room, and brushed my hair.

“Grandma, sometimes I think about cutting.”
“Honey, if you did that, I don’t know if I could handle you.”

Knife, meet back. I didn’t talk to her about cutting again after that. If she couldn’t handle me, then who could? Who would want to?

God, looking back, I was like a walking, talking, breathing sign for fucking help. How many signals did I have to give people? I was fucking 11 getting tested for depression and 13 talking about self harm. What’s a girl gotta do to get help? Apparently a hell of a lot.

When the weather started getting warmer, I stopped cutting on my wrist, and moved to my thigh. I couldn’t hide the cuts on my arms when I was wearing short sleeves, but I found I liked cutting my thigh better. The first time I did it, I still remember how I walked around the next day on a high. Every time I shifted, my jeans would rub against the marks and I would feel a stinging pain all over again. Or when I would get stressed out at school, my stomach would start to hurt and my chest would feel heavy, I would press my fingers to the the little cuts I had made with a razor the night before and I felt instant relief. My breathing would go back to normal, my stomach would untangle itself.

A couple months after I started cutting, I turned fourteen. I was still using a razor to cut, but it became more frequent. Instead of every couple of days, it was turned to every other day. Since it was the summer, my cousin had stayed with us for a couple weeks. My sister had just turned one in early June, just two weeks before my own birthday. My cousin and I were the same age, and the oldest of all the kids at the house, so it was our job to take care of the baby when my parents couldn’t, or didn’t want to. She usually got up to take care of my sister in the mornings, but one morning she complained. I told her my stomach hurt,

Your stomach always hurts in the morning.

I stopped to think about it. My stomach always hurt in the morning? I couldn’t remember. I made an effort after that to get out of bed in the morning, but I realized she was right. Every morning I woke up, my stomach hurt so bad I didn’t want to move. I thought about it, about how when my stomach hurt during the day, I would press against the cuts on my thighs and it would help me feel better. One morning I woke up, went to the bathroom, and quickly brought the razor down against my fleshy, too fat, thigh. The ball in my stomach, the one I hadn’t noticed was always there in the mornings until it was pointed out to me, disappeared. At this point I noticed that I was pressing the razor into my thigh harder, that I needed more pain to feel the same high, that the highs never lasted as long, I just didn’t care. The best part? Nobody knew. My shorts were short, but my cuts stayed above the edge of my shortest pair.

Cutting was mine, and mine alone.

I thought that thoughts of death consumed me before I took that knife to my wrist, but it was nothing compared to how I felt after. The Grim Reaper was my closest friend and constant companion. Now I could sit and talk to him in my head, instead of only getting glimpses of him in the recesses of my mind. He would always ask the same question, and my answer was always the same,

What’s truly keeping you here? Keeping you from joining me?”
“My brothers and sister.”

If not for my brothers and sister, I don’t know where I would be. At fourteen, I didn’t think I would live to see my eighteenth birthday. When I was five, I told everyone I was going to go to Yale. By the time I was fourteen, I didn’t care enough to think about life after high school. My mind and mental health quickly deteriorated. Every conversation I had with those that were supposed to love me unconditionally, I ended up finding fault with. At the end of the summer, my father came to pick me up from my grandmother’s house and took me home with him.

My mother and father weren’t together. They had separated a long time ago, and I was really ok with that. Up until the summer of my fourteenth year, I spent the majority of my time with my grandmother, mother, step father, and three brothers and one sister. And my cousin that was just three weeks younger than me, whenever I could see her. When I moved in with my father, I was going home to three more brothers, and a step-mom.

Moving in with my father had positive and negative affects on my psyche. For four years I was bombarded with comments from my mother and grandmother about how I needed to move “home”.

Ungrateful.
You know your father doesn’t really love you.
You were always supposed to come back home.
You have until Christmas to come back home, then we’re coming to pick you up.
Think about what you’re doing to me.
Your father has never loved you.

My cutting got worse. One day, I broke a brand new, disposable razor. I threw out the pieces of it, but saved the four small razors, put them in a special jewelry box, and hid them in the back of my bottom draw in my dresser. Every morning, I would pull a razor out of the box, put it to the top of my thigh, and dig deep into my skin, and watch the blood dribble down the sides of my leg. I would wipe the razor down, then put it away, only to do it all over again when I got home from school, before starting my homework. Sometimes I brought a razor to school and would go to the bathroom when life became too much. When the texts and calls telling me to come home would be too much.

My step-mom found the razors one day, and we talked. For the first time I talked about the feelings I’d had since I was eleven. Not all of them; I didn’t talk about my thoughts of suicide, or how cutting made me numb to the rest of the world so I could get up and function; how every laugh and every smile I had was faked. I didn’t talk about how I didn’t cry anymore. I told her how the cutting helped with the ball in my stomach. For the first time in my life, I had a name for it.

Anxiety.

For a couple days, having a name for the thing that made it hard to breathe some days, helped. I could identify it, which meant I could tell it to fuck off. Right? Wrong. Once I put a name to it, I knew what it was, but I also knew how I could handle it. Or not handle it. I was cutting two or three times a day, every day. I was cutting so deep I was leaving scars on my thighs. I loved it. I loved watching the blood rivulets drip onto the sheet below me. I loved that with a simple action, I could eradicate the anxiety attacks that plagued me daily. I hid it from everyone.

I talked to some therapists while I was in high school, and it would lead to a week or two here and there without cutting. I was on the recreation swim team in the summer, which meant I couldn’t cut because everyone would notice. Those times were the worst. My anxiety was at an all time high. I didn’t smoke weed, I never drank, but the summers I couldn’t open a vein and watch the blood form tears as it streaked my skin, I thought I was going to suffocate. It was like I couldn’t remember how to breathe.

My thoughts of death slowly faded. I didn’t think of death everyday. I would go weeks without thinking about death sometimes. The scars on my thighs would heal during the summer break, but once the pool closed, I would start again; sometimes I would cut over a scar, and the pain would be so delicious, I was tempted to re-open all my old cuts. I never did that, though. I knew if I did it too much, it wouldn’t hurt as much eventually. What once hurt, what once would cause me to gasp, I had become immune too. I had to cut deeper and press harder against my flesh to feel the same pain; get the same high. It was moments like that, where I would press the razor to my flesh so hard I could see my flesh separating, when I would wonder if I took it too far. Was this the time that I would have an accident? Who would find me?

Would they care?

I didn’t. Death was not on my mind as it once was, but it was still my companion. I am told now that I wasn’t really ready to face death, because if I had been ready, I would have welcomed it with open arms. I disagree. My heart, mind, and body were ready for death. They still are. It’s not me that’s not ready for me to die. It’s that my heart still has tethers to this earth, ones that have always kept me firmly planted in the land of the living: my siblings. Not my parents or grandparents. My siblings. My six brothers and one sister. Since I was thirteen, they have always been what’s kept me from going to the Grim Reaper in relief. While they are what have always kept me firmly planted, I will never know and would never know if I mean as much to them as they mean to me.

Over the years, I got better at hiding my secret; from friends, boyfriends and family. I knew I was addicted. Knew that without cutting, I wouldn’t make it. Every minute of the day, I had to make the decision to breathe, and every day it got harder to do that without feeling the blood flow from my body. Watching the blood flow from my body now, in the shower, was like watching the bad shit that got tangled in my head flow from my body. If I shifted the right way, the water from the shower would hit the cut just right, and for a second the stinging pain would come back and I felt the high. That never lasted long, though. Just like the pain from the initial swipe against my flesh, I got used to that pain as well. My body had numbed itself to the pain as my mind and heart tried to stay numb against the emotions that bombarded me on a daily basis.

I knew I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt. Couldn’t tell anyone how my addiction had overtaken my life. I was more afraid of living without the feeling of a blade pressing against my flesh than I was of living life. There was the fear that someone would take away the only thing that allowed my lungs to function on their own, the only thing that helped me rise out of bed every morning. Then there were the callous comments made by those I thought I could be friends with.

“I could never be friends with someone who cut themselves.”
“How sick do you have to be to want to hurt yourself?”
“They must hate themselves.”

It was true, most days I hated myself. I hated that I couldn’t get through the day without bleeding, hated the way I looked when I saw myself in the mirror. Hated how awkward I was and how hard it was for me to make friends. Hated the fact that I had doubts to whether my family gave a shit if I woke up the next morning, even though they were the only reason I had to wake up the next day. I did hate myself. Hated all the things I couldn’t do, my anxiety keeping me from truly enjoying life. But no one understood. They didn’t get it. And they never would, because I would never tell them how wrong they were. How I needed them in my life, I needed more reasons to continue breathing. I wasn’t sick, I was struggling to breathe.

Over the years, in high school and in college, my inner voice constantly told me how I was a fuck up. How I couldn’t do anything, and that I should stop trying. Another voice, one that was much smaller, had started in my head though. It sounded a lot like a blend of my step mother and father mixed with the various therapists over the years. It tried to tell me that talking about my feelings, about the crushing weight of the pressure I put on myself to be something my parents and siblings could be proud of often weighed me down, would help. It tried to tell me that if I told people I was having trouble breathing, that they would help me. The voice was just too small, though. Any time I found it in myself to talk about it, other comments would swirl in my head, drowning it out.

You’re not hurting yourself are you?
I don’t know if I could handle you.”
“How sick do you have to be to want to hurt yourself?”
Would they care?

Instead of talking, I would go to the bathroom and find my relief. And at night, before bed, before the voices had a chance to battle in my head and heart, I showered and opened my vein again. And every night, I would go to bed with peace instead of with hatred for myself. I would go to bed with lungs that worked instead of lungs that refused to do what they were supposed to do. There was a part of me that hoped one day I could make it through the day without watching my blood run down my thigh, but there was another part that refused to believe I could do it. I also didn’t want to make it through the day. It had been six years since the first time I took the knife to my skin and scratched my forearms; six years since I felt high for the first time. Six years since my addiction started slowly taking over my life.

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An Inconvenient Marriage by A.K. MacBride Review

newarcbannerblurbPhoto of a young bride's back in a lace gown, her hands up highZach has only one goal in life:
To make the man, who had taken his mother from him, pay for everything he’d done.
Now, the only thing standing between him and the revenge he so desperately craves is a marriage to a woman he despises.
But from the moment they say ‘I do’, he learns that his bride is not what he thought she’d be, and walls that he’d built around his heart start to crumble.
What happens when he realizes the woman he is living with, is also the woman he can’t live without.
And how will he handle it when he finds out that he isn’t the only one with an agenda?

Natalie has only one goal in life:
To get as far away from her current situation as possible.
The out she so desperately seeks comes in the form of an arranged marriage to a man who makes no secret of the fact that he dislikes her.
Natalie soon realizes that Zach will not be her knight in shining armor, but that doesn’t stop her from hoping that he would see past the rumors and lies to notice the woman she keeps hidden from the world.

GoodreadsAmazon

author

akmacbrideEven as a young child I would conjure up stories with my imagination, sharing them with anyone who was around to listen. But my love affair with writing truly took flight when I discovered that I wanted to be the one who created the worlds avid readers – such as myself – like to get lost in. And so A.K MacBride, the author, was born.

I would describe my books as sweet and sensual and filled with enough romance to make you swoon. The real word is boring enough, therefore I want my books to be an escape. I love creating characters that are real and flawed. Stubborn males and defiant females to tame them. A HEA is a must.

I live in beautiful South Africa with my husband and daughter. We happily share our small-town home with a cat – who thinks he’s the boss – and two dogs. There is never a dull moment in the madhouse we call home. But, hey, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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reviewaninconvenientmarriage

This was my first A.K. MacBride book, but man what a way to start! This was an enemies to lovers story, but Natalie and Zach didn’t actually hate each other. Zach hated the idea of Natalie, and the rumors that were spreading about her, and Natalie at first was hopeful about the marriage, but quickly realized Zach was kind of a jerk. I’ve been reading a lot of the “instant connection” books recently, which I love and adore, so I almost forgot what it was like to read about two people over coming a heck of a lot of back story to fall in love with each other.

Zach is on a one-man express towards revenge-town on the man that caused his mother to commit suicide. This has been sole reason for being successful for years. One of the consequences means dealing with the man that caused all his problems…. and marrying the man’s daughter. He wasn’t expecting Natalie though. Natalie that has rumors spread about her in the gossip rags; Natalie that is praying for her new husband to see through the facade she shows to the world; Natalie that prays for help.

When reading this book, you learn so much about both Natalie and Zach. The flow of this book is so natural, you end up flipping pages with out realizing it’s over. In fact, I was kind of mad when this was over. I mean HELLO, I obviously need more to this story, thank you very much. Natalie and Zach both develop as people, and watching/reading their story unfold was really amazing. I cannot WAIT to read more of A.K. MacBride!

aninconvenientmarriage25star

Scars to Your Beautiful Anthology Review

newarcbannerblurbscarstoyourbeautifulSeven authors bring you stories inspired by “Scars to your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara.

Stories from eating disorders, weight issues, physical scarring and bullying; all problems we’ve had to bear in our life some way or another.
These stories will show you how your scars don’t define who you are, they simply tell a story of where you’ve been.

YOU ARE ENOUGH, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE AMAZING. BE YOU, AND BE COMFORTABLE IN YOUR SKIN.

Build your foundation from the bricks thrown at you, rather than live under them because your imperfections make you beautiful.

GoodreadsAmazon(Pre-order Link) —

author

The seven contributing authors:

Jaye Cox — Facebook Amazon
Aria Peyton — FacebookAmazon
Riann C. Miller — FacebookAmazon
Stacey Broadbent — FacebookAmazon
Becca L’AmourFacebook — Amazon
Candace Dowds — FacebookAmazon
Kam Newton — Facebook — Amazon

review

I’ve never really read an anthology like this before, nor have I reviewed one. From beginning to end, this wasn’t what I was expecting. From seven short stories, I cried, I laughed, I cheered, and I cried some more. Some stories got to me more than others, but every one of these stories was special in their own way.

Everyone carries scars, some physical, some mental, some both. This is an anthology to overcome those scars, recognize your own beauty because of those scars. I truly love this anthology, because there was a story for everyone included. Those that aren’t happy with the way they look, those that self harm, those that were bullied, those that deal with addiction and eating disorders, for everyone dealing with something, there is a story here for you.

I try to be open about my own scars, in hopes that maybe one day I can help someone else. I suffer, still, with major anxiety which makes it hard to leave the house some days. When I was younger, that anxiety morphed into depression, and led to me trying to relieve the anxiety by harming myself. Point blank: I was a cutter. Reading Cut in this anthology, though we had different reasons for getting to the point, and I had never been hospitalized because of it, brought me back to the feeling of needing it; the addiction. It was hard for me to read, even after the help of amazing and supportive family around me (and some really good therapists), but it was for all the right reasons. It was a story that needed to be told. And it was one that wasn’t a “romance” (the only one in the anthology that wasn’t) but a love story all the same. And it’s a kind of love that is more important than finding love with another person. As the great Ru Paul says “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Please, please, please if you are depressed, anxious or self harming, get help. Please, message me if you need to, or if you don’t know where to get help. I will help you!

With each story, there is something else to learn and to take in, but they can also help open the dialogue. At some point in our lives, we all need someone to talk to, and these stories can help others connect when they may possibly feel no one could possibly know how they feel.

Everyone will have their own story that sticks out to them in this Anthology, Cut was mine. (Although Oil and Water was a close second). I couldn’t order these stories from “best to worst” because they were all very well written, and so important. They are stories of loving yourself first, though sometimes we need the help of others to show we are worth it. Worth being loved, and loving someone else in return. There were too many stories, too many quotes that I loved, to simply pull three and make them teasers. Too many moments that I adored with all my heart. Thank you to the beautiful ladies who came together to write the stories everyone needed, but didn’t know to ask for.

4star

Lost in Silence by Tracie Douglas Review

blurblostinsilenceALICE IS LOST

Lost from her family, friends and the life she once lived. Alice Michaelson is held captive in the dark silence that had become a nightmare. Until one night when the door to her prison is left unlocked and she flees.

HUDSON FINDS HER

Living job to job, haunted by his own set of demons, Hudson Rivers finds himself disarmed by a single glance and he vows to protect the shell of a woman hiding in his closet. But protecting her means keeping her close and that threatens the emotionless life he’s been careful to create for himself.

They both fight their growing connection…

Will they find themselves lost into a world of silence, afraid to let one another in?

Or will they submit to the power of fate and all that it throws at them?

***WARNING***
This book is intended for readers 18 and older. This book contains dark themes, explicit language and sexual content that may not be suitable for some readers.

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authortraciedouglas

Surviving 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!
Facebook — Reader’s Group — Amazon — Goodreads — Email

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“You can’t define your self-worth based on those bad things, especially when you can’t control them.”

Recently, I read Lost in the Shadows, and immediately one clicked the other books in the series. Although all the books are available on Kindle Unlimited, I knew I was going to want to own these babies. I love a dark romance, and Lost in the Shadows was dark. I went into Lost in Silence thinking it couldn’t get much darker since, ya know, Shadows was the third in the series. Well, I was wrong. Silence is dark AF and I loved every second of it.

Alice is literally lost in silence. She lost her voice a long time ago due to her abusive ex, and found the courage to escape him and his tortures. And I’m throwing up every kind of trigger warning here, cause her ex is seriously a piece of work (Tracie, should I be worried about you?). Hudson feels a connection to the silent beauty, though he tries to ignore those feelings. It’s obvious that she’s been through something that broke her, but he doesn’t know what. So he vows to protect her. What neither of them suspected, though, was that Alice was perfectly capable of protecting herself.

With dark romances, it’s so hard to write (I imagine) a romance that has balance. Balance between a heroine who isn’t afraid to save herself, but also recognizes that she can’t, and doesn’t have to, do it by alone. Balance between a guy who wants to protect the HECK out of his woman, but also respects her enough to let her go out by herself. Balance between a whiny heroine and a strong one. Between an alpha guy, a hurt guy, and a complete a-hole.

Tracie finds that delicate balance, while adding humor and banter to give the readers a much needed break from the darkness. AND OMG my favorite part is when Hudson actually gets mad that others think he saved Alice, because HELLO she got where she was on her own, he just helped her. CAN WE TALK ABOUT SWOON WORTHY? (Because it’s totally true). The strength Tracie puts in her characters, as individuals and as a couple, keeps you wanting more.

And LORD that epilogue.

Ok, back to the review. I think, technically, each of these books could be read as a standalone, but honestly, they are SO much better when read all together. The family, because yes, they are a family, that Tracie creates makes you almost forget the fact that really, really, bad stuff happens to this family and you want to join them anyway. I wish I found Silence and Tracie sooner, because you can only read a book once (even if you do re-reads, the first time is always the best- DON’T LIE) and Shadows would have been hella better reading Silence and then Lost Without You first. I’m already stalking- er, following, Tracie so I can get updates for the next book (WHICH I NEED).

Tracie’s swoonworth alphas, and strong AF heroines are people I wish were real, but will always carry with me when I need some life advice and ideas of strengt. Some of the quotes I pulled from the book (that have nothing to do with romance, and everything to do with life) sucker punched me. Alice’s demons were very real and very awful (I can’t think of a word worse than that), but demons are demons. We all have them, and we all fight them. Don’t let yours win.

“You fight those demons back and you let the light in.”

**furiously takes down notes for tattoo ideas**

lostinsilence35star

Voyeur by Fiona Cole Review

blurbvoyeurI didn’t know she was my student the first time I paid to watch her at Voyeur.

Once she walked into my classroom, another smiling college freshman, I knew I should stop going. Stop watching.

But I couldn’t do it. Everything about her makes me want more, and once I realize she wants me too, the temptation becomes irresistible.

The worst part is that she has no idea her professor is the one watching behind the glass.

I just have to hope that once she finds out the truth, she wants the same thing I do. Because now that I’ve seen all of her, I can’t look away.

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author

29872499_1945047725537165_8521270309032165253_o.jpgI never imagined I would ever write a book. I wasn’t even really a reader until the age of twenty. But I picked up a romance and that was it for me. I fell in love. And then one day I stepped into this indie world of books and I started writing. Then I wrote enough to keep going. And then I had a book. Sometimes things happen when you least expect it, but it all falls into place. Writing is it for me.

I’m a stay at home mom with a degree in chemistry and biology. I LOVE science. If you get me started talking about biochemistry, it’s all over. I’ll rattle on for days! But I use all that knowledge to take care of my two little girls. Mostly while my husband is away being a soldier.

It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I like it … And I think I might stay a while.

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When I saw this book, I was really nervous. Voyeurism isn’t my thing; it makes me uncomfortable. And this went even further because there are some couple scenes in the book, though they’re faked. I didn’t know this when I went to read it, but I figured there would be couple scenes, which put me off even more because it felt like cheating in my head. So, I didn’t sign up to try to get an ARC, didn’t even plan on reading it, really. But, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book, from authors and readers alike, so I decided I’d give it a try. Worse thing to happen? It just wasn’t my thing so I wouldn’t finish it; wouldn’t leave a review or anything because just because it wasn’t what I was into didn’t mean it was a bad book.

But holy hell, thank you Jennifer Vester for telling me how good it was, and thank you Fiona Cole for writing this book. I was sucked into the taboo of someone watching someone else perform sexual acts, as well as the characters in the book. Although naughty, I mean hello how can it not be, it was so supremely well written, that I found myself sucked into the world and the lives of Oaklyn and Callum. And God what crazy lives they lead.

I’m not going to put a synopsis of the book, because it’s everywhere, and the blurb covers it quite nicely. When writing a taboo novel, such as teacher and student, and then adding in the voyeurism aspect, there had to be a careful dynamic so no one had more power over the other. Of course, they both thought the other had the power in the relationship, but in reality, they didn’t. And it was SO. WELL. DONE. These two have a distinct friendship that pushes the boundaries of teacher/student, even when you take away the fact that Callum had seen her getting herself off.

There were also sexual awakenings in the book, for Oaklyn and Callum. Oaklyn has to discover her inner strength and sexuality in order to perform for anonymous strangers, and Callum has his own discovery (which I won’t discuss cause hello spoilers!). But Callum is so broken and my heart literally hurts for him. And when he recognizes he’s put all his happiness, his survival, on one person, he recognizes that it’s not fair to her, and has his own reflection on the life he’s lead. So, he goes back to get help for it in order to lead a healthier life, with Oaklyn.

AND LET THE CRYING COMMENCE. So many times I wanted to hug both Cal and Oak, tell them that it was all going to be ok, even when it wasn’t. Individually, these two were HELLA strong, for sticking to what they believe in and also for asking for help and asking the other to communicate even when it was hard to do. Even when they didn’t want to. By the end, I had real tears running down my face. This book was that good.

So yes, I started out reading the blurb and seeing the title and thought “This book isn’t for me.” And no, not everyone will love it, because that’s the nature of people and writing a book that’s dirty (in all the right ways if you ask me), but I implore you to try it. It is so freaking worth it. From beginning to end, it was worth it. I can’t promise you’ll love it, but I KNOW I DID.

(Sorry for the shouty caps)

voyeur15star

BLOOD & SECRETS IS LIVE! (also a giveaway)

Title: Blood & Secrets: 1

Series: The Calvetti Crime Family #1

Author: Rose Harper
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Blurb

I’m dangerous.
Calculated. Bloodthirsty.

The perfect
motherfucking trifecta of crazy.
The name’s Mateo
Calvetti, and Brooklyn belongs to me.
My reach knows no
bounds, and I always get what I want.
Including the
little gem currently twisting my insides.
She’s been promised
to me since birth.
Nothing anyone says
will change that.
She will be mine,
whether she wants it or not.
I’m going to own
her. Consume her. Fuck, I may even keep her.
Yet, something
comes to light I never expected in my wildest dreams.
Blood, secrets, and
lies all fall around my feet.
Carina Ricci isn’t
what she claims to be.
It appears she’s
just as fucked up as me.
Come on, baby,
let’s make them scream.
Let’s show them
what happens when you anger a King and his Queen.

 

Purchase Links

 

99c for a limited time
 
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Free in Kindle Unlimited

 

Author Bio
Rose Harper is a mother of two, avid coffee drinker, and
thrives on bringing tantalizing, downright shiver inducing books for her
readers to devour. She’s a lover of dark, sizzling passion, and mystery filled
stories with twists and turns you never see coming, yet leave you wanting more.
Author Links