Review: Stained by Ella James

Stained (Stained #1)
by Ella James

Seventeen-year-old Julia is finally living the good life. She’s traded a hard cot in a Memphis orphanage for her very own room in a perfect little house, on a perfect little street, with a perfect set of parents who picked her to be their daughter.

But Julia is hiding a secret – and one fall night, she returns home from a friend’s house to find that her secret has found her. Her ‘forever home’ is ashes. Her parents are dead. And, in the sky above the flames, a winged creature hunts her.

The Nephilim King, Samyaza, has taken everything from Cayne. After struggling in the darkness for years to piece together his shattered life, Cayne is finally ready to confront his past and avenge the loss of everything he loved. He tracks Samyaza to a Memphis warehouse, where he winds up flat on his back, in the healing hands of a beautiful, dark-haired girl he doesn’t need to know.

Unbeknownst to either of them, they are already bound. Cayne’s past holds the answers to Julia’s future. But what will pose the greatest threat to her? The bounty placed on her head by the leaders of two Celestial realms, or giving her heart to a man who is bound, by birth, to break it?

A love story among angels. I know, that’s quite the usual trope lately, but surprisingly, STAINED has got a lot of promise. The characters are quite enjoyable, especially the gorgeous Nephilim Cayne. True, he’s amnesiac, but his determination to get back his memories and bring down the Angel of Darkness Samyaza was an admirable trait. No wonder the Stained One, Julia was drawn to him. And yes, I was kinda drawn to him too.

I liked that action started right from the start and didn’t disappoint as the story progressed. After only a few lines, I jumped into this book and the plot got intriguing and quite interesting. Although I thought Julia was a weakling, at the latter part of the story, I found myself liking her. She was kind of “clingy” character, but I guess, given her young age, I thought it was okay. At least she was acting her age. Cayne, on the other hand, albeit, needed a crash-course on driving, but also fun to be with once you get to know him.

Stained isn’t fast paced, but it was really enjoyable until the end… oh wait! There’s no END yet! The book ended rather abruptly, as to be expected, and it’s great. Cayne’s life was at stake and I have this need to know what happens next.

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#ThrowbackThursday: Love The One You’re With by Emily Giffin

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It’s Thursday once again and we’re back with my favorite book meme, #ThrowbackThursday created by Renee of It’s Book Talk (https://itsbooktalk.com/) as her way of sharing some of her favorite oldies but goodies books that were published more than a year ago. Check out her blog to see her TBT recommendations this week 🙂

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Love The One You’re With
by Emily Giffin

coffeesynopsisdThis is the story for anyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I’m with when I can’t forget the one who got away?

 Ellen and Andy’s first year of marriage doesn’t just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she’s living is the one she’s meant to live.

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The story began with Ellen Graham, who reasoned she’s got OCD and thus counted the days since she got married with Andy. And it had been eight years and sixteen days since she heard his voice again. And bumped into him while walking the streets. Her ex lover’s voice. Her former flame. The one that got away. Her Leo.

Ellen got great taste in photography, she had the talent and skill. So when Leo offered her a job to take pictures of celebrities, she grabbed the opportunity. She didn’t tell her husband Andy about her encounter with Leo. No, she hid it and managed to forget about her husband while she was with her ex. As the reader, I was hurting.

Andy no longer filled her wife’s thoughts. Andy seemed to be getting farther and farther away from Ellen’s mind. Andy, poor Andy.

After reading the book, I was left hanging. I didn’t know what I am looking for, but somehow, I felt like there should have been more story to it. While I was contented with how Ellen and Andy ended, I still had this feeling that Ellen shouldn’t have done what she did. But it was just me.

“Sometimes there are no happy endings. No matter what, I’ll be losing something, someone. Maybe that’s what it all comes down to. Love, not as a surge of passion, but as a choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what obstacles or temptations stand in the way. And maybe making that choice, again and again, day in and day out, year after year, says more about love than never having a choice to make at all.”

Emily Giffin expertly wove a tale of love entangled with infidelity, trust, presumptions, choices and decisions. While I have been vocal about my uneasiness with unfaithful married couples, I couldn’t really put down a good book. The author’s writing had been effective, because it made me mad at her and Ellen. To me, that’s a brave trait authors should all practice and possess!

 

Review | Double Crossed: Stolen by Sabrina Howl

Double Crossed: Stolen
A Dark Romance
by Sabrina Howl

It was just a regular day at the bank for Lisbeth – clock in, manage funds and let finances dictate her flow. That normality is shattered the moment two criminals pick her bank to cash in on. When the alarm is tripped and the duo trapped inside, she’s the lucky human shield that gets them past the cops. Though Lisbeth considers herself another victim of their crime spree, she can’t deny her attraction to the men. They might have stolen her, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enlighten her – or that they can’t show her exactly what her monotonous life has been missing.

 

DOUBLE CROSSED: STOLEN is a dark steamy romance with themes of kidnapping, captivity, MMF action and guaranteed to get your heart racing!

Lisbeth was a banker who was caught in a crossfire when two armed and masked men took over the bank for a holdup. She’d been taken hostage by the men and was used as a human shield to be able to escape the cops. Little did she know that this was the start of a more gripping, if not more dangerous life she’d ever led.

Warren and Callum may have had hit the jackpot, not only because they had robbed a bank, but also because they met the woman who made their life even more exhilarating than ever before.

While I wasn’t particularly in favor of the plot (robbing banks and holding hostages), I knew there was still something going on about the characters that will make the reader have second thoughts. There’s a lot more than bank robbery and even kidnapping. The two male characters could definitely set the fire alarm for their extreme hotness and fiery attitude. Lisbeth was definitely in for the shock of her life.

This has been a rollercoaster of a story, a little too raunchy for my taste but proved to be quite promising.

Review: Kiss Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Kiss Me at Willoughby Close
(Willoughby Close #4)
by Kate Hewitt

 

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

After her husband unexpectedly dies, Ava moves to Willoughby Close, trying to keep her chin up and herself to herself as she’s always done—not answering questions, not making friends, and not seeing much of a future. Her marriage was far from perfect, but it offered her a much-needed security that has now been ripped away. She’s not sure what to do now that she’s thirty-five, widowed, penniless… and unexpectedly pregnant with her late husband’s child.

Jace Tucker is the over-the-top sexy caretaker of Willoughby Manor, and he can see beneath Ava’s glamor girl act to the hurt she’s been hiding for so long. She has secrets for a reason—and so does he. The last thing she needs right now is a fling with a man who hides a past as regrettable as her own.

But with a baby to think about, and neighbors determined to be her friends, Ava finds herself starting to change and even more alarmingly, beginning to hope. Can Willoughby Close work its everyday magic on a woman like her? And when the past comes calling for both her and Jace, will they have to answer for their previous mistakes?

It was a sweet and charming story about a widow looking for a clean slate but afraid to trust people. And finally, the handyman/groundskeeper of Willoughby Close, Jace Tucker, had snagged himself quite a catch; if only she’d look her way.

I love the slow and burning romance between Ava Mitchell and Jace, it was a bit consuming on Ava’s end because she wasn’t that trusting and believing in other people after she’d been tagged as a gold digger by her stepchildren and had been ranked same with his late husband’s housekeeper. Yeah, her insecurities almost sucked out her life so I couldn’t blame the other tenants when they touted her as arrogant and quite full of herself. Eventually though, an olive branch was extended and Ava slowly picked up her life. Jace Tucker was definitely the man for him.

I am enjoying the Willoughby Close series and I can’t wait to read the next one! Kate Hewitt spins tales that are highly dramatic but also sweet and hot and fun to read! The kiss at the end is definitely worth it!

Review: Single Dad’s Fake Bride by Nikki Chase

Single Dad’s Fake Bride
A Virgin and Billionaire Romance
by Nikki Chase

My billionaire boss wants me to marry him.
But this is no office romance. This is just pretend.
Or at least it’s supposed to be… until feelings get involved.
Now I want him and his daughter to be my real family.
But I have a secret that could destroy everything.

Ethan Hunter is a self-made billionaire. He also happens to be devastatingly handsome. My knees go weak when he looks at me with those piercing blue eyes.

Now he’s in trouble. Because of his bad reputation, he could lose custody of his daughter.

And by some strange twist of fate, I’m the only person who can help him… by pretending to be his wife.

But here’s a secret: he doesn’t know who I really am.

Yes, I’m his sweet, innocent assistant during office hours, but I’m also an undercover journalist. I only started working for Ethan to dig up some dirt on him.

So I marry him. That makes me both a virgin and a married woman, which is weird. But hey, many journalists have done crazier things to get the inside scoop.

Then I move into Ethan’s swanky penthouse apartment and things start to unravel. Everything feels too real. I have a plan, but my heart won’t stick to it—and neither will my traitorous body.

I want this fake life to be my reality. But what will happen when Ethan finds out the truth about me?

Ethan Hunter isn’t on the hunt for a wife nor a mother for his child, Penny. But a grueling interview and an extremely worried daughter soon find him in a predicament and is forced to marry his PA, Megan Jones.

Megan is hesitant at first with the situation, but with a secret mission up in her sleeves, she agrees to being Ethan’s fake bride and puts her plan into action.

What she doesn’t expect is falling in love with her boss and his daughter. She needs to do her revenge, but it seems fate has other plans for her.

Single Dad’s Fake Bride is an entertaining read. Fast, furious and fiery and oozing with combustible heat. Megan fits Ethan’s life perfectly, and he’s definitely more than the man she thought he was. Penny, the daughter, was such a darling, a troublemaker maybe, but is absolutely a character to love. Once again, Nikki Chase has delivered a story that’s not only poignant but also entertaining, dreamy and delicious. A great bedtime story for hopeless romantic readers!

ARC Review: Prom Queen by Katee Robert

Prom Queen
(Bad Boy Homecoming #3)
by Katee Robert

A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new erotic romance from NYT Bestselling Author Katee Robert.

Jake Davis had it all in high school—a scholarship to his college of choice, a promising football career, and the gorgeous prom queen for a girlfriend. And then he lost it all when he was injured right after graduation. Ten years later, he’s mostly made his peace with that, and now runs a company that provides women with dates for special events. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that the ex who left him in the dust needs a fake boyfriend for their high school reunion…

Jessica Jackson used to be the mean girl to end all mean girls. But life didn’t turn out like she’d thought it would, and now she’s twenty-eight, single, and works as an insurance agent to A-listers instead of being the A-lister like she’d always dreamed. She can’t go back to her home town and admit just how thoroughly she’s failed, so she lets her friends set her up with a fake date for the reunion.

The second Jessica realizes that her fake date is Jake, she tries to call the whole thing off. The problem is the chemistry between them is even hotter now than it was when they were teenagers. Against her better judgment she lets herself get drawn into Jake’s arms again—and into his bed. But time doesn’t heal all wounds—sometimes, it actually makes them worse—and if Jessica and Jake can’t learn to forgive each other, their second chance might not last the weekend.

Karma is a bitch, that’s what this is all about. Jessica realized too late that everything she’d done in the past had come haunting her back. The mean girl slash cheerleader was finally going to face her victims in the upcoming high school reunion and Jessica was sure they’d throw eggs at her because of her attitude then. Just thinking about the reunion was sending shivers down her spine, not because of her ex-boyfriend hottie Jake Davis coming too, but because she didn’t have anyone to bring as a date to the dreaded get-together. Until her friends signed her up to an escort-type service for people who needed fake dates.

I didn’t expect to like this story, for one, I really don’t like bullies in high school and second, I am not much of a second-chance romance believer. Yeah, I’ve had such horrifying experiences about these instances in high school (I was bullied a little by a teacher’s daughter when I was in junior high, so that kind of sucked. And then I had a boyfriend before who cheated on me but I gave him second chance and just blew it all away because he went back to his cheating ways. So yes, those tropes really get under my skin, so forgive me if I was hesitant to read this.

But surprise, surprise! I had a great time with Prom Queen by Katee Robert. I loved that Jessica Andrews redeemed herself and saw the fault of her ways; that was really important to me. I loved that she also took a chance with love the second time around. At least she wasn’t cheated by her ex so their renewed relationship became sweet and lovely. The drama was okay, it was essential to the story; the characters were real and relatable. One could easily find herself in this characters and I myself couldn’t help but fall for them, especially with Jake.

Overall, this had been such a delightful read! I can’t wait to read more of Katee Robert’s books and the rest of the Bad Boy Homecoming series!

 

P.S. I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Thread and Spool by Holly Hook

Thread and Spool (A Twisted Fairytale #1)
by Holly Hook

Cursed with the ability to weave thread into gold, Brie has learned to trust no one. Her parents keep her around so they can gamble their money away and now her boyfriend’s only staying because he’s got a collection of game systems to grow.

When Brie grabs the attention of Stilt, the new guy in town, it changes everything. Brie is a Legend—a character in a fairytale—and she belongs in a realm of magic called Fable. But when she crosses over to the new world with Stilt, she soon learns that the cruel ruler of the realm has taken an interest in her ability-and it could cost Brie her life.

Stilt promises that he can help her escape, but in return, he asks for something that she might not be able to give. Can Brie put her trust in Stilt or will she die at the hands of greed?

I have always liked reading retellings, I find myself always amazed by the authors’ ability to twist and fracture and alter the fairytales we all have come to love when we were still children. So I was delighted to read Thread and Spool by Holly Hook and read this story to my kids while lulling them to sleep.

I’m an avid fan of Once Upon A Time and Rumpelstiltskin’s character had grown on me, whether on the TV series or from the book. Brie happened to be the girl who could really spin gold out of straws but she’s in our world. Her foster parents used her gold-yielding power to gain more riches and her boyfriend Hardy was just the same. Then she met Stilt and her world changed when the magical elf took her to Fable – a realm where all fairy tales had come about. A realm where she was originally married to the voracious King Henrik and Rumpelstiltskin was the one who really wove thread into gold. And yes, he was always that elf who got her Queen Brie’s first born. But things had changed now that Brie got that magic tingling power instead.

This retelling was fast-paced and thrilling. But there still seemed to be a lot more stories missing, more holes to fill, more questions begging for answers. There’s a lot of promise in this book, so I am giving this series a chance. My kids did enjoy Stilt’s story and Sylvia’s arc, while I would love to know more about Lavine and other characters too. So yes, we can’t wait to read the next book!

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of Thread and Spool from the “Rachel E. Carter YA Book Club” on Goodreads. All opinions of the book are my own.