Tag Archives: romance drama

Ignite: Heart of the Inferno Book II by Nicole Fanning Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman struggling with her growing feelings for a powerful mafia don must traverse the bloody underworld of Chicago in author Nicole Fanning’s “Ignite”, the second book in the Heart of the Inferno series. 

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The Synopsis

She never expected to fall in love with a mafia don.

He never expected to fall in love at all.

But will their love be enough?

Four weeks ago, Jaxon Pace, the billionaire “Don Supreme” of Chicago’s underground mafia syndicates, took a bullet.

This bullet was meant for the only girl who stole his heart, the beautiful Natalie Tyler, a simple nurse from Miami.

Overwhelmed by the horrors she witnessed in Chicago, Natalie chose to return home, leaving the broken and brokenhearted Jaxon Pace to recover on his own.

A month after her visit, Natalie’s heart still belongs to Jaxon…And you better believe The Don Supreme is coming to collect HIS woman.

But when he arrives he learns that Natalie has a little surprise for him: She is pregnant.

However, his enemies will give the happy couple no reprieve.

Especially, Jaxon’s presumed-dead ex-girlfriend, Rachel, and her psychotic brother, Michael.

They are the leaders of Chicago’s newest twisted mafia clan, the Two-Headed Dragon.

The Two-Headed Dragon has one goal: the complete destruction of the Pace Family Mafia.

If successful, they will destroy the entire mafia hierarchy that has guided Chicago’s underworld for a century, sending the city into complete chaos.

Will Natalie & Jaxon’s love be enough to defeat the dangers of the present…and the demons of the past?

Filled with exhilarating highs, steamy romance, and heart-pounding suspense, “Ignite” picks up where “Catalyst” left off, and joins our favorite mafia couple as they fight for each other in a world filled with deceit, depravity, and unspeakable darkness.

The Review

This was a truly heated, passionate, and gritty romantic suspense thriller. The way the author was able to weave the tense and engaging romance and heated scenes between Jaxon and Natalie with the haunting action and suspense that the emergence of this Two-Headed dragon gang was so engaging. The fast pace of the narrative will have readers deeply invested in the character’s journey early on. 

What was truly the heart of this read was the amazing character growth and interaction between the main characters. The intimate scenes between the two protagonists were incredibly spicy and the author did a great job of bringing these moments to life on the page. The dual nature that is explored in this book within the characters’ lives is so unique, as readers see the intensity of Jaxon’s mob life clash with his love for Natalie, while Natalie’s caring nature must come to terms with the more violent aspects of Jaxon’s life. It creates some unique drama that pairs well with the suspense of the new gang, led by truly chilling brother and sister gangsters who hold a grudge against Jaxon’s mob family. 

The Verdict

Intense, action-packed, and passionately written, author Nicole Fanning’s “Ignite” is a brilliant must-read romantic thriller! The author’s superb writing style creates engaging and entertaining storylines that help bring this world to life and the city of Chicago feels so gritty and brilliantly realized through the author’s descriptive writing style. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Nicole is a smitten wife and super proud dog mom to three rambunctious rescue dogs.

She’s an old-school romantic, with a proclivity for a little mischief, and an obsession with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Her first book, Catalyst-Heart of the Inferno, is an action romance about the terrifying and dangerous mafia lord Jaxon Pace, and Natalie Tyler, the girl who became his only exception.

Olympian Heartbreak (Olympian Love Book 2) by Andrya Bailey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman grapples with the passion and emotions of a whirlwind romance as mystery and intrigue force her to make a choice in author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Heartbreak”, the second book in the Olympian Love series.

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The Synopsis

This is the sequel to Olympian Passion and not a stand-alone book.

Sabrina found out that Nikos returned to Greece with Maggie and is heartbroken until a surprising invitation to go to Athens gives her hope. Once she reconnects with him, their passion grows stronger.

Nikos takes her to the most romantic places around Athens and even invites her to travel to a newly-discovered archaeological site. Her insecurities increase when she learns he’s hiding a secret from his past, but his friends advise her to be patient if she really loves him.

Their passionate week is suddenly interrupted when Nikos is faced with a tragic situation. Will she make the ultimate sacrifice to help him?

The Review

The author crafted a truly passionate and heartfelt read. The audience will definitely benefit from having read the first book in this series, as several plot lines and characters carry over directly from the first book in this series. The intensity and heat that the more adult and romantic scenes play out will instantly hook romance readers, while the history and culture of this book’s setting (Athens) will add more depth and worldliness to the series and the characters as a whole. 

The character development was crucial to this novel’s main thread plotline. The mixture of fear and hope that runs throughout Sabrina is so palpable, as she feels drawn ever closer to this mysterious and tragically closed-off man, all while she struggles with not only his feelings for her, but the interference of Maggie and the mystery of Nikos and his family as the story progresses. The balance this strikes with Nikos and his reluctance to accept love into his heart, and the hints at past heartbreak and betrayal really settle in the emotional side of this male protagonist in a new and illustrious way.

The Verdict

Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, yet passionately written, author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Heartbreak” is a fantastic sequel and the perfect addition to the Olympian Love series. The perfect balance of tense atmospheric buildup between romantic partners and detailed and thoughtful story development made this a true standout and a must-read for fans of romance and drama. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10 

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About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received a 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

Olympian Love (Olympian Love Trilogy Book 3) by Andrya Bailey Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A heartbreaking end to her whirlwind romance comes back full circle after a chance encounter with her former flame’s rival brings back her true love, and the agonizing reality of what happened between them in author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Love”, the third book in the Olympian Love Trilogy.

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The Synopsis

The third book in the Olympian Love trilogy – not a stand-alone volume.

When she returns to Houston after leaving Nikos in Greece during one of the most troublesome times of his life, Sabrina is miserable and heartbroken. She promised Maggie she would never talk to him again – that was part of their deal which resulted in her ultimate sacrifice.

Her graduation is upon her, but she can’t get Nikos out of her mind. A chance encounter with Aleksy, Nikos’s rival, reopens her wounds, and when she learns Nikos will be back in town, she’s beside herself. Would he ever forgive her? Tormented between breaking her promise to Maggie, which could have dire consequences, and afraid of losing Nikos forever, she faces an agonizing reality. Will she ever have the courage to answer him ‘why’ and reconquer the man she loves?

The Review

The delicate balance of heated passion and heartbreaking romance is powerfully explored early on in this read. The author brilliantly explores the tragedy and painful experience of love lost and the experience of having to sacrifice one’s love for a powerful cause. The imagery and tone the author strikes with this narrative are so vivid in detail and make the scenes come to life in the reader’s mind. I will say that while the book can be read as a stand-alone for newcomers like me to the series, having read the previous books in this trilogy will definitely add more depth and emotional connection to these amazing characters.

The character growth and the heat in the main character’s interactions are definitely the heart of this story. The raw emotions that Sabrina experiences as she returns to her home and struggles with the sacrifices she had to make are heartbreaking to read, and feel so real that readers want to reach out and comfort the young woman. Yet the balance to that emotion comes with the raw heat and passion that strikes between her and Nikos once more in this story, and as the complexity of their relationship is explored, so too are the depths of their need for one another, creating a very heated and adult narrative.

The Verdict

Passionate, entertaining, and captivating, author Andrya Bailey’s “Olympian Love” is the perfect final chapter of this enrapturing Greek romance. The highs and lows of Sabrina’s journey and the exhilarating backdrop of Greek history and mythos were extremely engaging to read about, and fans will be eager to dive deep into her entanglements with Nikos once more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received the 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary e-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

Pretending by Holly Bourne Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

TRIGGER WARNING: PLOT INVOLVES MENTIONS AND PLOT LINES INVOLVING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND TRAUMA. 

A woman dealing with a traumatic past finds herself leading a somewhat double life after dealing with a series of bad relationships in author Holly Bourne’s “Pretending”. 

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The Synopsis

April is kind, pretty and relatively normal—yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.

Gretel is perfect—beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She’s your regular, everyday Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-Next-Door with no problems.

When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun—especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

The Review

This was a fantastic yet harrowing look into the modern world of dating, relationships and the boundaries that people cross every day. The story is also one of cycles, as cause and effect play a pivotal role in the theme of this narrative. 

The author dives emotionally into the sad yet true nature of a male-dominated society that makes things such as dating such a harrowing experience. Add on top of that the trauma of an experience where the protagonist found someone in her life crossing a line that should never be crossed, and in the process left her emotionally and mentally scarred by the event. The way the author showcases the impact this event has had on the protagonist’s psyche is really engaging to read, and how the character evolves over the course of the narrative keeps the reader invested throughout.

The Verdict

At times darkly comical, at others a shocking yet much-need narrative on the modern world of dating and holding those accountable for crossing horrific lines, the novel “Pretending” by Holly Bourne is a must-read story. The way the story plays out really highlights the need to not only help those who have suffered tragic events but to work to prevent them from happening by having more open and honest discussions in society is perfectly felt in this narrative, and the intimate inner dialogues the protagonist has with herself and her alter ego make the character growth throughout the novel feel much more impactful. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Holly started her writing career as a news journalist, where she was nominated for Best Print Journalist of the Year. She then spent six years working as an editor, a relationship advisor, and general ‘agony aunt’ for a youth charity – helping young people with their relationships and mental health.

Inspired by what she saw, she started writing teen fiction, including the best-selling, award-winning ‘Spinster Club’ series which helps educate teenagers about feminism. When she turned thirty, Holly wrote her first adult novel, ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’, examining the intensified pressures on women once they hit that landmark.

Alongside her writing, Holly has a keen interest in women’s rights and is an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health problems. She’s helped create online apps that teach young people about sexual consent, works with Women’s Aid to spread awareness of abusive relationships, and runs Rethink’s mental health book club.

Connected to Me By Marc Kage Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young people struggling with their own complicated lives make a strong connection together, and soon find themselves forced to live the other’s life in author Marc Kage’s “Connected to Me”. 

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The Synopsis 

Aoi Kanemoto is Japanese, cute, shy, and a certified genius. Despite graduating top of her class at Caltech, she struggles to find a job in the fast-paced tech industry. Her family, although very loving, doesn’t understand her at all, and her little sister seems poised for success. But Aoi suffers from deep seated trust issues, that keep her from pursuing her dreams.

Then she meets Christian Sterling at a local ramen shop. An Afro-Hispanic foster child and fellow tech-head, Christian’s gentle demeanor and kind gestures cut through Aoi’s emotional barrier. But as they chat and grow closer, the shy girl’s anxiety causes her to flee the restaurant, before he can even ask for her number. Getting ditched is bad enough, but Christian has no idea that this chance encounter is about to turn both their lives upside down.

The next morning, Christian and Aoi are shocked to wake up in each other’s bodies. They have no idea how to get back! As Aoi discovers how lonely Christian’s life really is, Christian must confront Aoi’s strict parents, and help her find the courage to stand up for herself once and for all. And the more they learn about each other’s lives, the deeper they fall in love. But are they trapped in each other’s bodies forever? And if they do switch back, will their new-found romance survive?

The Review

A truly unique twist on the classic “Freaky Friday” body-switch storyline. The author does a great job of developing these two protagonists and their own underlying struggles quite well. The story flows smoothly thanks to detailed and passionate writing, and the emotional bond the two protagonists share with one another can be felt as each chapter goes on. 

What really stood out to me from a narrative perspective was the entire concept of the body-switch, as both protagonists are tech-based geniuses and spend so much time in the world of science that it is fascinating to see how they deal with this almost magical-like situation. Culture also plays a great role in the narrative as well, and Silicon Valley has never felt more alive in this romantic setting. 

The Verdict

A gripping, heartfelt, and evenly-paced narrative, author Marc Kage’s “Connected to Me” is a must-read romance for the modern era. Dealing with mental health and anxiety-based struggles, loneliness, romance, and wonder, the novel is the perfect escape as we head into the final weeks of 2020. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Marc Kage was Born and Raised in Livingston, New Jersey. He graduated from Livingston High School in 2009 and graduated from Montclair State University with a BA in Georgraphy in 2016. Marc currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. When Marc is not writing, he enjoys working out, eating and most importantly, learning new things about this dysfunctional planet.

Trade Secrets by V.K. Tritschler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A woman’s dream job turns her life upside down as she’s forced to choose between a man who isn’t all he seems to be and a boss who may not be who he seems at all in author V.K. Tritschler’s “Trade Secrets”. 

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The Synopsis

What happens when your dream job turns out to be a hot mess?

Emily earned a spot in a top Adelaide advertising agency and was excited to be starting her professional career. But on her very first day she gets coffee spilled on her by Meg, her new and complicated co-worker; runs into Jimmy, her wildly inappropriate boss; and gets stuck in an elevator with Harry, who is the hottest guy in the industry and her company’s biggest competitor.

When Jimmy enlists Emily to spy on Harry and his company, things become more complicated.

But Emily finds that her life isn’t as perfect as she’d dreamed. Now, she has to choose between handsome Harry, who may not be all he seems, and bawdy Jimmy, who is exactly what she fears. Secrets and hidden agendas rip apart Emily’s dreams. Will she pick the devil she knows or the one she doesn’t?

The Review

This was the perfect romantic drama read. The author captures the intricacies of young women walking into the world wide-eyed and hopeful about the future, only to see reality making life far more complex than they could have imagined. Blending the modern-day “dramedy”  that fans have come to expect from shows like Netflix’s Emily in Paris or Younger, the novel catapults a healthy blend of love triangles with complicated workplace drama. 

Emily is a fantastic protagonist, pushing herself with an enthusiastic glean in her eyes while fielding a mother who doubts her career goals, a co-worker who makes her life complicated, and two men who pull her heart in different directions. The author’s ability to craft relatable characters while implementing an air of mystery with some heavy emotional beats showcases the fantastic world-building the author has accomplished with this novel. 

The Verdict

A must-read, evenly-paced and engaging read, author V.K. Tritschler’s “Trade Secrets” is a phenomenal novel. Full of romance, drama, and everything young readers love to delve into, this is the perfect winter read for those seeking a romance-filled getaway from reality. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

VK Tritschler is a full-time busy body, and part-time imagination conjurer. She lives on the amazing Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, having moved there from her hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand. Her family consists of a very patient husband, two rampant boys and too many pets to mention.

She has a wonderful set of amazing writers who support her in the form of Eyre Writers, and in return she offers crowd control services for the Youth section who are the future best-selling Australian authors.

Her first book “The Secret Life of Sarah Meads” was released in 2018 and since then she has participated in the NYC Writing Challenge, the Clunes Booktown, and helped organize and run the Eyre Writers Festival.

Her paranormal romance is “Magic & Mischief” with her story “Vital Impetus” which came out in July 2020. An anthology of magical stories from around the globe.

Her next novel “The Risky Business of Romance” was released in October 2020. Her next novel – Trade Secrets is a rom-com and due out in December 2020. Stay tuned for more details!

Ever available to her readership you can find her at:

www.vktritschler.com

www.facebook.com/vktritschler

www.twitter.com/vktritschler

www.goodreads.com/vktritschler

Hate Crush (Filthy Rich #2) by Angelina M. Lopez Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A decade after he broke her heart, a young Princess must put herself on the line once more in order to save her kingdom by working with the rockstar she fell in love with in author Angelina M. Lopez’s “Hate Crush”, the second in the Filthy Rich series.

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The Synopsis

A fake relationship could help Princesa Sofia save her kingdom. Only problem: She’ll have to fake it with the man who broke her heart.

Ten years ago, wild child Princesa Sofia Maria Isabel de Esperanza y Santos fell in fast crazy love with heartbreaker Aish Salinger during one California harvest season. Now, all grown up and with the future of her kingdom on her shoulders, she hates him as passionately as she once loved him.

Even if her body hasn’t gotten the hate memo.

Faking a relationship with the now-famous rock star for the press and public will ensure the success of her new winery and prosperity of her kingdom. All she has to do is grit her teeth and bear his tattooed presence in her village and winery—her home—for a month.

Trying to recover from his own scandal, fallen superstar Aish Salinger jumps at the chance to be near Sofia again. Leaving her was the biggest mistake he’s ever made, and he’s waited ten years to win her back.

He never counted on finding a woman who despised him so much she didn’t want to be anywhere near him.

A war of wills breaks out as the princess and rock star battle to control their fake relationship. She wants to dictate every action to keep him away from her. He wants to be as close as he can be. She’s already lost so much because of Aish—e won’t be the reason her people lose even more.

But he also won’t make her break her life’s most important vow: To never fall in love again.

Read Filthy Rich Book One, Lush Money, available now from Carina Press!

The Review

A fantastic read! The author does an amazing job of creating a narrative for readers new to the series and fans of the first novel as well. The characters are well-rounded as they are filled with rich history not only between one another but by themselves as well, making their story shine even brighter. 

The story does a great job of bringing readers fully into the romance aspect of the narrative, making the tension and pain of their history together that much more engaging as a reader. However the inclusion of mystery and intrigue surrounding aspects of their shared past make this a good little mystery as well, giving an added layer of connectivity to the characters overall. 

The Verdict

A truly wonderful and engaging read, author Angelina M. Lopez and her novel “Hate Crush” is an evenly paced, heart-pounding read that readers will not be able to put down. A wonderful and rich cast of characters and entertaining story make this a must-read contemporary romance, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hate-Crush-Filthy-Angelina-Lopez/dp/1335459502

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hate-crush-angelina-m-lopez/1135551929

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hate-crush/id1491603901

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hate-crush

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Angelina_M_Lopez_Hate_Crush?id=hDTEDwAAQBAJ

About Angelina M. Lopez

Angelina M. Lopez wrote “arthur” when her kindergarten teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. In the years since she learned to spell the word correctly, she’s been a journalist for an acclaimed city newspaper, a freelance magazine writer, and a content marketer for small businesses. Finally, she found her way back to “author.”

Angelina writes sexy, contemporary stories about strong women and the confident men lucky enough to fall in love with them. The fact that her parents own a vineyard in California’s Russian River Valley might imply a certain hedonism about her; it’s not true. She’s a wife and a mom who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. She makes to-do lists with perfectly drawn check boxes. She checks them with glee.

You can find more about her at her website, AngelinaMLopez.com.

Connect with Angelina M. Lopez

Website: http://www.angelinamlopez.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AngelinaMLopezDC/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelinaMLo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelinamlo/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19213274.Angelina_M_Lopez


And now, an excerpt of Hate Crush (Filthy Rich #2) by Angelina M. Lopez…


Aish pulled the bud out of his ear and straightened, never taking his eyes off her as he held it out. When she took the bud from him, she let her fingers linger. His fingertips were warm and that tiny touch sent a frisson down her arm.

She unwrapped the headphones from around her neck and stuffed them into her back pocket. But she didn’t move back.

“I’m a musician,” he said, voice low.

“I know.”

A corner of his mouth went up. “What else do you know?”

That he made every millimeter of her skin buzz. That he smelled like boy and sweat and ocean salt. She hated the nose-clogging scent of cologne. There was nothing fake about the way this boy smelled.

She pulled her long braid over her shoulder and tugged on it. “You’re from LA, your father designs clothes, your mother is a famous fitness instructor. Y…you’re very good at surfing, singing, partying, working harder on less sleep than everyone else and…oh, , ménage à trois.”

Shock, mortification, and humor created a palette across his expressive face. “Who said I’m good at threesomes?”

Sofia ran a hand down her braid and shrugged, all Spanish cool. “No sé. I keep my nose to myself. It’s everyone else who talks.”

When he grinned this time, he looked like he might lean down and taste her. “And what does everyone say about you?”

Sofia worked to maintain her smile. She wanted to be no one to nobody. She wanted to have nothing said about her. But even if she’d lived a cloistered life in a high tower, her story would be marred with her parents’ dramas and affairs and fights, ugly public episodes that stripped Sofia of dignity without her involvement. And Princesa Sofia hadn’t lived a cloistered life. Maintaining her dignity hadn’t been high on her list when she’d mooned the crowd from atop a Semana Santa float in Cádiz or when she’d waved drunkenly to the paparazzi from a movie star’s hotel balcony when she was supposed to be presented to the Queen of England. She’d been neither drunk nor sleeping with the star. But her humiliated mother had abandoned the duke’s bedroom she’d been occupying to drag Sofia back to the Monte.

She didn’t want to think about her scandalous past. She didn’t want to think about the demands of her future. All Sofia wanted right now was to be a dirty, half-naked girl wrapped around a beautiful boy in a wine tank.

“I know some stuff about you,” Aish said quietly.

Sofia focused on the air in front of his face and ran her hand down her braid.

“Your name’s Sofia. That’s…really fucking pretty.” He hadn’t said Princess Sofia. He hadn’t said Sofia de

Esperanza y Santos. Just Sofia. And he thought it was pretty. She focused again on his eyes.

“You’ve got a great accent.” The air between them felt like it was warming up. “You like grunt work, which is so hot it kinda hurts.”

Nothing about her royal status. Nothing about her reputation. He’d just arrived; perhaps none of the interns had told him about the princess in their midst. Perhaps his uncle had just said, “Make sure the new intern hasn’t passed out. Her name is Sofia.”

“You’re not wearing a bra.” Her mouth opened at that, surprised, as his eyed gripped shut. “I noticed and if you noticed I noticed, I’m sorry ’cause I don’t want you to think I’m a total fucking creeper and scare you away…”

“I don’t think you’re a creeper,” she said, reaching to brush her fingers over his clenched fist. Her breasts were so small she seldom wore a bra. But this boy acted like they were an irresistible temptation.

Aish opened his eyes. “Are you for real?”

Sofia smiled up at him, feeling helpless and foolish and floating.

“I mean, am I having some weird acid flashback?” His urgency seemed to express that it was a real possibility.

“Wouldn’t I be having one, too?” she asked. “And I’ve never done acid.”

“No, no.” He was a lit fuse aimed in her direction. “This could be my own personal hallucination. Because, what the fuck. My uncle tells me to go check on the new intern and inside a tank is a kick-ass, bare-skinned fairy girl listening to elf music. I feel like I’m tripping. Am I?”

With amazement beaming from her, Sofia shook her head.

He reacted like she’d punched him. “Fuck. Your smile. Can I kiss you?”

Copyright © 2020 by Angelina M. Lopez

Burn Zone (Hotshots #1) by Annabeth Albert

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Desire and danger lurk as a seasoned fire rescue crew member Linc finds the younger brother of his late best friend Jacob joining the crew, stirring up old feelings despite a promise never to pursue anything that he made to Jacob’s brother years earlier in author Annabeth Albert’s “Burn Zone”. 

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The Synopsis

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

The Review

This is definitely an emotional, steamy, and engaging read for those who like passionate LGBTQ romance reads with a hint of action, drama, and intensity. The character development and ongoing struggle of the characters felt relatable. 

From Linc’s growing desire and a mixture of guilt combining with his own identity within the fire rescue crew community he had been engaged with for years to Jacob’s desire to honor his brother’s legacy and finally earn the respect of his family and the people his brother and Linc had worked with for years, the struggles of these two’s lives when combined with the intense romance brewing between them made for a compelling read. 

The Verdict

A gripping evenly paced read, author Annabeth Albert’s “Burn Zone”, the first in the Hotshots series, is a must-read for any fans of the LGBTQ romance/contemporary genre. A fantastic setting and heart-pounding look into the world of fire rescue crews, the story of these two men, and the journey they go on together is something readers will not be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burn-Zone-Hotshots-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07YCQ7VQW

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burn-zone-annabeth-albert/1133792901

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/burn-zone/id1481346634

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/burn-zone-2

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Annabeth_Albert_Burn_Zone?id=3eWxDwAAQBAJ

About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Connect with Annabeth Albert

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK 

Author Q&A

BURN ZONE is the first book in the Hotshots series. What three words best describe BURN ZONE?

Danger, heat, and loyalty! All three words apply on multiple levels here! 

What is Linc’s most surprising quality?

His tenderness. Linc’s deep and abiding loyalty is what people notice first with him, but it’s his private tenderness with Jacob that surprised (and delighted!!!) me the most with him. 

What quality do you love most about Jacob?

Jacob is fearless and tenacious. He knows what he wants and he goes for it, full tilt, whether that thing is his older brother’s best friend, Linc, or smoke jumping.  

BURN ZONE is full of amazing tropes: age difference, grumpy & the sunshine one, older brother’s best friend, rookie/experienced expert, and hurt/comfort. Which trope was the most fun to write for Linc and Jacob’s story?

I knew going into this that this was going to be a deeper examination of best friend’s little brother trope.  I did best friend’s brother with At Attention (Out of Uniform, book #2), but the stakes were lower than they are here as far as the familial relationship. I wanted the characters to have to really grapple with some big feelings. And those feelings give rise to some of my favorite hurt/comfort scenes that I’ve done. All the tropes play together to make this one of my favorite books I’ve done—I loved watching my initial idea of angsty brother’s best friend evolve and grow with the other tropes. 

What would you like readers to take away from reading Linc and Jacob’s story?

Sometimes the heart knows what it wants and won’t stop until it gets its way. Linc and Jacob are meant to be, even in face of opposition and adversity. Their relationship is ill-advised—they work together, Linc’s his mentor, and he’s Jacob’s older brother’s best friend. On paper, they are terrible for each other, but in actuality, they are perfect for each other, the missing half to the other’s heart. They’ve been in love, in a way, for years and years, and all that longing pays off in explosive chemistry. I think what I want readers to take away from this story is “Trust your heart. The rest will follow.” If you trust in your heart, then all the obstacles can be tackled, one by one. 

Who was your favorite secondary character to write in BURN ZONE?

Garrick! He gets book 2, HIGH HEAT, coming to you in July from me and Carina Press! I can’t WAIT for you to meet Garrick and Rain! 

Where did the inspiration for the Hotshots series come from?

I wanted to do a Central Oregon series, and after spending time in the region on family trips, I was fascinated by how much of the summer season is dominated by wildfire risk. After writing Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform, book #7), I really, really wanted to do more parachute-loving characters, and what’s better than one hero who likes to jump out of planes? Two! And a whole team of them! I wanted to return to the team feeling from Out of Uniform with a close-knit fire community in a part of the country that I truly love. 

Writing about smoke jumpers in Oregon must have resulted in some interesting research for the Hotshots series. What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve learned so far? 

So much amazing research! One thing that I loved finding out about was how smoke jumpers repair a lot of their own gear. They are responsible for repairing and maintaining their equipment and a lot of time that means sewing and other highly dexterous tasks that you might not associate with rough-and-ready firefighters. 

BURN ZONE and the Hotshots series returns to the ‘band of brothers’ feel readers loved in your Out of Uniform Series. What do you love about writing the ‘band of brothers’ feel into your books? 

I love loyal groups bound by more than just friendship or family. I love people brought together by a shared passion for serving their community. I love putting them in the sort of life-and-death situations that our real life frontline heroes face. Loyalty to each other goes far beyond a job. It’s a calling, and sometimes it results in sacrifices. I like to honor that hard work and sacrifice in my books and pay tribute to these heroic vocations. It’s inspiring and also fascinating, examining the community created by people brought together to serve the greater good. 

HIGH HEAT, the second Hotshots book comes out this summer. What can readers expect from Garrick’s story?

I loved every single thing about writing BURN ZONE, but Garrick was one of my favorite parts. He’s a foil for both Linc and Jacob, and he’s the sort of freewheeling, easy spirit that absolutely embodies the smoke jumping community. But what happens when that job, that community is threatened by an injury beyond your control? Garrick’s book was a chance for me to delve deep into what happens when life doesn’t go according to plan. But it’s also a tremendously fun book. There’s a dog in need of a home, a kinky new younger neighbor, a hot tub, and shenanigans aplenty as Garrick and his co-hero Rain, discover what truly makes a home. With the whole series, you can expect fire drama in the background and lots of adrenaline pumping, but also deep, meaningful feelings and warm, squishy endings.  

Husband Material by Emily Belden Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman must face her heartbreaking past and discovers a shocking secret in author Emily Belden’s novel “Husband Material”. 

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The Synopsis 

Told in Emily Belden’s signature edgy voice, a novel about a young widow’s discovery of her late husband’s secret and her journey toward hope and second-chance love.

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

The Review

This book has the perfect balance of rom/com style dialogue with heartfelt, emotional themes that deal with the reality of loss, in particular losing a spouse at an early age. The novel answers the question of how we find the motivation and will to move on and if finding love again is possible, while also delving into the complex feelings that come with respecting the past and meeting the future head-on. 

The protagonist perfectly showcases a strong lead that directs the story forward in a natural progression while also showing off how the protagonist’s pain and way of dealing with grief have closed themselves off from the rest of the world, including the people closest to her. The author does a great job of not following the formula exactly for a rom/com stylebook, instead of writing real characters with complex emotions that leaves the future for the characters open to interpretation, just as life truly is. 

The Verdict

A masterful romance, comedy yet dramatic story with rich characters and an evenly paced tone, the novel Husband Material by Emily Belden is a must-read for any fans of the romance genre. A great hit with lots of hearts, fans will not be able to put down their copies anytime soon. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author Bio:

EMILY BELDEN is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at http://www.emilybelden.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @emilybelden.

Advance Praise for Husband Material

“Tackling thorny questions of widowhood and dating after trauma, Belden’s second novel is witty, full of heart, and blindingly au courant. Packed with pop-culture references, it will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Rosie Walsh, and Plum Sykes. Belden writes twists and turns to keep readers hooked.” Booklist

“Charming.” Publishers Weekly

“Sensitive, thoughtful, and touching.” —Library Journal

“In this touching, witty, and timely book, Emily Belden deftly explores the complexities of human relationships in our increasingly tech-obsessed world. By turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, Husband Material beautifully demonstrates that you can’t reduce love to a bunch of 1s and 0s.”

—Kristin Rockaway, author of How To Hack a Heartbreak

Buy Links:

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781525805981_husband-material.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Husband-Material-Emily-Belden/dp/1525805983

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/husband-material-emily-belden/1129908343?ean=9781525805981#/

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525805981

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/husband-material-12

Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Husband_Material.html?id=0sR6DwAAQBAJ

Social Links:

Author website: http://www.emilybelden.com/

Twitter: @emilybelden

Instagram: @emilybelden

Facebook: @emilybeldenauthor

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Q&A with Emily Belden

Q: When you begin writing a love story, do you know how you want it to end? Or do you decide as you develop the plot?

A: I generally have an idea of how I want things to wrap up, but what I always struggle with is that final sentence. How do you know you’re REALLY there? I often ready my theoretical last sentence out loud, followed by saying “The End”, and if it feels like it has a certain “ring” to it, then I can shut the laptop. If not, then I know it’s not my stopping point. Wrapping up that final thought with a bow on it is super important. It’s what I want when I read a book, at least.

Q: How was it to write about grief, pain and love for the same character?

A: It was new. That’s really the best word to explain it. HOT MESS has so many autobiographical elements to it (i.e., restaurant industry know-how, dating an addict, etc.) but HUSBAND MATERIAL was all unchartered territory for me. I realized right away that in order to write about the grief of losing a spouse/partner, I had to curate a focus group of real-life women like Charlotte and really learn from them to bring the level of authenticity and nuance needed to successfully write the book.

Q: What type of love stories do you like? Or were there ones you looked to as you began writing Husband Material?

A: I like really unexpected love stories. In today’s literary landscape, there’s certainly a formula that is pretty common. So it’s the books that break or stray from that formula that really do it for me. I like stories where it’s not innately clear who the protagonist is going to end up with. Even with HOT MESS there’s a moment where (I hope) the reader is like “OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING” insofar as Allie’s love story goes. Same with Charlotte in HUSBAND MATERIAL.

Q: Do you prefer to write by planning ahead (ie outlining, etc) or just go with the flow as inspiration hits?

A: I prefer to go with the flow. My general writing pattern is banging out 1-2 chapters at a time and then ending my work with a bulleted list of what I think needs to happen next. That way, when I open up my laptop and start to write the next 1-2 chapters, I’m not totally lost or forgetful of where I left off. It helps me figure out what would make sense in the flow of the pages.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become an author? What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR list?

A: It’s been my only god-given talent since I was a little kid. It started with really creative letters to Santa or the Tooth Fairy. I won a contest to be a kid reporter for the Chicago Tribune when I was 12 years old and after that, my fate was sealed. I knew I wanted to write at the highest level I could! I am currently reading a book called Lulu’s Cafe by an author who is also repped by my agents, Browne & Miller. I really love it and can picture it as an adorable Hallmark Movie. 

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: I heard a news story on the TV when I was doing dishes at my (former) home in San Diego. It was about a developer who wanted to buy the land a mausoleum was on so they could tear it down and build luxury condos overlooking the ocean. I thought, how crazy if your loved one’s ashes just got mailed back to you one day and the resting place you thought was final, wasn’t. It wasn’t easy, but turned that general premise into a light-side-of-heavy rom-com.

Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: Over all, that second chances at love take all different forms. You never know the circumstances someone has found themselves in, so be kind. For Charlotte, I intentionally wrote the first few chapters as if she was divorced–talking about her “first marriage”. Then you find out “Oh, sh*t, she’s a widow,” and all the sudden your emotional connection with her changes. I also find it interesting writing about death. We don’t talk about it in society, especially not in contemporary women’s fiction. A tragic, unexpected death is the crux of this book. Let’s dig in!

Q: What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I saw there was room to carve out a spot for someone like me who writes unexpected, voicey, edgy, authentic women’s fiction and so I went full steam ahead with the help of a great agent to make it happen.

Q: If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

A: I would sit down with Charlotte. I’ve met the “real life” versions of her when doing my focus groups for research, it would be my honor to meet her. I’d ask her if she wanted to team up and develop a dating app framed around people’s dogs. 

Q: What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: Instagram. I feel like I’ve become friends with people I’ve never met in real life. They cheer me on and I’m humbled by it. I also find other authors on Facebook in certain literary groups. This has been fun and has helped me grow my TBR list with books I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of.

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Q: What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: Be patient. Be patient with the process – success as an author is fluid and can mean many different things. Nothing happens overnight. It’s a process. And be patient with yourself. If you aren’t vibing your writing, don’t put pressure on yourself to tap keys just because you said you were going to do 1,000 words tonight. There are times two weeks go by and I haven’t opened my Word doc once. But then when I am vibing it, I can cruise for 10K words and absolutely rock it. There’s an ebb and flow, for sure.

Q: What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A: I am working on a third novel at my own pace right now. I’m very excited about it and just exploring where the plot takes me. I would love to work on a film/TV/podcast adaption of any of my existing works as a next step, too. I also got married nine months ago and am enjoying life with my soulmate, Matt.