The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

#1.) The Chase ★★★★★

I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve Elle Kennedy and all the amazing stories she keeps giving us set around this hockey team, but we are so damn blessed, friends. I hope she continues to write them forever. And The Risk was so sexy, so funny, and so phenomenal. Reading this was pure joy, and my biggest complaint is that I wish we had an extra epilogue, because I want and I need more. The Risk perfectly plays with the enemies to lovers trope, but also adds the fake dating element, and I was truly living my best life while reading this story.

Brenna Jensen – Daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, and a bit of a bad girl. Even though she has had some awful things happen in her past, she is strong, confident, and isn’t going to let anyone boss her around. Plus, she is focusing on getting a jumpstart with a hockey news internship.

Jake Connelly – Captain of the Harvard’s hockey team, and already all-star. He has signed with the Oilers for the next season, but is trying to win it all his last year in college, and cannot risk any distractions for him or his team.

“I know you’re Chad Jensen’s daughter. I know you would take any opportunity to mess with my players’ heads. I know we’re probably going to be facing off with Briar in the conference finals in a few weeks”

And Brenna and Jake’s paths cross when Jake meets up with Brenna to tell her that she is being a distraction to one of his players. Which, Brenna obviously doesn’t listen to, even if she isn’t really romantically interested in the other Harvard player. But it is the perfect set up for Brenna and Jake’s paths keep crossing as enemies, even if they can’t stop thinking what it would be like if they were lovers.

Plus, we have seen the chemistry between these two characters brewing for so dang long, and even when they are disagreeing on something, their banter is perfection. And they are both the perfect amount of hard and soft, I’m not even going to hint at it, I’m just going to say this: this book has the best sixty-nine sex scene I’ve ever read. Like, there were so many elements that made it so sexy, but it was amazing.

In this story we really see a lot of people in the sports industry be very nasty and hold some very misogynistic views. Sadly, Brenna experiences this first hand when trying to enter the field she eventually wants to work in. But even more sadly, this is something that so many women deal with in our world, too. I’m sure most of who have been to a sports bar, you have heard people say some gross stuff about women interviewers for any pro-sport. But I really loved and appreciated Brenna, and a few other women, trying to break those toxic cycles.

I also loved how this book constantly discusses how bad things that have happened to you in your past are not your fault, even if you can’t help but feel an immense amount of guilt over them. People make bad choices all the time, and just because you love someone and were a part of their life when they were making bad choices, does not mean that those bad choices are your fault whatsoever. This is constantly brought up throughout the book, and I think survivor’s guilt is something that we should talk about more in society, and I really appreciate how it was handled in this book.

I’ll be honest with you, I thought this installment was going to be my favorite out of everything that Elle Kennedy has written, and I truly kept thinking that until around the 85% mark. I just didn’t love the ending of this one, and I felt like the coach being a jerk was just a quick and kind of dumb bump in the road to give us one like little unnecessary angst plot. Which I would have been able to overlook, if we would have seen a really romantic or sexy scene after. But it just got wrapped up, and the Epilogue was more about personal success than relationship success, so it left me wanting so much more. I don’t know, I feel bad saying this, but because the book was so freaking amazing and unputdownable for 85%, that last 15% just felt like such a letdown and left me a bit sad upon closing the book. But I still loved this story as a whole.

Overall, Brenna is, without question, my favorite protagonist from the entire Off-Campus world. And I honestly might even go as far as to say that Jake is my favorite love interest of them all, too. They are both the characters that I would want to date the most, but they are truly so damn perfect for one another. I won’t lie though, I am dying to get Hunter’s book, so I am ready to pray every night that The Play will end up being his book. Also, side note, I do not want Hazel to come back into the story or be a love interest. So, I’m extra crossing my fingers and limbs for that not to happen. But yeah, this was a wonderful installment. I read it in twenty-four hours because I couldn’t put it down. The sex was mind-blowing. The set up was glorious enemies to lovers perfection. And I truly can’t wait to see what comes next.

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for explicit sex, a lot of misogynistic comments (always challenged), talk of past loss of a loved one, drug addiction and substance abuse, use of the word cr*zy, talk of past miscarrying, and a panic attack.

#1.) The Deal ★★★★
#2.) The Mistake ★★★
#3.) The Score ★★★★
#4.) The Goal

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

 

The Foxhole Court (All for the Game, #1) by Nora Sakavic

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“It’s about second chances, Neil. Second, third, fourth, whatever, as long as you get at least one more than what anyone else wanted to give you.”

First and foremost, I want to thank May for giving me the emotional support I needed while reading this book:

Secondly, holy shit, I didn’t think I’d actually like this. What even is my life? Friends, I couldn’t put this down. I read it in 24 hours and no regrets were had. This was way darker than I expected, but I became so damn invested in this main character and I honestly fell in love with him and his story from day one. I know this is a bit of a polarizing read, but if you enjoyed Fence and The Wicker King then I think this story is for sure worth a try for you! Especially since it’s free on Amazon US!

Basically, this is a story about a boy that has been on the run practically his entire life. Neil is currently living in a small town in Arizona, trying to stay on the down low, but he can’t stay away from his one love; Exy, which is a sport that is sort of a mix of Lacrosse and Soccer. But Neil is homeless, able to fit all his possessions in a duffel bag and is currently sneaking into his school’s gym to sleep. But his Exy coach notices where he has been sleeping, but he also notices the pure talent that Neil harnesses on the Exy field and sends a video to possible college recruiters.

And the Foxes from Palmetto State University’s Exy team like what they see when they come and recruit Neil. PSU is a newly reformed and up-and-coming team, who are known for taking in kids who normally don’t get second chances, but they are even more hyped this upcoming season because they now have Kevin Day (AKA: The Son of Exy) playing for them. Neil knows the smartest move is to stay out of the spotlight, but he is so very tired of running, especially running from the only thing that brings him happiness.

But friends, I fell in love with these players so damn quickly:

Neil Josten – Ready to fight for and protect at all costs.
Andrew Minyard – Still sus and I’m still not sold on.
Aaron Minyard – No opinion yet, but I know all my friends hate.
Allison Reynolds – Badass princess that I stan.
Nicky Hemmick – The actual best.
Seth Gordon – My fucking face when.
Renee Walker – My chill pacifist who I already adore completely.
Matt Boyd – My heartwarming pure boy.
Dan Wilds – My actual queen.
Kevin Day – My actual king. My favorite Fox. Also, the thing I am most invested with in this entire story is him and Riko and everything that went down and everything that is going to go down.


(Breathtaking art by llstarcasterll!)

But besides these foxes, who I mostly adore, my favorite part of this book was just seeing Neil tired of feeling like he didn’t have a home, and finally not only accepting that fact, but willing to finally carve out something for himself, completely and utterly unapologetically. Again, I’m not saying that what Neil is doing is the healthiest of circumstances, but seeing him realize that he is worthy of a home, of a family, and of love, was just so damn beautiful. And I know that this is just going to increase during the next two books!

“Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.”

Overall, I just really couldn’t put this down. This is for sure a very character driven book. And I’ll be the first to say that these characters are for sure mostly morally grey and they do a lot of sus shit. But… my love for Kevin and Neil just overpowered all the other questionable teammates. But I’ll talk to you all later, because I am immediately picking up The Raven King!

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Content and trigger warnings for a lot of drug use, talk of overdosing, underage drinking, loss of a loved one, talk of suicide, mention of cutting, drugging someone, jokes about rape, physical abuse, talk of past parental abuse, ableist insults, homophobic slurs (the f word), and use of the r word.

🦊 Also, this film adaption fan-cast by Jamieson added ten years to my life.

Buddy Read with Sol & Amy! 🧡

The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

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“It was beautiful and right. It was wrong and ugly, just like the earth beneath my feet. It was tragic and ecstatic. It was everything I’d hoped love could be.”

Okay, this book isn’t going to be for everyone and I completely get that. I will go into details below, but this book has grey area cheating and it is a student and teacher (college) relationship, but, good dear Lord, the sex in this was so fucking good. Like, maybe the best I’ve read all year. So, if you’re looking for something really naughty and really graphic, then look no further than The Unrequited.

Layla Robinson is all alone at college, living by herself in a dorm on campus that has construction going on below her top tower level. But Layla also feels alone and abandoned by her family, because she fell in love with her stepbrother, and only friend, and it really tore apart the family. Yet, Layla is still obsessed with him. But soon she will have a new obsession, and that is her poetry teacher that she keeps running into without him knowing. (Seriously, if you love the character Joe from You by Caroline Kepnes, then you are going to love Layla!) Also, Layla brings up pretty much every fucking Lana Del Rey song, but I’ll be honest, that’s what this book even reads like. She compares her professor to “Blue Jeans” and I swear to God, I feel like I could hear that song in the background while reading this entire story. Another thing is that the atmosphere of this book is perfect. Like, the snowy and winter setting was expertly done, and I really wasn’t expecting that going in. And it even enhances the Lana Del Rey vibes even more.

“Before this, I was Layla Robinson, crazy in love with her stepbrother. Now, I’m Layla Robinson, crushing on her poetry professor.”

But, okay, on to the poetry professor. Thomas Abrams is a new dad, but he and his wife are having a lot of problems. Thomas thinks it is because he was ignoring her, to work on his poetry, but he is now willing to do anything to make his marriage work… I mean, besides not having sex with a student. But he has moved back to the college town they met in and has taken up a job at the college where he meets Layla, and he claims that he is doing everything to try to make his wife fall in love with him again. You know, again, besides putting his dick in other women.

But Thomas and Layla bond over their mutual knowledge about their unrequited love, and their unforgettable loneliness. Yet, they recognize their chemistry together also, and after teasing each other nonstop, they eventually start having explosive sex. And like I said above, the sex is honestly 11/10, some of the best I’ve ever read, but a lot of sus things are going on.

Layla has a lot of mental health issues, and is completely and utterly unstable, but her character was one that I really loved. Again, she and her actions are totally unpredictable, but I felt like her character was just really realistically done (besides the tattoo, what the fuck even was that?). I’m not justifying her actions, and totally understand that most of them weren’t even close to being “morally good” or whatever, but they were hella believable and made for such an enthralling tale. From her stalking, to her obsessing, to her even just liking the way Thomas says her name, I loved it all.

“Firecrackers burst over my skin at the way he said my name. As far as I’m concerned, my name is average, but his voice, the movements of his tongue against his lips, make it special.”

And even though all this wild stuff is going on in the background, the real reason I’m giving this three stars is because I didn’t really like the ending. I just feel like both Layla and Thomas completely changed who they were as characters. I almost feel like the author didn’t really know how to end this really taboo and naughty story she created, so she tried to give it a fluffy romance ending and it just didn’t work for me, because it was so different than the entire rest of the vibe of this book. Plus, let’s be real, the character of Hadley was handled really not great, especially with Thomas “forcing” her to be a mother. Not every woman is put on this planet to be a mom, and that’s okay, but I feel like Hadley (for the most part) was really shown in a negative light because of her mental illness and her wants for her own life, and I really disliked it.

“We shouldn’t look for love stories where there are none to be found.”

Overall, I wanted a really sexy book and The Unrequited delivered that and more. Also, for the record, I don’t think the sex in this book is going to be for everyone, but it was very much for me. But if you’re on the kinky side, and like dominant partners, you should totally give this a try. Seriously, this is one of my new favorite forbidden romances of all time. I never wanted to put this story down, and I’m totally going to check out more by Saffron A. Kent.

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Content and trigger warnings for a BIG power imbalance because of a student and teacher relationship, cheating, depression, suicide attempt, talk of drinking and driving, talk of grey area consent in the past, stalking, peeping toms, underage drinking, and a lot of questionable mental health representation and discussion.

The Chase (Briar U, #1) by Elle Kennedy

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“I feel like too many girls fail to remember one vital truth: we deserve someone who gives us one hundred percent. Half-assed effort isn’t effort. Half-assed love isn’t love.”

Elle Kennedy and her steamy hockey romances are back. And, like, what a damn blessing. This is the happiest I’ve been reading a book all damn year. These new characters completely won me over. All the cameos from the people we already love were perfection. The banter and jokes literally had my sides hurting from giggling. And, this book actually had some really important topics like ADHD and how learning disabilities can impact you in college, how growing up in the middle of abusive parents can have detrimental effects, how judging people based off their looks is really gross, and how you should always go with your gut feeling, especially when it comes to creepy men in a position of power.

You all, I loved this. The ARC hit my kindle at about 8 PM last night, and I quickly ate dinner and spent the rest of my night completely immersed in this college that I missed so much! And like I said above, we get to see Garret, Logan, Tucker, and Dean, but this is a whole new hockey team, even if a couple of the guys have had minor parts in the original quartet. And The Chase really focuses on:

Colin Fitzgerald – Tatted, video game loving, hockey player. Like, the dream, right? But Fitz is struggling with abuse from his past, and never allowing anyone in. That is, until he meets a girl who he wishes, more than anything, he didn’t want to let in so badly.

“In college, I’ve made more of an effort to be social, but deep down I’m still the guy who wants to remain invisible. Summer is the most visible person I’ve ever met.”

Summer Di Laurentis – Dean’s littler sister has just transferred to Briarwood! She’s pursuing a degree in fashion, but she unapologetically loves it (and herself), regardless of the judgement people want to throw her way. The only problem is, she doesn’t have a place to live since she transferred schools so quickly. But Dean talks to Fitzy, Hollis and Hunter, since they are living in his old house, which totally has room for his baby sister.

And all that good angst ensues.
*clutches pearls forever*
The sexual tension. Lord, help me.

“…He just happens to be THE UNICORN. The tall, sexy, tattooed, hockey-playing unicorn of a man who I might have a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy crush on. Okay, fine. A big motherfucking crush on.”

But we also get to see a lot of Hunter, which is deserving of a whole other paragraph. Okay, here is the thing about this book; I loved it with my entire heart and soul, and I don’t even have a word combination for how happy it made me while reading, but, if I was Summer, I would have wanted to date Hunter over Fitz. There I said it. I’m terrible. But it’s the truth. It’s honestly the only “negative” thing I can say about this book, and I loved it so much that it’s not really a negative.

The other character that we are newly introduced to is the hockey coach’s daughter, Brenna! And like… Hi, my name is Melanie and I really want to date Brenna. Like, in the bar, with her black bralette? I was swooning, friends. I was like, “there are hockey boys at this table, too?” She deserves the entire world, and I support her (probable) traitorous ways!

Summer was easily my favorite in this book though. Gosh, I feel like 2018 is just the year of me writing too many personal reviews, but Summer just really resonated with me. I know others won’t feel this way, but Summer really meant a lot to me. I’ve been judged because of the way I look forever, and people always form these terrible, awful, superficial, opinions of me, especially at bars and parties. And I get it, people are like, “wow, you have it so rough being (with some people thinking that you’re) pretty” but like, people can be really horrible and nasty. Also, I’m loud, and outgoing, and passionate, just like Summer. And people judge her for that, too, but seeing how she handles it, very realistically, warmed my heart. Seriously, Summer is easily one of my favorite characters of 2018.

“You know who else was viewed as a fluffy sorority girl?” she challenges. “Elle Woods. And you know what she did? She went to law school and showed everyone how smart she was, and then she became a lawyer and everybody loved her, and her slimy ex tried to win her back and she sent him on his way. The end.”

This book also tackles rape culture, especially in colleges, where it is easier to tell the girl she over reacting, than to break the cycle of the abuser. Also, obviously because Summer is comfortable with her sexuality, she was asking for it. And Elle Kennedy always delivers these points in a negative light, showcasing how gross our world can be and how hurtful stereotypes are. And having this be in a book set in college? It’s even more important.

Summer’s ADHD and learning disabilities are also always at the forefront of this story, and I was living for it. Seeing Summer being insecure and embarrassed about needed more help, time, and attention, is something so important and I wish more people could read this book for that alone, honestly. Everyone learns differently, and medication doesn’t always impact lives for the better, and Summer’s voice is so dang important. I just love her and everything about her character. Seriously.

“Loving yourself is hard enough. Silencing the inner critic borders on impossible.”

Yet, this book is light, and fun, and I honestly never laugh at books, but I always get tears in my eyes from laughing at this series. I just feel like the banter is written expertly, and so realistically. And this book is really sexy. Like, there isn’t a ton of sexual content, if I’m being honest, but the build up is perfection. And the few scenes that it does have? Pretty damn hot, I’m not going to lie.

“With any other guy, I’d probably take the bull by the proverbial horns. As in, put my literal hand on his literal penis.”

Oh, and another thing I want to praise this author for was the use of video games and nerd culture in general. I always get apprehensive that I’m going to dislike books that have this element, because they never feel “Authentic” or whatever, but Elle Kennedy did such a damn good job. Even with Twitch and streaming! And oh my gosh, Fitz has a popular MMORPG friend who has a stream, and his name was Morris, and maybe it was just a coincidence, but it makes me feel like Elle knows who Sodapoppin is! And it brought me so much unreasonable joy! But she also talks about the toxic masculinity in the community and how some dudes will think girls like Summer are “faking it” or “not nerdy enough” and all the other gross accusations stereotypes. Seriously, this book is so well done. Also, I’d totally play Fitzy’s game in a heartbeat.

Overall, I just love this series. It’s seriously a tier above anything else out in the NA Romance genre. Seriously, Elle Kennedy is truly the queen of the genre at this point! And The Chase is my favorite thing she’s ever written. I can’t wait to read The Risk next year. Especially because Elle has so many things brewing, I can’t wait to see Brenna and (hopefully) a certain rival and I need to personally get to know. Thanks.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Trigger and content warnings for sexual content, use of the term “spirit animal” (in 2018, really?), drug use, attempted sexual assault, a weird comment about audiobooks that had me side-eyeing, girls on girl hate (always challenged though), a lot of gross and judgmental comments, a little body shaming towards men in bathing suits and what “looks good” or whatever, a lot of rape culture comments (again, always challenged), and shitty parents.

#1.) The Deal ★★★★
#2.) The Mistake ★★★
#3.) The Score ★★★★
#4.) The Goal

 

The King of Bourbon Street (NOLA Nights, #1) by Thea de Salle

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“I want her, she wants me. I’m willing to see where it goes even if it’s only two weeks of fun.”

The King of Bourbon Street was nothing short of a treat to read. It had me smiling, it had me laughing, and it had me happy from first to last page. Plus, this book was so damn sexy! And it had so much good representation that I’ll talk about lower in my review! But if you’re looking for a steamy romance read, that’s different than so much out there, I completely recommend picking this one up!

Sol DuMont – 37 years old, hotel owner, who is still grieving the loss of his father, and is dealing with a divorce that is very fresh. He and his siblings split up responsibilities between all the different hotels, and Sol lives and works at the New Orleans location, where the community is still dealing with the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Sol is also into BDSM and is pan, bi, or some kind of MGA sexuality. Yet, finding a new romantic partner isn’t something that he plans to look for anytime soon.

“You know that cliché about the best bottoms being the best tops.”

Arianna/Rain Barrington – 24 years old, plus sized, socialite, doing everything in her power to get her way out of a relationship she never wanted to be a part of. Yet, the only way she can think of to break it off is a sex tape. She is also the youngest of many siblings, but one of them, Vaughn, takes her on a much-needed vacation to get away from it all, and their mother. And what better place than a certain hotel in New Orleans?

“Pretty blond men with tattoos were a dime a dozen in New Orleans, but jiggly blond girls spinning in circles and peppering corgi muzzles with kisses? Those were a rare breed.”

And obviously you all know this is a romance book, so these two’s paths inevitably cross. But when they cross it’s like a match to a flint box, because it gets hot as hell. Like, seriously, the sex in this book is very explicit and very abundant! So, if that’s not something you’re into, please use caution or maybe skip this one. Also, trigger and content warnings for drug use, grief, talk of loss of a loved one, talk of past sexual assault (unwanted touching/groping), and abusive parenting.

But if you are looking for a sexy read, this story has so much good in it! First off, Rain and Sol both have such amazing friendships with their siblings. You all know I’m a sucker for a good brother and sister relationship always, because my little brother is my best friend. And Vaughn reminded me so damn much of my brother. I also loved Sol’s friendships not only with his best friend and accountant, Cylin, but with his ex-wife Maddy! Give me all the books about people having healthy friendships with their exes, please! Seriously, I loved this element so much of the book.

I know I touched on this a tiny bit, but Maddy and Sol had a pretty serious BDSM relationship, so now Sol is slowly and sweetly trying to see if that would be something that Rain would also like. And even though Sol fills out the role of Dom so very well, he emphasizes asking for consent. And seriously, fam, in 2018, nothing is sexier in an erotic read than consent! But seriously, some of the things Sol did in this book? That boy can get it. 11/10.

“You could stay for a longer visit if you’d like. Two weeks isn’t enough time to fully appreciate you.”

I also really appreciated two things about Rain that I feel aren’t in too many books that I read. One, is that she had a toxic mother who not only abused their relationship, but was manipulative and controlling. Not everyone comes from perfect parents, and I just loved how realistic this felt, even though they are all millionaires. And I also loved the heavy emphasis on Rain’s tidying up (maybe OCD). I, too, must have things tidy in my house or even while traveling. Seeing Rain have to clean the counters after she applies her make up, or pick up and fold her clothes because she won’t be able to be calm and focus, is something that I really relate to. I just really appreciated that on a personal level. Like, I literally get out of bed and have to make it immediately or my whole day will be ruined and I won’t be able to relax or focus on anything in or outside my home.

Now, I only have two “negative” things to say about this novel. The first being one that might be something a lot of people won’t like, and that’s that this story is rather instalove-y. I do think it will well done, but I will not deny that it is instalove, and I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea! The second, and most important thing, is the cover of this book. Now, I won’t hold this against the author or the story what-so-ever, but look at the cover of this book. You’d never guess that this book is about a sexy, proud, and happy plus sized girl. Rain’s weight is something that’s constantly brought up and celebrated, but the cover model is legitimately nowhere near plus sized. If this book had a plus sized model (like it should) I would have picked it up earlier!

But those are my only two complaints about this book. I truly think this is a must read for all romance readers out there. It’s so damn heartwarming, too! And Rain and her corgi, Freckles, legit had me laughing out loud in bed. Her inner monologue is honestly perfection and so damn realistic.

“Her very own Prince Charming. Spanky, licky Prince Charming. Why, brain? Why?”

Overall, I just really loved this. From the body rep, to the sexuality rep, to the sex positivity, to the friendships, to the sibling relationships, to the New Orleans setting, to the sexiness; this book was easy to love! And I read the first chapter of The Queen of Dauphine Street, and it starts out with a w/w sex scene and I was so here for it. Give me all the pan and bi rep, please! Especially with BDSM and sex positivity being at the forefront! Like, it’s going to take all my willpower to not ignore my TBR and pick it up next!


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This is the July pick for the Book Hangover Book Club that Julie and Chelsea host! ❤

I’m also reading this for #smutathon, which is being hosted by Lainey and Riley! ❤

And this is a buddy read with Lilly at Lair of Books! ❤

Even Money (All In Duet, #1) by Alessandra Torre

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ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“I’d always been a gambler, with my money, my time, my safety … but never my heart.”

You all, life isn’t fair. One of my favorite romance writers, a steamy story in my city? Lord, I was supposed to love this. But the insta-love, the improbability, and the sex work and slut shaming just completely ruined it for me. If you want to pick up something by Alessandra Torre, I completely recommend The Girl in 6E, Love, Chloe, Sex Love Repeat, and Moonshot over Even Money.

This is a story about a girl named Bell, who works as a cocktail waitress for a very peculiar casino that her two good friends own and run. In this casino, the rich Vegas casino and business owners can gamble in private, without having to worry about giving money to any of their competitors.

And Dario Capece is the proclaimed “King of Vegas” by everyone that Bell knows. He literally started from the bottom and rose himself up the ranks. He married a woman with a very powerful father, and with that initial boost in privilege, he created an empire.

Dario, following a new business endeavor, walks into Bell’s casino one night. And after that one night, he cannot stop thinking about her. Which would be fine, because she can’t stop thinking about him either. But he does some rather suspicious (and gross) things to ensure that she’s a girl he could be with. And then, he makes it his life mission to be pursue her, no matter what she has to say about it.

Even though Dario is a very powerful man, he is being watched by an even more powerful man. And when this mystery man finds out about Bell, he will do anything to ensure that Dario and Bell can never be together. Especially since these two fall in love in like a week. *eye rolls forever*

Trigger and content warnings for rape and talk of past rape (and the talk of rape is done really bad in this book. I honestly think I would have enjoyed this book ten times more if it wasn’t included, especially just for a revenge plot line and then a protector plot line), sexual harassment, unwanted touching, a lot of negativity towards prostitutes and sex workers, slut shaming, grey area cheating, stalking, talk of murder, death, torture, violence, abduction, kidnapping, talk of alcoholism, gambling, brief mention of animal death, and a gross male toxicity.

There is also a student teacher relationship in this book, and I know that’s not for everyone. But if I’m being honest with myself, I enjoyed those steamy scenes more than any of the others. Like, I almost want to ship them together. And like, his dirty talk was 11/10, in my very humble opinion.

And I did really like how confident and secure Bell felt with her own sexuality. I love reading about girls who embrace their sexiness and desires, and Bell for sure does. I just wish she wasn’t so negative about other’s sex lives.

I will say that the Vegas setting was done really well. Like, I’ve read so many Vegas romances that are so obvious the author hasn’t been to visit, but Alessandra Torre completely and authentically captures the city. I loved it, from the talk of our skies, to our streets, just to the entire aesthetic of this story. She does a wonderful job and it was my favorite part of this book, easily. And because of this (and because I’ve love so much of her other works) I will for sure look into picking up book two in this duology!

Overall, I just really expected to love this one! Maybe I went in with too high of hopes? I still love Alessandra Torre and so many of the other books she has created. This one just sadly didn’t work for me. But I hope if you pick it up that you will enjoy it more than I did!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

 

Filthy Gods (American Gods, #0.5) by R. Scarlett

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ARC provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“The only thing I was afraid of was my own mortality in front of him. Gods fell in love with mortals and demolished them piece-by-piece.”

Filthy Gods has the atmosphere and feeling of The Secret History, but the romance and the sexiness of nothing else I’ve read before. Best new adult romance I’ve read all year. And my heart breaks that it’s only a novella, because I need so much more.

This is a story about a girl named Juliette, who has had to work so very hard at everything she has achieved in life. But despite not having anyone in her life besides herself, she has managed to attend Yale. And not only just attend Yale, but is one of the best pre-law students in all of her classes. Yet, there is one boy named Nathaniel, who she is rivals with, and who was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Juliette and Nathaniel are constantly trying to one up each other, but when Juliette starts working at a country club that Nathaniel’s mother owns, the power dynamic feels very imbalanced. Especially when neither of them can stop thinking about each other, and especially because they are both going to be at the country club all summer.

“For three years, I’ve competed against Nathaniel Radcliffe. Always trying to be better, smarter, faster—anything more than him. And in a matter of seconds, all that had crumpled to soot around my sore knees.”

Together they decide that the only way that either of them is going to be able to function this summer is for them to finally get whatever it is out of their systems. And the romance in this is off the scale. Like, I truly believe these two fictional characters are soulmates! Between their banter, to them challenging each other, to their in-depth discussions about everything, to their phenomenal sex scenes, these two were a joy to read about. And you all know that enemies/rivals to lovers, will always be my favorite trope of all time.

“I wanted to pretend that my heart beating inside of me was from my hatred of him and him alone, but I knew as he kissed me, my heart had already begun to betray my mind.”

And let me clearly state that I completely understand that there is a huge power imbalance between these two main characters, but R. Scarlett does a wonderful job making sure and reassuring that everything is consensual and wanted. But there are a few trigger and content warnings for attempted rape, sexual assault, talk of death of a parent, death of a friend, physical abuse, abandonment, and talk of past child abuse. But all of these things are always challenged, and none are glorified or anything like that.

But this is a starting pre-novella to what will eventually be a three book series starring each of the four elite, rich, sexy, god-like men of Yale:
Nathaniel – Star of this novella. Super intelligent, super rich, and super powerful.
Arsen – Russian, with family that has all the connections.
James – Addicted to adrenaline and seems like he is going to be the ultimate “bad boy” type character.
Gabe – The most powerful and beloved of the four. Will probably be president of the United States one day.

“There was something untouchable, something holy and unholy about the boys. Sacred and sinful all at once. Bastards of Grace. Fame, wealth and power poured out of them. They were the things of legends and myths.”

Overall, I loved this completely and wholeheartedly. This was sexy, and romantic. This was so beautifully written and expertly crafted. This was nothing short of a treat to read. I cannot wait to see what R. Scarlett does next with this world. But if you guys are looking for the perfect little romance story, I can’t recommend this enough! Do yourselves a favor and don’t miss out on this. And Rich Boys Don’t Have Hearts is now one of my most anticipated releases, and I can’t wait to read Gabe’s story.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

The Professional (The Game Maker #1) by Kresley Cole

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“A trusted right-hand man and a treasured daughter?”

I’m not going write up a big, long review for this, but I still want to put some of my thoughts down for you all. But mostly I just want to say: this book was exactly what I needed! It was so hot, so steamy, so sexy, and it was 100% what I was in the mood for.

“Hanging out in a sensual sauna, naked, with an off-limits enforcer who happened to make my mouth water: what could possibly go wrong?”

Like, exactly what I needed. The Professional stars a girl who at the very start is questioning her parentage, because she was adopted. And she soon finds out that she is the daughter of a very powerful man in Russia who is involved with the mafia/mafiya. And she also finds out that he has sent his right-hand man to be a bodyguard to look after her for a while now, without her knowing.

The girl and her bodyguard rush off to Russia after her life has been compromised, and she gets to finally meet her biological father, while also getting to know the man that has been keeping an eye on her. And, like… lots of sexy times ensues. A whole lot of sexy times.

But let me emphasize, the male protagonist is very much the epitome of what adult romance considers an “alpha male”. And this girl is forced to leave the life she has always known and is put into a foreign country and a foreign home and has to adapt. I could write an entire review on the power imbalance between these two love interests. So, please never think I’m ignoring this. I just rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment. But I’m never making excuses for any of the content in this book.

Content Warnings: loss of a loved one, death, murder, torture, abandonment, talk of past child abuse, possessiveness, stalking, kidnapping, talk of war, and the most alpha man in all of literature.

Overall, I really needed a book like this after all the romance novels I was reading that weren’t scratching a particular itch I was fiending to read. This book also heavily talks about BDSM lifestyles, needs, wants, clubs, aftercare, everything really, and I loved it. Do I think this book is for everyone? Hell no. Was this book exactly what I needed? Oh my gosh, Yes! And I won’t stop thinking about it anytime soon, I promise. This was an amazing erotic read, and I’m forever thankful for Paloma, her friendship, and her perfect recommendation.


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Professed by Nicola Rendell

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“Dulce pomum quum abest custos. Forbidden fruit is sweetest.”

So, I read this book broken up into three parts for three days. Day one: five stars, I loved it. Day two; three stars, I still enjoyed it. Day three: one star, it was super annoying and read so very fake. Like, this book made me feel a whirlwind of emotions, but I just wish the feelings from day one stayed throughout.

Professed starts out with a secret sex club at Yale University (I promise, no Rory Gilmore jokes.) This book switches points of view between Naomi, a junior at Yale, and Ben, the newest Master at Yale. But hidden behind masks, and entering an underground sex party, ben and Naomi meet and soon realize they want nothing more than to leave this party together.

And leave the party they do. And guys, the first couple sex scenes in this book? They are super hot. Like, I loved them a lot. And when we find out that Ben is the newest professor to teach at Yale, it only amplifies the forbiddenness to make it feel more enticing. I only wish the rest of the book would have kept up. But very quickly this turns into an angst filled, unbelievable, love story about why these two people can’t be together.

“That happens twice a week, three beautiful hours of my life every week, I sit there and listen to the man I am hopelessly, helplessly, stupidly in love with.”

The worst part of the story? The completely unbelievable dean at Yale that had nothing more important to worry about than these two hooking up. Like, I could not. Between him barging into Ben’s home, to him waiting outside just waiting for one of them to step a toe out of line, I just couldn’t handle it. It felt like something out of a cartoon!

And once Ben and Naomi start to be forced to go off campus, and have these romantic rendezvous, I just lost interest. I much preferred the hot, meet up, animalistic urges over the unbelievable angst and love. And once I found out why there was a sharpie on the cover of this book? Lord, help me. Some Sharpies contain xylene, which can be super harmful to your body, especially if it gets into your blood stream. Let’s… not romanticize this, thanks.

But basically, this just got too convoluted for me to enjoy. And I know half of you are probably like, “Melanie, it’s a new adult sexy time book, what were you expecting?” But I promise, the first few chapters were so addicting, it just set the bar way too high. Overall, this ended up just being a big letdown, because the start was so damn strong! But if you’re looking for a quick, sexy, angsty read, this will probably do the trick. Just, don’t let the start skyrocket your expectations like I did.

Content Warnings: student and teacher relationship, medication abuse, underage drinking, detailing of a very bad boating accident (and medical treatment) in the past, abuse, and grey area consent.


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This is the April pick for the Book Hangover Book Club that Julie and Chelsea host! ❤

❤ And you can get this ebook for FREE on Amazon US currently!

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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“Whatever the birthday girl wants”

Friends, I really wanted to love this, and I still enjoyed it! Penelope Douglas is the queen of writing enemies to lovers. I am obsessed with Corrupt, Bully, and Punk 57! So, when I heard she was releasing a new taboo standalone, I knew I couldn’t resist one-click buying! But… dare I say? This book wasn’t taboo enough for me. It read just like a normal romance, where the characters have a big age difference.

Jordan is a nineteen-year-old girl who comes from a very abusive home. Her mother left her, her father remarried a not so great person, and they live in a very bad neighborhood. She is also dealing with the loss of one of her best friends, but her and her other best friend decided to move out together and start a relationship. Jordan is going to college, working at a local bar, and she is pretty much the only responsible one in her relationship, because her boyfriend, Cole, just got them kicked out of their home.

But the night before that happens, Cole doesn’t pick Jordan up from work late night like he’s supposed to. So, she decided to catch a late movie screening of an old 80’s horror movie, and she bumps into a guy who finally makes one of her days feel good. Oh, and it’s her birthday. After a great time connecting with this guy, they soon part ways because she has a boyfriend she is committed to. But they soon realize he is committed to her boyfriend as well, because it is his son. *dun dun dun*

And since Cole just got them kicked out of their residence, the only solution is to obviously move in with his dad, who she just accidently shared an amazing movie night with! You all, the Lord is testing me! But for real, this actually has a really good romance that I was completely invested in.

I mean, yeah, this is a story about a girl falling for the dad of her boyfriend, but it never really feels angsty. Her boyfriend is a disgusting jerk for 99% of this book. He not only lies to her, disrespects her, and hangs out with her abusive ex that puts her in uncomfortable situations, but he’s also never there for her. And in turn, this book never feels like an angsty love triangle where a dad and son are fighting for the same girl; you root for the dad 100% of the time. And even though the angst is for sure there, this is such a damn slow burn romance.

“Turns out my dream girl belongs to the one person it would kill me to hurt.”

And let me put a big emphasis on the fact that Jordan is only nineteen-years-old and Cole’s father, Pike, is thirty-eight. On top of the fact they are both now living in his house rent free. Plus, Jordan has a really shitty home life and feels like she has nowhere to go. I could write an entire review on the power imbalance between these two love interests. So, please never think I’m ignoring this. I just rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment. But I’m never making excuses for any of the content in this book.

Content Warnings: abandonment, talk of physical abuse, underage drinking, death of a friend, and cheating.

I will say that Jordan is a very strong character and does have a lot of agency. She never read like a young adult and she never felt childish. The best part of this romance is that she always stuck up for herself to Pike. And she honestly always put her self and self-worth first.

“I should thank you, actually. I’ve been trying for years, it seems, to be the kind of woman I admire, and all of a sudden I feel like I am that woman now. I know I’m worth it. You’re just not.”

I also really loved Jordan’s sister in this. I am a big sucker for sibling relationships and Cam and Jordan’s unconditional love was a treat to read. Cam never felt shame for her work, and always let people know that she wasn’t doing anything she didn’t want to do. I don’t know, I just really liked her character. I also loved that Cam was a single mom, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Penelope Douglas gives us a book about her in the future.

But as I said above, this is an erotic romance, so I suppose I should talk about the sex in this book. I, personally, always love Penelope Douglas’s writing and her sex scenes always feels like a gift from above. Consent was something that was always stressed in this book too, so I really enjoyed that considering the not “normal” relationship. There is also a scene in this with mud that hit kind of close to home for me, so I really liked that. I just really loved the chemistry between these two characters, and I may complain that this wasn’t taboo enough for me, but the sex was really damn well done.

Okay, on to the biggest thing I didn’t like, which is something that’s just personal to me: this book really stresses having kids before you’re “too old” and I really hated every time it was emphasized. Since Pike is 38, he is very sensitive about having more kids, because he’s always wanted more, but like, it’s 2018, more and more people are starting to have kids in their 30s. I know that I will not be having kids in my 20s, so maybe that’s why it rubbed me the wrong way. But I still had hope that this wouldn’t turn into a “everyone should get married young and have kids in their twenties” type story. And I honestly probably would have given this book four stars if the epilogue was not included in this book. Again, maybe this is just me, but I almost felt shamed for choose to live my life for me in my twenties, and like, I’m not about to have an erotic romance novel make me feel bad about myself or my body that will be completely capable to bear children in my 30s.

Also, I will say that I really disliked how this book kind of makes it seem like joining the military fixes your problems. Like, I obviously support our troops, and my dad is a retired marine, but I hate when books portray “bad boys” who are sex obsessed, womanizing, partiers and then instantly fixes all their issues by joining a branch of the military. I know a lot of bad dudes that have joined the military and came back to my home town, and guess what? They are still bad dudes, just with worse haircuts.

And, in turn, I kind of didn’t like how this book displayed people who work at strip clubs. I mean, it wasn’t anything blatantly offensive, but it for sure hinted at, “you can do better than showing dudes your body” and it was annoying. Again, let me scream from the rooftops: It is 2018, please stop shaming sex workers. Okay, thanks, bye.

But overall, I still really enjoyed this one. I read it in two sittings and couldn’t put it down. Penelope Douglas is a super talented author, and even though I think I like her hate to love romances a little more than her standard romances, I still completely devour her books. Her writing is phenomenal, her characters are also so captivating, and she always comes up with unique elements that make me want to read everything she writes!


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Buddy read with Paloma, Kayla, Julie, & Amy! ❤