Review: American Queen by Sierra Simone

American Queen (American Queen, #1)

American Queen
(American Queen #1)
Author: Sierra Simone
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: October 25, 2016
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Romance, Contemporary, BDSM

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It starts with a stolen kiss under an English sky, and it ends with a walk down the aisle. It starts with the President sending his best friend to woo me on his behalf, and it ends with my heart split in two. It starts with buried secrets and dangerous desires…and ends with the three of us bound together with a hateful love sharper than any barbed wire.

My name is Greer Galloway, and I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

This is the story of an American Queen.

Well, what can I say? This book is Fifty Shades of Grey, Mr. President, and A Table for Three rolled into one. I have to say this was so out of my comfort zone but I was able to successfully finish it because the story was a lot more interesting than I could have ever expected.

I knew what I was signing for when I started American Queen. Knew that it has some kind of strange and complicated love story about three characters and it has a menage and BDSM content. I have read quite a number of books with these themes but this was sure to be my first read that has M-M romance.

I loved the fact that the story centered around the political world. Our two heroes namely Mexen Ashley “Ash” Colchester and Embry Moore are best friends and they happen to be politicians (Maxen is the United States’ President while Embry is the Vice President). The heroine Greer Galloway also comes from Political roots as her grandfather is an ex-Vice President. In a way, I found the political aspect quite refreshing and full of sense which managed to fill the story with substance.

There were lots and lots of kinky scenes here (if you know what I mean) and my inner goddess rejoiced lol. I loved that the author didn’t shy away from making all those scenes a bit graphic for the readers. However, I didn’t like how the relationship between the three characters eventually appeared to be manipulative. Ash was manipulative and selfish. I didn’t like the way he made sure all things work in his favor. I mean, a relationship should have a give and take process on all sides. In this case, Ash was the one who always took but didn’t give. I couldn’t even get the reason why Greer and Embry allowed it. Was it because Ash is the President? And oh, don’t even get me started on his romance with Jenny.

I also have an issue with Greer. I understood her recklessness in her decisions when she was still 16. But as she grew, there was no character development that happened. She turned out to be such a weak heroine all throughout the book, easily forgiving Ash and letting him control her decisions.

description

Although this book suffered quite a number of flaws, this was still a well-written adult fiction erotica book. This was my first Sierra Simone read and I can say that her writing, her choice of words, and the way she delivered the plot and those toe-curling sexy scenes absolutely drew me in. For fans of erotica, MM romance, and menage, you might love this.

Rating:

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Review: Heat Wave by Karina Halle

Heat Wave

Heat Wave
Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: Karina Halle
Published: November 16, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

They say when life closes one door, another one opens.
This door happens to lead to paradise.
And a man I can never, ever have.

~~~

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica “Ronnie” Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:
Logan Shephard.
It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.
What does matter is that he’s a grump.
Kind of an asshole, too.
And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

Note: this is a standalone novel, unrelated to any previous books. It does NOT contain cheating of any kind.

my thoughts new

“Because I should have been with you, Ronnie. It’s always been you.”

Heat Wave is my second Karina Halle read. Although I loved some of its parts, it fell short of my expectations. It didn’t wow me as much as Smut did.

Veronica “Ronnie” Locke became attracted to Logan Shephard when they met at a fundraising event which was hosted by her mom. With their instant connection, they’re supposed to start going out and fall in love. It didn’t happen, though. Because Logan’s attention shifted to her sister Juliet right when he saw her for the first time. Eventually, Logan and Juliet dated and got married. Now seven years later, Juliet’s already dead and Ronnie and Logan reunited in Hawaii– the place where Logan’s hotel is located and where Ronnie is going to work as the hotel’s chef.

I loved that there was an angst. Angst is good. However, the forbidden love story didn’t quite amaze me because the characters lacked some depth. I wasn’t also convinced when it comes to Logan’s feelings to Ronnie. How come he married Juliet but deep down inside he’s in love with Ronnie? His reason was too shallow and I didn’t buy it.

The pacing of the book was also a let-down for me. It was too slow and too many scenes that are unnecessary should’ve never been included.

It’s good that the book promised a mild entertainment in the first few chapters but it kinda lost its momentum in the second half with Ronnie and Logan’s romantic development moving a little too fast.

The thing that somehow made this book redeemable was the writing of Karina Halle which was hands down beautiful and poetic. I loved how it was written with an air of melancholy. The setting was also beyond captivating. For me, this book is a really great summer read. You can read this when you’re staying on a tropical island, sipping a mojito or something. This was a good angsty romance book as a whole, but it wasn’t as spectacular as I expected. I believe there are a lot of Karina Halle’s books that are better than this. For now, Smut remains my favorite.

“There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know.”

Rating:

3 Stars

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Review: Pull Me Close by Sidney Halston

Pull Me Close (The Panic, #1)

Pull Me Close
(Panic #1)
Author: Sidney Halston
Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: October 25, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Welcome to Panic, a sultry Miami nightclub where bodies and hearts move to a beat that doesn’t stop at sunrise—the setting for “a magnificent story full of deep emotion” (Sawyer Bennett).

Katherine: I thought I could enjoy a night out like a normal person. I thought I could handle the flashing lights, the pulsing music, the crowded dance floor. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After having an anxiety attack and passing out during my sister’s engagement party at Panic, I wake up in the arms of the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. Nick Moreno’s no gentleman. But he might just be the man I need to help me take control of my life.

Nick: When I hear there’s some random girl passed out in the back room of my family’s South Beach nightclub, I’m pissed. My dad’s already behind bars and we can’t afford any more bad press. But after giving her a lift—literally—back to her apartment, I stop seeing Katherine Wilson as some random girl. She’s gorgeous, vulnerable, and braver than she knows. And when we kiss, all I want to do is pull her close and promise that she’ll always be safe in my arms.

Advance praise for Pull Me Close

“Pull Me Close is a heart-gripping story about one of the most beautiful things in the world: the power of love.”—New York Times bestselling author Aurora Rose Reynolds

“Pull Me Close is a magnificent story full of deep emotion that will get you straight in the feels. Sidney Halston nailed it with this one.”—New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett

“An intriguing tale of anxiety and depression so authentic that readers will feel as if they are in the story with the characters. The plot is fresh and tackles a fascinating topic. The relationship between the main characters is very intense and consuming. . . . A great read!”—RT Book Reviews

Praise for Sidney Halston’s Worth the Fight series

“Against the Cage is funny, steamy, scorching—and holy hot MMA fighter, I wanted more. Five stars all the way!”—New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Toni Aleo

“A steamy and fun romance that will leave readers begging for more. Sidney Halston is an author to watch!”—New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair, on Against the Cage

“Halston’s new series opener creates an organic and sensual dynamic between Jack and Chrissy that makes an easy buy-in for readers.”—Library Journal (starred review), on Against the Cage

“Sidney Halston has another knockout with her latest release in the Worth the Fight series. Full Contact is a heavyweight contender in the world of MMA romances.”—Smut Book Junkie Book Reviews

“If you love cracktastic drama and sexy times, this is for you!”—RT Book Reviews, on Fighting Dirty

my thoughts new

“I’m falling in love with the man who saved me from myself.”

What a real surprise. This book is a gem!

There are so many reasons to love Pull Me Close. One of these is the writing which was absolutely good! It’s my first time to read a Sidney Halston book and wow, I was hooked. I loved how she nicely delivered a story that has a very challenging theme which is battling the mental illness known as PTSD.

The story started when Katherine “Katie” Wilson woke up in the arms of Nico “Nick” Moreno, the owner of the popular Miami Beach Night Club named Panic. She lost consciousness after having a panic attack right when she stepped into the club. Katie is claustrophobic. In her younger years, she experienced a traumatic experience that changed her life and made her became scared to face the outside world. While her friendship with Nico developed and her feelings toward him progressed, her fears also became stronger. But she has no choice but to conquer those fears in order to have a normal relationship with Nico and in order to give herself a chance to live a normal life again.

“You pull me close and hold me tight, and I’ll be okay.”

What impressed me most was how the PTSD aspect was well-researched. The details were so accurate. This issue actually hits home because I, myself, am one of the people who experienced panic attacks in the past. This is not an easy condition to carry. I still can remember the nerves, the fast heartbeats, the feeling of not being able to control the situation, the feeling of helplessness, and the anticipation that something worst is about to happen at any moment. All these were experienced by Katie in this book and I can say that they really do happen to someone who has panic attacks.

The book was powerful not only because of its realistic storyline but also because of the sincere and believable romance between Katie and Nico. I found myself unable to resist these characters– especially Nico because of his assertiveness and willingness to help Katie get over her condition and face her fears. Their story was not only about falling in love with each other but also about building mutual trust, understanding each other’s differences, and overcoming bad situations by simply being there for each other.

Pull Me Close was as deep and rich as it was emotional and romantic. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to read a romance book that has enough substance to move and melt your heart in the end.

“You’re my kind of crazy.”

Rating:

4 stars

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ARC Review: His to Cherish by Stacey Lynn

His to Cherish (Fireside, #3)

His to Cherish
(Fireside #3)
Author: Stacey Lynn
Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: November 15, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Can two hearts entwined by hardship move on to form a healthy bond? From the author of His to Love and His to Protect, this tender, bittersweet romance brings together a man who loses everything—and a woman with everything to give.

Chelsea Dwyer arrives home from her job at the middle-school library in Latham Hills, Michigan, expecting another quiet evening—until she hears the screams for help through her living room window. As the first witness to a terrible accident involving two local students, Chelsea doesn’t anticipate how her own life will be irrevocably changed by the father of one of the boys. In the wake of tragedy, she’s the only one who seems to understand his grief. Chelsea’s a survivor, too—and she knows that there are brighter days ahead.

As a single father, Aidan Deveraux worked his entire life to provide a stable home for his son, Derrick. Without him, Aidan feels the deepest despair imaginable. The one thing that keeps him going is his connection with the woman who tried to save his son. Hard as he tries, Aidan just can’t stay away. Chelsea’s warm embrace is the comforting solace he desperately craves—and it doesn’t hurt that Aidan had noticed the beautiful librarian and wanted to ask her out for years. Now that she’s in his life, he doesn’t ever want to let go.

my thoughts new

You know what’s so wonderful about this book? It’s the way I felt the raw emotions of the characters. The way the story weaved not just romance but also an element of family drama which I became emotionally involved with.

His to Cherish started when Chelsea Dwyer witnessed the death of Aidan Deveraux‘s son Derrick from a skateboarding accident. Since Aidan’s loss, she has been there for him, comforting him and giving him her company with no expectations. Despite the fact that she’s attracted to him and she’s completely single after her divorce with her ex-husband, she didn’t entertain the idea of them falling in love with each other. But what if Aidan is also secretly into her but is just not ready to commit to a relationship because of his grief and depression?

It’s my first time to read a book by Stacey Lynn and I must say she writes beautifully. Her characters are well fleshed-out and the narration was tightly constructed. I became invested in the story mostly because of the feels I’ve had while reading the book. Aidan and Chelsea’s chemistry was spot-on and the sexual tension was there all the time.

I especially loved the characters’ romantic development. It wasn’t hurried. And I loved the fact that they didn’t immediately jump to the sex after a series of conversations and encounters. Their mutual respect for each other amazed me to no end.

Can I also say I loved Aidan and Chelsea’s group of friends? I swear they’re all very supportive when it comes to their love affair. Friendship goals!

So, why 4 stars? I wished there weren’t unnecessary scenes. They kind of ruined the overall beauty of this book. I have nothing against slow burn romance but at times I felt the book’s pace was overstretched because of those fillers. Nevertheless, I did love this book. It was a bittersweet, emotionally-driven story but certainly with a HEA that made me smile. And oh, did I mention that Aidan Deveraux is such a perfect male lead? Gaaaah!

(An ARC was provided by Loveswept and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating:

4

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Review: Wanting My Stepsister by Alexa Riley

Wanting My Stepsister

Wanting My Stepsister
Author: Alexa Riley
Publisher: Alexa Riley
Date of Publication: November 15, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary, Erotica

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Synopsis new

Libby Moore is trying to figure out what to do with her life. She has graduated high school, but there’s only one thing she’s ever truly wanted in life…the one thing she can’t have…her stepbrother, Jasper.

Jasper Lewis tried to get away from the one person he shouldn’t want. But moving only a couple of miles away was a pitiful effort, and he’s tired of resisting what he wants. He’s coming back to claim what’s been his since day one, no matter what the consequences.

This taboo love is so dirty, so wrong, and your lady business is gonna thank you!

Warning: It’s okay if you like it, because this is a judgment-free zone. But these two are about to get it on like their dad may walk in at any moment. Enjoy!!

my thoughts new

Don’t get me wrong. I love Alexa Riley. Her taboo smutty books are really enticing. But I feel like her storylines are kind of repetitive and they are slowly getting old (in my opinion). This book was no different.

Libby Moore is secretly in love with her stepbrother Jasper Lewis. Jasper, on the other hand, feels the same way about Libby. Ever since Libby’s mom married Jasper’s dad, they’ve already been attracted to each other. However, Jasper didn’t want to cross the line by hitting on his stepsister so he moved on his own so he can avoid her. But because they simply can’t get away from each other and the sexual tension is always there, they’re about to do the forbidden.

Just like Alexa Riley’s previous books, this book was a short and fast moving read. What I loved about it was the fact that it has enough substance that equals the amount of smut. However, I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. The steamy scenes were of course, uber hot and Jasper was such a dirty talker but oh my, why did I encounter the word “kitty” again? I swear this word was always present in the previous books. (?) lol.

Anyways, I believe fans of Alexa Riley will enjoy this book more than I did. I just don’t think this is her best.

Rating:

2.5

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Review: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Punk 57

Punk 57
Author: Penelope Douglas
Publisher: Penelope Douglas
Published: October 21, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

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“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

Rarely have I read a book as raw and amazing as this one. Punk 57 was quite possibly one of the best books that I have read this year. Such well-constructed storyline. Such real characters that are flawed yet redeemable. Such unique plot twist. It’s packed full of everything. HATS OFF, PENELOPE DOUGLAS!

“Do you notice that, too? How all of us just want to get through life as quickly and easily as possible? And even though we know that without risk there’s no reward, we’re still so scared to chance it?”

description

The story is all about childhood pen pals Misha Lare and Ryen Trevarrow. They’ve been writing letters for each other since grade school and for about seven years, they’ve never seen each others’ faces. They promised not to search each other’s name on social media to keep their identity a mystery and to keep their meaningful friendship as it is. But one unexpected night at his band’s party, Misha wasn’t able to resist the temptation of looking at Ryen’s Facebook account after he accidentally saw her picture online. That’s when he knew that Ryen was actually there at the party’s venue.

I’d be honest. This book was HOT. Like RATED PG HOT. And I’m warning you, Ryen and Misha’s smoking chemistry and their steamy scenes will possibly burn your e-reader. lol. And since it’s written by THE PENELOPE DOUGLAS, it’ll be impossible to stop reading.

Steamy scenes aside, this book resonated a powerful message. I loved how it tackled a very important issue which is bullying that happens in every school. The anti-bullying theme here was quite different compared to Douglas’s previous book Bully because in this book, the storyline was centered around the issue and most of the events happened at school. It presented a look at what kids go through every day. It was honest and terrifying and it served as an eye-opening view of what these kids’ lives are like.

One of the things that I also loved about this book was Ryen’s character which came as a huge surprise for me. She was not easy to like especially in the first few chapters, but I totally understood her. She’s a famous student at her school. A beautiful and sexy cheerleader. But underneath it all, she’s insecure. She’s worried about losing her place and losing her friends. She’s afraid to be alone. Afraid to be bullied. And that’s what made me appreciate her character. For me, she was real.

Same goes for Misha. I loved that both of these characters shared the same passion for words, the same desire for attention and love. Not to mention the same rebellious trait which was quite entertaining. And as I’ve mentioned, these characters were redeemable ones.

“We’re rebels with a reason.”

And you know what especially blew me away? The PLOT TWIST. Yes, that twist was a shocker and totally unpredictable!

It will surely take me a lot of time to get over this book. It was simply amazing. A new favorite of mine. 🙂

“We’re all ugly, Ryen. The only difference is, some hide it and some wear it.”

Rating:

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Review: Heartbreaker by Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Heartbreaker (Unbreakable, #1)

Heartbreaker
(Unbreakable #1)
Author: Kat Bastion, Stone Bastion
Publisher: Kat Bastion, Stone Bastion
Date of Publication: March 22, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Kiki Michaelson wants one wild night to forget her starving-artist worries. Simple.

Only instead of Darren Cole becoming her one-night stand, he taunts her with a challenge. Then while she’s trying to best him at his own game, he turns out to be the last thing she’s prepared for: someone she wants to keep.

Which means all he can ever be…is a friend.

Darren Cole never allows a girl to get close—not close enough to matter.

Then storms in Kiki Michaelson, a beautiful, fearless temptation that rocks his world off-balance. But he fights their attraction, unwilling to gamble something physical with their close ties. Until the passionate sculptor exposes her heart and breaks his wide open.

In that moment it becomes clear: she could never be just a friend.

Sometimes what you run from…is exactly what you need.

***HEARTBREAKER is a standalone, full-length new adult romance told in dual POV. Due to mature themes and adult language, this book is for those 18 and older.***

my thoughts new

First off, I didn’t know this is a spin-off and I think I could’ve enjoyed Heartbreaker more if I’ve read the previous series first. Anyways, the characters, the storyline, the writing style… they are all good! My only real (and perhaps biggest) concern is that there were so many things that confused me. The characters kept mentioning about these things and that but I found myself having no such clue what they’re all talking about.

Despite my problem though, it wasn’t difficult for me to like the main characters Kiki Michaelson and Darren Cole. They have real and special connection. And how can one not praise their chemistry that is so apparent from the first page to the last?

And for someone like me who has a penchant for angst-driven love stories, I was sold by how their romance was coated with a little bit of drama and (just mild) family conflicts. Not to mention the sweet slow burn of their romantic development which just added a little spice to the story. And oh, did I mention that Darren Cole is such a sweetheart? He’s one responsible and *sigh boyfriend material guy. Despite his baggage, he didn’t set Kiki aside. She’s one of the persons that always come first, and that’s just something.

Trust and relationship issues… these are things that very much highlight Heartbreaker. I really do think, despite the issue that I mentioned, that it is still a lovable and possibly an all-consuming romance book as a whole.

“Whenever I care too much about something-” I sucked in a shaking breath– “it gets ripped away.”

“I know.” His tone quieted. “Me too.”

“So… how do we get past that?”

He trailed his fingers along my jaw, then cupped the side of my face with his hand. “We fight harder to keep what we want.”

Rating:

three point five

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