Under Locke

Under Locke4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Okay, I was a lost cause the minute I started this book. For nearly two days, everyone in my home was under “don’t talk to mom she’s reading right now” alert.

The story basically begins with Iris, cancer and terrible dad survivor, trying to get back on her feet. She’s been laid off and forced to move in with her brother Sonny. Enter Dex Locke. He’s one of Sonny’s motorcycle buddies, and he’s in need of an office manager for his tattoo shop. It isn’t Iris’s dream job, but it will pay the bills. Unfortunately, Dex is a total dick of a boss. He’s moody and foul-mouthed. Dex has also made it clear (read straight out told her brother) that he thinks Iris is dumb. Life only gets more complicated when some sketchy bikers looking for Iris’s dad beat up Sonny and threaten Iris. Now it’s up to Dex to keep her safe while Sonny searches for their deadbeat dad. As villains come out of the woodwork, Iris learns to trust Dex with her safety and her secrets. She might even trust him with her heart.

I’m a sucker for a bad boy with a secret soft center, so for me, Dex Locke is a dream come true. He is so ridiculously angry at the world, it made me laugh. Iris ultimately begins to laugh about it too. The book starts with these two characters first meeting, and you get to watch their friendship and more build over the book. I love when we get to see characters fall for each other over time. It feels more real. I love the witty banter between these characters and the super-hot bedroom scenes. I will warn you, it takes a while to get to the steamy part of this book, but it is totally worth the wait. I love Iris and Dex. Sonny and the tattoo artists were great characters too. Overall this is a really solid read that won’t take you to long. Be ready, though, you become a sick reading addict once you hit the halfway mark. I had to force myself to put the book down and feed my children.

Plot: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The plot takes a little time to start up, but it’s fairly believable. It moves along just like life does. Sometimes there’s lots of action. Sometimes, you’re just shooting the breeze with your friends. The pace could have been quicker, but I truly enjoyed the scenes where you watch Iris bloom in her new life.

Writing: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The book could have used an edit here and there, but it was a pretty solid. I kinda like longer books. I get to stay with the characters longer, so I may be biased.

Characters: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This is where Mariana Zapata hits it out of the ballpark. I loved every character in the book (you know, except for the villains). They have realistic problems, fun conversations, and good hearts. Not only were the hero and heroine written well, but also their cast of supporting characters was super interesting. I wouldn’t mind reading a book about Sonny, Slim, Luther, or Blue in the near future.

Romancing the Duke

Romancing the Duke
So, I really, really LOVE me some Tessa Dare. Now, I’m a bigger fan of her contemporary romances, but I still enjoy the historical romances for what they are. That being said, all I can say about this one is that it was just okay. Seriously, I started and finished the quick read yesterday, so it wasn’t tough to get through, but I already can’t remember the storyline. I guess that means the novel is pretty much forgettable, and that’s what makes it just okay.
Since I must offer a summary, I quickly looked back at the book and now I remember! Tessa Dare gives us a rather likeable heroine in Izzy Goodnight, the daughter of the recently-deceased and much-loved author of The Goodnight Tales, a popular serial novel that has taken England by storm. Izzy has been struggling financially since her father’s death, but she ends up inheriting a decrepit castle from her pseudo godfather. Unfortunately (well, really fortunately), this castle is inhabited by handsome Random, the Duke of Rothbury, who was blinded the previous year in a duel. What else is there to say? They bicker during a number of fairly minor complications and end up falling passionately in love. What else do we expect? Nothing, for an average, just okay, historical romance, and that’s what we get.
Yes, it’s predictable, but Izzy is sweet, funny, and endearingly desperate. Random is wounded, gruff, and hiding a big heart. See, the clichés do certainly continue. Tessa Dare does manage to weave in the story-within-a-story element with The Goodnight Tales, which reminds me a bit of The Princess Bride. The Tales has such a following that poor Izzy has to deal with role-playing fans (19th century LARPers) dressed as knights and handmaidens following her around. Needless to say, the Duke is not a fan of their disruptions.
No need for a real spoiler alert here. Everything ends up just as every reader expects. ***TINY SPOILER ALERT*** However, I was slightly surprised when it turns out that the actual author of The Goodnight Tales is and always has been Izzy, not her father. However, I shouldn’t have been surprised. When I thought back on the story, Dare actually gives countless hints. No one, except this sleep-deprived mom, should be shocked by the twist. ***SPOILER OVER***
If you want a little candy for your brain, Romancing the Duke will offer some satisfaction, but it won’t likely fully relieve your craving.

Fire Inside: A Chaos Novel (Chaos MC, #2)

Fire Inside3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

If you like sweet love/redemption stories with bad boys and good girls, this is totally for you.

So, Lanie’s back. (Remember her? The Russian mob murdered her fiancée and nearly her back in Motorcycle Man) It’s been seven years since she was shot when her fiancée used her as a shield in a rain of gunfire—I know, total douchebag move, but he was already mixed with some bad dudes just because he wanted to give her the wedding of the century. He’s not exactly known for great decision making. Anyway, after a long dry spell, she’d like to get back into the dating scene. Sort of. Really she just wants one night of hot biker sex with Hop Kincaid (Tack’s lieutenant). Hop is more than willing to help out. There’s only one problem: he’s falling fast for her, and she’s doing everything she can to back away.

This story sort of breaks the typical Kristen Ashley plot rules. First of all, there aren’t really any bad guys going in the story. I mean there are plenty of characters who aren’t going to win awards for pleasant behavior, but no one is actively trying to physically hurt Lanie or Hop. (I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with the whole Benito situation, but I guess that’s for the next book.) This is a simple, straight love story. Hop isn’t the typical alpha male lead I’m used to, either. He’s still super bossy, but he lets Lanie take the lead in almost every aspect of their relationship. Hop also enjoys Lanie’s dramatic overreactions. Lanie, on the other hand, is a typical KA heroine. She’s smart, strong, and sassy. Still, her past has stunted her emotionally, and she’s fighting tooth and nail to keep Hop out of her heart. Ultimately, the plot line wasn’t as fast paced as usual. Still it was a sweet love story where I found myself rooting for both main characters about two chapters in.

Plot: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

I liked the story, but I wanted more action. I’m used to lots of it when it comes to Kristen Ashley books. I feel like this was maybe just a set up book for the next action packed Chaos MC book.

Writing: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The fighting between the main characters in this book is where it’s at. They get down and dirty quickly. The other dialogue is dead-on funny. I love that I get to see Hop’s thoughts every once in a while. Still, there’s a lot (a lot) of description that could be left out.

Characters: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Characters are always the best part in Kristen Ashley books. Lanie is heart wrenchingly broken. You feel for her from the moment you start reading, especially if you read Motorcycle Man first. Hop is sweet and sexy. I loved seeing more of Tack and Tyra. I wish I had seen a little bit of Shy and Tab. It would have been awesome to see Shy confront Hop over his ridiculously bad behavior in Own The Wind.

First, Lanie’s fiancée really did use her as a shield (but he still died). Second, Hop broke up with his old lady because she passed off another man’s son as Hop’s. She straight up tells Hop after he’s raised the kid for a few years, so he keeps the son and loses the old lady. Third, Lanie gets pregnant, and Hop’s over the moon.  Ultimately, he has to kidnap Lanie and head to Vegas to make her marry him.

Darkside Sun (Mortal Machine, #1)

Darkside Sun5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

OMG, this book is totally amazing.  It grabbed me on the first page and did not let go until the last.

Addison’s pretty sure she’s crazy.  Since she was six, she been watching her world literally unravel while everyone else goes calmly about their own business.  Professor Asher Green may be the one person who can help her.  He knows what is causing the rift Addy sees and who is trying to squeeze through it.  Asher says he can teach her how to mend the fabric of their dimension for good.  But can she trust him? His explanations border on unbelievable. His allies are untrustworthy, and at least one of them has set his sights on Addy and all she holds dear.

This book has it all: action, suspense, betrayal, and some pretty intense sexual tension.  Addy and Asher burn up the pages with their volatile chemistry.  Both characters are fabulous.  Addy is strong, smart, and sassy (even to her professor).  Asher is beautiful, broody, and bad boy enough to win my heart.  Their friends (especially Remy and Sophia) are hard to figure out but easy to love.  Ms. Adams creates a complex world around these characters with mysterious alternate dimensions and villains with hazy motivations.  I guessed who the bad guy was pretty early on, but the plot gave me enough other mysteries to keep me up late reading.  The end of the book is a heart breaker, but don’t worry.  There’s plenty of hope for Asher and Addy as well as a world being made safe by a kick-ass heroine (who likes to hug).

Plot: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The story was amazing.  It took me a couple of chapters to figure out how this new world worked, but the temporary confusion was totally worth it.  A third of the way in, I was totally adjusted to the alternate dimensions and still intrigued enough to be surprised by the plot twists. I loved trying to guess who was in cahoots with the villain.

Writing: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Darkside Sun moves at a break neck pace.  Still, Adams inserts quiet (or not so quiet) moments for Addy to be with her family and friends just when I need to catch my breath. Bottom line, I loved the writing

Characters: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I fell in love with Addison and Asher on first read. They are complex and smart.  The supporting characters are mysterious and interesting.  If nothing else, read this book to meet these characters.

First of all, Marcus is the bad guy. Second, Addison is the “architect” or heart of the Mortal Machine. She and Asher are meant to be together and totally fall in love. Against Addison’s will, Asher removes all her memories of their love. He thinks it will protect her from other bad guys and protect the Mortal Machine
Heir in Exile

Heir in Exile (Latvala Royals, #3)


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Okay, so Sander, Mattias, and Chey are all back, and holy heck, if you thought there was drama before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

The story picks up just a few days after King and Kingdom left off.  Sander has decided to bring Chey out of hiding and deal with his parents head on.  The king and queen swiftly (and rudely, I might add) decline Sander’s invitation to accept Chey as his newly betrothed.  Within days, the nefarious rulers have figured out a way to exile not just Chey but also Sander, permanently.  Sander and Mattias must work together quickly to uncover their father’s secrets.  Chey isn’t sitting on the sidelines either, and what she discovers might be the biggest secret of all.

Seriously, I read this novel in one sitting.  The drama and intrigue of the royal family totally swept me away.  The story is twisty and turny.  I’m constantly surprised at what happens next.  In this third installment, the king definitely ups his evil ante.  Sander uncovers murders, mayhem, and many mommy issues.  Luckily, his brother Mattias has his back.  In the meantime, Chey seems to be going off the deep end emotionally.  Despite that, she truly finds the key to ending the king’s reign of terror.  In the end, of course, it all works out, but not nearly in the way you think it will.  I can’t wait to read the fourth installment.  What could possibly happen next?

Plot: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

It’s always a wild ride with the Latvala royals, and this book was no exception. The fast paced plot left my head spinning.  As soon as I thought an issue was resolved, it imploded to become something much worse.  That’s what makes these books so fun (besides the sweet love story).

Writing: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Listen, I’d really like to give this four stars.  Ms. Bourdon sets up wonderful plot twists and definitely keeps the reading exciting.  Still, she includes even more diary entries in this book.  That’s really the only place the writing falls flat.  I’m guessing the diary might be important in the end, but for now I just don’t get it.

Characters: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The characters totally make this series.  I love Sander, Mattias, and Chey.  They work well together.  I was super happy to see more of Mattias in this book.  (I think he gets his own book later. I definitely have to pick that up.)  The introduction of Prince Gunner at the end of the story is interesting.  I’m anxious to see where his story arc will go.

Sander is really the illegitimate son of the king and a former maid.  The king and queen hid their actual first born because he had birth defects.  The king killed Sander’s real mother years ago, and Sander unknowingly witnessed the aftermath.  Chey finds the real heir and introduces him to his brothers, Sander and Mattias. Chey ends the book pregnant–but still not married.
King and Kingdom

King and Kingdom (Latvala Royals, #2)


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Chey and her Prince Charming are back!!! I love this couple and this series. I started the second book about 10 minutes after I finished the first in the series.  What can I say? I’m a sucker for a fairy tale romance.

King and Kingdom picks up a few days after Heir Untamed leaves off.  Chey has officially decided to stay in Latvala and be courted by the gorgeous and incredibly cunning Prince Dare.  Guess who’s not happy?  Every other royal (except Mattias, always except Mattias).  After a last minute romantic getaway goes terribly wrong, Chey finds herself back in Seattle with no way to contact Sander.  She and her best friend quickly come up with a scheme to win Sander back, but it seems someone more devious is just as determined to keep the lovers apart.  Chey must decide if Sander is worth risking her life for one more time.

Like I said, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.  I didn’t think the last book wrapped up the mystery well enough, and I was totally right.  There are some dark forces at play in the Latvala palace, and I’m still not sure I can pin them all down.  Sander is super dreamy throughout the book.  Chey is off her game but with good reason.  She has to watch the love of her life do the unthinkable.  The scene (you’ll know it when you read it) is killer. I had to stop myself from throwing my Kindle across the room. Don’t worry though.  You can always count on Sander (and Mattias) to come through in the end.  I can’t wait to read the next book.

Plot: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This series has more twists and turns than a roller coaster.  I’m always guessing until the end with these books, and that doesn’t happen often.

Writing: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I really only take this down one star because of the sudden introduction of Chey’s best friend.  Her omission from the first book seemingly calm reaction about Chey’s sudden disappearance to Latvala and mysterious return don’t ring true. However, once you get past the initial weirdness, it’s fine.  She’s total best friend material.

Characters: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I heart Sander and Chey.  They are great together.  They’re great apart.  The villains are fabulous to hate.  I only wish I got to see more Prince Mattias in this book.

Don’t worry.  The wedding is presided over by a fake preacher so technically there is no marriage.  Sander’s “bride” is actually knocked up with some other guy’s baby.  Sander exposes all this in the end.  The king is the real bad guy behind all of the plots against Chey and her romance with Sander.  FYI, Paavo won’t win any awards for kindness, either. 
Heir Untamed

Heir Untamed (Latvala Royals, #1)

171578234 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This book is a dream come true for anyone girl who’s dreamed of falling in love with a prince.

Chey is desperate for a job when opportunity, literally, comes knocking at her door.  With nothing to lose, she uproots her entire life and heads to the small country of Latvala to become the official photographer of the royal family. Chey is stunned by the beauty of the palace and royal family, especially the flirty Prince Mattias.  But nothing is really as it seems.  Within days, Chey is attacked in her own room.  Is someone jealous of her budding relationship with the prince? Is Sander, the mysterious head of security, hiding information that may keep her safe?  Chey needs to figure it out before she ends up dead.

Listen, I’m the kind of girl that reads the last three pages of a book before beginning it.  This book still kept me guessing to the very end.  The premise is a little sketchy, but once I was a chapter in I totally forgot.  The mystery kept me on my toes, and my head was spinning as to which romantic interest I wanted to win out.  The most delicious part of this book is the happy ending. Still, I’m not so sure this mystery is really solved.  I’m very sure the royal family has a few more secrets up its sleeve, and I can’t wait to read about it in the next installment.

Plot: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

This story is clearly a set up book.  The plot moves quickly, but the entire time, I knew it was setting me up for bigger, better (or badder as the case may be) things to come.  The story line is a bit unbelievable, but it’s easy to suspend your disbelief and get wrapped up in the royal intrigue.

Writing: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

As I mentioned, there are a few plot holes, but the author makes up for it with witty banter throughout the book.  I love how she writes the chemistry between Chey and Sander and Chey and Mattias.  Also there’s hella good bitchy sister writing.

Characters: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The characters are the highlight of the book.  Chey is sweet but smart.  Sander is super hot, and Prince Dare is quite the mystery.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love Mattias.  If nothing else, read this book to meet these characters.

It turns out Viia is the bad guy, maybe.  Also, Sander is actually Prince Dare.  I know.  I didn’t see that coming at all (yet it was still so obvious when it happened).  What can I say, I was a little wrapped up in the story.