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Nessa

~V~ Whirlwindbooks

When I'm not performing my duties as a mother, wife, trainer, taxi-driver, tutor, or chef, I read. I have a foul mouth (which I try to filter--but most of the time, fail), and I love to write. 

Currently reading

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
Anne Rice, A.N. Roquelaure
Guilty Pleasures
Laurell K. Hamilton
Levitating Las Vegas
Jennifer Echols
Taken by midnight
Lara Adrian
Let Love In (Love, #1)
Melissa Collins
Whirlwind Books

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2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Vanessa has completed her goal of reading 102 books in 2013!
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Saint Kate of the Cupcake: The Dangers of Lust and Baking - L.C. Fenton Smh....completely dumbfounded. What.The.Hell was that ending? I'm so confused...please tell me there is more to this story. Review to come on 8/21 for my tour stop.

Full Review:

Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing a loved one and then losing everyone else is even harder. That is what happens to Nicki. Physically, everyone is present; mentally, they have mostly checked out…even her.

“I made it home without crying—probably because I was too agitated. When I got inside my room, I sighed; things were really over and done with. I doubted he would speak to me again. I curled up on my bed, clutching a pillow to my chest as reality set in. The fact was, I desperately wanted to speak with someone—about the accident, about missing Lauren, or how Mom was doing and Dad was reacting….Lisa and Rachel felt it was their job to shield me from all things painful. Mom—well, she just wouldn’t talk at all. And Dad had been so withdrawn to begin with that he was useless. So although I spent time with some people and kept relatively busy, I was lonely. Adam had been a nice distraction in a way. Now, I had no one.”


I can’t imagine what life could be like for a young girl who survives such tragedy only to be alone. I really felt Nicki’s heartbreaking story. But that isn’t just what this is about…this is a story of love. A story of how opposites attract, how no matter where life takes you, there are just some things worth holding onto. I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. At some times through the story, I still didn’t know where things were headed or how it would all play out.

Adam both pulled my heartstrings and completely pissed me off. And Nicki, she is so afraid of losing again, she stops living and taking chances. I watched as not only their relationship formed and blossomed, but how the relationship with Nicki and her parents changed. (That was one of my favorite things about this book—it shows that no good deed goes unpunished and that everyone deserves a little forgiveness).

I did, however, fall for Nicki and Adam; and their difficult, yet beautiful beginning. I only hope there is more to their story; the epilogue…skip it for as long as you can. That is the only part of the book that left me truly confused. I know it takes place 10+ years later (and from Adam’s POV) but I didn’t know how it really fit in with the story. I can guess it is because it sets us up for what will come next, set in present day; but it really kind of soured the sweet sadness at the end of this book. I look forward to seeing where the author is headed.

**3.5 Long-Distance Doesn’t Last Stars**
Torn (Connections, #2) - Kim Karr Vanessa from:

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I Breathe You (Breathe, #1) - Lori L. Clark “No! Dalton, come back!” “Why are you leaving me?” The dark timbre of his laughter vibrates through me, and he taunts me unseen, “You killed me, Rhaney baby. Are you happy now?”

Rhane Evans is no longer the woman she once was. After months in the hospital following a tragic accident, Rhane can finally go back to her life…or what’s left of it. Without her voice, Rhane is just an angry shell of who she used to be; forever a reminder of the loss she suffered, her career, her spirit, her soul mate. Disowned by more than just her parents, she finds solace with her Uncle Thomas “T” and Gwen, the nurse hired to care for her in her new home; left to her by her grandmother many years before. Forced to make something out of nothing, Rhane is bitter. Not being able to remember how she ended up the way she is now doesn’t help her already short temper.

“Being pissed off is something I’ve mastered over the years. But I felt it was much more productive when I was actually able to vocalize it. I’ve got to find a way to release all of this built-up energy or I am going to lose my friggin’ mind for good.”

The house Rhane has inherited is less than shiny and new. The pipes leak and creak, the basement is dark and damp (not to mention—spiders) and over all needs a good sprucing up with some TLC. Rhane and Gwen set out to make a list to give to T in order to have repairs made. What Rhane never counted on was the copper-headed, gorgeous man to show up on her doorstep…
Ian Callahan.

“All at once it becomes crystal clear to me. My fascination with Ian isn’t just because of how attractive he is or how his presence affects my breathing and heart rate. No, it’s because, in so many ways, he reminds me of Dalton. F~ck.”

This man. This rugged, strong man. A man with his own demons, cannot possibly know what lies in store for him with Rhane Evans. To him, she is just “Sunshine.” Drawn to her as she is him becomes too much to bear and neither one is willing to give up the stubborn streak they share. The differences between Rhane and Ian fall on deaf ears as gossip swirls and pasts come back to complicate their new and fragile relationship. There is always more to the story than what you hear on the street…and Rhane is scared of what that means for her and Ian; but it can’t be any worse than what she’s running from in her dreams.

“Let’s face it, I’m falling. Hard and fast, and I’m powerless to stop it.”

Seeking an outlet and finding none, Rhane’s temper flares more and more often. Because of her outbursts, as well as her lack of sleep (for fear of nightmares) along with her memory staying locked up tight; not only is she seeing a doctor but is also enlightened on a family trait she had no idea about. Deciding to redirect her anger and focus on her music, Rhane knows it’s only a matter of time before she has to face the truth of her past; and how it will affect her future…with or without Ian…

“Something my grandma used to always say to me pops into my head. ‘If someone takes a piece of your heart, hunt ‘em down and get it back. You’re a strong girl, Rhane, but ain’t nobody able to live with half a heart.’”

This review is one of the harder ones for me to write. When a story touches me, but in many different ways, I find it difficult to pin-point and share my thoughts…especially, without giving too much away.

So, here goes:

I loved this book, absolutely loved it. It was a very smooth, easy read; filled with both heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. The way the author uses her characters is wonderful. I never expected things to go the way they did and I am so happy I was surprised by many different elements. I love how the dialog was clear even though there wasn’t a clear voice, and how communication never ceased, no matter who was doing the talking. I loved the inner struggles of each character and how real it made them in my eyes. This is definitely a story that will haunt me…it holds a rhythm all its own.

**4 Speaking Without Words Stars**
The Truth About You and Me - Amanda Grace, Mandy Hubbard “You might not read this, but maybe they will, and maybe somehow that will help you. This letter can’t help us, because there is no us, not anymore.”

Reading a book formatted in the form of a letter was…unique. There are no chapters, no breaks; I really kind of liked it. The story told felt like I was a long lost relative, finding a treasure of a love letter written many years before; reading about the life, love and loss between Madelyn and Bennett. It definitely captivated me, and even though I had to take time in order to grasp this unique structure, it didn’t take away from the story.

So, a little re-cap:

Madelyn is sixteen. She is very smart and because of this, she has been afforded the option of attending the community college for credit in both High School as well as College courses. Walking into her Biology class on the first day, she sees Bennett Carmichael, her professor. This story pretty much tells itself by way of knowing that there will be something between the two of them; what kept me guessing was the fact that Bennett just assumed she was of age and that Madelyn would even hold these types of feelings in her very immature mind.
Now, I know these things happen all the time and reading this book definitely brought some interesting facts to light.

Girls are just a much to blame as boys are when it comes to seducing the opposite sex, sometimes worse. I did not, however, look at fault to be placed in Bennett’s hands. I knew from the beginning (as it was established) that Madelyn was the driving force between the two; and when Bennett became aware, he did the absolute right thing. I cried at her heartbreak, as well as his, because despite her age, he had fallen for her; and she ruined him.

So, why does a young girl set her sights on a much older man, knowing that they can never truly be together? Truth be told, I don’t know. It happens, and not just in fiction. Here is the only answer Madelyn could come up with…

“Who are you and what did you do with my sister?” “She was bored, so I got rid of her.” Bored. What a stupid reason to do what I did.”

But I wasn’t bored. I was intrigued; from the very first page. I read this book straight through, as if I was that distant relative, reading about a life a family member cared enough to write about. It made me feel connected; connected to Madelyn and Bennett in such an intimate way that I would want to share this story of love and loss for many years to come. It was nothing like I’ve read before, but it was magical and I am nosey enough to want to know more.

**4 Tucked Away Like History Stars**

Title received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Stripped - Jasinda Wilder “Our daughter knows right from wrong, and you know it. She just wants to bring glory to God by using the talents He’s given her.”

How does one argue with a statement like that? Grey Amundsen’s father has plenty of arguments; none of them involve listening to his daughter and really understanding her. That has always been her mother’s job. Being an only child to one the most well-known pastors in Macon, Georgia, Grey doesn’t have the opportunities other girls her age do to “mess up”. Not that she necessarily wants to get into trouble, but the reigns are so tight around her, Grey has been sneaking around (with the help of her mother) to pursue her passion for dance.

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Finding something in her life that makes her truly happy, Grey sets out to learn all she can. Doing well in school, her options are greater for grasping at her dreams of working in film. Grey only has one obstacle; her very rigid and close-minded father. When Grey’s connection to her father whispers away, she finds there is nothing keeping her in Georgia any longer. Her home is broken and quiet, misunderstanding and grief are all that surround her…so she leaves. USC in California is where she will find her dreams now, and despite losing all she has ever known; Grey is determined to make it on her own.

“Grey, you’re eighteen. You think you’re an adult, but you’re not. You’ve never worked a day in your life…You wouldn’t last a day on your own.” “Watch me.”

And she does just that…

Grey is now in a whole different world; a world filled with sex, scandal…sin. California is everything her father said it would be, but she doesn’t care. Her faith is gone along with the one person who ever understood her, and all she has left is school. No family, no friends…and now, no money. Finding a job in California can’t be too difficult, right? Wrong. Grey is running out of time and going back to Georgia is NOT an option.

After tireless hours searching, Grey swallows more than her pride and goes to the one place where money will come easy; knowing her innocence just might pay the price. Never did she imagine her life would take the path it does, the challenges she would face; all to finish school and land a job doing something she only ever dreamed of…or meet the man of those dreams.

Dawson Kellor.

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Superstar actor, Dawson Kellor is in for the surprise of his life when he decides to party it up in the VIP room of a seedy little strip joint. Never did he imagine the vision that would dance her way into his world; a world he immediately knew she didn’t belong in. Everything about “Gracie” oozes sensuality and he’s completely taken aback by her innocence despite her occupation. What he doesn’t know is that she will also spend his days by his side; working with and for him. Wanting her is one thing; having her, something completely different. Dawson starts to feel things, things he’s long forgotten and when he starts to get to know Grey, she’s not the only one who is stripped bare.

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Falling in love was never the plan for Grey and certainly not for Dawson. Doing so involves feelings neither one is willing to face. So, what do you do when you find out your soul mate is not only your complete opposite in every way but just as broken as you are? There really is only one thing to do…

Risk it all, expose yourself and be completely…Stripped.

“No one has ever wanted me, and…and, more importantly, I’ve never wanted anyone before you. I don’t…don’t know what I’m doing. I’m scared. Of this, of you. Of everything.”

WOW. Just wow. Jasinda Wilder has taken us on yet another wild ride of faith, family, hope, love, and life. I fell hard. I mean HARD for Grey and Dawson. Seeing a connection like this between two completely different worlds absolutely floored me and kept me turning pages like a mad-woman. I wanted to know when they would collide, how they could work, what each would do at any given moment. To say I was enthralled…understatement of the year. This book is beyond fantastic; I felt my heart break and mend over and over and over again. Stripped is truly one to be devoured and savored at the same time. Beautiful from beginning to end, like a dance performance: watching, waiting with bated breath to see and feel the crescendo of the music build with the performance on stage. I loved it.

**5 Stripped More Than My Clothes Stars**

Title kindly given by the author in exchange for my honest review.
Revealing Us (Inside Out Trilogy, #3) - Lisa Renee Jones I freaking love Lisa! I have to compile all my thoughts and feelings....right now, I'm a little speechless.

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


“No talking. No in between. All or nothing, Sara. I’m offering that to you, and you have to decide if you really want it. There’s a reservation in your name with American Airlines. I’ll be on the plane. I hope you will be, too.”

To leave or not to leave? That truly is the million dollar question. Sara is so torn about what to do regarding her relationship with Chris. On one hand, she knows that despite everything they have been through, he wants her. He wants to give them a chance to grow and flourish as a couple. He also does not want to force Sara into something she may not be ready for. After what happened at Mark’s estate, and learning the fate of Rebecca, Sara is more worried and concerned than ever. More importantly, she has yet to hear from her best friend, Ella, who has been missing for quite some time.

So, what’s a girl to do? Follow her head and find answers to the ever-present mystery of “where’s waldo”, or follow her heart to Chris to talk things out; coming to a solution to their relationship that suits them both. Sara knows that if she doesn’t choose to follow Chris, she has said her last goodbye to him because he is leaving either way. Deciding that the only way she has a shot of happiness is to follow Chris and get the answers she seeks. Answers only he can give her…to more than just the fate between the two of them.

“I am home. I’m home because I’m with him. And I kiss him as if I will never kiss him again, as if I’m dying of thirst and he is all that can quench me. And I believe he is…’Tell me you’re here because you want to be, not because I forced you.’ ‘You aren’t leaving without me’…”

I was so riveted by this story (and not just this one, but the entire series). In Revealing Us, the mystery remains even though it surrounds a new person, a person who was introduced at the very beginning and inadvertently brought Sara and Chris together. A person who essentially opened the doors to questions asked and answers revealed. This person is now missing…she has vanished, just as Rebecca had. The only difference between them is that Rebecca was murdered by nothing more than a jealous lover. Ella’s fate has yet to be determined and at the end of this book, we get a glimpse of just what she has been through.

But this isn’t just what the story is about. It’s more than just going from one missing girl to the next; no, this is a love story. A twisted and sometimes dark love story. A story of complete openness and trust between two people. A story about being laid bare straight to your soul for the other to see. A story about the relationship between Chris and Sara; a journey where the outcome is unsure. There is vulnerability and fear. It is so clear how each one of them feels, it’s as though I am them. Secrets and past discretions that can either make them stronger or ultimately, pull them apart.

“I lean forward and frame his face with my hands. ‘You can tell me, or show me, anything.’ His expression turns solemn. ‘I know, and I’m going to. And that’s what scares me more than anything.’”

Jones continues to surprise me with each installment of the Inside Out Series. With every page, I am more engrossed and cannot tear myself away for even a minute because I’m afraid that something will happen without me! The journey Revealing Us takes you on is nothing short of amazing. Set in a different place where love and mystery go hand-in-hand, I wanted nothing more than to hop a plane and see the events unfold before my eyes…that is how real this series has become to me. So, yeah, you can say I absolutely loved it. Waiting for the next installment is going to be torturous!

**5 Revealing Stars**
The Master Undone - Lisa Renee Jones
“I’m supposed to be able to control my thoughts. I’m a Master. A title that defines who I am and how I stay grounded. My thumb is always on the pulse of everything that happens around me—or so I thought. For the first time since college, I’m not sure if that’s true. I’m not sure it was ever true, and I don’t know where that leaves me. I don’t know who that makes me.”

Reading this book had my jaw on the floor for more than one reason. Reason one: Mark is insanely hot and more damaged than it has been revealed thus far. Reason two: I think he finally met his match in a woman which I NEVER saw coming!

I cannot tell you much more than I already have for fear of giving something away but just know, it was truly my favorite of the novellas and I am so excited for Revealing Us because that means I can find the answers to questions lingering from Being Me and I get a sneak peek into what Ms. Jones has planned next…until then, let me leave you with this:

“Never again will I pull someone into the BDSM world who’s not already there and reveling in the experience.”

**5 Jaw-Dropping Stars**

Title provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Twisted  - K.A. Robinson “I knew that we were meant to last, that he would stand by my side through any storm I was forced to face. Sadly, my storm did come. Starting out as nothing more than a small rain cloud, it brought a hurricane with it, not just for me, but for Drake as well.”

Thank goodness Twisted picks up right where Torn left off! With an ending like that, I had to jump right into this one because I absolutely HAD to know what would happen next.

I’m not going to spoil it for you because you need to read Torn in order to get the full effect of the “storm” in which Chloe & Drake face. Not just hers but his as well. I will tell you this…his storm did not sit well with me and I certainly lost a little “love” for Drake after reading this book.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still really loved the story and how everything unfolded, I just thought Drake to be a certain way after reading Torn and when I read Twisted

“Do you have feelings for him?”…”Are you sure? Because I’m not going to be a blind idiot like Logan was, living in my own blissful existence while you’re off screwing around behind my back.”

Where the HELL did that insecure, little man come from?!? I know love makes one do crazy things but never did Chloe give him any reason not to trust her. This made me angry because I loved that Drake had that strong (alpha-male), carefree, funny, we-can-face-the-world-together attitude. He lost it, big time, in this book…and caved to his demons because of it. While it does make him more human and less fantasy, I really wasn’t expecting it after reading the first book and let’s just say it threw me for a loop. I do still love Drake (and Logan, Jordan & Danny too) but I wish his strength had held up; Chloe needed him and his vow to be there for her was broken.

After I all but threw my kindle because of Drake’s stupidity, he did something completely unthinkable and once again was very swoon-worthy! This story finished on a high note despite the challenges and heartbreaks, leaving me feeling content and even wistful.

“Before I met Chloe, if someone had told me I would be down on one knee asking the woman I love to marry me, I would have kicked his ass.”

Reading Twisted made me feel things I wasn’t sure I would when the story began, I loved seeing things from both Chloe’s and Drake’s perspective. Although their weaknesses were brought front and center in this book, not once did I lose hope that all would work out in the end. Thank you K.A. Robinson for this beautiful duet, it was truly a treat to watch unfold.

**4 When it Rains, it Pours Stars**

Title provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Torn (Torn, #1) - K.A. Robinson “Whatever you want to believe, but trust me, I’m a guy, I know that look. It’s the I want in her panties look.”

Having a hot best friend can’t be all bad, can it? Chloe certainly doesn’t think so. Logan has been one of her best friends since high school and now they are lucky enough (along with their other BFF Amber) to attend West Virginia University together as well. Co-ed dorms are the best! *smiles* With Logan on the floor above her and Amber below her, Chloe is convinced she may actually be on time to something for a change (she is notoriously late). Honestly, despite her childhood, Chloe has it pretty good now.

Walking into class on the first day (which she was almost late for), Chloe’s life will change and she doesn’t even see it coming. All she sees is a tall, dark, and dangerous guy with piercings and tattoos sitting close by and she is immediately drawn to him. Drake Allen.

“There was no room for Drake or any guy in my plans and I liked it that way, yet he kept shoving in without even realizing it. I decided then and there, since I couldn’t ignore the fact that I already had feelings for Drake, that I would just let the cards fall where they may and pray I left with my heart still intact in the end.”

How does a girl choose? Afraid to lose her very best friend and at the same time, keep her heart intact over a whirlwind beginning of a relationship with someone else…I don’t envy Chloe at all.

On one hand, she has Logan; he knows her past, held her when she’s needed him, and has always been there (being extremely gorgeous doesn’t hurt either). On the other, she has Drake; he’s a complete opposite to Logan and he too, is gorgeous. He isn’t the type of guy you settle down with, he’s a bad boy; destined to break her heart because he too is damaged. But Drake & Logan do have one thing in common…they both want Chloe.

Torn is a great title for this book! I absolutely loved how my feelings were pushed and pulled in every direction with Chloe, Logan and Drake. The way I was kept enthralled with this book was not just because of the triangle (although, let’s admit, that’s a HUGE plus for me), or angst in the characters (another plus); it was the individual stories of each person. I love a good back-story and a way to feel connected to each character. It’s like they are my friends and I am right there, living in the story with them. I guess when reading, that is what I always look for in some way…I found it with Torn. I look forward to finding out what happens next (because my third plus—cliffhanger) in Twisted!

**4.5 Can’t I Have Both Stars**

Title provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Breaking (Escorted, #1.5) - Claire Kent “I think everyone is broken. In some way. It’s just part of being human.”

Ander has some issues. As sexy as he is, he is definitely broken. With his past and now future staring him in the face, it takes everything he has to keep it together.

Devastating news comes to Ander while he is away and because he just needs some comfort of home, he leaves early and returns to his fiancée, Lori. But Ander is having trouble sharing what is really bothering him with the one woman he has vowed to love forever…so instead he pushes to be closer to her on a physical level because he knows it will keep her from asking too many questions. Ander didn’t count on the fact that Lori knows him like no other and can read him like a book.

“So, maybe you can’t be perfect and broken at the same time…but you’re perfect for me.”

Lori knows something is up and no matter how she tries, Ander pushes her away. Insecurities run high on both sides of their relationship and when Lori finally voices her concerns in a way Ander understands; he sees that by trying to “protect” her from his demons, he’s hurting her more by not letting her in.

Relationships take work; communication as well as other forms of intimacy.

Sharing his heartaches and troubles aren’t easy, but he does it and the bond that Ander thought was strong…becomes unbreakable.

“The dawn would come eventually, and what was broken could mend.”

Short. Sweet. Real.

Definitely a couple I enjoyed reading about and I look forward to more from Claire Kent. If you haven’t read Escorted, do so first! This is continuation of Ander and Lori’s story and may give away spoilers to the first book.

For me: Ander has way too many insecurities for the past he has…and Lori is one awesome female. She is strong (even if she can’t understand how someone like Ander would want her) and beautiful. She is independent and I love when I can read about a woman that supports her man instead of always the other way around. What a nice change of pace.

**4 Sensitive Male Stars**

Title provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Tempted by Two - Portia Da Costa Okay....I stand corrected on what I *thought*.

This was the first book I have ever read about threesomes…yeah, so here goes:

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I don’t really know how to even begin a review about this book…but I can say this; I was absolutely turned on. If the author was going for hot, steamy, make-you-want-to-spend-all-day-in-bed-having-sex, turn the pages faster than you can read: BINGO! She did it.

To say that I loved it, no. Will I read more by this author? Absolutely. I don’t know if this book was what I had imagined and when I started reading, I was almost disappointed. But after a bit, I stood corrected and this pretty much fit any fantasy a woman might have about having two men. *blushes big time*

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There isn’t much depth to the storyline, but I liked the characters, and definitely thought the setting was perfect for how the story unfolded (as quick into bed as they were). I would have liked a little more on each individual character (and even sub characters)…maybe there is a story about Marcus & Owen (and if so, I’ll be checking that out)?!?

Yep, so that is all I can say. If you want a quick, extremely hot, M/M/F read, this is it. I now know what I have been missing and will definitely be “researching” further!

**3.5 First-Time for Everything Stars**
Title provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Take Me Back - Kelli Maine “I collapse on top of your rising and falling chest and close my eyes. Nothing matters but the feel of your warm skin under my cheek and the sound of you heart pounding in my ear.”

Rachel & Merrick are happy. No matter how they began, they are happy now; except there is someone who needs their help, someone who has passed a long time ago but has yet to move on…

Ingrid is trapped at West Plantation and wants nothing more than to return to her home, Turtle Tear Island. Rachel and Merrick have moved to Turtle Tear and are getting ready for their first large celebration; a vowel renewal and 50th Wedding Anniversary for a wonderful couple along with family and friends. So why can’t Rachel concentrate on the party instead of Ingrid? There is a connection to her that Rachel can’t let go and even if she loses the man she loves, Rachel is determined to get Ingrid back to Turtle Tear.

“You have to drop this irrational obsession. It’s causing problems.”

While Rachel is hell-bent on helping Ingrid’s spirit find rest, Merrick takes more convincing. Because he refuses to listen with an open mind to Rachel, she closes herself off to him pushing them further apart. Being that Merrick isn’t good with relationships, he pushes right back; sending Rachel home to visit her mother. This isn’t met without a fight but Rachel doesn’t want to lose Merrick so she will do what he asks in order to give them both the time they need to sort their feelings out.

After a few days, Merrick and Rachel both know where their hearts are…Turtle Tear Island. Merrick just needed a little push (by none other than Ingrid herself) to see that Rachel isn’t crazy or obsessed and can actually help to bring Ingrid back to her own peaceful resting place. Upon returning home together, words of wisdom are shared and a gift is received.

Remember this:

“The candle enclosed was the unity candle that burned at our wedding ceremony fifty years ago. Our minister told us whenever one of us needed to talk to the other, to light it and leave it burning on the dresser, then the other would know it was time to listen with an open heart and mind…”

Life is all about growth and change. When you have a partner in which to share that journey with, hold on. Remember to always listen as much as you speak. Keep your ears, eyes, and heart open. Life is tough, be the soft place for the other to land when needed. I loved the message of this book. I did not like the point of view and how it seemed like the author was writing a letter to her lover (but with dialog). I did however, get used to it and although different, I don’t think the story suffered much. I will definitely be checking more out by this author…maybe I should go back and start from the beginning!

*Book provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*

**4 Give & Take Stars**
Epilogue: The Dark Duet (The Dark Duet, #2.5) - C.J. Roberts “I am the man who kidnapped Livvie. I am the man who held her in a dark room for weeks. I’m the one who tied her to a bedpost and beat her. I’m the one who nearly sold her into sexual slavery. But, most importantly, I am the man she loves. She loves me. It’s quite sick, isn’t it?”

What a difference a year makes…

In a year, Livvie, now living as Sophia in Spain, has made a new life for herself. Not knowing if she’d ever see the man who not only kidnapped her, but managed to steal her heart as well. Caleb left her, he just left. And after a year, Livvie is almost normal. She has a job, goes to school, has two very close friends; life is finally starting to look up despite the fact she can no longer have contact with her family or anyone else from her former life. Except James…

“I felt incapable of speech. I had wanted her for so long. I had dreamt of her in my sleeping hours and ached for her in my waking ones. There was nothing I could say to compare with the intense elation and satisfaction of finally having that which I had desired for so very long. Nothing except— “I love you.”

When Livvie and Caleb reconnect after so much time has passed, it’s hard to establish the basics of their new relationship. Livvie is less than trusting because of what had happened between them and Caleb is trying to come to grips with his new reality as a “normal” guy.

Promises of leaving his former life behind and not ever leaving Livvie again go hand-in-hand with the strong emotions ripped from both of them; actions, not words.

“What I found more frightening than the dream was a voice in my head telling me I’d never let Livvie go. Mine. Mine forever. If you’re sighing with contentment, you’re either one sick fuck or you don’t grasp the seriousness of the situation. While I no longer kill, I am a killer. A killer in love is a very dangerous thing.”

So, with this relationship doomed before it began, Caleb does everything in his power to prove he is really here to stay. And having him tell about this new journey from his point of view is very intriguing. Men are notoriously blunt and reading the end of their beginning brought tears to my eyes. No matter how they began, they were meant for each other. Whether they are Livvie and Caleb or Sophia and James; they are connected forever. I love that…as twisted as it seems, I love it. And I loved this beautiful ending to a very dark beginning.

“I’ll let you try again if you tell me you love me.”…”You first.”

**5 Forever Captivated Stars**
King Hall - Scarlett Dawn Holy Mother of a Cliffhanger!!!

“Once upon a time, at the beginning of the year, I had lost my heart. With these completely different Mysticals, I had found it again in them.”

Emily Ruckler is different. Tiny different, with solid red hair and powers she hasn’t even begun to understand. Only a few people know what Emily really is…two are dead, one has left and one has sworn to complete secrecy. If anyone ever finds out, Emily’s life is as good as over; see, she isn’t supposed to exist at all. Emily is an abomination, a ruin to the Mystical race, someone who could destroy everything…Emily is a hybrid.

Being mated to the Prodigy King Shifter has its advantages. No one asks questions, everyone is accepting and Emily is certain her secret is forever safe in the heart of Dominic, her mate. Coming to King Hall wasn’t an easy feat and doctoring her school transcripts is just one more thing that Emily could be put to death for, but under the protection of her mate (and it doesn’t hurt he is also the current Shifter King’s son), Emily starts her new life as just a shifter; nothing more, nothing less.

When tragedy strikes King Hall, Emily’s life changes forever. Being forced into a role she is neither prepared for, wants, or can even do, Emily knows it’s only a matter of time before her secret is out. What she didn’t count on are the friends she would end up making and how more than just her life was at stake.

“Your life has been picked for you. It’s time to own up to it.”

There are just too many details for me to even begin. The way the author weaved reality and fantasy is absolutely amazing and I could not put the book down. Emily, Ezra, Pearl & Jack are all King Prodigy’s; one from each Mys category: Shifter, Vampire, Mage, and Element. They are not supposed to mix (and they don’t) but the friendship forged between the four of these characters defies all the rules of the Law. I loved the banter between them, as well as the Reigning Kings. I love the little elements of surprise when new characters are introduced (or re-introduced) and I love that this book felt like a backwards Zombie Apocalypse! Now, that sounded incredibly strange but with the way I read it, it was nice to see that the “bad guys” weren’t the ones with the special powers.

I really hope Scarlett is in her writing cave because the cliffhanger at the end had me throwing out some choice words and left me with MANY unanswered questions. But I must say, King Hall is a wonderful debut novel. It carries all of the emotions I want in any book (and some unexpected too) and there is enough going on to really keep my interest (that’s the paranormal in it) without completely confusing me to the point where I have to re-read parts in order to understand who is who or what is what. Thank you for this fantastic beginning to what I hope is a truly magical series!

*ARC provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*

**4.5 Hybrid Loving Stars**
Pulse (Collide, #2) - Gail McHugh “I know you’re the one who said you thought you loved me from the moment you saw me, but I know I loved you form the moment I saw you. Something inside me told me I was supposed to be with you, but I fought against it. So many things about you scared me at first, and then you showed me who you really are…But more than anything…thank you for loving me.”

Picking up right where Collide left off, Emily is starting over yet again. I can honestly say, this was a welcome reprieve from the feelings I had in Collide. I knew it could only get better for her from this point forward, regardless of how things played out. What I didn’t see coming were the little twists throughout the story that made me laugh, cry, cringe, and at one point stop reading all together. I wouldn’t trade any of those feelings; that is what makes a story so fan-fucking-tabulous!

Watching the new-found strength in Emily as she embarked on entirely new territory; she and Gavin both grew immensely in this book. I loved the banter and inside jokes, I love how things come full-circle, and how when one is persistent enough; anything is possible. And what else can I say but…Gavin Blake. Holy Sex-on-a-Stick, completely-lickable, absolutely-swoon-worthy-to-the-umpth-degree. I can’t even…I mean…what…this has got to be real for someone! So, in other words, I loved him.

“I want to break the rules with you. Kiss you passionately every day. Make you smile when you’re about to cry. I want no regrets with us. I want us to laugh together until we can’t breathe and it hurts. No man will ever love you the way I’m going to love you, Emily. You’re it. My last. My forever.”

Having a man declare his love like that is just awesome…Emily is one lucky girl. What I waited for was the little bombshell that I knew was bound to happen because no great love story/triangle is complete without it. What I didn’t expect was how long I had to wait in order to find out the answer…talk about being drug out! And in between, seriously had flashbacks of another book I read where I cried for days…if I hadn’t read a recent interview, I may have stopped reading, that’s how real it was.

Piqued your interest? Read the book! You definitely won’t regret it, and even if you are like me and find out things ahead of time…it didn’t ruin the good cry I had; it just kept me from losing my sanity (and killing my friend for making me drop everything and read this ahead of the other books I’m reading—love you Jess!)

“Baited. Hook. Line. And. Motherfucking. Sinker.”

**4.5 Layer Peeling Stars**
Collide (Collide, #1) - Gail McHugh “Fate and the roads that get placed in front of us. It’s like one huge puzzle that ultimately fits in the end.”

When this book started out, I had a horrible feeling. A feeling of dread when it comes to her relationship with Dillon. He’s the classic “good guy”; stepping in when Emily’s world comes crashing down around her. He takes care of her…and doesn’t let her for one minute forget all he has done. This of course should be huge RED flag but with Emily being in the fragile state she’s in, Dillon has swooped in and taken full advantage. To say I saw right through him from the very beginning was an understatement; everything Olivia nicknamed him kept me smiling because she is completely spot on! If only we all could have friends like that.

Emily has settled into her new life in New York, finding a job at a great restaurant in Manhattan and making new friends who despite appearances turn out to be pretty awesome. What Emily didn’t see coming was the raven-haired, blue-eyed, beautiful man that stole her breath from the first moment she laid eyes on him…Gavin Blake. How about we make this a little more complicated; he also happens to be good friends with two very important people in Emily’s life. Of course, upon meeting him she doesn’t know this and does what any girl in her situation would do (okay maybe not ANY girl)…

“Olivia told her stories of Dillon’s rich friend, Gavin, being a ladies’ man. She also warned Emily that once she met him, it would take everything in her not to rip off her shirt and watch the buttons scatter on the floor, along with every sexual inhibition following behind them.”

Fake names, plenty of innuendo,inside jokes and games, along with a few little white lies later; Emily succumbs to all that is Gavin Blake. Drawn to him in the most primal way, Emily and Gavin start down a path just doomed from the start…Dillon will never let her go, and with the mental hold he has on Emily, she just may never leave either.

“Damn it, Emily. I want us! You belong with me, not him.” He half snarled the declaration. “Every part of you was made for me. Your lips were made to kiss mine, your eyes were made to wake up to me looking at you in my bed every morning, and your fucking tongue was made to roll my name off of it. I am more certain of us than I’m certain that I require oxygen to breathe.”

I cried at the end of this book. Not because of what happened but because I finally saw the strength in Emily I had waited to see the entire book. I love Emily, she had to learn some very hard lessons on the coattails of a very difficult past. I am thankful to the author for putting this kind of story out there; one of growth and strength in a situation that so many women are afraid to face or walk away from…Emily did it. *claps hands*

**4 Leaving You Today Stars**