Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Stolen Virtue by Y. Deonna: Triggers and Trauma Ahead!


Stolen Virtue (The Virtuous Trilogy Book 1) by [Deonna, Y. ]



Stolen Virtue (The Virtuous Trilogy Book, #1) by Y. Deonna
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Psychologist Dr. Zoe Broussard has always been a no-nonsense, play by the rules woman until she meets her new client. From the moment the impossibly gorgeous Michael Carson walks into her office, she finds herself dangerously drawn to him and irrevocably hooked. 

Michael is an NFL quarterback with a multimillion dollar contract and a penchant for breaking hearts. He’s used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to tempt his hot new therapist into exploring the obvious passion between them. Even though there’s another man in her life.
Can Zoe resist Michael’s charms and her growing feelings for him? More importantly, is she willing to risk everything for a man who may not be there tomorrow?
This was a doozy. I couldn’t have expected the page after page of mental and sexual abuse I and the character would have to endure. Though the author does a good job of keeping the physical part of the abuse off the pages; it did nothing to assuage my discomfort. 

Virtuous lives with her adoptive family, having been left behind by her mother—and separated from her twin brother, Valor. 

The problem is her adoptive family is less than ideal; worse even. Her adopted father mentally and physically abuses her. And that is where the book lost me. I almost couldn’t stomach any of it, knowing what was going on behind closed doors.

I appreciated the overall Christian background, but even that could not turn me back on. 

The romance was so so, as you don’t get to see the pair spend a lot of time together. Even when they snuck off, a lot of the development of their relationship was left out.

The thing it has going for it is its readability. It’s easy to read and has a good flow.

But I struggled to wrap my head around it all.  I struggled to get through it due to the content. Like I mentioned it wasn’t vulgar, but it was uncomfortable.

The characters themselves were okay. I wasn’t fully invested in them, but I wasn’t bored. But what really got me was the backhanded comments and jokes. I use the term joke lightly. I’ve never been a fan of stereotyped “black jokes.” You know the kind. The ones where the black girl is made fun of for being the EBT girl, or the gold-digger. Or lacking edges or whatever other derogatory black girl “jokes.” The male characters in this book couldn’t get enough of telling them, and I cringed.

It definitely rubbed me the wrong way. Could I be sensitive? Maybe. But, I’ll never make an apology for being off-put by it.

But, I won’t dwell. *shrugs shoulders* Anyway, the book was okay. Not too badly written, fairly entertaining despite the explicit content. This should definitely come with a strong warning if it doesn’t have one. This will trigger for sure.

It has an overall positive message, but it’s a lot to get through to see it.

It ends on a cliff-hanger that leads the story in a positive direction. If these types of reads are your thing, the climactic ending will give you something to look forward to. I’m on the fence. Though I'd be interested to see where the author takes the series. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Voice In My Head by Dana L. Davis Release Day Review: Prepare to Laugh and Cry

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The Voice in My Head
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From the author of Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now comes an unforgettable novel about facing the impossible, dealing with family chaos—and making sense of everything you are.

For Indigo Phillips, life has always been her and her identical twin—Violet. The perfectly dressed, gentle, popular sister. But now Violet is terminally ill and, in a few hours, plans to die on her own terms via medically assisted suicide. Even though she and Violet have drifted apart lately, Indigo doesn’t know how to face life without the only person who really understands her. Until suddenly she hears a mysterious voice claiming to be God, insisting that if she takes Violet to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert, her sister will live.
Indigo is sure she’s losing it. But Violet agrees to go—if their incredibly dysfunctional family accompanies them on their trek from Seattle to Arizona. Indigo can barely be in the same zip code as her distant mother and controlling big sister, much less keep the peace on a road trip. Speaking her mind is the only way she can deal. But between facing senseless mishaps and strange lodgings, and meeting even stranger folks along the way, Indigo will learn shocking things about those she thought she knew too well. When a sequence of wrenching secrets detonates, Indigo must figure out how to come to terms with her sister, her familyand the voice in her head.  
Hmm. I’m not sure how to feel about this one.

Indigo and Violet are twin sisters. And one of them is dying. Indigo can’t imagine life
without her twin, so she attempts suicide, but her attempt is unsuccessful.

A broken arm, a concussion and one voice of God later, had Indigo dragging her
 terminally ill sister on a trip to the Wave. The voice in her head tells her if she gets
 her sister to the wave, she’ll live.

Determination and a mustard seed of faith take the family on a barely planned road trip 
to the Wave. The Wave is only accessible by lottery. 

Though everyone thinks Indigo’s crazy, they allow the voice of God that she hears to guide them.

As a believer, a Jesus follower or what have you, this plot thrilled me. A God-guided YA? 
Count me in.

The voice is a loose guide, not using an all mighty, all-knowing lead; but using humor—
the voice was the perfect companion. The voice is not all at holier than thou, though the 
reader should know it has authority. Laughs, and humor wrap around the sadness that 
encompasses this book; as the reader awaits the death, that’s sure to come.

The family dynamic is solid. It’s not perfect at all, but it’s very realistic. Trouble will
 follow when you’re dealing with a terminal illness. There’s bound to be strain and strife as
emotions are constantly running high.

The buildup is the star of the story. I don’t know about anyone else, but my hope was high 
throughout the entire story. I wanted Violet to live. So bad.

I couldn’t wrap my head around her dying; especially by her own hand.

The book brought to light the argument on medically assisted (by choice) suicide. I don’t 
have a view to share but I understood both sides. The book does a fairly decent though 
vague job of allowing the reader to get an understanding of this death. 

There’s not a lot of growth that happens outside of Indigo’s character but you get some 
heartfelt family moments, much like an episode of Full House would end.

Though it’s well-written and very engaging, I would have liked to spend more time getting a back story on Violet. But, the story tries to wrap up family issues, which it does towards the end.

I found the story relatable, but I was less than pleased with the ending. It’s an ode to real
 life, but I wanted more.

Davis is a good writer and I hope she continues to tackle black characters this way. 
I wasn’t totally in love with this one but I appreciated this hope-filled, realistic tale. 

Bring the tissues if you’re an emotional reader, you may shed a tear or two.






Wednesday, May 22, 2019

With Your Permission (In The Heart of A Valentine, #5) by Stephanie Nicole Norris: I'd Give My Heart on A Platter for This Valentine Brother

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With Your Permission (In the Heart of a Valentine, #5) by Stephanie Nicole Norris
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It was their first encounter that landed them in newfound territory. 

Up and coming wedding planner Bri St. James is in the height of her career. As the CEO of Building Bridges LLC, Bri is driven by determination for success, and each day makes for new opportunities abound. However, while planning the wedding of one of Chicago’s hottest couples, Bri’s focus is shifted when the strum of a nocturnal voice captures her attention. Being an empath has empowered her sense of compassion for others, so she’s not only drawn to him because of his broken heart but also from a fierce attraction that sparks her interest and tap dances on a groove on her heart. Getting involved with someone who’s not open to love may prove to be the most difficult road Bri has ever journeyed, but she’s unable to stop herself from falling into an irresistible tango of love. 

World-renowned photographer Raphael Valentine hasn’t been in the public eye since the tragic death of his fiancée four years prior. To date, his time is spent helping his charity of choice—educating the community about the dangers of driving while intoxicated. For him, love is a thing of the past until meeting Bri St. James at his brother’s rehearsal dinner made Raphael question what he’d always believed to be true. There was no explanation for the riot of pulsing sensations that ripped through his core when his eyes met hers. The unquenchable heat that followed stirred his soul, sending his heart on a quest he himself hadn’t agreed to venture on. As a friendship between the two flourishes, and they're cloaked in a dynamic surge of desire, Raphael is met with the ultimate challenge: surrender to a second chance at love or abandon his happily ever after for a lifetime. 
This book was sexually intense. Heavy laden with sexual innuendo and romantic prowess, With Your Permission, is erotic and lovely.

With Your Permission, could put any of these popular romance titles on its knees. Eloquently written characters, grin-inducing romance; and sex that lit up the pages, made this novel a sure winner.

Bri runs a wedding planning business, and her company has grown exponentially. Things are looking up. Her career is on the uptick, but her love life is nonexistent.

Raphael. She wants this man bad always has. But Raphael is not looking her way. Fiercely good looking with a foreign tongue, Raphael is a walking, talking wet dream. Except, he’s not dating anyone right now—not even, Bri

The highlight of this book is the chemistry between our hero and heroine. Their sexual chemistry was off the charts.

Talk about sexual tension. Whew.

Every moment, every French phrase was something to behold. This beautiful chocolate man spoke French fluently and wet-panties inducing-ly.

It was a treat to watch them come together, and come together they did, in a romantic, sexy meeting.

The romance was on point and perfectly paced. It had just the right amount of slow-burn. 

The plot was clear and easy to follow. The book was well put together and thoroughly entertaining.

This series is so good and I highly recommend it. 

But, you can't have Raphael, he's mine.

Monday, May 20, 2019

All Things Burn By Jodie Slaughter: If This Is The Way Fire Burns, Burn Me Up and Consume Me



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All Things Burn by Jodie Slaughter
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A woman forced to take dark, desperate measures for the sake of her safety seeks out a man who deals exclusively in doling out death sentences. What sparks between them is just as unavoidable as it is life-changing.

Halle Temple is a good person; she doesn’t know anything as surely as she knows that. A successful black woman who uses her expensive law degree to work full-time at a women’s legal aid center, she has no doubt that her entire existence is being spent in the service of others. That perfectly normal life takes a deadly turn, however, when she crosses paths with a man who is willing to go to extreme measures to take possession of her.

After he sets his threats on her family, Halle begins to question every moral she has ever held dear as she realizes that there is only one way to get him out of her life for good. To do that, though, she needs a bit of help.

Callum Byrne is an Irish-American hitman who has made a life out of robbing others of their own. Darkness has always lurked inside of him and he has no qualms about setting it free - especially for profit. Halle enters his life suddenly, bringing with her an intensity that he has never felt before. It isn’t long before Callum’s narrow view of himself is twisted and challenged.

As the job she’s given him becomes more complicated by the minute...so do Callum’s feelings for her.

Content Warning: this book contains themes of violence and murder as well as mentions of domestic violence.
All Things Burn burned right through me from page-to-page. This is the sinister, dark interracial romance you never knew you needed.

I knew from page one; that ATB was a winner; from page one people.

Halle is being stalked, and that’s putting it mildly. Her ex can’t seem to let go and seems to feel entitled to her even though their relationship has long since ended.

So, she decides to kill him. Okay, she hires Callum to do it. Callum has been a hit-man for as long as he can remember. It’s in his breeding. Get the call, meet up, and get out. But things don’t go according to plan and as the reader, you’ll be glad they didn’t.

I might be a little weird but I can almost always get into dark romance. I might not be right in the head, but I digress.

This book is as so expertly written I had to keep reminding myself that Slaughter is a debut author. I mean, like hell she is. The pacing? On point. The build up? On point. The backstory? On point? I mean, there are no rookie mistakes; or immaturity to any of this.

The slow burn was just right while allowing the reader to get fully engrossed into each of the characters—all the while expecting when they would come together. And, it did not lack at any point.

I really cannot complain, but I can rant. This book was effing good. Point blank and a period. Halle was perfect; she remained wholly black and her blackness wasn't ignored or disregarded because the love interest was white. There was respectability between the two. And Slaughter did not harp on details, but she gave enough for it to satisfy the reader.

When Callum slipped that bonnet on her head while she dozed off I’d like to die. Pure respect without doing too much. The love was timely and believable. No insta-Love was to be found and thank goodness for it. This is a novel-meal is to be devoured in small bites—to allow for savoring.

If this is the literature Slaughter is writing; you veterans better watch out because she’s coming for necks. I will gladly lay down like a lamb for Slaughter for these types of delicious romance novels.

Very well done, Jodie. Very well done. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bland by Michael Stephenson

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Bland Michael Stephenson
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To become what you dream to be, the old you must DIE!

Getting ahead takes sacrifice, commitment, and the ability to “integrate” into the company culture while abandoning your own culture. Alaminti Dranas has heard it all from her boss before. As one of only two black women in her office, even she’s starting to believe the one idea she has resisted. That idea? That the odds are stacked against blacks and other minorities, black women especially. This is no more evident to her than when the newest hire gets what should have been Alaminti’s promotion. Just over ten years of dutiful service ignored for flimsy reasons. She’s grown tired of that narrative. But work is currently the most important thing in her life. There has to be a way to get ahead. Indeed, there is. 

Things start to change when she is invited to join a mysterious group that promises untold success. “We make dreams come true.” All Alaminti has to do is make it through an extended initiation process that far exceeds the bounds of normal. In fact, what they want her to do is outrageous, unsafe, maybe even deadly. But with her life both at home and at work stagnant, she gives in to quiet desperation. Little does she know how much things will change, how much she will change, how much she will lose. For only after the process begins do her nightmares start, her sanity falters, the “beasts” come, and she grows obsessed with asking her mirror one question: What am I becoming?
 
Bland is the weirdest book I've ever read. With the essence of satire; Bland is unlike any approach to blackness in literature I've ever read.

Reminiscent of Get Out with the gore of US, Bland tells a unique story of blackness and whiteness—and how they clash.

This is one of those books you don’t have to do much to get, but there is a lot underneath it that will require more in-depth attention to detail.

But, I will say this when I talked about it out loud, I realized how genius it really was.

Imagine being black and getting skipped for every single promotion for every single undeserving white person in the company? Easy, I’d imagine. That’s where Alaminti is. She’s been working hard at her current job for years, but a promotion seems to keep abating her. 

She’s finally had enough. But, it’s how she goes about it, that changes the course of her life. At the loose recommendation of a friend of a friend, Alamanti agrees to several procedures. As a result, she will get the promotion she so desperately wants. A nip and a tuck here is what she agrees to, but they take more than that every single time. 

Changes in her outward appearance and even her tastes ensue with every operation. And, Y'all, it is something to read. With these changes, so comes the changes to the things and people around her. When did her co-worker get such a huge butt and hips? And, just what are those creatures she keeps seeing? Are they even creatures at all?

The book is weird. At least its approach is. It is genius. The blurb is a little vague—but it's a rollercoaster ride.

Every action, and sentence is intentional. I had to sit back and digest it to see the bigger picture. A lot is explained at the back of the book. It will have you nodding and shouting out in agreement. Bland gets it. Stephenson gets it. 

I don’t want to get into much of the detail for fear of spoiling it. But this book is like an onion, every layer revealed an even more in-depth look at blackness juxtaposed to whiteness. And, gosh it’s good. Because it makes sense; and it makes sense of it all. 

I want to be more articulate and explain the idiosyncrasies and underlying meanings, but it's best you read it and develop your own understanding.

 A great novel with deep meaning. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

I Think I Might Love You Christina C Jones: I Think I Might Love This Book "A Quickie- Review"


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I Think I Might Love You Christina THEE C. Jones
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Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble - it seems to follow her wherever she goes. 

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him - even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him - literally - black and blue. 

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos. 

In a small city like Blakewood, it's hard to avoid each other... especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to. 

"I Think I Might Love You" is a first-in-series novella.
Christina C. Jones never ceases to amaze me.  I Think I Might Love You had a lightness to it I’m unaccustomed to from Jones, but it was obviously a CCJ project. The engaging writing, the flow, it was all her—the gems that make these projects distinctly Christina C. Jones shone in this novel.

Jaclyn is a bad girl; in and out of trouble since she was a youth. She’s all bark, and she has a bite to match. Looking to rest her head at her sister’s place she encounters Kadan, butt naked and livid. What is she doing there? In his home? Jaclyn does the only respectable thing she can do at a time such as this, she hauls off and punches him. This laughable moment sets a precedent for Jaclyn’s personal life and the story itself.

CCJ’s books are not heavy angst projects, but this book is different: light, humorous and unassuming.

I laughed out loud a lot, and I can be a hard nut to crack. But this book was downright funny!

Not only is it funny, but it also has a solid easy to follow plot and a romance that flows fluidly with no unnecessary angst and drama. As an angst fiend, I did not miss it.

And Jaclyn’s family members, Chile, they are a mess! I can’t wait to get to know them—the parents included. This is a fun series, and it promises to be another great addition to Jones’ catalog.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#ROMBKLOVE DAY 15: Unforgettable Family: We are Family!

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Romance normally focuses on the coming together of the MC’s and while that’s really why we’re all here; I wanted to use this post to highlight family. Whether the family is doing the falling in love, or simply interfering—family in romance is important.

 Most of what’s featured below is a lot of siblings, but that’s all happenstance; it just worked out that way.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post!


Without further ado:

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The Wrights Brothers series by Christina C. Jones:
If you follow this blog, you know how much I adore Ms. Jones—and pretty much everything she writes. This series was no exception. You get doctor love, school love, and bestie love. There's a little of everything for everyone---including sexy, successful chocolate men who are brothers.

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 I Think I Might Love You BOOK ONE (Love Sisters Series) by Christina C. Jones:
While we're discussing Christina C. Jones let's talk about her latest release, I Think I Might Love You. Aside from being funny as heck, there's a solid series building here. Not to mention, the cover is vibrant and so gorgeous. You will not want to miss out on this fun series! The book starts off with the MC kicking someone in the jewels and getting arrested for going Jazmine Sullivan on an ex's car.

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In The Heart of A Valentine Series by Stephanie Nicole Norris:
This series...whew! These chocolate brothers will give you a run for your money. There is something for everyone. With Your Permission is my favorite so far. A French-speaking black man is my cup of tea. And, the sex scenes in it are unmatched. Such a worthwhile series—and such stellar writing.

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The Holliday Sisters Series by Nicole Falls
This is such a fun series—and I love that it started with the holiday season. I adore Christmas. I have a mini ELF living inside of my body. You'll laugh, swoon and cry. My words can't do this series a service. Read it. Brave Hearts is my favorite, see Immigration, fake marriage—and friends-to-lovers.

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Strickland Sisters by Alexandra Warren
Sisters with romance tropes for everyone. A nice addition.

Maker of Sunshine: Only for Love (Lewis Family Book 1) by [Nichelle, G]

Maker of Sunshine (Only For Love) by G. Nichelle
I imagine that there will be more books. It seems prime for a series. I like novels that have the entire family featured in the novel—from the grandmother on down. You get a good dose of romance and family in this one.

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The Connecticut Kings Series by Christina C. Jones and Love Belvin
I wasn't going to include this one but with a family at the helm of a football team. I couldn't NOT include it. A family of men and a woman run a football team—and it is a very interesting dynamic. And the romance is not slacking either! A sports romance worth reading!

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After Ever (A Paradise Cove Story) by Santana Blair
I really enjoyed the brother and sister dynamic in this romance. The brother was super protective, and though the sister did not speak—she gave him a run for his money. It was very interesting to watch, and it made me wish I had a brother willing to go to such lengths to protect me. Also, the way the story unfolds, and the romance—ugh so good!

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To Marry a Madden Series Sherelle Green
When I picked up #Blessed by Malakai, I knew I had to include this series. Imagine waking up one day as a Twitter sensation, because of your psycho of a kind-of-an-ex created the hashtag: #BlessedByMalaki, and sharing your private parts for the world to see. The book kicks off with our MC on the run from a horde of women hoping to be blessed by Malaki. Get this series, you'll enjoy it.

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Snowflake Nia Forrester
If you follow this blog, you know how I felt about this book. Though the father is incarcerated; his presence was very strong—and it gave the MC character—along with his mother who never gave up on the love she shared with his father. Aside from the romance, the parents were the stars of this novel; showing that love knows no time or distance.

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MacLaine Girls Series Shelly Ellis
A diverse group of women, the MacLaine Girls are a force. A family-run (all women) dance studio; with the matriarch at the helm; this series is a nice addition to any shelf. If you like younger men and older women romance; book one is a good place to start.

Thanks again for stopping by and checking out my post. And, thanks Ana, for asking me to be a part of #RomBkLove.

This list features a dynamic (though small) portion of some outstanding black writers and authors. Black romance is important and though it is often ignored in the public arena; as it pertains to accolades, and awards—Black romance has been here and is here to stay. The vibrancy, love, sex and romance you seek as a romance novel lover—is all here. Don't let a brown face deter you. You're missing out. 

Follow me on @blklitreviews on Twitter to stay abreast of black romance and black literature.

Also use the hashtag #RomBkLove and share your recs! I can't wait to see them all!