Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Endgame (The Endgame Trilogy, #1) by Tiye Love ARC Review: This Was A Doozy


Endgame (The Endgame Trilogy, #1) by Tiye Love
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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?

Endgame is the romance-less” story of Michael and his work prescribed psychologist, Zoe.

Zoe and her partner just scored their biggest contract ever. The Gators’ newly inducted quarterback, Michael Carson just signed onto the team. As apart of his on-boarding process, he's required to see a psychologist for the season.

What Zoe intends for good becomes a time of dissension--as she's unable to resist the hot quarterback. Michael was dead set against the sessions before they even began. (At least that's the impression) But, once he lays eyes on Zoe—he’s prepared to give more than just his deepest darkest secrets away.

I didn't get the impression that this would be an insta-love novel, but that's exactly what I got. It was instalove with all its parts: instant lust, instant love--giving me instant nausea.

Zoe’s characters was a doozy. She was the angel and the devil on the shoulder; all wrapped into one.  Zoe struggled ad nauseam, between maintaining the career she spent so much time building or satisfying her libido.

Though she winds up satisfying her libido, Zoe spends an agonizing amount of time going back and forth between choices. Because of the back and forth, the book was weighted down with indecision.

Her friends went back and forth just as much as Zoe did—causing even more confusion. It was mind-numbing how difficult it was to narrow down a single choice—did she want a career or Michael? While no woman should have to choose between a career or love, Zoe did.

She lost big time. 

Michael is the average overly attractive MC. His teeth sparkle. His dimples are deep—and his clothes fit perfectly against his chiseled body.

Not to be overly critical, but Michael was as deep as a kiddie pool. His arguments were lackluster and lacked the depth to stick. His flirtations were unconvincing and misogynistic. 

His bravado demeanor was not unlike many other characters of this type, but delivery made a world of a difference. 

Michael often said and did things that would make any woman cringe. I’m not above “unlikable” characters, but they have to be likeable unlikable. There has to be something that pulls the reader towards the character. But, Michael fluctuated between his emotions as often as Zoe did; like hot flashes during menopause—they came and went.

While I didn’t care for either of the main characters or the supporting characters—the real issue was in the storytelling.

The novel moved too quickly between the intro, the conflict, and the climax—leaving a large chunk of the book struggling to carry on.

The last half of the book contained too much discord. It was very "he loves me, he loves me not," and I was ready for the petals to run out. 

The book is also inconsistent; giving back story in lackluster rushed detail far too late in the story.

I don’t want to be completely negative. To be honest—there was nothing I liked about the novel, though I gave the book an honest try.

The characters were wishy-washy and undependable. These types usually work best for mysteries or thrillers where the plot itself should slip through your fingers for effect.

The plot was shaky and the romance and the sex were cringeworthy. The insistence on having unprotected sex with a stranger; who's already in a relationship is irresponsible and risky—and dealt with too nonchalantly.

I will not tell you, the reader, don't read it—but beware. It won’t be a long trip, but it will feel like it. If I had to grade this book I’d fail it—but it would have the opportunity for a retake exam. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sin & Ink (The Sweetest Taboo, #1) by Naima Simone: Pass the Water, I'm Parched


Sin & Ink (The Sweetest Taboo) by Naima Simone
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There's sin, and then there's literally going-straight-to-hell sin...

Being in lust with my dead brother's wife pretty much guarantees that one day I'll be the devil's bitch. But Eden Gordon works with me, so it's getting harder and harder to stay away. I promised my family—and him—I would, though.

My days as an MMA champion are behind me. But whenever I see her, with those wicked curves and soft mouth created for dirty deeds, it's a knock-down fight to just maintain my distance. "Hard Knox" becomes more than just the name of my tattoo shop. However, surrendering to the forbidden might be worth losing everything...
I'm trying to loosen the hold the top of my shirt seems to have on my throat or the haze of lust that seemed to cover this book like a looming rain cloud ready to burst. If emotional was enough of a word to describe this book; I would stop there. This book was intense. As much as the angst threatened to drown me in its overwhelming presence--I don't think I could properly articulate it.

Knox craves his sister-in-law like a drug addict craves his/her next hit. It's wrong and it’s not good for him, but it doesn't stop desire from seizing him and taking him by the throat every time Eden is in the room.

His MMA fighting days are behind him, but what he no longer fights physically, like men in the ring--he fights mentally: like his guilt and the love he harbors for his brother’s widow.

Knox’s mental tug of war results in a novel heavy in angst and blame--that later cocoons into love and forgiveness.

Obviously, romance is the most important part of this novel, but the emotional depth of the novel is what kept me reading. If you knew me at all; you’d know a novel that pulls at my emotions satisfies my Scorpion heart like a balm to a burn.

Novels that don't stray from, but dive headfirst into the emotional side of its plot and its characters--are among my favorite types of books. Books filled with angst are among some of my second favorite types.

This book is heavy handed on both. While I adored the book for this; it did feel a bit overwhelming at times. It could have been my eagerness for a conclusion. Or it could have been my eagerness to get past the angst in an effort to get to the juicy parts; that had me feeling this way. But, it all works for this book. Be prepared for a slow burn that chafes like a fresh sunburn.

However, the writing is brilliant. The similies were so perfectly written; they stirred incandescent images I felt like I could see and touch. 

I wanted to tuck some of them away for later; for use in my own writing. The pacing is torturous but perfect. Simone did everything right with Sin and Ink--and she's gained a fan because of it. She did what needed to be done.

Stroking my emotions and being a stellar writer is my Achilles heel. It's what brings me to my proverbial knees. It's the books I look for when everything else feels wrong.

This book is not perfect, but as far as the things I look for: emotion, depth, and good writing; it's damn close.

The characters backgrounds are solid as a rock--giving the story a depth that couldn’t have been achieved by lazy writing or happenstance. This novel was planned and written with a precision not many authors can achieve. Naima is a force to be reckoned with. I'm honestly both surprised and not; that I haven't heard of her before this. But, with stories like these, I’m sure I’ll hear more about her; coming from my own mouth most likely.

However, if her books are always this angst-y, I'll probably enjoy them with trepidation--fear of the emotional pulling: choosing to feast on them like a bag of chips on cheat day.

 Sin and Ink is a solid winner: with great writing, solid characters--and sex scenes that will have you reaching for a glass of water. It will have you coming back to this author for more.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

His Only Valentine (The Spies Who Loved Her Interlude) by Katrina Jackson


His Only Valentine (The Spies Who Loved Here Interlude) by Katrina Jackson
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Kenny, the Asian-American spy, has been dating Maya, the fat Black cam model, for a few months. He used to be the kind of guy who didn’t put anything above his job and his ambition to become the best spy at The Agency. (Or second best spy, next to his idol.) But now that he’s managed to take his relationship with Maya offline, he’s finding it difficult to imagine that anything could ever be more important than coming home to her every night.

Maya can’t believe that her life is this good. Her cam channel is doing great, her savings account has a tiny bit of padding, and she has a great boyfriend who treats her like a queen and makes her blush more than ever before in her life. But she doesn’t have a great history with relationships and the upcoming fake holiday has her nervous that this is all too good to be true.

On their first Valentine’s Day together, Kenny and Maya want to make the day perfect, even when they’re forced to abandon their original plans and fly to Hong Kong to protect a foreign diplomat from a possible assassination attempt. Along the way, the two begin to realize that maybe their honeymoon phase is so good because this is what real love feels like. And it’s even better than they dreamed.

His Only Valentine is an interlude in The Spies Who Loved Her series. These erotic romantic suspense stories are about sexy secret agents and the civilians who bring them to their knees. This story would make the most sense if you read Private Eye first.
I spent my post valentine’s day in one of my favorite places; between the pages of a Katrina Jackson novel.

Intrigue and sex met me at the door; while the romance and confessions of love bid me adieu.

Kenny and Maya are back. It's their first Valentine’s Day together. The holiday is filled with a lot of firsts for the couple.

Kenny has special plans for them. He wants to give Maya a Valentine's Day she'll never forget.

Maya hasn't had a pleasant Valentine's Day yet. But she’s ready to celebrate it with Kenny--even though he won't tell her what they're doing--much to Maya’s chagrin.

Their holiday plans are thwarted, when Monica calls him in for a job. But, he's bringing Maya on this business trip--determined to make the best of the holiday no matter what. As a result, readers are treated to sensuous sex, and spy games galore.

I don't think I'll ever tire of these characters and their shenanigans. What I love most about
this Erotica series is that its multi-layered. You not only get thirst inducing sex, but: emotions back story and a plot that's easy to get invested in.

I love Jackson for pushing the narrative that plus-sized women can be poppin', too. Everyone deserves love, no matter the size.

There's not much to say. The novel is what I've grown used to from this author: great writing, witty characters, and hot sex. You get what you paid for and then some.

I have no qualms about this book; aside from I want more. Another great from an author that has made her way on my favorites list.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Real Kind of Love (Four Letter Word, #1) by Bella Jay: Where Is The Love?


A Real Kind of Love (Four Letter Word, #1)
by Bella Jay
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Avelyn Russell didn’t do love. Never did, never wanted to and as far as she was concerned, never would. She lives her life proud to hold the title as the ‘break up queen’ and for never letting love get her caught up in being an advocate of false hope fairytales. But her extreme methods to avoid love are put to the test by the one person able to tap into her cold little heart and Avelyn has no clue how to handle it.

Dasiah Stokes - charming, handsome, and not afraid of love. The complete opposite of Avelyn and the moment he reveals his true feelings for her, she bolts leaving him to fight for their love. He’s willing to do just that - until he’s not, leaving them both to figure out if it is or isn’t the end of their love story. 

Follow Avelyn on her journey as she finds the true meaning of love.
Coming off of the high of Power I was eager to try another book from this author. 

I hate to say it, but this wasn't my favorite.

Avelyn is bitter towards love. She's scorned from the absence of her mother. She vows never to fall victim to love; like her mother and sister. However, love has a way of finding you when you least expect it. Avelyn found love; in a man named Dasiah.

Their love was full of angst, arguments, and anger. I understood Avelyn's hesitation toward love, but her anger at times felt unwarranted.

It was tough to empathize with Avelyn, but I tried.

The romance in this book, at least for the first 60-70%, is nil. The novel is less about love and more about these human beings figuring things out. They're learning to love and love properly. I like stories of growth; but I expected more romance--which I did not get. That was disappointing.

I didn't find myself as invested in the characters as I would have liked. They were okay, but it wasn't there for me.

Don't get me wrong; I still think this author is something to see. I wouldn't count her out by any means. I just wasn't as taken in with this story; as I was with Power. (I highly recommend Power. If you haven't read my review for it--check it out!)

Recommended for romance readers that enjoy their romance novels, light on the romance and heavy on character development.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds Arc Review: My 2nd Favorite of the Year. I'm Already Calling It.


Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
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Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . . 

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.
Opposite of Always is a heartfelt and stunning debut; that is worthy of all praise.

I am in love with this book; its story, and the way it made me feel.

Jack is a boy in love with a girl, that keeps dying—over and over again. 

Most importantly, he’s a black boy in love with a black girl—and the importance of that is immeasurable.

Every death is an opportunity to fall in love with Kate again. It's a chance to right wrongs, fix relationships—and to do things differently. But what happens when you start flubbing with the future, by changing up the past?

Jack is a treasure trove of humor and black boy joy. His character stumbles along in love and fruitless determination; to keep the girl that keeps slipping through his fingers time and time again. 

Kate is a girl in love with a boy--whose time gets shortened unexpectedly.

Their love is serendipitous and being able to experience it is a treat I won’t take lightly. 
Between the romance and the friendships, this reader’s heart is full to the brim.

This book is everything I’ve been hoping to find in black YA; a positive story—that allows for black joy, growth, and love to be the star. It is paramount to the catalog of black YA as a whole. It’s imperative that teens get to see more happiness, joy, and positivity with a black face at the helm. 

Aside from the novel's importance, is the writing: that is eloquent and easy-to-follow. It pulls you in and does not let go; until the book is complete.

The characters were expertly-crafted, and have found a place in my heart. I felt every word--every rise and fall. I won't forget this story. I want to hand it to every black child that passes me by so they can see, you get a love story, too--and it can be beautiful.

It's beautiful. I am a love-sick puddle of goo. The way the book deals with sci-fi (the time-traveling) while maintaining a strong contemporary voice is genius. It has earned its place as my second favorite novel of the year. 

I highly recommend it.

PS: Cheers to the author for including sickle cell disease in his novel. Most people don't talk about it, or even know what it entails. It is a disease that is prevalent in the black community--and cheers to him for how he dealt with and handled it. Reynolds, you're all right by me.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Honeydew (Southern Seduction Book One) By S. Taylor ARC Review: Put Some Respect on This Book's Name


Honey Dew (Southern Seduction Book One) by S. Taylor
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Clarisse Jordan is a young single mother, who after the death of her fiancé, poured blood, sweat, and tears into her business, Honeydew Café, to provide for her children. A catering gig for successful and super sexy Dylan Price is the opportunity of a lifetime. But she quickly learns that Mr. Price is interested in more than her Southern cuisine. He has his sights set on her. 
Dylan has been in love with Clarisse for years and would do anything to have her—even if it means forcing her into marriage. Lucky for him, the instant chemistry between them is hotter than a mid-summer day beneath the Georgia sun. 
Yet Dylan is not completely honest with Clarisse, and when she learns the painful truth, will their love affair end? Or will they be able to find their way back to each other?
Rating Breakdown:
Characters:Related image
Writing:Related image
Romance Factor:Image result for three  star rating
Steam Factor:Related image

The exclamation of this novel as insta-love is a little off the mark. I suppose you could say the relationship part of the book happens fairly quickly, but actual declarations of love don’t come until much later.

Insta-love is more than instant attraction, or instant lust, which is more of what’s found in Honeydew’s beginning.

Clarisse is a woman on a mission to make a name for herself and her business. After the death of her fiancée, she simply wants to live her life and make sure her kids are taken care of. But, Dylan Price has other plans—plans to bed and wed her, even if the wedding comes by coercing force.

What becomes of their love was more meaningful than I expected. I was concerned by the vigilance in which Dylan pursued Clarisse, especially with it being so painstakingly similar to the book I read last week. I found that the character’s particular (very similar) attempts at courting disturbing. (The other book, not this one.) What makes the two different is the underlying respect and love that forces Dylan to forge ahead in a manner that is not necessarily becoming of him. But he seems genuine, even if his behavior speaks differently. I don’t believe in his motives, but the outcome makes up for his shortcomings.

Starting off at a point of instant attraction worked for this novel instead of against it. 

The novel is well-written and is paced really well, which is why I truly believe labeling this as insta-love is a fair warning but doesn’t give the novel what it’s due. 

Solid characters—but, I could have done with more background on Dylan and Clarisse, but the novel holds up pretty well despite a lack of in-depth back story. 

I’m pleased with this as a first-read from this author. My feelings about it are solid, and the HEA was satisfactory. A decent novel with an author worth trying.