Goodreads Monday (5/15/17): The Year of Loving by Traci L. Slatton 

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To participate, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners and add your own links! 

My choice today is The Year of Loving by Traci L. Slatton. 

BLURB: Art gallerist Sarah Paige’s world is crumbling. One daughter barely speaks to her and the other is off the rails. Sarah is struggling to keep her gallery afloat in a tough market when she learns that her most beloved friend has cancer. In the midst of her second divorce, two men come into her life: an older man who offers companionship and stability and an exciting younger man whose life is as chaotic as hers. 

Sarah’s courage, humor, and spirit strengthen her, but how much can she bear, and what sustains her when all else falls away?

Traci L. Slatton wrote the After series, one of my favorite Dystopian series. See my Review of Fallen (Book 1). Every time I read a book by her, I am so drawn into the story that I read them in one sitting. I’m amazed that her books fly under the radar. Her writing is so visceral to me. 

So Today’s choice is a contemporary novel she releases recently and it’s been languishing on my TBR because of Goodreads challenges that dictate my reading choices. I will add a review as soon as I’m done.

What are you reading today from your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

Audiobook Review: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Narrator: Georgia Maguire

Title: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Release Date: February 11th, 2016
Format: Georgia Maguire (8 hrs and 23 mins)
Genre: Suspense, Thrillers, Mystery
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Purchase Links: GoodreadsAmazon US

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

three-half-stars

I usually avoid these books but this was one was intriguing. It was a Goodreads choice award book so I wanted to see what the fuss was. I just want to say that “I like George Clooney but hate Jack!”

Jack Apple was a lawyer who specialized in divorce cases with battered spouses. He has never lost a case and has made a name as a champion for abused spouses. In his home life, he has been known to expect perfection from himself as well as his wife. When I heard the word “perfect” over and over in the beginning dinner party, I knew this perfect marriage was a sham. It was a matter of figuring out Jack’s motives. I liked Grace, Millie and the caretaker. They were genuinely good people unlike Millie’s self centered parents.

I have to say that I don’t believe “friends” and “coworkers” can be that oblivious. Especially highly educated people like attorneys who make their living ferreting out facades. So Esther’s appearance gave me life. Esther saw and heard the “unspoken” truths. She read between the lines and I knew the jig was soon to be up for Jack.

The writing flowed well and the plot kept my attention the entire time. The narrator’s voice captures the tones so well that it did give me chills. The voice for Grace conveyed helplessness and Jack’s felt creepy. I wouldn’t mind seeing this book adapted for a movie. I just wonder if the house was in Jack’s name, the cars, money etc. what was found in his personal effects, computers, room after he was dealt with? People like him leave journals souvenirs of their conquests. That what I wanted to see in the epilogue.

Ezi

There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title:There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford
Release Date: March 17th, 2017
Pages: 220 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazon

How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

three-stars

 

 

This was extremely difficult for me to read, get through and wait two months to review. Let’s review here: In my head I have a really close relationship with Rhys Ford, and this rating or review won’t seem like it. In fact, I’ve dreaded writing this review since I finish reading it. I haven’t felt this letdown in a long time. She’s one of my favorite authors, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t like it.  I was finding it hard to get my words out without stabbing myself in the heart during the first place. If this was Rhys idea of a contemporary romance, then I prefer her murder mystery books. This was angsty, slow burn on the romance, and difficult to read for me.  The relationship was completely one – sided for me, and it never felt like a romance. Hell, the story felt like I was wading through quick mud while reading it. While I did like Jake & Dallas as characters, I still didn’t quite like the story as much as I would have liked.

Jake comes from a super abusive childhood. The abuse is so deeply twined into his soul, that he is not able to see the good in people. He’s so scarred from his childhood, and even worst that his tormentor is his father. A father is who sick, but still is able to keep his hooks into Jake. Dallas is the complete opposite, yeah he knows what love lost is, but he is more free spirited and able to open up at love. Their careers is what leads them to a chance meeting. Soon after it’s like fate stepped in and interceded.

This point on their was an excessive about of literary things happening that my brain wasn’t able to understand. Plenty of times, I had to step back and think why?? We all know how I feel about angst. A little is okay, I like people to work for it, but too much throws the story completely off. I really wanted the book to end at those points, I didn’t care if they did or did not get together. Dallas had these grand gestures for Jake about love, and friendship, but they were NEVER reciprocated. I literally hate with a passion, a one-sided relationship. I’m all for being someone’s backbone, but I was really waiting on Jake to open his eyes and realize what he wasn’t doing. How do we get this grandiose love story where I didn’t feel anything. At best a friendship is started and Jake can start healing, at worst nothing. I felt Nada, zip, zilch, NOTHING. In fact by the 75% I was waffling on calling it quite. Its something that I never felt while reading a Rhys Ford book. After reading it, I was straddling the fence on my rating.

The only thing that saved me was Celeste. She was a fun character, and the writing. Ford knows how to write, but the overall product was not something that I enjoyed personally. It had its moments, but they were very small and far in few in the story. I think fans of slow burn romance, angst, and heartbreaks will most likely like this.

 

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About Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

Release Blitz: Kept From You by Nashoda Rose

Series:

Kept From You (Tear Asunder #4) by Nashoda Rose

Book Title: Kept from You (Book 4: Tear Asunder)
Author: Nashoda Rose
Genre: Erotic Romance
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Cover photo: Copyright © 2016 Wander Aguiar Photography (http://www.wanderbookclub.com)
Model: Nick Bennett (https://www.facebook.com/nickbennett6/)
Cover design by: Kari Ayasha, Cover to Cover Designs

A first kiss that changed everything.

Killian Kane.
He was the most feared guy in high-school.
Guarded. Angry. A fighter.
But when I caught him watching me with his captivating green eyes I saw something more. Something protective and kind. 


He warned me to stay away from him.

I did.
Until I didn’t and he kissed me. A knee weakening, body tingling kiss that left me breathless. 
And scared the hell out of me.


And then…
He warned me never to come near him again or next time he wouldn’t let me go.



That was eleven years ago.
We aren’t teenagers anymore. He has probably forgotten me. 
He’s a famous rock star now. I’m a dance instructor with a broken dream and desperate for a job.
So, when we cross paths again I don’t expect him to remember me.
He does.
And his warning eleven years ago? I’m about to find out exactly what that meant.

The thin sweet crunch mixing with the light, airy cream tickled my tongue.

Indulging was rare. Indulging in something like crème brûlée was heaven on a spoon.

But what made it even more like heaven was that Killian watched me with desire blazing in his eyes.

I swallowed, then with the tip of my tongue, I slid it over my lower lip, licking the remnants of cream.

“Fuck,” he growled.

I secretly smiled, heart pumping wildly.

I’d never been sexy or tried to be sexy, but I wanted to be with Killian. He made it easy for me to be brave.

Lights dim, candles flickering, the soft jazz music in the background, skin tingling from the sexy-as-hell man next to me, yeah, I was brave.

I dipped the spoon in again, but Killian’s fingers spanned my wrist, stopping me.

I met his eyes and without a word, but knowing exactly what he wanted by the silent exchange of his steady expression, I released the spoon to him.

His attention went to the dessert where he tapped the light thin sugar shell before breaking through and sinking into the airy lightness.

He lifted the overfilled spoon at the same time as his eyes.

I thought he was going to take a bite himself, but he held the spoon out to me. “Open.”

I nervously laughed, thinking he was kidding; it was a huge mouthful. “It’s too much.”

“I know. Open, Savvy,” he said.

Oh, God, my belly dropped and my sex clenched. I swallowed, licking my lips again.

“No,” he said with a firm voice. “I didn’t ask you to lick your lips. Although that is fuckin’ delectable as hell.” His tone lowered further. “I asked you to open your mouth.”

My eyes widened. Holy. Fuck. That was hot. Demanding and a little scary because him using that voice I’d pretty much do anything he asked.

I opened, and he slid the dessert into my mouth, and since there was so much, it hit the roof, sides, and back of my throat. He didn’t remove the spoon right away and watched as I struggled not to pull away.

When I was just about to say screw it, he said, “My cock will fill your mouth a hell of a lot more than this.”

I nearly choked. And I would’ve if he didn’t slowly remove the spoon, my lips dragging over the cool, smooth surface of the spoon to make certain I took the entire dessert.

His elbow rested on the table, spoon in his hand, eyes on mine as I swallowed little by little until it was gone. The entire time I thought about his cock.

meet the author

Nashoda Rose is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Toronto with her assortment of pets. She writes contemporary romance with a splash of darkness, or maybe it’s a tidal wave.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found sitting in a field reading with her dogs at her side while her horses graze nearby. She loves interacting with her readers and chatting about her addiction—books.

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Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) by Avon Gale

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Empty Net by Avon Gale
Series:  Scoring Chances #4
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Pages: 200 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating)

three-half-stars

I’m annoyed. I guess I should get that out first. I’ve had nothing but hits with this series, and book 3 is my all time favorite. I’m annoyed for many reasons concerning this book. It took me 7 days to read this book. A big surprise for me, I was not able to put up with the antics of the first half. I went from rage, anger, annoyance, guilty and a slew of other emotions. It took a lot for me to not DNF this book. I knew it was a part of me in the first two days, but I did a normal thing by trying to read something else. I succeeded in that, and read a few other books. That lead me to believe that it wasn’t just me.

I did not connect to the book until the last half, and I enjoyed it. I’m so conflicted on the rating to actually give the book. I want to be as fair as possible, but it’s half because I didn’t care for the first half which is important. I needed to be drawn in by both guys, and for me this entire book seemed liked redemption for Laurent. In the mist of him gaining his confidence and learning about his sexuality, I feel like Issac was forgotten completely. I could be wrong here, and maybe his job the entire book was to be support for Laurent. He did a great job on that front, but where was Isaac in all of this? Do a few sexual experiences, and helping Laurent equals “Issac time”? I’m trying really hard to understand, but I’m not getting it at all.

I feel like Issac experiences were left out or on the back burner. No, I didn’t expect him to have some made up stuff happen for the book, I kinda just needed him to have a little independence in his book. I wanted to see a different side of him, and while he was a great support system, and eventual boyfriend I feel lost on his behalf. Again, these are all my perceptions and I’m definitely in the minority according to the ratings. Even after reading the ending, I felt nothing. No connection really, and I didn’t feel quite satisfied. I still look forward to more in the series. I might re-read this someday and my feelings could possibly change. Who knows?

About Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Midnight Captive (Killer Instincts Series #6) by Elle Kennedy

Midnight Captive (Killer Instincts Series #6) by Elle KennedySeries: Killer Instincts #6
on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 368 pages
AmazonB&NNarrator: Allyson Ryan
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Former CIA agent Bailey Jones has spent months trying to forget her night of passion with mercenary Sean Reilly. An elite and methodical assassin, she has no room in her life for a reckless, rule-breaking Irishman, and she’s vowed to steer clear of the tempting bad boy who lured her into his bed under false pretenses.

When Sean is implicated in the robbery of a Dublin bank, Bailey knows something isn’t right. So what if she can’t trust him? There’s no way Sean would end up on the wrong side of the law. In fact, he’s stuck in the middle of a dark and dirty conspiracy that could put his twin brother’s life at risk with one wrong move. And Bailey’s life too when she agrees to help.

As the stakes are raised and Bailey finds herself torn between two brothers, the fine line between danger and desire is crossed…and it’ll take more than a killer instinct to survive.
three-half-stars

Bailey Jones and Sean Riley were introduced in the last book when the group was aiding Morgan in the rescue of his daughter Kate. Bailey was hostile to Sean because Sean impersonated his twin brother Oliver and slept with Bailey. So Bailey didn’t want anything to do with the man deceived her by pretending to be someone else. I will admit that I was slightly annoyed because I was expecting Sully and Liam or at least Derrick’s story. But I gave this story a fair shake. I enjoyed it less that Morgan and Noelle’s story but it remained consistent in plot, execution and romance.

In the beginning, the group finds out that Sean is back in Ireland robbing a bank with his old NRA crew and Bailey decided to go to Dublin and rescue Sean. Bailey had some issues with Sean, but she felt obligated to find out why Sean would resort to something as reprehensible as robbing a bank.
In addition to Bailey, Morgan sends Liam, Sullivan and eventually Isabella for back up to extract Sean.

Upon their arrival, Bailey learns that Sean’s twin Oliver was being held hostage and as leverage to get Sean doing whatever he was instructed. Soon Sean found himself caught in the middle of a decade old leadership feud.

I had a problem with Bailey. I found her to be a coward and a hypocrite. It was revealed very early on about the circumstances regarding that fake out the night Bailey slept with the man who was calling himself. It was clear that Sean carried a heavy amount of guilt and continually apologized but Bailey never passed up an opportunity to needle him about it. She had so many opportunities to acknowledge her own part in the fiasco but Bailey let Sean take full responsibility for it. I liked Sean. He was sweet, reliable, and patient. Bailey could have had a good man if she just could admit it to him.

I didn’t care for terrorist story that much, but it allowed the reader to get some background information on Sean and twin brother Oliver (5 mins apart). It also showed that Sean was a good man who cared about others but wasn’t used to people caring about him. Bailey was secretive and full of double standards. She was merciless to the man she would admit inside her head that she wanted. Sean was steadfast in his desire for her. Bailey admitted that Sean pursued her before she went out with Oliver. I just didn’t like her false righteous indignation act.

The writing was good, I just didn’t really care about the couple since they felt new to the gang. The writing remained consistent in this book and the pace was fast. There was a lot of action and there were sexy times too.
My favorite part of this story was learning that Noelle is now a Morgan and the Sully-Liam interludes. What a nice set up to their book. I am looking forward to Derrick’s book as it has been a few books in the making. Then hopefully the Aussie and Boston will get their time to shine.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review.

About Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently writes for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

The Dark Light of Day by T.M. Frazier

The Dark Light of Day by T.M. FrazierSeries: Dark Light of Day #1Dark Light of Day
on September 15th 2013
Pages: 258
AmazonB&NNarrator: Christian Fox, Lucy Rivers
five-stars

Wow. I really enjoyed this audiobook. Christian Fox and Lucy River’s narration of this story left me breathless with anticipation. It was so gripping that I had to just sit down and really feel everything as I was listening to it. Their voices blended so well with the story that I felt that they were sitting with me and just talking to me. I literally had goosebumps in certain parts of this story.

The story was really well written, though it was dark and gritty. But I was completely engrossed in the story the whole time. This series was so much better than the King series. The characters and plot was fleshed out more thoroughly here.

Abby Ford was such a strong heroine. She had survived her heroin addicted mother and all the men running through her house. She was going to school and living her grandmother until a tragic accident left the 17 year old alone. With only a few month before she was an adult, Abby decided to dodge child protective services by sleeping in various abandoned places until she could escape the CPS worker who was trying to place her with a foster family.

When Jake Dunn returned to town to settle his deadbeat dad’s affairs, he found Abby squatting in his father’s abandoned building. Taking pity on her and wanting to help, Jake offers her a job as well as protection by telling the CPS work that he was her cousin.

Their complication relationship began with both respecting each others baggage and not pressing for more information that the other was willing to give. Jake also had a terrible childhood thanks to his drunkard father so Abby recognized a kindred spirit.

“We were just us, broken and bruised, f**ked up and messy. And together, we were everything we never thought we could be.”

Slowly they built trust and a love that was tested when Jake was called away for a job. When he returned a rumor drove a wedge between them and Jake left Abby. 4 years later, when Jake’s father died, he returned for the funeral to find Abby still standing and still holding his heart. Now Jake had to find the courage to reach out and mend the rift. But would Abby be willing to trust him again?

There isn’t much that can be said without ruining this powerful and emotional story. It was real, it was touching and it was inspiring. Though some bad people didn’t change, some did and that made all the difference. There was pain, growth, heartbreak and later forgiveness. While some wounds would never heal, overall, that special thing Jake and Abby found was powerful.

I wish the author went super bold and left one detail unchanged. I thought the message would have been even more awesome if little Georgia really was Owen’s and Jake loved her regardless.

At the end I just felt like the sun finally shined after terrible storm. Now it was time to just bask and singing or something.
happy photo: happy Girl_happy_main.jpg
I am definitely keeping my eyes on TM Frazier because she floored me with this one.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review

Last Hope (Hitman #4) by Jessica Clare, Jen Frederick

Last Hope (Hitman #4) by Jessica Clare, Jen FrederickSeries: Hitman #4
on 2015-09-29
Pages: 336
AmazonNarrator: Iggy Toma, Kasha Kensington
In the explosive new Hitman novel from the bestselling authors of Last Kiss and Last Hit a jungle mercenary and a female target find love on the run...Mendoza: I grew up in the slums and lost everything I loved to poverty, illness, and death. I had only one skill to leverage myself out of my circumstances—violence. Being hired out as a mercenary hitman brought me money and built an empire. But all that I've fought for is in jeopardy. My next job: Steal secret information that could bring down world governments. Find my target. Destroy it. But then, I meet her.  Ava: Karma hates me. When my best friend Rose is kidnapped, I have no choice but to take a job as a mule for a pair of criminals intent on selling top-secret information to the highest bidder. I should have known that bad luck tends to cling, because the plane I'm on goes down. That I survived a crash-landing was a miracle. And so was being rescued by Rafe Mendoza—hot, sexy, dangerous. The thing is, he wants the information that I need to free Rose. I can't let him have it, but I need his help. And I need to fight this crazy attraction for this mercenary with hungry eyes. Rose is depending on me, and I won't let her down, no matter how appealing Rafe is.From the Trade Paperback edition.
four-stars

I need to start by saying I barely remember Rafe Mendoza from the prior books. He was a pretty minor character. I do not believe Ava was mentioned at all, and if she was, I missed it!

I found this last book to be the funniest in the series. I also found the writing to be a little different. Ava was a hand model who found herself trying to rescue her best friend from mob boss Duvall who is holding her hostage.

The adventure between Ava and Rafe reminded me of Six Days, Seven Nights with Anne Heche and Harrison Ford. It was survival in the jungle, where romance also bloomed. Ava wasn’t as prima donna as I expected but I loved the jokes about Rafe’s male member. It was just too funny. Godzilla, the monster etc. Hilarious.

The plot was okay, but the gradual relationship between Ava and Rafe, where they were able to provide a new lease of life for each other was a clincher for me. I like how the authors made each book different. Each heroine had their own quirks, their own personality and I never felt like I was reading the same book again. In addition, I appreciate it when authors don’t add gratuitous sex scenes. Even though there was a good amount of sex talk, it worked for the book.

The adventure, sex, and eventual defeat of Duvall’s cartel made this series one of the more enjoyable Romantic suspense series I have read in a long time.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review.

Ghosts (The Power of Zero #2) by Jackie Keswick

Ghosts (The Power of Zero #2) by Jackie KeswickSeries: The Power of Zero #2
on 2016-02-10
Pages: 306
Amazon • (Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.

But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.

When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.
three-half-stars

It’s holiday time and 30 year old Jack Horwood is having a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder. Christmas time is full of bad memories for him, so this year, his partner Gareth Flynn tried to life Jack’s spirits by reminding him of the good things he has in his life now. Gareth has known Jack since Jack was 17 years old and Gareth used to be his Commanding Officer. So while they have known each other for a long time, but Gareth had hard time trying to decipher Jack’s moods. Adding to Jack’s own issues, was the unease that Nico and Daniel felt with their chief victimizer still on the loose, Jack had a full plate trying to keep his past ghosts at bay.

I enjoyed the story but I had difficulty with connecting with the romantic relationship because it felt like Jack and Gareth didn’t really communicate well other than work related issues. For people who had saved each other from life and death situations, their couple vibe felt superficial. They obviously had a physical intimacy, but their emotional intimacy felt like it was held in place by other things, like a thirst for justice and advocating for the abused. I did enjoy the unraveling of the mystery surrounding Daniel’s parents. It made this story feel like an episode of Law & Order SVU. The crime solving aspect of this book overtook the romance part. Gareth and Jack did love each other, I wish I felt their passion. There were glimpses of it here and there.

“Love is something enduring that lets you deal with your past, live in the present, and look towards a future.”

But I guess Jack’s pasts still ruled him and he hadn’t laid those fears to rest enough to fully let Gareth in. Gareth deserves an award for his patience and steadfast loyalty. Jack’s mom really damaged his trust by selling him to a pimp and the hell Jack endured would be hard for anyone to overcome.

The secondary characters in this story were likeable from Gareth’s mom to Daniel and Nico. I wish I read book 1 for a better understanding of the journey Jack and Gareth took to get Daniel and Nico. I was happy with the placement of these two young boys. The writing style was easy to follow and smooth. I didn’t feel like Jack and Gareth were developed as characters in this book, but I suspect it was done in book 1. At the end of the book, I finally felt that Jack was truly letting Gareth in. It was an HEA so I felt satisfied in the end. The writing was good so I blame myself for not starting at book 1.


*Special Thanks to Dreamspinner Press for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

About Jackie Keswick

Welcome to my playpen. I’m Jackie Keswick, a writer of suspense, romantic suspense and historical fantasy fiction.

I grew up reading and writing historical fiction, before progressing to sci-fi and thrillers. They’re still some of my favourite ways to relax. More recently, I’ve started to read and write m/m romantic suspense. I’ve no real idea how that happened, but I’m loving it!

I’m also a

compulsive reader and writer with far too many unread books on her shelves and kindle and far too many unfinished stories in her WiP pile
England history and food nut
Tandem and TVR aficionado
Cat Lover
Enthusiastic manga novice
Since you’re already here, why not come and meet my Dream Team and all the other characters prowling around in my head? Jack Horwood and Gareth Flynn, Aidan Conrad and Alexandra Marston, Rafael Gallant, Skylar Payne, Daniel Sears and Nico Rivers, and the enigmatic Julian Nancarrow, CEO of Nancarrow Mining. All ready to step in when the law needs help. Because, you know,

When there’s trouble and the law needs help…
There’s the Dream Team.

Thanks for your company,
Jackie Keswick

Backlash, (Don’t… #4) by Jack L. Pyke

27418455Backlash, (Don’t… #4) by Jack Pyke
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Pages: 357 • Published by: Fantastic Fiction Publishing  • Format: eBook
Purchase Links:  Fantastic FictionAmazon ARe 

In the aftermath of Jack Harrison’s release from the psychiatric unit, Gray Raoul’s first instinct is to take brutal revenge on the one responsible for financing Jack’s and Jan’s torturous psychological reconditioning. However, that person plays the game dangerously well, and knows exactly how to manipulate everyone in Gray’s life. To help negotiate this delicate situation, Gray contacts ex-Diadem Doms Trace and Gabriel Hunter. But the more Gray seems to regain control, the clearer it becomes that there’s something not quite right about Jan Richards. Jan quickly unravels, taking Jack and Gray with him, and bringing out one particularly deadly player. Gray is left with one last defense: break Jack down in order to partner up with his alter ego, Martin. But once freed, Martin has plans of his own, and he wants to make it personal with Gray. Complete trust between Master and sub, between Gray and Jack, will be tested to the absolute limit.

 

five-stars

How am I supposed to review this book when I can’t get my thoughts straight? When I can’t stop crying?

I thought I wanted Gray’s POV and I did, but oh it hurt me so much and you know what? It’s the best kind of hurt.

First, this book CAN NOT be read as a stand alone, it must be read with the series and in order.

That being said, this takes us into Gray’s head and all that this man is. All that he loves. All who he  holds close and all that he keeps inside. OMG! Gray just about killed me with his need to take care of those he loves and take care of those who hurt the ones he loves, but good lord, mukka… who will take care of you?

This series, it is gorgeous and brutal but I love being hurt by it. The triad of Jack, Gray and Jan is so beautiful and I love how their strengths are coming forward and presenting themselves as strongholds to this relationship. The respect these men have for one another, it’s exquisite.

Jan, he has taken on so much and we know he loves the bones off Jack and Gray but he has internalized so much from the rape and torture he and Jack endured. He’s not handling it well and the way he is handling it, shocked me. There were a few things that shocked me about Jan with this but none of it was bad. Just a shock and awe of the vanilla man with soft brown eyes and a sacred love for two kinky men.

Jack, he is trying so hard to deal – leaving the MC, handling Ed, wanting to be handled by Jack and being close again to his soft lad… you kill me, stunner over and over again. I don’t think… I can’t… I mean… Jack leaves me speechless. He really does and while he never got in his head with Backlash, we get so much of him and the lengths he will go to, the boundaries he will push for his loves. I know you don’t do casual Jack, but dammit, I need a hug.

Gray, yeah I still love the bastard and being inside his head was so overwhelmingly emotional. I cried so much through this book and I’m still crying as I attempt to write this. Gray, he does so much and he is so much to everyone but he needs help and that help, comes from across the pond with Trace, Gabe and Dare.

I admit to not reading Ms. Kelling’s series and properly meeting these three men, but I can assure you, that will soon be rectified. I adored Trace and the way he takes care of Gray even via text message. He is there for Gray and will drop everything to help him and then there is Gabe and Dare. OMG! Those two! I need their story STAT (trust that I broke my no book buying mandate and just bought Deliver Us) because, because… they are beautiful.

These books, this series and its mystery are so well done. Pyke knows how to tear you down, tear her characters down and build everyone back together. There is so much hurt and pain revealed in this, so many new WTAF? moments and there are still secrets that need to be told, but Jack, Gray and Jan, they just work together to make it. Just to make it and to be together.

I am an emotional reader and this book tore my heart out. It’s heavy, that’s a given with the series but there are some lighter moments that made me smile but the heart of this series, it really is the love and respect between Jack, Gray and Jan. Oh and holy hell are there some moments that sat me on my ass and made me sob at my desk while I read this. The endearments alone slowly gut me and my entrails are strewn across the room as I think about them as proof.

I have so many highlights that I could share in this review but after looking them over, they are mine right now and I am not ready to share them. I can’t. Sorry.

Now, the blurb does include Martin and I’m kinda digging him now. I mean, see him through Gray’s eyes and you get him, to a point. But all that happens with Martin, all that happens for Gray to nail the bastards that touched what’s his… it’s a roller coaster of intrigue and emotions that was amazing. Truly amazing and that end?

Sweet Saint Brigid!

I am scared to go on but that fear, it will be culled because I can’t leave my boys. I can’t.

I’ll be there. I promise.

 

About Jack L. Pyke

Jack blames her dark writing influences on living close to one of England’s finest forests. Having grown up hearing a history of kidnappings, murders, strange sightings, and sexual exploits her neck of the woods is renowned for, Jack takes that into her writing, having also learned that human coping strategies for intense situations can sometimes make the best of people have disastrously bad moments. Redeeming those flaws is Jack’s drive, and if that drive just happens to lead to sexual tension between two or more guys in a D/s relationship, Jack’s the first to let nature take its course.