Grievous (Scarlet Scars #2) by J.M. Darhower

Grievous (Scarlet Scars, #2)Title: Grievous by J.M. Darhower
Series: Scarlet Scars
Narrator: Iggy Toma, Kasha Kensington
Release Date: July 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook (11 hrs and 23 mins)
Published By: Tantor Audio

Once upon a time, there was a girl who stopped believing in fairytales after her innocence was stolen.

Morgan Myers is tired. So damn tired. Most people either push her around or brush her off, and she’s not putting up with it anymore. Determined to reclaim the life that had been stolen from her, she puts her trust in the last person she ever expected to: the notorious Scar. Morgan sees a side of him that few people seem to know – the man, not the myth. Lorenzo. And what she sees, she likes, a lot more than she thought she would.

But fairytales aren’t real, as life likes to remind her. Some dragons, you just can’t slay, no matter how hard you fight them. And when hers comes back around, breathing fire, she’s forced to face some unimaginable horrors. But lucky for Morgan, there’s a white knight in combat boots out there that isn’t afraid of monsters.

You see, it’s impossible to be afraid of something you face every day in the mirror.

three-stars

I had to start this one as soon as I finished the first book due to the cliff hanger. I liked the characters more in this book than I did book 1. Lorenzo Gambino and Scarlet (Morgan Myers) were more fleshed out as well as their motives for their not so legal actions. I also liked the fact that this book had less angst because it didn’t quite work in the first book. I also liked that Lorenzo seemed less of a random sociopath and more of calculated mobster. The villain was more prominent and definitely abhorrent, so it was easy to root for Lorenzo and Scarlet.

In book 1, there was a lot of suspense and for most of the book I was trying to figure out what was going on and who the players were. In this sequel, that suspense was gone and it was a matter of figuring out how Lorenzo and Scarlet would win this battle. The tone of the book shifted and the characters seemed less broken and more hopeful. The author dragged the story out a bit but the conclusion was sweet and satisfying.

The Epilogue was definitely my favorite part to the novel and painted a picture scarred people who were healing as a unit as Lorenzo’s kindness towards the child showed that he did in fact have a heart.

I wanted to like this series as Sempre is one of my favorite series but I found this series underwhelming.

View all my reviews

Dirtiest Secret (S.I.N. #1) by J. Kenner

Dirtiest Secret (S.I.N. #1) by J. KennerSeries: S.I.N. #1
on 2016-04-19
Pages: 320
AmazonNarrator: Lucy Rivers
The memory of Dallas Sykes burns inside of me.

Everyone knows him as a notorious playboy, a man for whom women and money are no object. But to me, he’s still the one man I desperately crave—yet the one I can never have.

Dallas knows me better than anyone else. We bear the same scars, the same darkness in our past. I thought I could move on by staying away, but now that we’re drawn together once more, I can’t fight the force of our attraction or the temptation to make him mine.

We’ve tried to maintain control, not letting ourselves give in to desire. And for so long we’ve told ourselves no—but now it’s finally time to say yes.

Dirtiest Secret is intended for mature audiences.
three-half-stars

3.5 stars
An intriguing taboo love story but it was mired in a kidnaping subplot as well as a bdsm subplot.
It was well written but the pace was slower than I would have liked. There wasn’t really romance, it was more like dark and erotic passion. I suspect more romance will come in book 2.
bdsm photo:  images16_zps5a3ddec1.jpg
Dallas Sykes is known to the general public as “The King of F**k”, the billionaire and uber playboy who has and will sleep with anyone. But behind the mask lies a lonely man who desperately longs for only one woman. He uses his time, money and influence to fight behind the scenes as the founder of Deliverance. A mercenary group dedicated to rescuing kidnapping victims and returning them to their loved ones.

Jane Martin has been working for ten years to exorcise the demons from her traumatic kidnapping where she was held for ransom with her brother Dallas. Now she is taking up fighting vigilante groups that focus on the reward money as opposed to the actual kidnapping victim.

Dallas and Jane are doing their best to keep busy because they feel bereft without the person their heart desires the most. The angst of the situation kept it suspenseful. I was hopeful because it was clear there would be healing once Dallas and Jane surrendered. To deal with their yearning, Dallas and Jane begin sexual play that is both erotic and very sensual.
bdsm photo: BDSM utcfultxc.jpg
I felt like a voyeur but I also really wanted some resolution for Dallas and Jane after their traumatic experience ten years ago. This coping mechanism would be bad press for the family’s business if it were to be exposed but it was just what the two of them needed.

What I didn’t like the build of the forbidden issue perhaps because I didn’t find it so unthinkable. Such emphasis was placed on it when it was clear that the hero and heroine were undeniably drawn to each other. The story flowed much smoother when they gave in to their feelings.
I also didn’t like the relationship with the parents as there seemed to be full acceptance and love without strings.

I look forward to the resolution of the mastermind of the devious kidnapping as I have my suspicions. I also look forward to Dallas and Jane finally coming to grips with all they have been running from.

Nine Minutes (Nine Minutes #1) by Beth Flynn

Nine Minutes (Nine Minutes #1) by Beth FlynnSeries: Nine Minutes #1
on July 19th 2014
Pages: 326 pages
AmazonNarrator: Monique Makena
RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 18 AND OLDER DUE TO STRONG LANGUAGE, SEXUAL SITUATIONS AND VIOLENCE.

Book 1 in the Nine Minutes Trilogy.

On May 15, 1975, fifteen-year-old Ginny Lemon is abducted from a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale by a member of one of the most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs in South Florida.

From that moment on, her life is forever changed. She gets a new name, a new identity and a new life in the midst of the gang’s base on the edge of the Florida Everglades—a frightening, rough and violent world much like the swamps themselves, where everyone has an alias and loyalty is tantamount to survival.

And at the center of it all is the gang’s leader, Grizz: massive, ruggedly handsome, terrifying and somehow, when it comes to Ginny, tender. She becomes his obsession and the one true love of his life.

So begins a tale of emotional obsession and manipulation, of a young woman ripped from everything she knows and forced to lean on the one person who provides attention, affection and care: her captor. Precocious and intelligent, but still very much a teenager, Ginny struggles to adapt to her existence, initially fighting and then coming to terms with her captivity.

Will she be rescued? Will she escape? Will she get out alive—or get out at all? Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, filled with mystery, romance and unexpected turns, Nine Minutes takes readers into the world of one motorcycle gang and inside the heart of a young girl, whose abduction brought about its fall.
three-half-stars

I don’t know how to rate this book nor what to say. I am not sure I even liked it but I’m so engrossed that I finished the audiobook in 2 days. Then I quickly got book 2. It’s not the writing, it’s not the characters..maybe it is both. I didn’t dislike Ginny because she was just trying to exist. I just don’t find that Stockholm syndrome to really be “love” as there isn’t consent and there is an amount of brainwashing. This book was the journey of a kidnap victim turned wife of the leader of a motorcycle gang. All these things happening before age 16. The book begins with the trial of her husband kidnapper, the unapologetic and ruthless Grizz.

There was a lot of deceit in this truly complex story. There was statutory rape and generally stalking. But there was a make shift family and loyalty…as much as you can have in a criminal enterprise. So I was intrigued, curious and engrossed with the train wreck effect. I want to find out who Grunt really is because the ending made the nice guy appear to be much more sinister and cunning than I gave him credit to. This triangle with Grizz, Ginny and Grunt wasn’t as clean as I thought.

The fact that I wanted to read book two immediately means that I must like it a little bit, right?

*Special thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook, which was given in exchange for an honest review.

Raze (Scarred Souls #1) by Tillie Cole

Raze (Scarred Souls #1) by Tillie ColeSeries: Scarred Souls #1
on 2015-06-16
Pages: 350
AmazonNarrator: Amelie Griffin, Guy Locke
TO TAKE BACK LIFE, ONE MUST FIRST FACE DEATH...Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge... bloody, slow and violent revenge. Revenge on the man who wronged him. Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill 'The Silencer' Volkov, head of the infamous 'Red' bosses of New York's Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it's a virtual prison. Her father's savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring-The Dungeon-ensures too many enemies lurk at their door. She dreams to be set free. Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. While working for her church-the only reprieve in her constant surveillance-Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn't talk. Doesn't communicate with anyone.He's a man beyond saving. But Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man... ... this man they call Raze.
two-stars

I didn’t like this story because it was TOO DARK and too brutal for me. I wanted a mafia love story, but I got mostly violence with a little love at the end. I was cringing a lot. The treatment and acceptance of abuse towards the female members in this Particular Bratva was too disturbing. Lots of misogyny and violence–nothing sexy here.

I also didn’t enjoy the writing. There wasn’t good character development nor growth. Other than Luca, things just kind of happen because it was the way things are. Kisa was the most disappointing as she vacillating between fearing her fiancee, accepting her fate as the Bratva princess and wanting to soothing him. The Bratva, a family that prides itself of honor, loyalty and violence, failed to even protect their own Kisa and Luca.

There was too much sex especially violent sex, which I viewed as sex of dubious consent. I had a hard time liking the heroine because of her rationale regarding her boyfriend Alec’s treatment of her. The fact that it seemed that most of the Bratva had an inkling of what Kisa endured was hard to listen to and I don’t think I can handle another story in this series. The few instances of love towards the end couldn’t erase the road here so I have to add: proceed with caution if you have triggers regarding violent sex.

View all  of Ezi’s reviews

King’s (The King Trilogy, #1) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

King’s (The King Trilogy, #1) by Mimi Jean PamfiloffSeries:
on 2014-05-07
Pages: 292
AmazonB&NNarrator: Helen Wick
A NEW, DARK FANTASY
FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, MIMI
JEAN PAMFILOFF

 “I am the man who can find anything or anyone. For a price. And my price
is you.”

When Mia Turner’s brother goes missing in
Mexico, while on an archaeological dig, she believes that life couldn’t get
much worse. But when she’s blocked at every turn from finding answers, by both
local and U.S. authorities, she must turn to a man she swears is the devil.

Others might be fooled by his private jet,
fine tailored suits, and disarming smile, but Mia knows something dark,
sinister, and unnatural lurks behind those penetrating, pale-gray eyes. And the
more she learns, the more she realizes she may never be free again. 
two-half-stars

This is my first book by the author even though I have seen her other series a lot. I thought it was a pretty weak book 1. Normally, introductory books lay foundation and introduce us to the characters, but I didn’t feel like I really got to know the main players in this story.

Mia Turner received word that her brother, who was traveling in Mexico with some buddies, was kidnapped. Mia went to a mercenary for help rescuing her brother. She offered King money in exchanged for his assistance but King refused her money.
King agreed to help Mia but his payment is “her”. He wanted to OWN Mia. In the first half of the book, King’s attitude grated my nerves. I began noticing that every other page, Mia called King, the devil, evil, deranged or some version of those words. Then Mia would alternate those negative words with comments on King’s perfect appearance. So she hated him but she was very attracted to him. This cat and mouse game went on for most of the book as King tested how far he could push Mia. As the story progressed, the author added in some supernatural elements. For instance, it became clear that both King and Mia had “gifts” and they tried to use to them to rescue Mia’s only brother who was actually involved in a sinister artifact scheme. The supernatural elements didn’t seem to add any real substance to the story. I hope it plays a much more significant role in second book.

The dialogue with Mia and King was stilted in places that I wished the author has just decided to pair them because the back and forth teasing, while in the next sentence Mia would proclaim King to be a monster, got too repetitive. I found King a lot less annoying toward the end of the book, and I think my curiosity of who he really is will be enough motivation to continue with the second book. Be warned, the first book ended in a cliffhanger though it wasn’t a huge one. I hope the author will add more substance to both the plot and to the characters in the sequel.

*A Special Thank you to Tantor Media for the review audiobook.

The Swan and the Jackal (In the Company of Killers #3) by J.A. Redmerski

The Swan and the Jackal  (In the Company of Killers #3) by J.A. RedmerskiSeries: In the Company of Killers #3
on 2014-03-01
Pages: 378
Amazon
Fredrik Gustavsson never considered the possibility of love, or that anyone could ever understand or accept his dark and bloody lifestyle-until he met Seraphina, a woman as vicious and blood-thirsty as Fredrik himself. They spent two short but unforgettable years together, full of lust and killing and the darkest kind of love that two people can share. And then Seraphina was gone. It's been six years since Fredrik's lover and sadistic partner in crime turned his world upside-down. Seraphina went into hiding and has eluded him ever since.

Now, he's getting closer to finding her, and an innocent woman named Cassia is the key to drawing Seraphina from the shadows. But Cassia-after sustaining injuries from a fire that Seraphina ignited-suffers from amnesia and can't give Fredrik the information he desperately seeks. Having no other choice, Fredrik has been keeping Cassia locked in his basement as he not only tries to get her to recall her past-because she and Seraphina share it-but also to protect her from Seraphina, who clearly wants her dead. But Cassia is a light in the darkness that Fredrik never believed existed. After a year subjected to her kindness and compassion, he finds himself struggling with his love for Seraphina, and his growing feelings for Cassia-because he knows that to love one, the other must die. Will light win out over darkness, or will something more powerful than either further destroy an already tortured soul? (
three-stars

This one was the darkest yet and I had to put it down periodically. I knew Frederik would be a tough character to get to know but his book made me uncomfortable. This book featured Frederik hunting his wife Seraphina and he kidnapped a girl named Cassia to force her to give him information that would led him to his wife. After torturing her and getting no good information, Frederik found that torturing others in front of her yielded better results. So he forced her to watch and I found this whole escapade disturbing. I almost felt like I was an accessory to a crime and that I witnessing the unraveling of an insane hitman.

This is when I decided that I will part ways with the series after this book. I will finish it out since I don’t like DNF’s but these sort of dark romances/Stockholm syndrome books don’t agree with me.

I will say the 2nd half of the book was much better as Frederic got good info and was able to get the answers he needed. The writing was good but I am just too much of a flower and candy romance reader to get down with this.

BTW, the new narrator was AWFUL. He was another issue that added to my discomfort but the subject matter didn’t make me feel warm in my snuggie. Especially when it became clear that Frederik really is unhinged.

Forged in Steele (KGI, Book 7) by Maya Banks

Forged in Steele (KGI, Book 7) by Maya BanksSeries: KGI #7
on 2013-06-25
Pages: 384
AmazonNarrator: Adam Paul
The next heart pounding novel in the KGI series from Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of Rush, Fever, and Burn, the Breathless trilogy. The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business. Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background. Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t... Steele, a KGI team leader, is an enigma not even his teammates understand. His emotions are tightly locked down and nothing can break that icy exterior. Nothing except Maren Scofield, a doctor on a mission, a woman who has gotten under Steele’s skin and threatens to crack that unflappable cool he’s legendary for. Steele is determined not to allow Maren past his carefully guarded defenses. But when she’s in danger, there’s no way he’ll allow anyone else to protect her. Maren’s hiding something. He’s sure of it. But he isn’t prepared for the shocking discovery her secrets reveal. Or how they will forever alter the course of his destiny. He has a decision to make. Hold tight and shut her out. Or take a chance on something more powerful than he’s ever faced: Love.
four-stars

Finally, it was Steele’s time! There are 2 teams that work with KGI (Kelly Group International). Steele is the leader of a team and Rio is the leader of another team.

In this book, Jackson “Iceman” Steele decided that the best way to get over his dream girl Dr. Maren Scoffield was to have a weekend of passion with her. That way he can move on without her haunting his dreams. The problem was, once Steele had a piece of Maren, he found he wanted more. In fact, she was just as desperate for him as he was for her. A case of reality turning out better than fantasy.

This installment was much better than the prior book. It was nice to see Maren thaw out Steele’s heart. I also didn’t remember Steele’s first name until this book. The couple had great chemistry and it was a nice adventurous story. I honestly didn’t get why the bad guy was obsessed with Maren. That aspect of the story was kind of thrown out there. I did love Maren’s strength in character and desire to help others. She was definitely different from the prior Heroines in that manner. She was the closest to Sara, but Mara had much less baggage.

I enjoyed seeing PJ doing well with Cole as well as a reappearance of Hancock. I think Maya Banks did a good job in redeeming Hancock.

Review: Consequences (Consequences, Book 1) by Aleatha Romig

Review: Consequences (Consequences, Book 1) by Aleatha RomigSeries: Consequences #1
on August 3rd, 2011
Pages: 372 pages
AmazonNarrator: Romy Nordlinger
Anthony Rawlings had a plan—to teach Claire Nichols to behave. Claire Nichols had a plan—to survive!

In an unfamiliar bedroom within a luxurious mansion, Claire Nichols wakes to memories of a brutal abduction. All of her recollections have one common denominator, the man she just met—Anthony Rawlings. Unbeknownst to Claire, Anthony has had her in his sights for a long time. Every action has consequences—and his actions resulted in their chance meeting.

Facing incomprehensible circumstances, Claire must learn to survive as she comes to terms with her new reality—every aspect of her livelihood is now dependent upon the tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed tycoon. Anthony may appear to the world as a prosperous, benevolent, kind businessman, but in reality Claire learns he is also a menacing, controlling captor with very strict rules: do as your told, public failure is not an option, and don’t divulge private information. Failure to follow these rules and more, are met with serious consequences.

In an effort to earn her freedom, Claire learns her lessons well and before long, she unknowingly captivates her captor. Anthony/ Tony reluctantly becomes enthralled with Claire’s beauty, resilience and determination. Their interaction instigates strong emotions, including—fear, anger, love, and lust—as their journey flows into uncharted waters of intrigue and passion.

From the opening criminal abduction, through the twists and turns, to the unlikely romantic thrills, the suspense climaxes as Aleatha Romig utilizes vivid detail, allowing this novel to unfold like a movie.

Can you put the pieces of the puzzle together? Claire Nichols abduction wasn’t a random act—did she learn her lessons well enough? Will these unlikely lovers remain true--or will she learn the truth before it’s too late?
one-star

I am torn on how to rate this book. Do I rate it on my enjoyment or the writing?
The Writing is a ★★★★, but my enjoyment is ★ because I didn’t like a single aspect of this book. NOT ONE.

My enjoyment of a book includes love and there was NO LOVE in this book. Not love of self, not love of family. This book was about CONTROL. An inside look at what lurked behind the mask of a rich and entitled man. I found him Merciless, Malicious Ruthlessness and Vindictive. If you want a Jekyl and Hyde, then Anthony Rawlings would fit that bill.

Claire Nichols was a budding journalist who woke up in a mansion of a man she had dinner with. She had very little memory of how she got there, but she was subjected to such mental and physical cruelty by his man, Anthony “Tony” Rawlings, that I wondered if i was reading about Ted Bundy. After all, Appearances is everything, and there is a consequence to be paid for every decision.

I don’t want to blame the victim, but I have a hard time comprehending how a college educated journalist could be this gullible and easy to break. But I supposed that is why the author kept mentioning “compartmentalization”.

I am sorry, but I was unable to compartmentalize this story or the players. I find that I am not even curious to know what happens next. So this will go down as one of the series that I will NOT give book 2 a chance.

Again, I don’t enjoy these types of books and cannot see myself listening to another 22 hours of Satan’s grandson’s machinations because there isn’t a thing I can read that would ever redeem him. I am sorry but I really hated this book and I wish I had those 20 hours back.