Menace (Scarlet Scars #1) by J.M. Darhower

Narrator: Iggy Toma, Kasha Kensington
Source: Tantor Audio

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: Menace by J.M. Darhower
Series: Scarlet Scars #1
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook (11 hrs and 51 mins)
Genre: Dark Romance, Mafia Romance
Published By: Tantor Audio
Purchase Links: • Tantor Audio


J.M. Darhower is my one of my favorite writers when it comes to Mob stories so I was so stoked when this audiobook was released. I may have had Sempre in the back of my mind, or something similar in plot. This was far from it and this one didn’t grip me like that story. J.M Darhower is a great storyteller so I knew if I hung in there, I would be rewarded.
The story starts with dancer/hooker Scarlet (Morgan Myer) selling herself for protection and information from powerful underworld bosses. I couldn’t figure out the significance of the information other than she was hiding from another boss. But it was clear most of her actions were motivated out of an extreme amount of fear.
The hero Lorenzo Gambino vacillated between being a sociopath to a moody/angry mobster. You can’t be unfeeling if you are in a constant state of rage. Just sayin’. Anyway, I am unclear of Scarlet really sought him out as a protector or just picked the pocket of the wrong dude. But that moment seemed to bind them and despite several attempts to pull away from each other, they always drawn back to the other. The sex scenes were definitely the best part of this book because they were steamy, fascinating and provocative.
I couldn’t decide if Lorenzo’s curiosity was based on the great sex or the Russian monster that scared Scarlet more than him. It was like a pissing contest because Lorenzo wanted to meet the Russian who thought he was thought his game was gangsta than Lorenzo’s.
Honestly, the author took her time in getting to the heart of the plot. I prefer faster paced stories or at least great character development to compensate for slower paced yet suspenseful accounts. I didn’t feel that the characters were fleshed out that well but the author did enough to get me to like them.
I was hoping the book would get better and the last two chapters were probably the best in the book and made everything make more sense. It made Scarlet make more sense to me and then I felt empathy for her plight. Lorenzo remains an enigma for me so the jury is out on his character. The writing and the narrators kept my attention and I really need book 2 to be released as this one ended on a cliff hanger.


It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

Narrator: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
Source: Netgalley

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: It Happens All the Time: A Novel by Amy Hatvany
Release Date: March 28th 2017
Format: e-ARC (320 pages) •Audiobook (9 hrs and 49 mins)
Genre: Fiction
Published By: Atria Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Audible
I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent.


I am sorry if my thoughts on this book offend an rape survivor but this book created some strong emotions in me and I felt really unsettled and unsatisfied with this book’s ending. I get that the author was tackling a sensitive subject but I didn’t quite agree with certain things. I needed time to reflect so I can write my review with sensitivity, yet honesty. I do not feel like I can be honest without victimizing people who have already been brutalized. So I will keep my words brief.

The book starts off with a history of how young Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks became friends complete with their various family dysfunction. I believe the author was trying to lay foundation of what drove Amber and Tyler. This background led me to connect with Tyler and not so much with Amber. There were a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong. First I want to start off by saying Rape is just a horrible crime. I am not interested in victim blaming or justifications, however I do believe alcohol abuse does change the situation. I am not blaming Amber at all, but I am saying that Tyler wasn’t in a clear frame of mind to be making sure he “got” consent first. In addition, I do not agree that Tyler, whom the author had painted as a nice friend, just turned into a this monster so fast and the reader is to believe that he would take advice for a father whom he has despised just so he can avoid dealing with devastation his actions wrought. I do love that Amber talked to both her parents and they stood by her. The fact that they embraced her immediately and validated her was everything. Her parents seemed to be really good parents unlike Tyler’s parents.

I didn’t like the hypocrisy in the end with Amber committing a crime, but it’s viewed with “understanding” and it’s okay that Tyler covered her actions up because I guess Tyler owes Amber for his part in hurting her.

At the end of the day, I hope all rape victims get counseling and have a support for their healing. .This book was hard to review but it make me examine my own beliefs on the topic. I hope to learn more about how to help victims.


Souls Unfractured (Hades Hangmen #3) by Tillie Cole

Souls Unfractured (Hades Hangmen #3) by Tillie ColeSeries: Hades Hangmen #3
on August 9th 2015
Pages: 463
AmazonNarrator: Douglas Berger, J. F. Harding, Violet Strong

Labeled a ‘Cursed’ woman of Eve from birth, Maddie has endured nothing but pain and repression at the hands of The Order’s most abusive elder, Moses. Now living with her sister in The Hangmen’s secluded compound, finally, Maddie, is free. Free from the suffocating faith she no longer believes in. Free from endless years of physical and mental torment.

Just… free…

At age twenty-one, the timid and shy Maddie is content to live within the confines of her new home—safe from the outside world, safe from harm and, strangely, protected by the Hangmen’s most volatile member; the heavily pierced and tattooed, Flame.


The man who ceaselessly watches over her with his midnight dark and searing eyes. The man who protects her with a breath-taking intensity. And the man who stirs something deep within her numbed heart.

But when circumstances conspire for Flame to need HER help, Maddie bravely risks it all for the broken man who has captivated her fragile soul.

The Hangmen’s most infamous member, Flame, is ruled by one thing—anger. Plagued by haunting demons from his past, an all-consuming rage, and isolated by an abhorrent hatred of being touched, Flame's days are filled with suffocating darkness, pierced only by a single ray of light—Maddie. The shy, beautiful woman he cannot purge from his thoughts. The woman he has an overwhelming need to possess…
... the only person who has ever been able to touch him.

Flame’s mission in life is to protect Maddie, to keep her safe. Until a trigger from his troubled past sends him spiraling into madness, trapping him in the deepest recesses of his disturbed mind.

His Hangmen brothers fear that Flame is beyond saving.

His only hope of salvation: Maddie and her healing light.

Dark Contemporary Romance.
Contains explicit sexual situations, violence, disturbingly sensitive and taboo subjects, offensive language, and very mature topics.
Recommended for age 18 years and over.

Holy Cow! If you want Angst, you have come to the right author. Tillie Cole totally dished anguish, torment and then that healing love.

Flame is the most tortured character in the Hades Hangmen. Before this book, I had no idea what broke him, but it was enough that he continued those self-destructive tendencies from book 1 to this book.
When Maddie hugged him and thanked him from rescuing the cursed sisters from the Order, a religious cult/commune that practiced the “lord’s sharing”. Maddie touched him and I knew Flame’s healing was coming. This book was hard to listen to because of the sheer amount of emotional, mental and physical pain. I kept thinking what is the deal with the number 11?
 photo number-11_zpsvd2gl2vn.jpg
Both Flame and Maddie suffered an extraordinary amount of abuse and this book elucidated their past and paved the way for them to help each other address the lies they had believed about themselves for so long. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because it will give away things that have to be understood in the context of this story and series. But if you have read book 1 and 2, then you are familiar with the plot. This third book is just much more intense, raw and violent.
Tillie Cole is a gifted author. I normally can’t stomach these dark romances but the author manages to write such compelling characters that even though I cringe often, I am rooting so hard for the main characters. There are some seriously heavy issues here which are taboo and highly sensitive. But the author managed to keep the story gritty but encourage the anticipation for salvation though love.
I really ached for Flame and Maddie as individuals and as a couple. I was elated that by the end, there was positive change in Flame ability to relate with others. Maddie was able to trust more and Flame began to see himself in a new light. This book really pushed the boundaries of my comfort but it made the ending so satisfying.
I am very interested in how the author is planning on redeeming the prophet Cain. I liked him a little bit in book 1 because I felt he was misguided. But Cain has made very weak moves and continued to serve as a puppet. I trust this author so I will go on to book 4 to see how she will work her magic.

Sugar Daddy (Sugar Bowl #1) by Sawyer Bennett

Sugar Daddy (Sugar Bowl #1) by Sawyer BennettSeries: Sugar Bowl #1
on 2016-05-24
Pages: 227
AmazonB&NNarrator: Christian Fox, Lucy Rivers
In Sugar Daddy, the author of the Cold Fury series proves that vengeance is sweet—but seduction is to die for.

Sela Halstead lost her innocence in a way that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to endure. She’s spent years trying to forget that night even while wondering about the identities of the monsters who brutalized her—until a telltale tattoo flashes across Sela’s TV screen. The incriminating ink belongs to Jonathon Townsend, the millionaire founder of The Sugar Bowl, a website that matches rich older men with impressionable young women. Obsessed with revenge, Sela infiltrates Townsend’s world, only to come face-to-face with a tantalizing complication: Beckett North, his charismatic business partner.  The tech mastermind behind The Sugar Bowl, Beck always gets what he wants, in business and in bed. And yet, for a man who’s done every dirty thing imaginable, there’s something about the naïve, fresh-faced Sela that sparks his hottest fantasies. Because with her, it’s not just about sex. Beck opens up to her in ways he never has with other girls. So why does he get the feeling that she’s hiding something? In a world of pleasure and power, the shocking truth could turn them against each other—or bind them forever.   Note: Sugar Daddy ends on a cliffhanger. Sela and Beck’s story continues in Sugar Rush and Sugar Free!

3.5 stars.
This book has a lot of potential. There is a good story here. But it’s almost like the author is doing a strip tease with the audience, slowing peeling of a layer at a time. Emphasis on slowly.

Selah Halstead is a 25 year old student working to complete her master’s degree when an interview with the CEO for a Sugar daddy site caught her eye. Not because she was looking for love but the actual man triggers memories from a horrible event when Selah was 16 years old. Her thirst for revenge led her to meeting the CEO Jonathan Townsend and his partner Beckett North. Now Selah is caught between her pursuit for retribution and her new relationship with Beck.

I enjoyed this story but I found the constant sexual interludes slowed the pace of this suspenseful drama. There was an injustice committed against Selah, but her quest for justice took a backseat to bedroom activities.

The author kept dropping crumb after crumb to give the audience a hint of the flavor but it wasn’t enough of a bite to truly get satisfied. I am intrigued enough to get book two but I need the pace of the story to pick and less sex.

Pros: Main characters, Selah and Beck are interesting characters individually and collectively. my curiosity about their background is strong. The writing was solid enough to keep the reader completely engaged. There was a good mixture of dark behavior and positive hopefulness.

Cons: Very little character background so I am waiting for the character development to improve. Plot moving at a slower pace. Very little information on the antagonist but the whole Rich sociopath trope is common.

I look forward to the sequel because I am rooting for Selah as well as her relationship.

*Special Thanks to LoveSwept via Netgalley for the e-arc given in exchange for an honest review.

Lawless (King, Book 3) by T. M. Frazier

Lawless (King, Book 3) by T. M. FrazierSeries: King #3
on December 6th 2015)
Pages: 276 pages
AmazonB&NNarrator: Molly Glenmore, Rob Shapiro
Thia is prim and proper.
Bear is leather and lawless.
It will never work between them.
It's a lie they almost believe...

*It is necessary to first read King and Tyrant to fully enjoy Lawless.

Cynthia “Thia” Andrew was a 10 yr old watching her aunt’s convenient store when a biker gang came in to rob the place. When a biker threatened the young girl, Abel aka Bear protected her. He gave her his biker ring as well a promise to help her in the future.

7yrs later, Thia came to collect the boon after she had a terrible incident at her home. Except Bear isn’t with the MC anymore but soon Bear and Thia are reunited. Bear treats her with suspicion but there is a connection they both deny and soon they can’t fight the pull.

I didn’t love this book and I tried to really understand the characters. The characters weren’t fully developed and I didn’t fully grasp the why of the tragedies. This book was more sensationalism than substance and I wanted more depth. The writing was not as engaging as The Dark Light of Day|18278129. That story was more compelling and had more hope and redemption than I got in this book. There wasn’t enough background given for Bear and Chopper’s relationship. I did like Thia a lot because of her sheer grit and determination. I do like them as a couple better than King and Re even though I enjoyed seeing RE and King. They seem to have settled down now with their family so there was less drama.

I would like to know what happens with Chopper’s MC and Bear but this book ended in a cliffhanger. I am hoping that Book 4, Soulless will provide more insight.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

Bound to Fate (Bound #1) by Kiru Taye

Bound to Fate (Bound #1) by Kiru TayeSeries: Bound #1
on 2016-01-25
Pages: 296
Lara Johnson is coping with the emotional scars of losing both parents in a tragic incident and facing the challenges of starting a new school. Getting involved in a relationship isn't on her priority list. Certainly not this illicit desire for a man, who demands the best from her, yet leaves her breathless in his presence. All Ike Thomas wants to do is to keep out of trouble and get through the one year internship required for his degree program. But trouble finds him, in the form of an intelligent and brave girl who turns his world upside down. Falling in love is forbidden. So why does it feel so right? A love like theirs cannot be denied. But catastrophe lies in wait and one night changes their lives forever. Bound to Fate is a story about surviving tragedy, forgiveness, and the overwhelming love that pulls through against the odds. Content warning: This book contains scenes that might be triggering for some readers.

I really enjoyed this book because the location and culture resonated within me. The storytelling was vivid and descriptive, that I felt like I was watching a film. I can’t say that I considered this story a love story as much as a story about growth, hope, survival and second chances.

Lara Johnson moved to live with her Aunt in Enugu (Nigeria) with her younger sister after a tragic car accident left them orphans. The transition was rough for the introverted Lara, who was still having nightmare from the crash. She was in a new state, a new home and was beginning a new college. But she found comfort in a teacher, Ike Thomas, who was suffering from loss of his older brother. Their mutual grief and physical attraction soon turned into a relationship. Ike and Lara were young so there was physical intimacy but not much emotional intimacy. So when some devastating events occurred at a college party, Lara and Ike’s infatuation didn’t survive those issues. Lara and Ike’s lack of communication resulted in Ike breaking things off. Lara was heartbroken but they their separate ways.

Five years later, Lara got a job working at a company owned by Ike’s family and they resumed their physical relationship despite the fact that Ike was engaged to be married. Lara was still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so she was still having anxiety attacks regularly.
This time around with the support of her best friend, Lara was able to get the help she needed and finally decide make her move to get what her heart has always desired, Ike Thomas.
But Ike is engaged to another and his family expects his compliance as this union has business implications for the family empire. The decision is very complicated for Ike because following his heart will mean disappointing his family again.

I have to be honest here. I didn’t like Ike Thomas. I felt as the older one in the relationship, he was selfish and self-centered. If he loved Lara, he would have noticed that something was very wrong after the house party incidents. In addition, Ike lacked remorse about his infidelity which turned out to be multiple incidents with different women. Ike’s fiancee was a piece of work. That’s another reason I questioned his character. How could he live with such a devious person and have no idea what a malicious person she was. I just couldn’t get past all of that.
I felt bad for Lara and hoped she would find a man better than Ike. She was a survivor and she was a hard worker. I wished that Ike had been as loyal as Lara was. Lara made me proud, not because she always made the best decisions, but how she rebounded if she made a wrong turn.

The author did a great job developing Lara as a heroine and making the reader empathize with her. This is my first book by the author and I am definitely going to check out more of her work.

*Special Thanks to KT Press via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.

King (King #1) by T.M. Frazier@TantorAudio

King  (King #1) by T.M. Frazier@TantorAudioSeries: King #1
on 2015-06-17
Pages: 302
AmazonNarrator: Molly Glenmore, Rob Shapiro
Homeless. Hungry. Desperate. Doe has no memories of who she is or where she comes from. A notorious career criminal just released from prison, King is someone you don't want to cross unless you're prepared to pay him back in blood, sweat, sex or a combination of all three. King's future hangs in the balance. Doe's is written in her past. When they come crashing together, they will have to learn that sometimes in order to hold on, you have to first let go. King is the first book in a two part series. Tyrant is the name of the second book due out August 2015.

Interesting! I thought the writing and character building were really good. I thought the story was well done. It wasn’t a lovey-dovey relationship like I tend to prefer but it was real.

We start off learning how young Brantley “King” met his smart mouth partner Samuel “Preppy” and the forging of friendship. Now King and Preppy are adults, running a criminal enterprise as well as a tattoo parlor. In comes a young girl who has no memory of her past, and goes by the name “Doe” and wants protection from the streets while she figures out who she is. The story unfolds and we learn both Doe and King are much more than meets the eye.

This story wasn’t really a love story though it had a romantic love story as part of the plot. I thought it was more about survival, sacrifice and loyalty. Sure it was steamy but it also had non consensual sex, drugs and murder. It was dark, but really well written because the characters are complex. King and Preppy weren’t just evil thugs, so it was hard to just write them off as bad people. Doe couldn’t remember much about herself, but there was a conscientious effort to respect the “Her” she couldn’t remember.

I liked that Doe wasn’t a pushover and that King wasn’t a complete neanderthal as some alpha males take the caveman act to extremes. They had great chemistry and it didn’t feel forced. I liked the makeshift family thing they created. Then the mystery of who Doe is began to unfurl, and I knew that it was game time.

This one ended in a big cliff hanger so I am going to begin book 2 soon.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook 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.

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

Rescued by a Highlander (Clan Grant series Book 1) by Keira Montclair

Rescued by a Highlander (Clan Grant series Book 1) by Keira MontclairSeries: Clan Grant #1
on July 23, 2013
Pages: 243 pages
AmazonNarrator: Antony Ferguson
**WARNING** Mature content- Contains references to abuse and a previous rape that may be disturbing for some readers.

Madeline MacDonald has been a victim of her stepbrother's cruelty ever since her parents' death in a fire two years ago. Forced into a betrothal to a man she hates, her only way out is to escape to a convent.

Laird Alexander Grant is honor bound to rescue Maddie after seeing the bruises on her face. What he doesn't realize is that once he holds the beaten lass in his arms, his heart will never be the same. He vows revenge for the abuse she was forced to endure and yearns to make the sweet woman with an iron will his, but can he help her fight the demons in her mind left behind by her abusers' horrid treatment?

I liked this book. It was a good beginning with a really likeable H/h pairing. The hero was a really kind hearted leader and the heroine wasn’t really a damsel in distress. She was had so much inner strength that she withstood repeated attempts by her stepbrother to break her spirit.

Madeline MacDonald was an orphan left to the care of stepbrother who hated her. Kenneth physically and emotionally abused Maddy as many times as he could. She was finally rescued after the Grant clan came through for a visit, and Laird Alexander Grant got a hidden note from a maid begging for Maddie’s rescue. This began the journey to love and security for the lonely Maddy.

I can see why the reviews are either high or low for this book. The good characters were really likable and almost saintly perfect. the villains (Kenneth & neighbor Niles) were really vile and evil for no real reason. So there was a one-dimensional quality–lack of character development in this book. But it was still nice and sweet so I found it to be a good beginning to the series. I do hope the next books have a more meat on the bone though

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

Hidden Away (KGI #3) by Maya Banks

Hidden Away (KGI #3) by Maya BanksSeries: KGI #3
on 2011-03-01
Pages: 336
AmazonNarrator: Harry Berkeley
Most people would take an all-expense=paid trip to the beach in a heartbeat. Garrett Kelly only accepts to keep tabs on Sarah Daniels, who's in hiding after witnessing a murder committed by her half brother-a personal enemy of KGI. But Garrett hadn't planned on falling for Sarah. When he glimpses her dark past, he feels an urgent desire to keep her safe-even as she disappears, running for her life.

Garrett Kelly is a marine and oldest son of the Kelly clan. In the last book, he was shot when they went to rescue Sophie, his brother’s pregnant wife. In this book, he was still recuperating from his injury when KGI got another assignment. Garrett was sent to find Marcus Lattimer, a well known arms dealer, traitor and personal enemy of the KGI guys. The only thing Marcus cared about was his half sister Sarah Daniels, so the CIA knew she would be their best lead to find Lattimer.

As Garrett gets to know Sarah, he finds that she was not what he thought she was. Also, Sarah becomes so comfortable with Garrett that she began sharing her secrets with him. What will Sarah do when she finds out that Garrett was really up to.

This one was really good because Garrett was the less friendly Kelly, the grumpy, suspicious big brother. It must have been a hoot for his brothers to see Garrett fall hard for his mark. I think her vulnerability really called to the normally unemotional Garrett. Sarah was a likable heroine. I like the strength she continued to exhibit because she made a lot of choices to protect the ones she cared for. Garrett and Sarah had great chemistry and it was fun following their journey together.

The subplot I truly enjoyed was the story with Rusty. The female Kelly was due to have a change in attitude and to have her place with the Kelly’s solidified.

I am surprised at how much I am enjoying this story but I guess I shouldn’t be as I loved Maya Banks two historical romances. The story telling is face paced and it’s predictable enough that I feel comfortable with where the author is going. I will try to read the next book next week.