Monday, December 10, 2018

ARC Book Review: Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

Release Date: December 18, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: ebook
Pages: 304 pages
Genre:  Mystery/ Thriller
Buy: KindlePaperback | Audio

Synopsis: 

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

Review:

Set in the 80's this is a creepy dark love story that reminds me a bit of Dexter. Heard is a new author and if this is her debut look out for more creepy fun to come. Sean spends most of his days at Four Corners sketching and wandering around. Diagnosed with Schizophrenia he is on a lot of medication that leave him missing time and in a haze.  The drugs are supposed to stop hallucinations and curb his desire to hurt people but Sean can still see colors swirling around other people and his desire to hurt hasn't gone away.

Annabelle is a med student looking for a place to scatter her grandmothers ashes. She takes a liking to Sean and then suddenly she disappears, her screams echoing in Seans head.  The police think he had something to do with it and his missing time and violent past don't help his insistence that he is innocent.  Determined to find her Sean goes on a quest to discover what really happened to Annabelle. While experiencing symptoms of withdraw from his medication, he starts to feel more clear headed and more like himself, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? What Sean finds is not what I expected and the ending almost felt like a cliff hanger.  I could totally see this turning into a series.

This is a fast paced thriller that leads you down twists and turns and has you routing for our flawed hero. Did he hurt Annabelle or is she really missing and if so who took her? Who are the bad guys in this book? The cops who set their sites on Sean because of his past, the mother who seems to want to keep her son medicated and locked away, or the well hidden predators that lurk and prey on innocents or is it Sean? Heard keeps you on the edge of your seat turning page after page just so you can find out the answers. Excellent.





Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Escort Series 1-3 by Sloane Kennedy

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Format: Kindle
Genre: Romance
Buy: Gabriels Rule, Shane's Fall, Logan's Need 

Synopsis: 

This series crosses over with Barretti Security Series, The Finders Series, and The Protectors Series so for the most enjoyment, they should be read in order, but it is not required. You can find the correct reading order at the beginning of each book. I've also bundled all my series in the correct reading order under the title of A Family Chosen: The Protectors and Barrettis.

Gabriel's Rule: 
After nearly ten years of moonlighting as a professional escort, Gabriel Maddox is good at giving women the forbidden pleasures they crave. They don't need to know that something inside of him dies a little each time he does it or that his desperate need for cash is the only reason he can't walk away. They just need to know that to get what they want, they have to play by his rules.

Riley Sinclair is starting over. She's left dry, dusty Texas and her ultra conservative, fanatically religious parents and cheating, mean-spirited fiancé behind for a new life in Seattle. But one look at her stunningly gorgeous new neighbor Gabe brings back all the insecurities she's trying to escape.

Gabe can only offer Riley pleasure but when she discovers that his perfect outside hides something terribly broken on the inside, will she risk her heart to give him what he needs?

>Trigger Warning: To access the triggers in this book, use the "Look Inside" feature or download the sample and scroll to the page. Reading triggers may cause spoilers.

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Shane's Fall: 
"You know what it's like, don't you? When the pain goes so deep inside that you need to try and find a way to let some of it out? But you don't actually let it out, do you? You become someone else - someone who doesn't hurt, someone who doesn't have to hide." -Savannah

Shane Matthews loves women, sex and money and as a professional escort, he gets to have all three whenever he wants. So what if he's not the same, naive person he was when he started - it's what he's good at. But life is catching up with Shane and he's losing the battle against an addiction that has haunted him for years. He's managed to keep the truth from his friends and family, but the pressure of pretending to be perfect may just be too much.

Savannah Bradshaw needs to get her life back under control before the fear and pain consume her. A brutal assault from someone she trusted has left her fearing sex and men and the dangerous method she uses to cope is stealing her life. She needs Shane to show her how to escape the pain, but as his best friend's little sister, he's keeping her at arm's length.

Savannah's desperate plan to bring them together for one night has Shane agreeing to show her the pleasure her body can experience, but she has to agree to his terms. Giving her what she needs should be easy, as long as he doesn't do something stupid like fall in love with her...

Trigger Warning: To access the trigger warnings for this book, utilize the "Look Inside" feature or download the sample and scroll to the appropriate page. Reading the triggers may cause spoilers.

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Logan's Need:
After Logan Bradshaw's dreams go up in smoke, he's left broken and haunted by a cruel betrayal from his former business partner, a man he once thought of as a friend. His life as a professional escort helped pay for his future once, so maybe a few more jobs can give him back what he's lost. And if that means being a third for one night for a wealthy couple living out a ménage fantasy, then so be it. It might just be the final payout he needs to get his life back on track.

Dominic Barretti has everything money can buy, but it can't save his beautiful young wife as cancer steals her away from him. He also can't deny her one last request - a ménage encounter with another man. It's the perfect excuse to meet the man who's been haunting his dreams. On paper, Logan is the perfect choice to give his wife what she needs, but he doesn't expect his own fierce desires to flare up when the young man enters their lives.

Dom and Logan don't know it, but Sylvie Barretti has decided to play matchmaker from beyond the grave. Unfortunately, getting two broken men to find each other makes dying seem like the easy part.

Logan can't deny his attraction to Dom, but the surprise desire for another man has left him reeling and questioning everything he's ever known about himself. But when a threat from the past surfaces, will Logan be able to let go of the life he knew and embrace the one he needs?

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Review:

Really great series. All of the books in this series except for Logan's Need are M/F romance, Logan's Need is M/M romance. Gabriel, Shane and Logan are all escorts, each fell into it for the money and for their own reasons. Gabriel hates it, Shane has always enjoyed it until recently and Logan finds it to be a way to keep him and his sister together since their parents died. Each has their own demons, Gabriel has a junkie for a mother, Shane overbearing parents and a dead sibling, Logan does everything for everyone else and not for himself and when he finds someone who makes him want more it scares the hell out of him because it doesn't come in the package he was expecting.

I love Kennedy's series, and this one is fantastic too. These can be read as stand alones but they are better when you read them either in the order of the series or the order the author has given on her website or in her books. All of her series seem to cross over so you find characters popping up in one series that you knew from another which I love. It also makes it seem like they never left and in each new book they are a little more progressed in their lives.





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Friday, December 7, 2018

Audio Book Review: The Point, Books 1-3 by Jay Crownover

Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Genre: Romance
Buy: Better When He's Bad, Better When He's Bold, Better When He's Brave 

Synopsis: 

This series crosses over with The Breaking Point Series

Better When He's Bad: 
Welcome to the Point...
There's a difference between a bad boy and a boy who's bad.... Meet Shane Baxter.
Sexy, dark, and dangerous, Bax isn't just from the wrong side of the tracks, he is the wrong side of the tracks. A criminal, a thug, and a brawler, he was the master of bad choices, until one such choice landed him in prison for five years. Now Bax is out and looking for answers, and he doesn't care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get them. But there's a new player in the game, and she's much too innocent, much too soft...and standing directly in his way.
Dovie Pryce knows all about living a hard life and the tough choices that come with it. She's always tried to be good, tried to help others, and tried not to let the darkness pull her down. But the streets are fighting back, things have gone from bad to worse, and the only person who can help her is the scariest, sexiest, most complicated ex-con the Point has ever produced.
Bax terrifies her, awakening feelings she never thought she'd have for a guy like him. But it doesn't take Dovie long to realize...some boys are just better when they're bad.

Better When He's Bold: 
Some men are just better when they're bold.
Welcome to the Point...
In a dark and broken kingdom, a ruler has to be fearless to control the streets and the ruthless people who run them.
Race Hartman is just bold enough, just smart enough, and just lost enough to wear the crown. Places like the Point will always have bad things and bad people, but the man in control of all that badness can minimize the devastation. Race has a plan, but can he prevent total annihilation without destroying himself? Brysen Carter has always seen her best friend's brother for what he is too pretty, too smooth, and way too dangerous to touch. Basking in Race's golden glow is very tempting, but Brysen knows she'd eventually get burned.
When she starts receiving threatening texts and someone tries to take her out in the parking lot, the only person interested in keeping her safe is the one man she can't allow herself to have.
Sometimes being bold is the only way to stay alive. But can she let Race save her life... if it means losing herself to him?

Better When He's Brave:
Some men are just better when they're brave.
Welcome to the Point...
Titus King sees the world in black and white, right and wrong. That is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he'd ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can't deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray.
The new criminal element in the Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus' front door, and the difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town, and she might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point. Titus needs her in more ways than one.
Reeve knows all about how ruthless this new threat to destroy the Point can be. Instead of running away, she wants to help. She has a lot to repent for, and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn't been able to forget, might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.
With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire - and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.

Review:

The point is a broken place, the police try to keep the peace but the criminal underworld runs the point. The kingpin of the Point has been bringing it to its knees with fights, prostitution, illegal betting and loans. Bax who just got out of jail wants to change that but he also wants answers. His brother Titus King is a cop in the point who wants to make sure Bax doesn't fall off the straight and narrow and wind up back in jail. Bax's best friend Race is missing and his sister Dovie is being harrassed by the head of the point as he searches for her brother. This is not a fuzzy above the law series.  All of these people have to bend rules and play by their own games in order to survive in the point but while they are bad they are are also very protective and loyal. This was an interesting series. Not sure I liked it as much as Crownovers Marked Men series but they are still a good read with a dark undertone.





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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Book Review: Barretti Security Series 1-4 by Sloane Kennedy

Publisher: Tantor Audio
Format: Kindle
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Buy: Loving Vin, Redeeming Rafe, Saving Ren, Freeing Zane

Synopsis: 

This series crosses over with The Escort Series, The Finders Series, and The Protectors Series so for the most enjoyment, they should be read in order, but it is not required. You can find the correct reading order at the beginning of each book. I've also bundled all my series in the correct reading order under the title of A Family Chosen: The Protectors and Barrettis.

Loving Vin: 
After years of searching war torn Afghanistan for his MIA brother, Vincenzo Barretti has finally come home and now he's ready to settle back into life as co-founder of Barretti Security Group. But his home is no longer cold and empty the way he likes it.

Mia Hamilton needs a quiet place to hide from the press to try to rebuild her life. Being the daughter of a notorious serial killer is bad enough, but being the one who killed him has made her a target for every news agency in the world. She wants nothing more than to be left alone, but the reporters are relentless and will stop at nothing to get their story. With no place to go, she accepts an offer from Dominic Barretti to stay at his older brother's home until she can figure out what to do next. But she didn't expect the homeowner to return so soon or to feel something she's never felt when he's around.

Vin doesn't need or want a woman in his life and certainly not one that comes with so much baggage. So what if Mia evokes feelings in him he thought were long dead? She's a liability and he wants her gone. But forcing the quiet, strong-willed young woman from his life turns out to be a lot harder than he thought...

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Redeeming Rafe: 
At the tender age of eight, Rafe Barretti lost everything. His parents, his childhood, his innocence. And the brothers who were supposed to protect him let him go instead. Twenty years later and he's finally ready to exact his revenge by taking away everything they hold dear - their company, their reputations, their futures. But even that isn't enough - their loved ones will have to pay too and all their precious secrets are fair game.

Former mercenary Cade Gamble's only job is to take down the hacker stealing sensitive, private information from Barretti Security Group and Cade is damn good at his job. But there's more at stake because the co-founders of BSG, Dom and Vin Barretti, are like family and no one touches Cade's family. The fact that the vengeful young man turns out to be the youngest of the Barretti clan doesn't matter. But when their tumultuous encounters turn into something more, Cade will have to decide between protecting the only family he has and giving in to his need to save Rafe from himself.

Can Cade help Rafe find redemption so he can forgive the sins of the past or will Rafe's quest for vengeance destroy them both?

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Saving Ren:
Ren Barretti has finally come home after a year of being held captive by the terrorists who slaughtered his entire Special Forces team. But he can't escape the nightmares that torment him or the guilt that he was the only one to walk away. The life his older brothers have brought him home to doesn't exist for him anymore and to keep them and their loved ones safe from the rage and pain that consume him, Ren needs to disappear.

Police Detective Declan Hale has felt an undeniable pull towards the very straight Ren Barretti since the day Ren's brother married Declan's younger sister almost a dozen years earlier. But even though the Ren who has come home isn't the one who left, all of Declan's feelings come rushing back to the surface and he steps in to help the only man he's ever truly wanted. And even though there's no future for them, keeping Ren safe is all that matters and Declan will risk anything to make that happen.

Tough as nails former soldier and mercenary Jagger Varos has returned to Seattle after years of running from his past and he's hoping that joining Barretti Security Group will help him finally call the city he left behind home. But within weeks, his new beginning is tested after multiple run-ins with the gruff, infuriating Detective Hale. When he inadvertently discovers that Declan is hiding Ren from the very brothers offering Jagger a new start, Jagger finds himself torn between his newfound loyalty to Vin and Dom Barretti and the need to protect the young man he himself helped rescue from his captors.

For Declan and Jagger, it's hate at first sight but they soon realize that they will need each other if they have any hope of saving Ren from himself. And neither of them expects their mutual distrust in one another to grow into something else entirely or that Ren himself will find in both of them what he needs to rebuild his life and come to terms with who he really is.

Can the fierce attraction between three men become something more or will the demands of the real world tear them apart?

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Freeing Zane: 
Criminal defense attorney Zane Devereaux is on the verge of having everything he's worked his entire life for. He's on track to become his firm's youngest managing partner and he has enough money in the bank to ensure he'll never have to be at the mercy of anyone ever again. He's left his past exactly where it belongs and refuses to look back. And he sure as hell isn't going to risk a repeat of his former mistakes by letting someone as sweet, sexy and endearingly vulnerable as Connor Talbot into his life. His bed maybe, but not his life.

Connor Talbot has no regrets about serving his country, even if it did cost him more then he'd imagined. Two years after an IED took his leg and left him with permanent brain damage, Connor is still struggling to put his life back together, but he's managed to find a makeshift family in Seattle that helps ease the pain of losing his own at a young age. Unfortunately, a string of bad relationships and an abusive ex have taken their toll on Connor and he's given up on finding the lifelong partner he'd always envisioned he'd have. But a chance encounter with a man he has absolutely nothing in common with except for an intense, white-hot chemistry has him thinking that maybe a no strings, physical relationship is exactly what's called for.

What begins as two men meeting each other's needs between the sheets turns into something neither one was prepared for but the wounds of the past run deep and both men will have to decide if a future together will cost them too much or if what they could have together is worth fighting for.

Can be read as a stand-alone story - no cliffhangers.

Review:

Dom, Vin, Rafe & Ren are the Baretti Brothers. Dom and Vin run a security firm. Several of the other characters in these books either work for them or know one of the other of them. Each book is a good story as well as a hot sexy romance. Vin's story is the only M/F book in this series all the rest are M/M or M/M/M. Each one deals with child abuse, child sex trafficking, PTSD from war, and the vulnerabilities they cause. Each of these men is broken in some way and their love for each other helps them to heal and free themselves from their pasts. While each is stand alone I would read them in order or read all of her different series in the order she suggests so you get the chronology. I read each series separately and I can see where crossovers were and how people connected but it may have been better to read them in a different order.





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