Under Pressure: Built for Love Bonus
Lori Foster is back with a new series that is a spin off of her Ultimate series. Fans of the Ultimate series will recognize the hero, Leese Phelps, but readers new to Lori Foster will be able to jump into Under Pressure without a problem.
Leese is a former MMA fighter who is now working for an elite security agency and is assigned to protect Catalina Nicholson. It does not take long for the sparks to start flying between Leese and Cat, but with someone out to kill Cat, Leese knows he should not give in to temptation.
Cat is not the most likable character when we first meet her. Her personality bounces around between being practical, flighty, suspicious, and naïve, so it is hard to nail down her character and feel invested. Leese is much more likable, and for those who read the previous series, he has changed quite a bit. The story line itself has a few twists and turns that always makes a story more intriguing, and it will keep you guessing until the end. With a weaker heroine, this isn’t the best of Lori Foster’s books but still promises to be a great new series.
The Trouble with Mistletoe: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Keane Winters walks into Willa Davis’s pet store with his aunt’s cat, seeking someone to take care of it. Willa takes care of the cat while Keane is at work. Keane and Willa strike up a relationship.
Willa knows Keane from high school when she asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance but he never showed up at her house to pick her up. She carries that resentment with her until she finally lets him know. While he apologizes and says that he’s changed as an adult, the two waffle back and forth as to whether or not they can be in a relationship.
This book was tough to get through. The characters had little to no chemistry, and the story was thin and flat. In a good romance, the author is able to strike a balance between focusing on the relationship and dealing with an outside conflict or other matters in the characters’ lives. Jill Shalvis spent so much time depicting Willa’s physical attraction to Keane that she forgot to make them into real people. There were many holiday-themed romances published around the holidays that were much better.
Ride Rough: A Raven Riders Novel
Obsessed! Laura Kaye has me once again addicted to the men of The Raven Riders. How could I not when Laura Kaye continues to give readers like myself swoonworthy protective alpha heroes with heart. Yes, the Raven Riders are your completely different MC bikers. First, their personalities are a riot, and secondly, they have this hard exterior but have this compassionate and protective nature that pulls you in. And let me just say, Maverick Rylan won me over big time.
“If she needed him, he’d be ready. That was all he knew. And for now, that would be enough.”
Ride Rough was sexy, raw, beautiful, and emotional. This book hits you hard as Laura Kaye provides layers and layers of depth of vulnerability, second chances, love, passion, and new beginnings. She allows readers to feel for her characters as they navigate through their feelings for one another.
Maverick Rylan is the VP of Raven Riders. His life revolves around his brothers, his family, the MC, and, most importantly, Alexa Harmon. Alexa is and will always be the one woman who has owned his heart. Five years of separation could not extinguish the torch he has for her. And so when Maverick learns that Alexa is in trouble and is in an unhealthy emotionally abusive relationship, Maverick will stop at nothing in protecting her.
Alexa Harmon walked away from Maverick when her brother died. Feeling lost, she wanted to start anew. A new life. Fast forward to the present, Alexa should be happy with the life that she has built. She is finishing up with school, has a job and a very wealthy fiance. But soon Alexa will realize that means nothing when you are not happy. When Alexa decides to end her engagement, she turns to the one man who has stood by in the shadows, patiently waiting for her. Maverick Rylan.
“And even though they lay there perfectly still, perfectly peaceful—at least for that one moment—Maverick realized that Alexa Harmon was the best fucking ride of his life. And he never wanted it to end.”
Maverick and Alexa’s relationship can be summed up as magnetic. Their chemistry and love for each other was something that couldn’t be erased after several years of separation. The love Maverick has for Alexa runs so deep. He would do anything to make her happy and that could be said for Alexa as well. Seriously, their love was explosive. It was burning bright, fueled by passion, love, truth, honesty, and vulnerability. But what happens when Alexa’s ex-fiance tries to destroy and control Alexa’s life? Will Maverick be able to protect Alexa in time?
“Because underneath it all, Maverick had still been there. At the heart and soul of her. Waiting for her to see the truth. Waiting for her to feel it. Her truth.”
There is just something so organic in the way Laura Kaye tells a story. She paces everything in a fluid manner and as such allows the readers to see and feel her characters and their flaws, strengths, and hopes. As for Alexa Harmon, she is not your wallflower kind of heroine as she discovers that happiness is one call–or in this case, one ride–away. As for Maverick Rylan, hearts will swoon for this hero. He was rough around the edges but a total sweetheart. So if you are looking for an MC story that beautifully blends raw emotions as the backbone of this book, then Ride Rough is the book for you.
The Highlander (Victorian Rebels)
Kerrigan Byrne’s The Highlander attracts readers with intense, interesting characters and detailed scene-setting.
Mena Lockhart used to be a viscountess, but her abusive husband sent her to an asylum where she was further abused. After the institution was raided and closed, Mena was ferried away to Scotland to live out her life as a governess to the “Demon Highlander,” Liam MacKenzie, whose exploits in war were all but legendary. The attraction between Liam and Mena is undeniable, but they must resolve their own inner demons before they can be together.
The Highlander is an intense story that tackles some pretty serious material such as domestic violence, marital rape, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Between Mena’s life of abuse and trauma and Liam’s history of being through war and bloodshed, there is more than enough baggage between the two protagonists. I appreciate that their trauma isn’t simply explained away with their romance but is an issue each of the protagonists needs to address on their own. Harrowing scenes at the beginning will make readers latch onto the characters, and a mysterious story arc will drive them the rest of the way through. This is the kind of story romance novel naysayers shouldn’t underestimate.
With Every Breath: A Slow Burn Novel
This is a sizzling, seductive slow-burn romance that is brimming with so much intensity and all the feels! Maya Bank just reminded me once again why I enjoy the Slow Burn series with her newest installment With Every Breath, as she tethers our hearts to one electric and palpable connection.
“His words, each and every one of them, she committed to memory, savoring and holding them close to her heart where they’d all remain safe and untainted, touched by no one. No one could ever take them away from her. They were hers, given to her and they meant everything to her.”
In this fourth installment, Banks slowly lures readers with her heartfelt prose as she takes us on a journey of a young woman rediscovering her strength, will, and fight to survive. Eliza Cummings thought she had experienced love, but in a series of lies and tragic events, she learned that this love that she thought she had with Thomas was nothing but control and manipulation. When Eliza finally had the strength to leave that part of her life behind her, the monster that she once feared comes back with a vengeance. But this time Eliza is ready for him…Or is she?
“You mean something to me. You. And that means all of you, not just the parts you want me to see while you hide the parts you’re so determined to be ashamed of and feel guilt over. You’re mine, Eliza. All of you. Every inch of you, body and soul. And it wasn’t just your body that I claimed when I made love to you and was inside you so deep that there will never be a time you don’t feel me. I also claimed your heart, your soul, your mind and everything that makes you the person you are and what you were meant to be. And what you were meant to be is mine.”
Wade Sterling is a man that answers to no one. He is arrogant, cocky, confident, and an enigma. There is nothing that can get past his hard exterior and guarded walls. That is, until Eliza Cummings challenges him mentally, physically, and emotionally. Eliza is the only woman who is able to get under his skin. So when Wade started to get suspicious of Eliza’s odd behavior, he knew something was wrong. Since Eliza didn’t want to let him in and tell him what was going on, Wade decided to make Eliza’s problems his. When Eliza informs him of the truth, Wade will stop at nothing in protecting her. As Wade shows Eliza how rare and precious she is, what happens when Eliza’s ex tries to destroy her happiness?
With Every Breath was one of those reads that strips you bare as a heroine discovers how precious she is. Eliza is a relatable character in the sense that she wears her heart on her sleeve. As a child of the foster care system, Eliza craved and wanted love, and so when she thought she had found the right man who loved her, he destroyed her. He left her broken. That is, until the right man showed Eliza the most precious gift of all: the gift of real love. Wade Sterling is a man of few words, but when it comes to Eliza Cummings, she is his everything. And so if you are looking for a love story that beautifully weaves psychic elements, friendship, family, passion, and raw emotions, then With Every Breath is the book for you. Prepare to get lost in a magnetic love story that will awaken all your senses.
In Suite #2 of a high-rise in Chicago lives a little girl with a housekeeper. She receives the latest collections from Prada, YSL, and Gucci, but nobody knows who pays for her luxury apartment and housemaid. This is Coco Rodriguez, daughter of famous fashion model Magdalena Rodriguez. Held imprisoned by a cruel housekeeper, Coco receives a surprise at her doorstep–a baby from an anonymous source, and she decides to keep it as she had no other option. The housekeeper is found to be stealing paintings from Coco’s home and is subsequently replaced by Tia. Tia understands Coco’s lack of a maternal figure and decides to sort out Coco and little Bebe, who Coco finds out is her sister, born to her mother in Argentina. Coco becomes friends with her neighbor in #1, Rob Banks, and his daughter Mila and Bebe become play buddies. On Tia’s insistence, Coco joins Gillman Fashion School, as she feels designing clothes is her calling. Rob doesn’t know Bebe is Coco’s sister and not her daughter, and Coco doesn’t correct him as she feels Rob will maintain his distance upon realizing Coco is underage. Coco and Rob take their relationship one step further, and Rob figures out that she’s a virgin. Rob leaves Coco a sobbing mess, and Coco resumes her life at #2 with Bebe and Gillman to keep her occupied. A few weeks later, Coco gets the symptoms of pregnancy and has to inform Tia that she’s pregnant with Rob’s son.
Refusing to meet Rob because he left her heartbroken, Coco has a new resolve in life: to raise her son and sister like a mother. A helicopter crash results in Magdalena’s death, and Coco is left at the mercy of paparazzi and tabloids, who find out about Magdalena’s children. Drawn into the world of fashion in her quest to keep her family afloat, Coco encounters people of all kinds and realizes her family of Bebe, James, and Tia are her only allies. Magdalena’s Shadow by E.E. Orme is the story of a courageous girl who encounters the obstacles in life with determination and emerges not unscathed but all the more wise. This book is highly recommended for readers of all ages, particularly single mothers.