complicated, by kristen ashley

If I can offer one piece of advice with audiobooks: Don’t listen to one where you have preconceived notions of what the characters sound like, you’re apt to be disappointed. Not the case with Complicated. This stand alone novel has been released as an audiobook only until November 2017, when it will be available in print. Since it’s not part of a series, there was little to no room for disappointment and it’s by one of my most beloved authors, Kristen Ashley.

The story begins in the midst of a 1-night stand. Or rather, at the end. Hickson (Hicks) is fleeing the home of Greta after they met at the club where she sings part-time. He’s the local sheriff, 3-months divorced, begrudgingly, and Greta is a full-time hair dresser during the day.

With the ink barely dry on the papers dissolving his long-time union to Hope, which produced 3 children, the last thing Hicks is looking for is a relationship. Greta, on the other hand, is ever hopeful in spite of her wrong-side-of-the-tracks upbringing and streak of general bad luck. She too was married but her divorce was long ago and left a shadow of ‘it just won’t happen for me’ over her expectations for love. So when Hicks is hastily fleeing her bedroom, Greta, while hurt, is not all that surprised.

With a special needs brother who lives in a facility that offers the best possible care and a mother with no qualms about blackmailing her daughter for money—Greta has her hands full. But she also has a support system composed of the owner of the salon she works in and the proprietor of the club she sings at. Not to mention a local community who comes to her aid in spite of the prom king and queen status Hicks and his ex-wife essentially hold in the town.

The title of the book describes the relationship between Hicks and Greta. For those who are in a marriage or have had the unfortunate experience of divorce, you know that relationships in and of themselves are complicated. With elements such as local gossip, young children, and a murder thrown in—it only serves to make things more convoluted.

Kristen Ashley, true to form,  managed to make us care deeply about the characters she has brought to life through the power of the pen—or in this case, the spoken word. The pain and anguish that Hicks feels for a divorce that was forced upon him leaves us bereft and sympathetic. He’s trying to do the right thing for his family and ultimately himself by learning to live again.

With interwoven intrigue and sex scenes that will leave you blushing, Complicated is a story rife with emotion about people you could easily know and love. The sexual tension, underlying suspense, and deep emotional connection to the characters once again, has us praising Ashley for her storytelling.

If you can wait until the print version of Complicated hits the market in November, you are stronger than I am. At just over 15 hours on audiobook, I managed to finish in about 2 days—listening at every opportunity I could find. And if you’re new to audiobooks, like I was, this is one that won’t disappoint.

 

hollywood dirt, by alessandra torre

This was a fun and relatively fast read. There was a lot of humor infused with real emotion and just the right amount of sexual tension. Alessandra Torre is quickly becoming one of my most adored authors and I could easily go on a binge devouring one book after another from her. In this case, Hollywood Dirt is being made into a movie. And while not a big budget summer release, casting has begun and you’re sure to recognize a face or two on the big screen when it’s brought to life.

Cole Masten, the hero (a term used loosely) is the epitome of an egotistical a*s. He’s Hollywood elite, with over-the-top good looks and talent for days, all slathered in charm. He’s also the male half of ‘Codia,’ being married to Nadia Smith, a Hollywood starlet in her own right. But the demise of the Cole/Nadia acronym is upon them.

After returning home one day, Cole discovers Nadia engaged in extra curricular activities with another man in their bathroom. Needless to say, Cole doesn’t take it well. After arranging a meeting between the other man’s head and shoulder with a ceramic elephant, the divorce of “Codia” ensues; along with a lot of bad behavior on Cole’s part.

Enter Summer. A down home, tell it like it is, care free southern girl. She manages to wrangle a job on Cole’s next movie as an assistant to the location scout. But what starts out as a short-term assistant gig, turns into the part of a lifetime for Summer and as it were, Cole.

The interactions between Cole and Summer are rife with will they/won’t they as well as insults and pranks galore. It makes for a well-written enjoyable story that takes a light-hearted approach to dealing with serious matters of the heart. The reader has the dual benefit of knowing what’s going on inside both Cole and Summer’s head to get a clear view of where they stand, even though they aren’t expressing it to one another. Peppered with one liners and secondary characters almost as entertaining as the primary, this is one book I hope the movie-makers do right by.

asking for it/begging for it, by lilah pace

asking begging for itingredients:
Drama and suspense.

servings:
This series deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.

 

rating:

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preparation:
This was a bit of a dark read. Not as dark as some other books I’ve read, but still, dark. As if the disclaimer didn’t already give that away…

Vivienne is looking to have certain fantasies fulfilled and her boyfriend isn’t exactly on board. So when at party her recent ex lets it fly why he wasn’t the man for Viv, there were several people within earshot who take notice. Enter Jonah.

Jonah comes from a very entitled background and gives new meaning to sexy and brooding. A professor at the college where Viv is taking graduate classes, their worlds collide through a mutual friend, which only makes their newfound ‘arrangement’ all the more awkward.

While the premise of the ‘arrangement’ seems, on the surface, like a theme that’s already been done to death, trust me when I say, “This time it’s different.” The explosive secrets in both Viv and Jonah’s pasts are enough to tear apart their relationship and make each one second guess what they’re doing and for very good reasons.

Asking For It and Begging For It are titles that represent both what you are thinking, but then again, not quite…

difficulty level:
Hard. This was not hard to read because of the writing, but because of the topic. There was abuse and the role-playing that was done is not for the faint of heart. An interesting story with difficult topics handled fairly well.

moonlight on nightingale way, by samantha young

moonlight on nightengale wayingredients:
Drama and humor

servings:
If you like a heart-warming story with some lightly veiled humor, plus angst–this one is for you.

rating

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preparation:
Unbeknownst to me, this is actually the 6th book in the On Dublin Street series. I was quite confused at the end of the book when a lot of the characters were being ‘wrapped up’ and I didn’t know why. I am a big fan of Samantha Young’s Hero, so it’s no surprise that I was equally enamored with this book. However, I must suggest reading the first 5 books in the series (something I plan to do). I think you’ll get even more enjoyment from this book if you go in order. But on to the here and now.

Logan was recently released from prison and has moved into the flat next to Grace Farquhar (which is how she introduces herself, first and last name, always). As evidenced by this, Grace is the epitome of British refinement. This, of course, is in direct conflict with Logan’s behavior, which is primarily focused on becoming intimately re-acquainted with the female population of London. However, since they’re neighbors and can’t help but run into one another, often, they have to find some sort of middle ground. Which comes in the form of girl named Maia…

Maia’s presence immediately changes Logan’s behavior and impacts the relationship between him and Grace. What were once tolerable interactions from neighbors becomes a united front for the love and welfare of an adolescent. Which blossoms into a romance that surprisingly, Grace fights against, just as hard a Logan fights for.

difficulty level:
Easy. What an enjoyable book. While clearly characters from the other 5 books are weaved into the storyline, you have enough back story to understand who they are. And while at times you want to choke Grace, it’s short-lived and you simply can’t help but like her at the end of the day. Moonlight on Nightingale Way is a flat-out good story.

 

last kiss, by jessica clare and jen frederick

last kissSo many series, so little time! My TBR (to be read) pile never dwindles! Last year I discovered the RT Booklovers Convention and what a windfall it proved to be in so many ways! New friends, great sessions, fantabulous authors, and books galore! It’s no wonder I will be back again this year in Vegas. One of the books that made its way into my over-weight suitcase last year, was Last Kiss, by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick and it was worth every penny.

This is the 3rd book in the Hitman series and I will undoubtedly be going back to read the first 2 books and then the 4th. But, back to the book at hand…

Vasily is part of the Petrovich Bratva, (i.e. a family in the Russian Mafia), which has become unstable in the face of its leader, Sergei’s, recent assassination. Vasily is more than happy to lead the family, though power currently resides with Elena, Sergei’s sister and Vasily’s mortal enemy. Vasily has come to the table to gather the necessary support to end Elena’s reign, but before the other family members will support such a transfer of power, Vasily has to complete a near-impossible task, taking him out of Russia and off to Europe…

The errand leads Vasily’s path to cross with Naomi, who is more unique than most romantic heroines. While arguably a genius and able to withstand whatever is thrown at her, Naomi is unlike most leading ladies. But Naomi’s quirkiness and the unconditional love she and Vasily come to share for one another just goes to show that we all deserve love and acceptance. Their love just means sex clubs in Italy and people being assassinated.

There’s humor. Action. Suspense and intrigue. Are you sensing you should read this book?

Personally, I’ve been fascinated with the mob my whole life–which I’ve mentioned before. (Hmmm…should I say such a thing in the public domain? Oh well…) And while my intrigue, historically, has been with the Italian mafia the Russian mob is organized crime none the less, so why split hairs? It’s also equally as fascinating. This is the 2nd Bratva series that I have thoroughly enjoyed, the first being Kresely Cole’s Game Maker series–looking forward to the next release in that one as well!

Clare and Frederick have pulled off quite the sex, action-packed novel. Rooting for the bad guys never felt so good!

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