Tempted & Taken (Men of Haven #4) by Rhenna Morgan

There’s no code Knox Torren can’t break. He knows no limits when it comes to uncovering intel, especially on anyone who crosses his family. But a skip tracer with a sketchy history presents a puzzle he can’t solve. When he finally meets the statuesque blonde with the intoxicating Russian accent, he’ll try anything to unearth her secrets. Darya Volkova has been living under an assumed identity for years. Searching for a job that will take her out of the dangerous life she’s built, she has her sights set on Knox: the best hacker in the business. From their first meeting, though, something far more intimate than a professional connection develops.  Darya must overcome still-healing wounds to trust that Knox will take care of her in all the ways she needs. And Knox will do whatever it takes to make sure whatever—or whomever—she’s running from never touches his woman again. 

I’ve said it before (pretty much with every review I’ve written in this series) but each book in this series gets better and better. To be honest, that may be because the characters are becoming closer to both each other and the reader. Which means that they’re becoming more and more like family. The Men of Haven have considered themselves family for a long time, but as they add their significant others to the mix, that sense gets even stronger.

I loved watching Knox reluctantly fall for Darya. Once he was hooked though, there was no turning back. She was his, no argument. His brothers saw it coming way before he did, which was fun.

Darya’s back story was heartbreaking, but it didn’t break her. It just made her more determined not to waste a minute of the life she’d been given and always remember the people in her past who had made it possible. She was a hard character to not admire.

That thin line that the brothers crossed from time to time to protect those they loved was stretched to its limit in Tempted & Taken. It proved once again what lengths they would go to in order to protect the innocent at the cost of the threat. They made some unexpected allies who they probably haven’t seen the last of, which could prove to make things even more interesting for the Men of Haven.

Speaking of which, the next book in the series, Stand & Deliver, features Beck and Gia… interesting indeed 😉

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Close Contact (Body Armor #3) by Lori Foster

MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.
Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.

I think I’ve said this before, but this series gets better with each new book that’s added. Of course, that’s pretty much the norm for me when it comes to any Lori Foster series, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

I loved the relationship between Maxi and Miles. They really wanted the same thing, but they were crappy at picking up the cues from each other. Their friends saw through them first, which was fun. They had serious problems to figure out first though. Like who was terrorizing Maxi and trying to get her to break her promise to her grandmother. It was more than that though. She honestly loved the farm her grandmother had left her and she wasn’t about to back down. Which meant that Miles, Body Armor and his friends weren’t giving up either. Not until whoever was threatening Maxi was taken care of – for good.

Once again, the sense of family was front and center. Not only the guys (and gals) from Body Armor, but Miles’ family from his MMA days. Which, by the way, was absolutely fine with me because I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to that bunch and having them drop in from time to time is the perfect consolation. 😉

The sweet (and hot) romance between Maxi and Miles, along with the suspense, danger and mystery kept the pages turning. There were quite a few bad guys to choose from in Close Contact so it was fun trying to figure out who the baddest of the bad really was. I almost saw it coming, but not quite.

The next book in the Body Armor series is Fast Burn and I really can’t wait for this one. I can’t think of a more appropriate title for whatever Lori Foster has in store for Sahara and Brand. 😉

Tequila Sunrise (Agents Irish & Whiskey #4) by Layla Reyne

Former FBI agent Melissa “Mel” Cruz spent years skirting the line between life and death, knowing the next assignment might be her last. Back from overseas and eager to enjoy life outside the Bureau, she’s ready to give Danny Talley a Christmas Eve he’ll never forget.
A proven asset in high stakes missions, Danny’s known for having the skill and brains to get the job done. When the Talley Flag Ship is hijacked during the company holiday party, he’ll do anything to save his family, his love, and everything they’ve all worked so hard to build. But their enemies have a secondary protocol—leave no survivors—and that plan is already in play.
Navigating through a tangled web of lies and betrayal, Mel and Danny race against the clock to retake the ship before their future goes up in flames. As the seconds tick down, they’re forced to face their greatest fear—losing each other.

This may have been a short and sweet glimpse of Danny and Mel, but there was most definitely nothing lacking. I also made a point of tagging this one M/F Romance because the rest of the books in the series were all M/M and featured Mel’s brother-in-law and Danny’s brother. Although Aidan and Jamie played important roles in Tequila Sunrise, this book was all Danny and Mel’s and I loved every minute of it. 😉

Readers were not only treated to a new story in this series, but they were given tidbits of Danny and Mel’s history from the beginning of the series. It’s kinda fun to see things that you didn’t know were happening in the ‘shadows’ to other characters in the same time frame. The really great part about this holiday read was that it gave readers some extra time with characters that they may not have been quite ready to say goodbye to when the series ended.

Nothing’s easy when it comes to this family, but the one thing that they never have to worry about is doing it alone. They always have each other’s back and giving up isn’t part of their mindset – even when the odds seem to be totally against them.

Getting to know Mel and Danny a little better was a great way to put the finishing touch on this great series. I can’t wait to see what Layla Reyne has in store for readers next.

Can’t Let Go (The Original Heartbreakers #5) by Gena Showalter

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men.  Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar and all bets are off.  The former Army Ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible.
To Jude, Ryanne is off limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood, and her life, he can’t turn away.  She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he’s determined to protect her, whatever the cost.
As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future…or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Okay, so I may or may not be skipping around this series… okay, so I’m totally guilty of skipping around. It hasn’t been intentional, honest. I’ve just kind of lost track… a lot. I read the prequel in the Original Heartbreakers, The One You Want. Then I missed books 1-3, but I picked the series back up at Can’t Hardly Breathe and here we are at Can’t Let Go. I really do intend to play catch up, but in case you’re wondering, other than a few references here and there, I didn’t get lost at all. Although, I did enjoy watching the back and forth between Ryanne and Jude in Can’t Hardly Breathe. 😉

Jude’s back story is heart breaking. Watching him begin to care for someone after everything he’s been through is both amazing and gut wrenching. I still found myself getting frustrated with him at times for the way he treated Ryanne. He had a lot to work through and Ryanne understood that, but it was still hard to watch. Having him not have issues would have been less realistic and believable though, so his slip ups were easy to forgive… eventually.

Ryanne’s determination, along with the love and support that they both had from their friends is honestly what made this story work. I know I sound like a broken record, but stories with a strong sense of family get me every time and this series is full of those kind of connections. Brock and Lyndie are next in Can’t Get Enough and it will not be a book that I will be skipping. 😉

 

Right Where We Belong (Silver Springs #4) by Brenda Novak

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her “perfect” life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children home to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of the farmhouse where she was born. It needs a little TLC, but she’s eager to take control of something. 
Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn’t until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse. 
Despite an escalating attraction to Gavin, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. She trusted her ex, who had a similarly tragic background, and is unwilling to repeat her past mistakes. But it’s hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

This book went all over the place and honestly, I could have done without the ‘extra’ conflict in that was thrown into the mix. I liked Savanna and Gavin together and I think if the story would have focused only on Gavin and Savanna’s complicated backgrounds I would have enjoyed it more. *sigh*

Savanna’s husband (he wasn’t legally her ex, but there was no going back) was truly despicable. She was caught in a nightmare that there was no escaping from no matter how far away she went. I understood her reluctance to trust Gavin, especially when she found out about his background.

Then there was Gavin. I really liked him and admired him, but I wish he would have listened to his mother and brother when it came to judge of character. Things wouldn’t have escalated nearly as far as they did if he had. I’m glad that things worked out, but like I mentioned before, I think the story had enough drama without adding that extra layer.

I’ve read all the books in this series except for the 3rd, Until You Loved Me. I’m planning on picking it up soon though, so stay tuned. 😉

Holiday House Call (Calling It #3.5) by Jen Doyle

Dr. Karen Carmichael prides herself on being capable, optimistic and always in control. But even neurosurgeons have breaking points, especially as the holidays approach. When Karen finds herself on the side of the road, explaining to a cop that her less-than-stellar driving was due to stress and tears rather than too much booze, it’s humiliating. When that cop turns out to be a one-night stand from her past, it’s icing on the bad-day cake. 
Officer John “Tuck” Tucker didn’t expect to see Karen again after their night together. The circumstances may not be ideal, but convincing this beautiful, stubborn woman to get to know him with his clothes on is more fun than he could have imagined.  
Karen swore she’d never fall for someone who risks his life for his job. She sees enough heartbreak at work without inviting it into her personal life, and she has no interest in becoming involved in the small town Tuck calls home. But despite valiant efforts to keep her walls up, her affection for Tuck is growing into something much stronger. With a life built around work alone looking less appealing by the day, Karen will have to take a leap of faith—and trust that Tuck will leap with her.  

So, hear I go jumping into a series 3 (and a half) books in, but I suppose if I was going to do it, a novella about a new couple in the Calling It series was the perfect place to start. It gave me a taste of Jen Doyle’s writing and  a glimpse of Inspiration, the small town where the series takes place.

I kinda love small town romances and this one worked for me. Karen was not a small town person, but she cared about her patients and their families. Being part of a close knit community wasn’t a bad thing, but she planned to keep her distance. Falling for the local cop was most definitely not part of the plan – which was easier said than done given the connection and attraction that there was between Karen and Tuck.

Tuck wasn’t sure he was ready for commitment either, but he couldn’t deny the attraction and he was just as stubborn as she was. Being part of a small town though also meant that EVERYONE knew EVERYTHING about EVERYONE else and given his position, he wasn’t a fan of that aspect.

I really enjoyed their story and even though it was short, it wasn’t really lacking. They had a couple of missteps and they didn’t always communicate as well as they should have, but they both had big hearts and deserved the HEA more than either one of them realized.

I’ll probably be back tracking with this series or at least keeping an eye out for what comes next. Stay tuned. 😉 

Catch My Fall (Falling #4) by Jessica Scott

Former Army Sergeant Deacon Hunter is trapped. Trapped in the friend zone. The woman who captured his heart when they were deployed in Iraq has never looked back at the time they stole.
Former Army Sergeant Kelsey Ryder has scars, the kind of scars that no one ever sees, no one ever knows about unless she tells them. Working around the guys at the Pint, she’s reminded of everything she lost when she left the Army behind.
But some scars refuse to stay hidden.
One fateful night changes everything and neither of them know if their relationship will ever be the same.
All Deacon knows is that he’ll be there to catch her when she finally falls.

I’ve been looking forward to Deacon’s story since Jessica Scott gave readers a preview a the end of After I Fall, the 3rd book in her Falling series. Catch My Fall was everything I expected and then some.

Deacon and Kelsey weren’t just soldiers who were trying to get used to being civilians, they were soldiers who had served together. They had a history and because of that they knew things about each other that no one else did, but not even Deacon knew everything that Kelsey kept hidden. Kelsey desperately wanted to keep it that way. Deacon knew that he should just leave Kelsey alone, but she drew him closer the harder she tried to push him away. These two pretty much broke me by the end of their story.

I’ve really fallen in love with this series for a lot of reasons. I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to books written by this author, but it has to be mentioned. She has a unique POV when it comes to portraying her characters because she’s been there and it comes through in her writing. I love the perspective and the “realness” that comes through. It’s not always easy to read, but it’s important. Coming home is always as easy as just coming home… some things aren’t easy to leave behind and the support that these soldiers should have is frequently lacking. The approach to that topic was handled uniquely in Catch My Fall and I really enjoyed that little twist. Things weren’t perfect for Deacon and Kelsey by the end, but they were getting there.

Another thing I love is the sense of family that runs throughout each book. Not all of the former characters have as strong a presence, but there are enough that it’s hard to miss. I love seeing how they’re all doing and getting glimpses of what’s to come. Speaking of which, the character featured in the next book has been around for a while and he’s actually kind of growing on me. Until We Fall promises to be interesting. 😉

Can’t Hardly Breathe (The Original Heartbreakers #4) by Gena Showalter

Bullied in high school, Dorothea Mathis’s past is full of memories she’d rather forget. But there’s one she can’t seem to shake—her long-standing crush on former army ranger Daniel Porter. Now that the sexy bad boy has started using her inn as his personal playground, she should kick him out…but his every heated glance makes her want to join him instead.
Daniel returned to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, to care for his ailing father and burn off a little steam with no strings attached. Though he craves curvy Dorothea night and day, he’s as marred by his past as she is by hers. The more he desires her, the more he fears losing her.
But every sizzling encounter leaves him desperate for more, and soon Daniel must make a choice: take a chance on love or walk away forever.

Confession time… (again.) I’ve skipped around a bit with this series. Translation: I read the opening novella (The One You Want) but evidently I’ve skipped the next three books in the series until I finally managed to pick up Can’t Hardly Breathe. The good news is that although I want to catch up with the first four couples in The Original Heartbreakers series, I wasn’t lost at all throughout Daniel and Dorothea’s story.

Dorothea and Daniel had a history. A history that they each remembered just a slight bit differently. She had a crush on Daniel that she never really got over, but she had no idea that Daniel had feelings for her too. High school can be a battle ground and Daniel and Dorothea were definitely on opposing sides.

I loved Dorothea’s spunk, but she didn’t have it easy. Her mom was flighty, her sister was a brat and her ex was a jerk. She’d suffered loss and came out fighting, but she still longed for a love that would last. If she couldn’t have that, she’d settle for a good time and if she kept her heart out of the equation, Daniel was just the man to provide it. Because Daniel didn’t jump at the chance, Dorothea assumed he didn’t want her. That was just the beginning of the crazy assumptions that worked to keep these two apart.

Honestly, I could have done with a little less drama, but this story worked anyway. A couple of the supporting characters from past books also made me want to go back and pick up the rest of The Original Heartbreakers series and there’s even more to come. Ryanne and Jude are next and given the sparks already lighting between these two, I might have to pick Can’t Let Go up before I start playing catch up. 😉 

Worth the Wait (Guthrie Brothers #2) by Lori Foster

Single dad Hogan Guthrie is getting his life back on track, and working as the “barbecue master” at a local diner is just a temporary detour. He and restaurant owner Violet Shaw constantly butt heads…until one night they end up mingling other parts instead. Hogan thought he had the recipe for happiness all figured out. But loyal, carefree Violet is daring him to trust his impulses…and see just how sweet small-town living—and loving—can be.
Nathan Hawley traded his SWAT team credentials for a sheriff’s badge, but a gorgeous new neighbor is shaking up his orderly life. Nathan has a hunch there’s more to Brooklin Sweet than meets the eye—but given her caution about getting involved, he has his work cut out for him. Still, there’s something about the elusive beauty Nathan can’t walk away from—and helping her come to terms with her past might pave the way to the future they both secretly long for.

I fell in love with Nathan, Hogan and Violet when readers met them in Don’t Tempt Me, the first book in Lori Foster’s Guthrie Brothers series. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for all of them to find their HEA. 😉

Hogan was just a little bit broken, which made him more than a little bit leery. He not only wanted to protect his heart, but he had Colt to consider. He went a little bit crazy after he lost his wife. To say he played the field would be putting it mildly. He didn’t want to put his son through any more than he already had. He pretty much met his match with Violet though. She wasn’t looking for anything serious either. Like Hogan, she had her priorities and hers was her diner. That didn’t mean that she didn’t notice her attraction to Hogan. It was kind of impossible to ignore for both of them.

Just like Don’t Tempt Me included not just the romance between Jason and Honor, but Sullivan and Lexie, Worth the Wait had Hogan and Violet sharing the pages with Nathan and Brooklin. I liked how their relationships co-exhisted in Worth the Wait, especially how in the end, all four couples became more like family than just friends.

Given the title of the series and the fact that there are only two Guthrie Brothers, I’m guessing that this is the last of the series. I’ve got to admit though, I wouldn’t object to seeing more of them in the future, especially Colt. 😉

Dark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping #1) by B.J. Daniels

For twenty-five years, the case of the McGraw twins kidnapping has remained unsolved. As the eldest son, Cull oversees the McGraw horse ranch, wary of prying eyes. So when true-crime writer Nikki St. James comes forward with new information, Cull can’t believe his father invites her onto the compound. His family has suffered enough—he’s not about to let St. James snoop and ruin them completely. But Nikki finds the eldest McGraw’s protectiveness as endearing as it is aggravating. After all, this case is personal to her, too… And her secrets can set the truth free—if they don’t destroy the McGraws first.

I’m not sure exactly what happened with Dark Horse, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I think it might have been because things seemed a little rushed. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough time for either Nikki or Cull to change their opinions about each other… but that’s just me.

Other than the rushed romance, I kind of enjoyed the mystery behind Dark Horse. It was an interesting premise and it wasn’t solved by the end of this first book. Because of that, I might just have to check out Dead Ringer, just to see how the mystery progresses.