Mess me Up (Bear Bottom Guardians MC #1) by Lani Lynn Vale

When Rome Pierce moved to Bear Bottom, Texas, it was his intention to lay low. To not be seen. To find a way to heal his body and soul—as well as his son’s.
Nobody would know by looking at him that he used to play professional football. Not with the Bear Bottom MC cut covering his back, and definitely not with his friendly smile completely obliterated.
No longer is there charm in each smooth word that comes out of his mouth. What’s left is an angry, bitter, scared man that’s terrified one day he’s going to wake up and his entire world is going to be gone.
Nobody knows what drove him to leave the game he loved—nobody but her.
She’s the one person that has helped him make it through the dark days and even darker nights. She’s the bright and shining star in his pitch-black sky.
And he doesn’t even know her name.
He should be afraid that she knows things that not anyone—not even his best friend—knows.
Yet, with each encounter, he gives what little bit of his soul remains, and before he knows it only two people on this earth—one dying and one too afraid to live—make his life worth living.
Until one day he has to choose—the love of his life, or the life he brought into this world.
Two impossible situations. One decision that would change him forever.

This one starts with tears of heart wrenching grief and ends with tears of joy… I might forgive this author… eventually.

Some books are harder to read than others and Mess Me Up – guess which category this one falls in? At least during the first part. The grief that Rome experiences is overwhelming and he almost drowns himself in it, which is understandable. Because the emotions in Mess Me Up are so raw that it might serve as a trigger to anyone who has experienced this type of grief should probably steer clear of this one, so proceed with caution.

The second part of Mess Me Up was much easier, but no less emotional. Rome had a lot of people who wanted to look out for him and support him, but he kept them all at a distance. Especially Izzy… but she was determined to be there for Rome whether she wanted him to or not. She had her own past that made her want to keep her heart under lock and key, but she knew Rome was worth the risk and she couldn’t walk away.

I know a lot of readers had a hard time with this one and I totally understand why and respect their opinion. I also agree with that there should have been a disclaimer for those that may be sensitive to the subject. As for me, a warning would have been nice, but I can pretty much handle anything that an author puts their characters through as long as they leave them with hope and a chance to heal… Although this story just about broke my heart for both Izzy and Rome, I think that they were both left with a hopeful future and stronger in the end.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Lani Lynn Vale book and I obviously have some catching up to do. Even though this is the first book in the Bear Bottom Guardians MC series, readers met evidently met Rome in Vale’s Simple Man series. So the question is, do I continue the Bear Bottom Guardians MC series, or back track to all the books I need to catch up on… decisions, decisions.

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Tasty Love (Bookstore Love #2) by Christi Snow & Sarah Nego

Eight years ago, she broke his heart.
Eight years ago, he vowed never to let her hurt him again.
Now, they have to work together to keep their town safe.
At the age of sixteen, Val Garcia made the worst mistake of her life. She trusted the wrong guy, and hurt the guy she loved. She can never atone for that one mistake, but she’s trying.
As a cop, Spencer Murdock is trained in the art of evasion, but that isn’t helping him avoid the pariah in his life…his first love, Val. It doesn’t help that as the town baker, his friends and coworkers are always moaning over her cupcakes. Yea

h, it sounds dirty to him when they do it, too.
Now, he has to work with her daily, see her daily, listen to her soft voice and see her smooth skin…daily. And daily he’s seeing her more as the girl he fell in love with, not the girl who destroyed him.
There’s no way they can have a second chance. That trust is broken. But every day there are glimpses that make them both ask…what if?

Other than wishing there was more to this series, my only other “complaint” is that there needed to be some recipes included because some of Val’s “tasty” creations sound amazing!

I know it’s not fair and it’s probably just because I fell in love with Val in Crazy Love, but I really didn’t like Spencer very much. At least not the way he treated Val. I know that she hurt him, but even before Val’s secret was out, I knew she had to have a good reason. It didn’t take long for me to come fall for Spencer too. Mainly because as hurt as he was, he was obviously still in love with her.

Aspenridge is one of those places where everyone knows everything about everyone – or at least they think they do. Secrets don’t stay secrets for long, but Val’s managed to keep hers for years and she plans on keeping it that way, even though she’s drowning herself in guilt. It was obvious well before the end of Tasty Love that Val and Spencer were meant for each other.

I’m pretty sure that this book marks the end of the Bookstore Love series, but I’d love to see Aspenridge visited again. Readers have met some pretty interesting characters in this town and I wouldn’t mind getting to know a couple of them even better 😉

Driven to Distraction (Road to Love #1) by Lori Foster

When desire gets this hot, you’d better buckle up…
Mary Daniels doesn’t let anything get in the way of her job acquiring rare artifacts for her wealthy boss. But this particular obstacle—huge, hard-muscled, unashamedly masculine—is impossible to ignore. Stuck in a cramped car with Brodie Crews for hours en route to their new assignment, Mary feels her carefully crafted persona—and her trademark self-control—is slipping, and she won’t allow it.
Brodie can’t imagine what secret in Mary’s past has left her so buttoned-up, though he’d dearly love to find out. Maybe then she’d trust him enough to explore their explosive chemistry. But he needs this job, so he’ll play by her rules and bide his time…until an enemy determined to outwit them strikes and he needs to get close—in every way—to protect her. Otherwise they could lose much more than a precious collectible. They could lose it all.

I always get excited when I find out that Lori Foster has started a new series. It almost takes the sting out of one of her series ending. 😉 (Just kidding – I mean I can always go back and for a re-read…)

Mary and Brodie had a rough start. Brodie thought she was stuffy and Mary thought he was not professional in the slightest. She would have much preferred working with his brother. Her boss was specific in his request for Brodie though, so she didn’t have a choice. She didn’t have to like it though and she made that pretty clear from the start. It wasn’t like Brodie was excited about the prospect of spending so much time with Mary, but he had to admit she was a mystery that he definitely wanted to solve. He knew there was more behind her than she revealed. He considered it a challenge.

The more these two spent time together though, the more they couldn’t deny the attraction. Beyond the budding romance between Brodie and Mary there was a lot going on in Driven to Distraction. Mary had a few hang-ups and emotional attachment of any kind was one of them. It took her a while to realize that there was more than one way to define family. She had more than she realized and she gained even more with her connection to Brodie. There was also the element of danger and craziness surrounding Mary’s boss’s obsession. It definitely kept things interesting.

I know that there’s at least one more book in this series that will be centered on Brodie’s brother, Jack. I personally can’t wait for the Road to Love series to continue with Slow Ride. 😉

 

Crazy Love (Bookstore Love #1) by Christi Snow & Sarah Nego

She has secrets that need to stay hidden. He’s digging into her life and her heart. Now they have to work together to organize the Aspenridge masquerade ball. It’s going to be a disaster.
When Kaliope Winters opened Em-Dash, the local bookstore, she did it because of a pure love of books…and the need to stay under the radar. But the vlog hottie stealing her wifi keeps making her blow her cool, which isn’t good, because she doesn’t need to draw his attention. He’s too gorgeous, too charming, and way too nosy.
When Tennyson Helms started his YouTube channel, he planned it to be temporary, not his forever career. Now Ten is trying to prove he’s got the chops to make it as an investigative journalist and thinks Kali will be his next big story. She’s acting way too suspicious. Unfortunately, he can’t decide if he wants to investigate her or kiss her.
Enemies-to-lovers takes a whole new meaning when the masks are dropped…

It was nice spending time in Aspenridge again. There were even a few cameos from characters that readers met in the Naked Brews series. But this story belongs to Ten and Kali and they definitely knew how to keep things interesting.

Ten had a fairly lucrative career that just kind of fell into his lap. It wasn’t what he really wanted to do with his life, but it was safe. Then there was his crazy attraction to Kali, who obviously hated him… or tried to. It was just too much fun for him to push her buttons.

Then there was Kali, who had secrets that she kept from pretty much everyone, including her closest friends. Her biggest fear was that those secrets would get out and then people would know and things would never be the same. The closer that Ten and Kali got to each other, the more she wanted to share her secret with him. Ten just had to prove himself worthy and he came really close to blowing it without even trying. *sigh*

I really liked these two together and the supporting characters were great. There were a couple that I’d really like to get to know better, but right now there’s only one other character slated for the Bookstore Love series.  Hopefully I haven’t seen the last of some of my favorites. ❤

Consent (#MeToo #1) by Jason Letts

Would you sign on the dotted line?
Sarah has a painful past and not much hope for the future, especially after being forced out of her job leaves her struggling to make ends meet. She catches a break and lands a position at a tech startup but gets a tip that the staff is toxic to women and the stunningly handsome boss, Keenan Roche, is abusive and controlling.
Rather than run for the hills, Sarah decides this is her chance to strike back and maybe take them all down, but she discovers there might be more to Keenan than what her coworkers and his ex-girlfriends say, if only she’ll agree to find out.

I’ve been a fan of Jason Letts for a while now. My first introduction to this author was with Inevitable, the 1st book in his Inevitable Trilogy. Evidently I was a slacker back in 2011 because I didn’t leave a review. However, I did review both Impossible and Incredible, the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. The #MeToo series takes this author in a totally different direction and I was curious to see how he handled a contemporary setting.

There was a lot to like about Consent. I liked how Sarah was smart about her approach to the office setting, which definitely came from her past experience. Her past experience also made her a little too cautious. It made it really easy for her to latch on to the negativity that Chelsea (the only other woman who worked in the office) fed her. That’s also probably one of the reasons why I didn’t like Chelsea from the beginning. If someone is that miserable in their work place that they have to make everyone else miserable, it makes me wonder why they stick around.

Jason Letts delivered a strong message in Consent. Sometimes it was a little too strong, but it’s one that doesn’t need to continue to be swept under the rug, so I can forgive him for that. Keenan may not have been the monster that Chelsea initially painted, but he was complacent to what was going on in his office, which is in some ways just as bad.

Agency is the next book in the #MeToo series. After reading the description for that one, I’m not sure… However, this author hasn’t let me down yet, so I’ll probably pick it up sooner or later.

Cooper’s Charm (Love at the Resort #1) by Lori Foster

One summer, two sisters and a chance to start over…
Before the burglary that shattered her confidence, Phoenix Rose had a fiancé, a successful store and a busy, happy existence. After months spent adrift, she takes a job at the lakeside resort of Cooper’s Charm. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, friendly colleagues and a charismatic, widowed boss, Phoenix is slowly inching her way back into the world.
Visiting Cooper’s Charm to check up on her little sister, Ridley Rose impulsively agrees to fill in as housekeeper. Still reeling from an ego-bruising divorce, she finds satisfaction in a job well done—and in the attention of the resort’s handsome scuba instructor.
For Phoenix and Ridley, Cooper’s Charm is supposed to be merely temporary. But this detour may lead to the place they most need to be, where the future is as satisfying as it is surprising…

Two for the price of one! Well, not really, but both sisters find their HEA in Cooper’s Charm.

Phoenix and Cooper’s story was the perfect introduction to Lori Foster’s Love at the Resort series. Phoenix needs more than a change of scenery, she needs a whole new life perspective. She’s finally starting to feel a little bit more like herself, but she’s not quite there yet. Cooper’s Charm might just be the best place to totally heal. She most definitely wasn’t looking for love when she made her move to the RV resort, but her attraction to Cooper was hard to resist.

Cooper was first intrigued by Phoenix’s story, but when he got to know her, the attraction got stronger. He wasn’t looking for love either, but Phoenix was a lot more than he expected her to be.

Then there was Ridley. There was a lot more to her than what was on the surface. The feeling of accomplishment she felt after a few days of work. At first she considered Baxter a challenge, but the attraction between them took them both by surprise.

Cooper’s Charm was basically a sweet romance with a touch of danger and characters that were more like family than co-workers. There was a hint of things to come and I’m looking forward to what Lori Foster has in store for Love at the Resort.

Stand & Deliver (Men of Haven #5) by Rhenna Morgan

Beckett Tate has met his match in colleague Gia Sinclair. He longs to run his hands over each and every one of her lush curves. She’s wicked smart and wicked hot. He’s given her time to get used to the idea of “them,” but her time is up and he’s ready to go all in on claiming what’s his.
Despite her love of all things girlie, Gia’s no typical Southern belle. She’s built her skills and reputation in a field normally dominated by men, and now she has a kick-ass career she loves. She certainly doesn’t need a man to take care of her—especially not one who’s pure alpha. Still, Beckett’s the one man who can satisfy the desires she’s hidden under her tough exterior, and she’s hooked.
Letting Beckett take the lead in the bedroom comes naturally to Gia—not constantly proving herself to him professionally is more of a struggle. And when someone attacks her character and career, Gia and Beckett will have to find a balance: her willingness to let go just a little, with his trust in her abilities and his deep, primal need to protect his woman.

I may have mentioned once or twice that I love this series. Each book adds another layer to this family. Readers get to know a little bit more about all the members as well as the couple that each book is centered around. It would be impossible to pick a favorite couple out of all the Men of Haven, but if I was pressed, Gia and Beckett would definitely be close to the top.

Readers already knew a little about Gia going into Stand & Deliver. She’d proven herself to the brothers, their significant others and the moms. The tension between her and Beckett was obvious, but relationships and work don’t mix. At least that’s what Gia told herself… over and over and over again. Beckett didn’t have the same qualms. He was ready to stake his claim and everyone knew it. Gia could take care of herself, but when her career and name are in danger, Beckett can’t wait. He shows Gia exactly what family means. Gia had a hard time letting go, but it turns out these two were perfect for each other. ❤

As much as I loved the action, danger, heat and the strong sense of family that is the main theme in all the books in the Men of Haven series, Beckett’s personal story took me by surprise. Every once in a while you read a book that touches you in an unexpected way and that’s exactly what happened to me while reading Stand & Deliver. Beckett suffers from SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), which I had never even heard of until I read this book. Rhenna Morgan goes into a little bit of detail about this disorder at the end of the book, so if you read Stand & Deliver, don’t skip the back story. There’s not a lot of information about the disorder and it can manifest itself in several different ways. As soon as I finished Gia and Beckett’s story, I called my daughter… and then I emailed Rhenna Morgan. My 3-year-old grandson was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and the medication that he’s currently taking has amplified his anxiety. It’s also intensified his need for a specific type of touch. Since he was very small, when he sits with you or when you hold him, he has to touch your ear. He even pulls at his younger brother’s ears when he’s standing near them. Most of the time you can tell he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. I know it seems like a small thing, but giving this little “quirk” a name gave it validity. It’s not just a weird little habit, it’s also a physical way for him to cope and something he can’t really control.

One of the reasons why my reading is so eclectic is that I love learning about different cultures, people, lifestyles and places. You never know when one of those stories is going to touch you personally, or give you a different way to look at people that you never considered. You might even learn something that changes your perspective totally. My favorite books are the ones that make me want to learn more even when the story’s over.

Guarded Desire (NM Protectors #1) by Christi Snow

Kidnapped and terrorized, I refuse to let anyone break me. I can stand on my own, no matter what it costs…even if that cost is my life.
Elle…
I was living the life of an ordinary college coed, but that existence was blown wide open when I was kidnapped while visiting my very famous mother, rock-star, ViviAnna.
Now I’m back at college, pretending life is normal while dodging paparazzi and dealing with my face showing up regularly on the nightly news. Trying to find a new balance isn’t happening and the effort to not jump at every shadow or bump in the night is messing with my head more than I ever expected.
Jonah…
I’m a highly trained bodyguard, but that doesn’t mean I want to deal with some spoiled pop princess’s daughter, especially if she’s anything like her handsy mother.
But when I met Elle, she shocked the hell out of me. She’s nice and thoughtful with an incredible inner strength. Even more surprising…she doesn’t want me anywhere near her. But every once in a while I see a flash of fear and vulnerability that make all my protective instincts flare.
I have to protect her.
Because they never caught her kidnapper…
Note: This book is the first in a series of stand-alone, romantic suspense, new adult novels involving sexy bodyguards and the coeds they protect.

I love it when Christi Snow releases a new book. When that new release happens to be the first book in a new series? Even better. 😉

Elle and Jonah each had preconceived opinions about each other. Jonah take on Elle happened before they even met, but it didn’t take him long to realize that there was a lot more to Elle than he first thought. Elle’s opinion of Jonah took a little longer to shake, but she’d been through a lot and she also knew her mother and the people she surrounded herself with. Elle had spent most of her adult life distancing herself from that life. The attraction was there from the start… the trust took a while…

I loved these two from the start. I loved Elle’s determination to get back to a normal life and I loved Jonah’s determination to keep her safe. This couple was the perfect pair to start the NM Protectors series.

Then there were the supporting characters. Even though the books in this series are considered stand alone, I’m really looking forward to get to know at least a couple of them better in future books. I can’t wait to see what Christi Snow has in store for this series next.

Fast Burn (Body Armor #4) by Lori Foster

For the woman who’s his perfect match, he’s willing to break the rules…
The moment Brand Berry meets beautiful, driven Sahara Silver, the connection between them is electric. It’s also something he can’t pursue. Sahara wants him, sure—to join Body Armor, where his MMA skills, size and cocky attitude make him perfect for her elite crew of bodyguards. For Sahara, the agency always comes first, and Brand needs more. Yet when she’s kidnapped by men searching for her missing brother, he doesn’t hesitate.
Somewhere along the way, flirting with Brand for the sake of business turned very personal. Despite his refusal to join Body Armor, it’s Brand who steps up when Sahara needs him most. Now there’s no more time for games, and no point denying the hunger they both feel. They’ll escape together or not at all. But if they survive, can Sahara finally surrender control to claim this blazing passion?

I’m always sorry to know that a series is ending, especially one of Lori Foster’s. I felt that way when the Ultimate series ended, but the Body Armor series softened the blow a little since there was a connection between the two. I suppose if the series had to come to an end, Brand and Sahara’s story was the perfect way to wrap things up.

Both Brand and Sahara have been around for a while. Sahara has been front and center since she ran the Body Armor company. Brand’s been the one man she’s wanted to bring in for a while, but he’s always balked. Even though she knows his reasons, she still wants him on her team and in her life. When Sahara becomes a target, Brand won’t leave her side whether he’s an official body guard or not.

There’s plenty of danger, mystery, heat, intrigue and that family connection that I’ve come to not only expect, but look forward to from this author in Fast Burn. Honestly, both Sahara and Brand took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to feel as connected to these two as I did. It’s not that I didn’t like Sahara, but she was the boss, so it was hard to really get to know her. It was obvious that she cared about all the guys she employed, as well as their families, but she was so strong and independent, it was hard to feel a closeness to her. Her personality really came through in Fast Burn. Brand’s character was the same, but readers knew even less about him until this book. I ended up falling in love with them both.

So, yeah… I’m sorry that the Body Armor series has come to an end, but I’m sure whatever Lori Foster has in store for readers next will be worth it. There’s at least one character from Fast Burn that I hope gets a chance to redeem himself, but only time will tell. 😉

When Love Comes Back (When the Mission Ends #5) by Christi Snow

He was her biggest mistake.
She was his biggest regret.
Once upon a time Felicia Parks and Gage Winston were each other’s everything. But one drunken night, Gage ruined it all and broke Felicia’s heart.
That was a long time ago and they’ve both moved on, never expecting to see one another again.
But as the new wing commander at the local Air Force base, Gage finds something on this assignment that he never expected…his first love.
The problem…she’s in love with someone else.
Fate can be a lover’s best friend, but karma can be a vengeful enemy….
And a dangerous obsession threatens it all.

Oh, this was a scary one going in. From the description I just knew that Felicia and Gage needed to be together. I was prepared to be all in and want their HEA from the beginning… it would have been so much easier if Steve had been a jerk and all Felicia needed to do was see the light and dump him – but he wasn’t. He was a great guy and he deserved to be loved, he just wasn’t the right guy for Felicia… and that kinda sucked. So, in case you’re wondering, Christi Snow gets to hold onto her #EvilAuthor title just a little bit longer.

Actually, all the characters in When Love Comes Back were great. I loved Gage’s kids and having Felicia’s best friend around to bounce her feelings off gave an alternate perspective that really added to the story. Getting POVs from both Felicia and Gage helped a lot as well. There were also flash backs that shed some light on what happened in Gage and Felicia’s past. It also proved that as much as Gage screwed up, he wasn’t the only one who made some mistakes and hasty decisions.

When Love Comes Back had everything that I’ve enjoyed in the other books in the When the Mission Ends series. Romance, a little bit of danger and characters who are really easy to fall for. It can most definitely be read as a stand alone, but I’ve been a fan of this author’s writing since prologue in the first book in this series, so of course I’m going to recommend that you start at the beginning with Operation: End Game – you can thank me later 😉

When you finish When Love Comes Back, make sure you read the author’s notes at the end. There are a couple of characters in this one that I really want to see more of. You know those characters that kind of jump off the page and demand to be heard? Or the ones that really need an HEA of their very own? Yeah, I’m really looking forward to what comes next 😉