His to Defend (Nola Knights #1) by Rhenna Morgan

His world. His rules. Her love.
Though his methods may be rough, when it comes to protecting what’s his, Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s heart is always in the right place. That’s never been more true than when the gorgeous Evette Labadie asks him for a job. He knows enough to keep his hands off someone as beloved by the locals as Evie, but there’s something about her that calls to him—no matter how badly he burns to make her his.
Don’t think Evie hasn’t noticed the powerful Russian mafia boss who makes her favorite diner a regular stop. How can she not? He’s as hot as his reputation is dangerous. But everyone in her struggling New Orleans neighborhood knows he’s the man to turn to. And right now she needs money to get her son out of trouble.
Her other needs—needs she knows damn well Sergei can more than satisfy—will have to wait.
Evie soon finds herself playing Cinderella to a man who, despite what people believe, is definitely more prince than villain. She can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day. But when a turf war between Sergei and a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her…or walk away from her best chance at a happily-ever-after of her very own.

Rhenna Morgan snagged me as a fan as soon as I read Rough & Tumble, the first book in her Men of Haven series. I read every book in that series and was kind of sad when Nola Knights was released because I was afraid that my beloved Men of Haven series was finished. My fears diminished though once I spent a little bit of time with Evie and Sergei. Plus, it’s kind of obvious that the Men of Haven series hasn’t been abandoned, just side tracked. It also didn’t hurt that more than a couple of characters made brief, but welcome appearances in His to Defend. 😉

One of the things I liked best about the Men of Haven series was the sense of family. Albeit, a very unconventional family. They couldn’t exactly be defined as “good-guys”, but they weren’t really bad either. They stayed out of trouble, unless trouble came after them, someone they loved or someone weaker and innocent. Then, all bets were off. Sergei and his “family” are much the same way, except with ties to the Mafia. He and his “brothers” have the same sort of code and any woman they claim as their own, needs to understand that. That’s not something the average person would be able to wrap their head around, but Evie did. She would do absolutely anything to protect her son, so she got it. Her growing attraction and love for Sergei made it even easier to accept. She saw a side to him that few ever did, and that’s the man she fell in love with.

There were a lot of interesting twists and turns in His to Defend. Some of them I saw coming, but some still surprised me. I loved seeing familiar faces, but the new characters were just as interesting. I’ve got to say, one of the things that I really loved about Evie was how she handled things near the end. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say her response was refreshing and not exactly typical.

Hers to Tame is next in the Nola Knights series and it should come as no surprise that I can’t wait. 😉

Red Fish, Dead Fish (Fish Out of Water #2) by Amy Lane

They must work together to stop a psychopath—and save each other.
Two months ago Jackson Rivers got shot while trying to save Ellery Cramer’s life. Not only is Jackson still suffering from his wounds, the triggerman remains at large—and the body count is mounting.
Jackson and Ellery have been trying to track down Tim Owens since Jackson got out of the hospital, but Owens’s time as a member of the department makes the DA reluctant to turn over any stones. When Owens starts going after people Jackson knows, Ellery’s instincts hit red alert. Hurt in a scuffle with drug-dealing squatters and trying damned hard not to grieve for a childhood spent in hell, Jackson is weak and vulnerable when Owens strikes.
Jackson gets away, but the fallout from the encounter might kill him. It’s not doing Ellery any favors either. When a police detective is abducted—and Jackson and Ellery hold the key to finding her—Ellery finds out exactly what he’s made of. He’s not the corporate shark who believes in winning at all costs; he’s the frightened lover trying to keep the man he cares for from self-destructing in his own valor.

Before I start this review, I need to get a confession out of the way. I read Fish Out of Water, the first book in this series, several months ago. Other than kicking myself for waiting so long to start this series, I’m embarrassed to say, I neglected to write a review – something that I very rarely do – especially with a book that I liked enough to give a five star rating. The good news is that there is still hope that a review for Fish Out of Water will eventually happen because I can definitely see this series landing on my re-read list 😉 Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way….

Red Fish, Dead Fish picks up pretty much where Fish Out of Water ended. Jackson is still recovering and both he and Ellery are trying to track down Owens on their own since they can’t get official help – until it’s almost too late.

There wasn’t much down time in Red Fish, Dead Fish. Owens may have been in hiding, but he was  definitely not taking a break and both Jackson and Ellery, along with anyone close to them were far from safe.

Through the twists, turns, suspense and danger, Ellery and Jackson got even closer – despite Jackson’s reluctance to open up totally.

Needless to say I’m totally in love with this series. So much so that I’ve already picked up the next two books in the series. Stay tuned – I promise to be more responsible as I continue the series. 😉

Noble Hops (Trouble Brewing #3) by Layla Reyne

Everything Dominic Price has worked hard to uphold is about to come crashing down on everything he holds dear.
So much for the quiet life. Just as assistant US attorney and brewery owner Dominic Price is settling into a comfy new chapter with his partner, FBI agent Cameron Byrne, the sudden death of Nic’s father puts their happily-ever-after in jeopardy. Nic immediately suspects foul play, his prime suspect a notorious gangster his father was indebted to—only now the loan shark is out for blood.
Cam has been longing for Nic to finally let him in on this very personal case. But when Nic’s belief that he’s the sole Price heir is upended, the line between personal and professional starts to blur, leaving Cam unsure of where he stands.
Nic is depending on Cam’s kidnap and rescue expertise to save his recently discovered family member before it’s too late. But with a dangerous threat closing in, the ghosts from Nic’s past cast long shadows. Any relationship could crack under the pressure, but for Nic, finding his family might mean losing the love of his life.

It’s never easy saying goodbye to a series. To be honest, the finale of Trouble Brewing was ind of double edged. Because this was a spin off of Agents Irish and Whiskey and even though I was sad that Jamie and Aidan’s story came to an end, I knew it wasn’t truly the end… but now? *sigh*

Even so, if Nic and Cam’s story had to come to an end, the author definitely did them justice. There was little or no down time in Noble Hops, which made these 300+ pages a fairly quick read. Not only was it action packed, this one was emotionally packed as well. My heart kinda broke for both these guys. Nic because he wanted to protect everyone he cared about and Cam because he had no idea where he stood… even though he should have. But yeah, it’s easy looking from the outside in and readers had the advantage of knowing what was going through Nic’s mind… Cam didn’t and he was feeling just a little bit insecure, especially when one of Nic’s last secret was revealed.

A lot happened in Noble Hops and not all of it was bad. Some of it was kind of great and “family” both by blood and by chance was a strong theme throughout the whole series, not just the last book. I really loved getting to know all the cast of characters in both series and I’m really hoping that readers haven’t seen the last of them. 😉

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. 😉

Fatal Shadows (The Adrien English Mysteries #1) by Josh Lanyon

One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.
Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien’s shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.
Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer’s list.

I hesitate to label this “Romance” but it’s there, all be it, very little. I guess that’s where my eclectic reading style comes in handy, because when the story is good and the characters draw me in, I don’t miss the heat between two characters. Especially when they are just getting to know each other.

I also have a teensy weensy confession to make, Fatal Shadows has been sitting on my Kindle just chillin’ away for quite some time. Don’t even ask why it’s taken me so long to finally pick it up, because I have no idea. Now that I have though, rest assured I will be seeking out the rest of the books in the Adrien English Mysteries. Sooner, rather than later. I loved Adrien’s “voice” in Fatal Shadows. He was witty, smart and funny. I really like characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, and Adrien definitely fell into that category.

It also should be mentioned that this was my first Josh Lanyon book, but it will not be my last. As a matter of fact, I just picked up another ARC, so stay tuned. 😉

 

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 😉

Hard Bitten by M.K. York

Rule number one: hands off the witness
As a newbie public defender, Mark Eliades is stuck defending DUIs. But when his latest client gets charged with felony arson, the result is a career-making case he has to win. The last thing he needs is to fall for his key witness. Any hint of impropriety and his credibility will be shot, along with Mark’s case. But the more time Mark spends with the jaded private investigator, the more the rules began to blur.
Tired of endless nights chasing people who don’t want to be found, private investigator Lukas Nystrom needs a change—and a guaranteed paycheck. When a high-profile contract with the state falls in his lap, he can’t screw it up. Even if it means ignoring his growing desire for the hotshot attorney who hired him.
Convinced their client is innocent, Mark and Lukas team up to investigate the crime. With the trial looming and every lead gone cold, they work relentlessly to uncover the truth. But keeping things professional while searching for evidence they need might just make this the hardest case they’ve ever taken on.

I’ve only read one other book by M.K. York – actually I think that Necessary Medicine and Hard Bitten are her only two books. I liked both, but I feel the need to warn anyone who is thinking about picking either of these books up that they were each a super slow burn romance. If you’ve read Necessary Medicine, you know that the romance between Eli and Neal spanned years. The time span of Hard Bitten wasn’t nearly as long, but for a lot of reasons, the romance between Mark and Lukas had to wait – but it was worth it 😉

I really liked both Mark and Lukas. They were both trying to make a difference in their own way. They also worked well together. In some ways, too well. The attraction was mutual, but neither one of them wanted to risk the case. Watching these two work through the growing attraction while keeping each other at a not so comfortable distance kept the pages turning.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author. 😉

 

Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.
Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.
A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

Just a quick FYI – I have one really, really big complaint with Where Death Meets the Devil… I want more… I would most definitely not object to a sequel (or 2 or 3 😉 )

I honestly have no idea where to begin with this review. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book in the beginning. There are a few unique twists to Where Death Meets the Devil, the most notable is the fact that the chapters alternate between “Then” and “Now” and that’s exactly how they were titled. At first, I wanted to hurry up and get through the “Then” chapters to get back to where the previous “Now” chapter had left off… then, it got to the point where I didn’t want the “Then” chapters to go by quite so quickly. It was like an entire book full of mini cliff hangers and that’s not an exaggeration.

Those “Then” and “Now” chapters were more than just a way to give readers a glimpse into the past, they built the suspense. There were times that you thought you were missing something, only to realize that you weren’t supposed to know everything. Where Death Meets the Devil wasn’t only hard to put down, it kept you on your toes.

Even though I’m a huge fan of books that give readers more than one POV, that wouldn’t have worked with Jack and Ethan. Having Ethan remain a mystery throughout the book made it more intense and in many ways brought the reader even further into the story.

Where Death Meets the Devil is one of those books that will stay with you for a while. I’ve read a couple of really good suspense books in the last few years and this one is pretty close to the top of my list of must reads that I want to recommend to everyone. It’s also one that I’m sure I’ll probably re-read. Especially since the author recently revealed that we’re going to be getting more from Ethan and Jack. ❤

The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) by Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.

My initial thought when I first finished this book: I love it when a new author blows me away with the first book in what promises to be an amazing series. ❤ That pretty much sums it up! So, yeah… you probably want more, right?

It’s already been established that this book blew me away – I hate to repeat myself, but this is a new author and Charlie Adhara’s first book. I find that simply amazing because this book was so much more than I expected. Especially since the plot took readers places that I never expected and the twists and turns were intricate, but never slipped. Not every revelation was a surprise, but some of them were. Even though the plot was at times complex, this author never lost me, not once.

I loved both Cooper and Park. Even though I’m a huge fan of getting both characters’ POV, this story wouldn’t have been nearly as good if readers would have been in Park’s head as well. Cooper had a lot of reasons not to trust Park. It was no surprise that Park gained my trust a lot sooner than he gained Coopers, but… well, you’ll have to read the book and experience it for yourself. Trust me, it is so worth it.

I have to admit that what initially drew me to this book was the PNR aspect – especially since it included werewolves. The Wolf at the Door was so much more than a PNR book though. There was intrigue, mystery, danger, suspense woven right along with the romantic tension between Park and Cooper.

One thing’s for certain, I’m extremely happy that this book is part of a series. I for one can’t wait for the Big Bad Wolf to continue. 😉

Trick Roller (Seven of Spades #2) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.
But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.
One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.

I know that you are used to me recommending not to skip books in a series, especially one that centers on one couple and the story builds from book to book. Trust me when I say that Seven of Spades is most definitely one of those series. Trick Roller starts pretty much where Kill Game took off and if you haven’t read the first book, you will not appreciate the other… like I said, trust me.

So much happened in Trick Roller that I don’t want to give anything away. The mystery and suspense in this book is just as important as the relationship between Levi and Dominic. Levi has secrets and Dominic is fighting demons, but they have to overcome all of that to stay one step ahead of the latest threat and the Seven of Spades, even though he’s been suspiciously quiet.

One thing’s for sure, Cash Plays, the next book in the Seven of Spades series can’t come soon enough. Can you say cliff hanger? Yeah, Trick Roller most definitely went there…