Review: Arrest by June Gray

Monday, June 30

Title: Arrest*
Author: June Gray
Series: Disarm Trilogy #2
Genre: contemporary New Adult romance
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ebook, print, and audio
Date/Year: June 3, 2014
Reviewed by: Michele

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

Life begins at happily ever after…

For Elsie and Henry, getting married and buying a house is only the beginning of their passionate new adventure. Elsie is flourishing in her job while Henry embarks on a new career as a police officer. Everything, it seems, has finally fallen into place.

Just when it’s all smooth sailing, they face life-altering changes that make Elsie question her ability to adapt. With Henry’s job putting him in constant danger, she watches helplessly while he slips back into his old habits. Elsie must find a way—through any means necessary—to prevent the past from repeating.

With the sand constantly shifting underfoot, Elsie and Henry have to figure out how to strengthen their bond—before they end up losing what matters most…


My Musings:

This review may contain spoilers for DISARM, the first book in this series. You should not try to read ARREST as a standalone, as it assumes you are already familiar with events of the previous book that are not always fully explained in this one.

I enjoyed reading June Gray’s DISARM romance novelettes after they were released as a full length book back in 2013, so when that book was acquired by a major publisher, I was happy that there would be two more books in the series.

ARREST picks up where DISARM left off, with Henry and Elsie newly married and embarking on the rest of their Happily Ever After together. But just because they got past all their previous obstacles doesn't mean that there aren't new ones now that they are finally married. The primary source of their problems now is Henry’s new career as a law enforcement officer. It was bad enough when he was still in the US military and being sent into a war zone for months on end. Now Elsie has to worry about him every day and night, forever dreading a future where he doesn't come home safely at the end of his scheduled shift. Their shared adjustment to this new reality, combined with his reaction to Elsie’s independent career as a web designer and the usual dips and bumps that happen in a marriage, constantly threaten their happiness even as they both know that they could never survive away from each other. The story of ARREST is how each crisis in Henry and Elsie’s marriage ultimately makes them stronger together, and better able to deal with whatever life throws at them next. But the journey isn't easy and when Henry begins to rely on his old destructive coping mechanisms, it will take both of them working as hard as they can to get to the true happy ending they’d thought they already had on their wedding day.

As much as I enjoyed the previous book, the way Henry was always retreating from Elsie when he was upset did get to be tiring after a while, so I was worried that I might not be as sympathetic to him when all the new bad things started happening to them both in ARREST. However, I was quite happy to be proven wrong in my concern, as it appeared that Henry has indeed grown emotionally since then. The love he and Elsie have for each other is never questioned, and it never wavers. But as they and we already learned before, love isn't enough to keep them together if they can’t communicate and compromise, and in ARREST, Henry and Elsie must both relearn those painful lessons if they’re going to stay married and happy together.

ARREST also has the advantage of hanging together better as an complete story from the start, as opposed to the previous title. We are shown once again how their past continues to affect their present, but also how they are aware of how easily they could fall back into a vicious cycle of hurting each other, however inadvertently. Being able to see Henry and Elsie take real steps toward a fully reciprocal relationship made reading through all their pain and sadness worth it for the true happy ending awaiting them both. ARREST is an excellent example of how the “marriage in trouble” trope can be realistic without being too depressing. But I’m relieved that the next story in the series will be about someone else, so I can be content in the knowledge that Elsie and Henry have finally earned their HEA and won’t have to suffer any longer.

Ratings:

Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level:  3.5


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Review: Fall From India Place by Samantha Young

Friday, June 27

Title: Fall From India Place*
Author: Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #4
Genre: contemporary New Adult romance
Publisher: NAL
Format: ebook and print
Date/Year: June 3, 2014
Reviewed by: Michele

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of On Dublin Street and Down London Road returns with a story about letting go of the past and learning to trust in the future…

When Hannah Nichols last saw Marco D’Alessandro, five long years ago, he broke her heart. The bad boy with a hidden sweet side was the only guy Hannah ever loved—and the only man she’s ever been with. After one intense night of giving into temptation, Marco took off, leaving Scotland and Hannah behind. Shattered by the consequences of their night together, Hannah has never truly moved on.

Leaving Hannah was the biggest mistake of Marco’s life, something he has deeply regretted for years. So when fate reunites them, he refuses to let her go without a fight. Determined to make her his, Marco pursues Hannah, reminding her of all the reasons they’re meant to be together.…

But just when Marco thinks they’re committed to a future together, Hannah makes a discovery that unearths the secret pain she’s been hiding from him, a secret that could tear them apart before they have a real chance to start over again….


My Musings:


This review may contain spoilers for previous books in the On Dublin Road series. You can probably read FALL FROM INDIA PLACE as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

I’ve been a big fan of Samantha Young’s On Dublin Road series from the very beginning, with each book in turn reminding me why New Adult romances have become so popular in the first place. Her characters have genuine roadblocks in their lives that don’t appear just to gin up extra drama, and their coping mechanisms are completely understandable in the context of each story. And although each story is set in the same world with previous couples continuing to appear as recurring characters, each one is also unique in terms of what brings the main couple together and what threatens to keep them apart.

In FALL FROM INDIA PLACE, the timeline has advanced several years past the last book in the series, and many of the previously featured couples are married with young children of their own. Hannah Nichols, the younger sister of Braden and Ellie, is now all grown up at 22, teaching high school English by day and a weekly adult literacy course at night. Her job and extended family appear to be enough to keep Hannah content, but there’s a lingering sadness there, thanks to the only man she’d ever wanted but could never really have.

Marco D’Alessandro was introduced in BEFORE JAMAICA LANE as the busboy at a local Italian restaurant and Hannah’s first school girl crush. We only got a brief glance at them together back then, but it’s clear in this new book that something significant happened between them in the interim when when Hannah finds Marco’s picture in a box of old things that her mother has asked her to clean out. It’s at that moment that FALL FROM INDIA PLACE begins to tell Hannah and Marco’s entire story in both the past and and present, showing exactly how what they shared before could be the one impossible obstacle to finding that happiness again for good.

One of the things I loved about FALL FROM INDIA PLACE was how we got a complete picture of the adult Hannah living in the present day before Marco was ever mentioned. We see that her love life is practically non-existent, even as her friends from school keep trying to fix her up with eligible men. We also see how she channels her kind and loving nature into her job and interactions with family, while never really having much to do for her own happiness. So when Marco suddenly reappears in Hannah’s life after five years missing in action, it’s like a bolt from the blue for both her and the reader:  Where has he been? Why did he leave? How can she possibly take him back? And that’s when both we and Hannah start to get a much better picture of who Marco was, why he left, and how that made him the man he is now. When Hannah agrees to give March another chance, it becomes obvious that the time apart has made them both better suited to each other in a way they never were before. But the secrets they both still carry from that time are on a collision course toward an inevitable confrontation that will either help them heal completely or split them apart forever.

What surprised me the most about FALL FROM INDIA PLACE wasn't that I was able to eventually figure out what secret each of them was keeping back and how those two secrets would be in such horrible conflict with each other, but that I was actually happy with that outcome and how it was ultimately handled. It proved that being able to see where the story is going to end up isn't a bad thing when the path there is written so beautifully and the actual events play out in a way you might not have expected. That’s what I've loved about every book in this series, and why FALL FROM INDIA PLACE was such a wonderful read for me. I can only hope that Samantha Young can keep up this consistent level of excellence in all the books to come.

Ratings:

Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level:  3


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Review: Sharp Love by Ava March

Title:  Sharp Love*
Author:  Ava March
Series:  Gambling on Love #2
Genre:  MM Historical Romance
Publisher:  Carina Press
Format:  ebook
Date/Year:  June 9, 2014
Reviewed by:  Andrea

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

London, 1822

William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what's necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.

When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London's underbelly, he needs Will's help. It's there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he's always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend—Jack's need to serve extends into the bedchamber.

Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke's driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will's life to find out if he can win Jack's heart…

Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: D/s theme and elements, and male/male sexual practices.


My Musings:

SHARP LOVE is the second book in the GAMBLING ON LOVE series.  It is closely related to the first book, ALL IN WITH THE DUKE, but could easily be read as a stand alone.

This book tells the story of Will and Jack.  They are lifelong friends who met in an orphanage when they were very young.  They had a tough start in life and over time grew to trust and depend on each other.  As boys and adolescents, Will and Jack were an inseparable team, at least that’s what Will thought.  Jack apparently had other ideas.  While Will perfected his less than savory moneymaking strategies, Jack decided to take a different path and has worked his way into an honorable position.  He works as a driver for a duke.  As grown men, they’re still best friends but there is some animosity on both sides over the lifestyle the other chose.

One of the more interesting aspects of this book for me was that Jack and Will are both common and poor.  I’ve read so many historical romances where one of the main characters is a Duke, a Lord, or at the very least is a self-made man.  I rarely get the opportunity to read about two ordinary guys in a historical romance.  I understand why, it’s hard enough to give two men a HEA in a historical romance in the first place.  It’s even more difficult to come up with a believable HEA ending for guys who aren’t of the gentry class and don’t have enough money to do whatever they want.

Now, getting back on the topic of Will and Jack.  I liked them.  Even though Will was an unsavory character and an admitted thief and cheat, I still liked him a lot.  Jack was a good guy and I did like him, but he was on the verge of being a sanctimonious jackass at times.  Jack and Will being together made sense and it worked for me.  They didn’t have a quick or easy romance, they definitely had to work for it, and I liked that.

I said before that this book was closely related to the first book, but that it could also be read as a stand alone.  I say that because the two books run concurrent to each other.  Jack works for the Duke and was repeatedly referenced in ALL IN WITH THE DUKE.  In fact, a couple of the scenes from ALL IN WITH THE DUKE were repeated in SHARP LOVE, but they were done from Jack’s viewpoint rather than the Duke’s.  It might sound confusing but it brought the two books together brilliantly.  I read a lot and have a tendency to forget characters and events between books.  I thought it was a great way of bringing the reader back into the world without any long and drawn out backstory being awkwardly thrown into a conversation. The neat thing is that it would also work in reverse.  If someone reads SHARP LOVE first, it’s the perfect glimpse into the story of the first book.  It will give the reader just enough information about what’s happening with Tristan and the Duke to make them curious without giving away their story.

As always with Ava March, the quality of writing was excellent.  The plot was strong, and the story flowed very well.  I thought the periodic mingling of this book with the previous book was brilliant.  The characters were genuine and believable, and they had a good romance which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  The only letdown for me was that I never got emotionally invested, even though it was a very good book and I enjoyed reading it.  I had to mention that, but please don’t let it discourage you from reading SHARP LOVE.  It’s a very enjoyable book and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of MM historical romance.

Ratings:

Overall: 3.5 stars
Sensuality level:  3


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Review: On the Way Home by Skye Warren

Title: On The Way Home *
Author: Skye Warren
Series: n/a
Genre: contemporary New Adult erotic romance
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook
Date/Year: May 20, 2014
Reviewed by: Michele

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

Clint

For eight months I’ve been deep undercover as a special operator in the Army. On the plane ride home, all I want is a hot shower and a long sleep. But a Dear John text message leaves me stranded. I need a ride and a place to stay, and the pretty stewardess is more than willing.

Della

It’s supposed to be a simple trade—the passenger in seat 34B for my sister. But the sexy soldier is more than I can handle in all the best ways. He trusts me, but I can’t save him. No one can. Sometimes trouble has a way of following you home.

On the Way Home is a dark new adult romance intended for readers over eighteen.


My Musings:

On the surface, the premise of Skye Warren’s ON THE WAY HOME seems simple. Clint is a soldier returning from a recent tour in Afghanistan, where he’s witnessed the worst of humanity, thanks to the undercover operation he was supporting there. Now all he wants to do is get back to a normal life, although he’s not quite sure if it’s still there for him. Della is the flight attendant on his plane home who has been warned she can only save her captive sister if Clint is handed over as compensation. Fate practically delivers him into her hands without much effort on her part. But how can she give this handsome stranger to someone she knows will kill him? And what will happen if she changes her mind?

There have been so many dark and angsty New Adult romances released in the past few years that I’ve just about sworn off them for good. But the beauty of reading is that there's always at least one writer out there who can make me love something I've vowed to hate forever. And apparently for dark and angsty New Adult romance, that writer is Skye Warren. Della’s tragic history is never played for sympathy or cheap sentiment, only as a necessary backdrop to why she would even consider turning Clint over to a known murderer. Clint is shown as the more sympathetic character whose weariness has caused him to let down his emotional guard, however briefly, and his temporary weakness may well be a fatal misstep.  But when Della decides to reach out just once to take what she sees within him, it’s the shock of their unusually compatible souls recognizing each other that forces the reader to cheer for them both to prevail.

The road to their happy ending takes a series of twists and turns that might seem improbable in a less skilled writer’s hands, but it all makes sense by the end, and that feeling of rightness makes the journey there worthwhile and completely satisfying. Their road to love was dark, but not too dark, and it was beautiful to see Della and Clint both find security and happiness in each other. ON THE WAY HOME is yet another extraordinary story from Skye Warren and I loved every moment of it.

Ratings:

Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5


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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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Review: Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti

Thursday, June 26

Title: Forgotten Sins*
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Sin Brothers, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense, contemporary
Publisher: Forever
Format: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Date/Year:  January, 2014
Reviewed by: Blue

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

His Secrets Can Destroy Her

From the moment Josie laid eyes on sexy, mysterious Shane Dean, she was in love. Their desire ignited a passionate affair, and within weeks, Shane had slipped a ring on her finger. It seemed her every fantasy was coming true . . . until her new husband disappeared without a trace. Now, two years and one broken heart later, Josie is shocked when the hospital calls: Shane has been found . . . at a crime scene with no memory of how he got there.

Her Love Can Save Him

Shane can't remember the blue-eyed angel at his bedside-or who he even is-but he knows something isn't right. His hearing is razor sharp, his physical strength incredible, and the urge to protect Josie overwhelming. For powerful enemies are hunting him, and Josie is the key to discovering why. As Shane struggles to unravel his past, dangerous new truths come to light. Can he protect the only woman he's ever loved? And can Josie trust a man she thought she knew-one who carries such a deadly secret?


My Musings:

FORGOTTEN SINS opens with a brief, heartbreaking scene of four young boys who are virtual prisoners in a sort of military camp.  At risk of great punishment, they sneak off at night to watch television and see what they can of the real world beyond their borders.  This is their first exposure to families and mothers.  They note that mothers look so “soft” and wonder why there are none in their lives.  They also decide that they are a family.

Shane was one of those boys, and it’s now twenty years later.  He wakes up injured in a hospital, with no memory of what happened, or even of his life.  It appears he was attacked and may have been the one who killed his assailants.  The authorities contact his wife, Josie, and she comes to the hospital.  Shane doesn’t remember her at all, but he likes what he sees.  Josie, however, has not seen her husband for two years since he deserted her and is in the process of filing for divorce.

Josie never stopped loving Shane. She was aware he is in some secret military-like organization, and goes off on missions, but he never gave her any details.  Two years ago he told her he would be back, but he never contacted her or returned.  Tired of that kind of life, she decided to end the marriage and get on with her life without Shane.  Now, because of his injuries, he needs her, and she agrees, though stating it’s only temporary.

Josie had a soft heart, and I liked her very much, although it was annoying when she had her  moments of doing stupid things in the face of danger.  Shane was to die for.  He is pure alpha, and as his memory returns, we learn his reasons for not returning to Josie.  He’s bound and determined to protect her now, and is torn between whether she’s safer with him or without him.  This whole book was fast paced and riveting.  We received some clues and bits and pieces of the story of these four boys, but all the answers will come in the upcoming three books of the Sin series.  I can’t wait to read them!


Ratings:

Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5


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Other Reviews:

Book Binge (2 out of 5)
Avon Romance (4)
Goodreads (avg rating as of 6/25/2014 = 4.02 stars)



*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.

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My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy one...so in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
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If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca gift cards on this rewards site)
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