Category Archives: 5 star reads

Surviving Amber Springs: A Stand-alone Contemporary Romance – Siobhan Davis

High school to college reverse harem romance with crazy feels!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blaire moved in the middle of her senior year of high school to a new town after her twin brother died. Before school starts, she meets three amazing and hot guys. They had been best friends forever and almost immediately all want her.

I loved this. 5 stars because I would read it again. It was extremely written making for a fast read even though it was pretty long. It needed every word. Things were revealed at the right times along the way, and I don’t want to give any spoilers. Blaire has gone through hell and continues to do so. The story is dramatic but feels real, not like a soap opera. It’s a story of emotions, good ones, bad ones, and complicated ones.

The characters were complicated and felt real as well. I loved Shaznay, the sister of one of the guys, and she provided some much-needed humor. The sex scenes were hot and added to the story. The story is amazing. I’d never thought about the families of the instigators of these crimes and what hell it must be for them.

Warnings: This contains references to gun crimes, rape, suicide, and self-harm. Nothing bad happens between the main characters, no non or dubious consent. There are several graphic sex scenes. All are one-on-one, no group sex.

1st person present tense from Blaire. Midway through we get sections from the guys. This was very well edited. I only found 8 errors.

Full Contact: A College Reverse Harem Romance – Cassie Cole

College RH with three hot football players

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Let me begin by saying, “I hate football.” For me, it’s associated with the men in my family screaming at the TV. I’ve always hated conflict and raised voices, so this made me cringe. It also broke my concentration when I was trying to read! I was dragged to football games because my parents didn’t want to get a babysitter, so I sat in the stands reading and hating all the rude noise around me. But with all that, I still loved this novel!

I read a paramedic romance last year and knew nothing about that world and loved that novel too. See Crossing The Line. This felt a lot like that. I didn’t understand the football jargon, trusted the author knew what she was talking about, and just moved past it. It added to the realism and didn’t bore me. I think football fans will enjoy it immensely.

The writing was great, aside from unnecessary dialogue tags. It was fast paced with a lot of story. So this isn’t just erotica. But the sex scenes were very hot. This is also SAFE – no cheating, no Other People problems at all, which was very nice. There was no slut-shaming or villain girls! Overall, I highly recommend this if you like reverse harem / menage romances. It’s a plus if you like football, but it isn’t necessary that you do.

1st person past tense from Roberta and the three guys.

This is well edited. I found 10 errors. There are also some unnecessary dialogue tags, but there weren’t enough to bother me.



Favorite Quotes:

The outline of his huge cock slid against his shorts, falling across to rest against his other thigh. I got the impression it wasn’t fully hard, but it was thick. Like a damn extra-large stick of Toblerone chocolate.

Aly made an annoyed noise. “Do you have to talk about football? I’m trying to enjoy all these hunks in tight pants.”

“Oh, sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt what really matters.”

Feña was wearing a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, and his dark curls looked like they’d been freshly washed. But below the waist he wore baggy basketball shorts and a pair of gym sneakers. It was a hilarious juxtaposition of styles. Attractive college boy on top, and lazy athlete on the bottom. Like a fashion mullet.

I could see why women loved dating bikers. It was like riding around on a big vibrator.



Slateview High – The Complete Series: A Dark High School Romance – Eva Ashwood

High School Reverse Harem / Menage Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Cora is the sheltered daughter of Baltimore social elite. Her world comes crashing down when her father is arrested and put in jail, all his assets frozen. Cora and her mother have to move across to a town to dilapidated rental house. Cora has to go to the public school there, where she is hated by everyone. Three boys, called the Lost Boys, Bishop, Kace, and Misael, offer her protection, if she will be theirs.

It’s called a dark romance, but I didn’t find it that dark. I wouldn’t even really say it is hate to love because the hate doesn’t go on that long. There is no dubious or non consent. The character’s ages aren’t given until the last book. We just know they are seniors in high school. There are some very hot sex scenes, not many in the first book, but they pick up in the second and third. It’s definitely an erotic novel. This contains recreational use of marijuana and underage alcohol use but no other drugs.

Cora is strong. She discovers her inner strength because of what she goes through and grows across the story. She’s a fighter and holds her own with the boys. I liked all three boys and very much appreciated that they all have distinct personalities and differences. It always bothers me that many menage romances have lead men that are basically clones of each other.

This is fast paced read with a lot of drama. I’m glad all the books are packed into one because they really are one. The last paragraph of the first connects to the first paragraph of the next without any introduction. I wouldn’t really call the “endings” cliffhangers because the current action has wrapped up. We just don’t have all the story yet. There is a satisfying full ending at the end of the third book. There isn’t an epilogue with future scenes, but I didn’t think it was needed. The characters go through enough that you know what will happen in their future.

I loved this. It was a perfect blend of story and erotica. 5 stars because I would read it again.

1st person past tense, all from Cora’s perspective.

The dialogue is often in the next paragraph after the action sequence. It’s weird but consistent. Might be done for style effect. It didn’t bother me.

This is very well edited. I only found 2 errors, which is amazing.

All Saints High Series – L. J. Shen

The All Saints High books are about the kids of the people in Shen’s Sinners of Saint series. I found them when I was looking for dark high school romances. I haven’t read the parent’s series but went ahead with these. It’s a mood thing. These all had crazy amounts of reviews, mostly 5 star, and are tip top ranked on Amazon. All of these books are written in 1st person present tense with chapters from the two main characters. They each have a couple of chapters from the parents of one of the main characters, which I loved.

Pretty Reckless (Book 1)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’m so glad the first book was as good as all the reviews and rankings said it would be. It’s actually SAFE, which I was surprised by, but it’s true. And the editing was amazing. I found so few errors in this! 4 since I always say. What a pleasure to read. In all these books, the bitchy banter is very amusing, there is a lot of great humor, and the sex scenes are hot.

When I was about 12 and started keeping a diary, my mom told me I shouldn’t write anything down that I didn’t want my grandmother reading in a newspaper. This is what code that can only make sense to you is for if you can’t stop yourself. I think everyone should pass on this wisdom to their children!


Favorite Quotes:

Daria: The only way I could protect myself from the fire was by creating a bigger blaze. If they thought I was untouchable, they’d fear me instead of taunt me. If they thought the hard-nosed principal had my back—or had me on my back, for that matter—I would not be messed with. So I nurtured the rumors, made them grow, gave them wings, and let them fly, like butterflies from a Mason jar.

Penn: I need to make sure that Daria is a hobby, not an addiction. Adolescent hearts are trash and as loyal as a starving stray cat. They’ll take anything. Even scraps. I don’t want to feed my rusty tin heart junk. And Daria, she stomped on it hard enough for me to know she’s not even a greasy burger. She’s a Pop-Tarts covered in cyanide.

Daria: High school is an aquarium full of sharks. People are always broiling with the need to burst free. Only the strong survive.

Penn: A perceptive little thing, she is. I don’t think people give Daria the credit she deserves. She could’ve found Bin Laden in a week had she been given enough Red Bull and good internet service.


Broken Knight (Book 2)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was hating this for a long time. I mean it’s beautifully written, but it is one hell of a tearjerker! It reminded me of Present Perfect by Alison Bailey, which kept knocking me over the head with tragic events. I read that in December 2013 (I keep a spreadsheet) and still remember it for screaming, “Enough already!” Broken Knight wasn’t that level of angsty and got better, happier, as it went on.

I have to give it only 4 stars because I don’t want to go through that (read it) again. Thankfully, there are very necessary moments of laugh out loud humor in this book. It needs the comic relief. The humor got me through it. This one is definitely not SAFE. We have to suffer through sex scenes with Other People. At least they are short snippets and not detailed.

This is the first book I have read in a very long time that I didn’t find any errors in!


Favorite Quotes:

Knight:

Footsteps thudded in the hall, and I stretched in the large bed, nudging the woman sleeping on my chest to wake up. “Your husband’s back. Pretty sure he won’t be so happy to see a stud like me in his bed.”

Mom looked up, blinking the sleep from her eyes. She swatted my chest, then coughed. “Hide. I wouldn’t mess with him.”

“We always thought we were going to have girls, Rosie and me.”

I couldn’t help but smirk, mainly because all they had were boys. And we were about the most testosterone-filled creatures in the history of mankind. Sometimes I wondered if I had blood or jizz in my veins.

Mom looked down, flattening her palm over my linen and brushing it absentmindedly. Bad idea. This shit is ninety-nine percent spunk, one percent fabric.


Angry God (Book 3)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After Broken Knight, I had to take break and read some other books, afraid of another tearjerker. But Angry God was back to what I loved in the first book. I’m glad I came back because this was fantastic.

This one isn’t SAFE because we have to endure Vaughn getting blowjobs from Other Women. But I knew this going in from the previous books. He wasn’t in a relationship with Lenora at the time. What really bothered me was the casual way all the teens thought about this. I wanted to scream that you can catch STDs from oral sex too.


Favorite Quotes:

Vaughn:

Empedolces emerged from the rosebushes, strutting his ass like a Kardashian in my direction. I’d named my blind black cat after the Greek philosopher who discovered the world was a sphere. This cat, like the philosopher, thought himself to be God. He had a fierce sense of entitlement and demanded to be stroked at least an hour a day—a wish that, for a reason beyond my grasp, my sorry ass granted him.

It was by far the most human thing I ever did, being pussy-whipped by a literal pussy. Emp brushed past my dirty boot. I picked him up, rubbing the spot behind his ear. He purred like a tractor.

I came buckets. I hadn’t come often before my arrangement with Good Girl, and never this much. I’m talking enough to fill a milk carton. I had to Google that shit to see that it was normal.

I pushed the door open, hoping to find her working or reading or converting to a religion where she could only have sex with people named Vaughn Spencer.



Nightfall (Devil’s Night Book 5) – Penelope Douglas


Hot adult romance, with flashbacks to teenage years, continuation of Devil’s Night series

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Book 4” is Conclave: A Devil’s Night Novella. It takes place between Kill Switch and Nightfall. It’s a nice setup for Nightfall, “Book 5”.

Will and Emory.

Again, I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read the previous books in the series. It was very good, just like the others. 5 stars. I loved the snippets we get where Emory witnesses a piece of a story we know so well. We don’t see much of her in the earlier books, but she was actually everywhere.

We finally get a solid resolution to the overarching plot lines of the series. Everything was tied up nicely. There is an epilogue that introduces some intrigues with the next generation that will lead to another book or series, which hasn’t come out yet. “Fire Night: A Devil’s Night Holiday Novella” takes place between the end of Nightfall and it’s epilogue. It’s a good, fast read and gives us some more clues about the next generation to look forward to.

This is darker than books 2 or 3 but not as dark as 1. There is unwanted touching of a sexual nature, lots of violence, and physical abuse.

There are graphic sex scenes, including some same sex ones.

Now for the grammar:

1st person past tense with chapters from both Kai and Banks.

16 errors: missing words, wrong words, missing periods, and quotation mark issues.


Favorite Quotes:

Frankly, I’d been surprised he even spoke English. Figured him for someone who communicated solely in emojis.

That was the hardest fucking thing I’d ever had to do. Like harder than prison, detox, and the Doris Day double-feature at the drive-in my mother asked me to take her to when I was seventeen. Combined.

Kill Switch (Devil’s Night Book 3) – Penelope Douglas


Hot adult romance, with flashbacks to teenage years, continuation of Devil’s Night series

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Damon and Winter.

I don’t want to give anything away.

Winter is another strong woman.

I liked that I got a good grovel, explanation, and an apology (gasp!).

Someone has a “disability” but doesn’t let it keep them back. They are still going after their dreams. I loved how this was handled. It’s a different experience of the world, not a lacking one.

Now for the grammar:

1st person past tense with chapters from both Damon and Winter.

12 errors: missing words, wrong words, quotation marks, and italics problems.


Favorite quotes:

“You may not be the happiest wife, Arion, but I’m told this is why God invented Saks and Xanax.”

Damon: When women think, shit didn’t go the way I wanted it to.

Damon: I’d rather chug a gallon of piss warm milk than stay in bed, doing nothing. I’d rather get a third degree burn on my dick. Or develop a peanut allergy.


Hideaway (Devil’s Night Book 2) – Penelope Douglas


Hot adult romance, with flashbacks to teenage years, continuation of Devil’s Night series

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Devil’s Night continues with Kai and Banks. We didn’t meet Banks in Corrupt, Devil’s Night Book 1. You must read Corrupt for this one to make sense. I can’t say much about the plot without giving away things about Corrupt. So I’ll just say Hideaway is very good, and you should keep reading if you enjoyed Corrupt.

Hideway isn’t anywhere near as dark as Corrupt was. There are far fewer triggers here. I was again kept up way too late reading this.

I loved Banks. She is another strong woman and saves herself when needed. Kai is great. I liked him in Corrupt and enjoyed getting to know him better. We also got the same great secondary characters here.

There were less sex scenes in this one, but they were still hot. If you would be so offended by some things happening inside a church that you couldn’t go on, you should stay away.

I give this five stars because I would read it again.


Now for the grammar:

1st person past tense with chapters from both Kai and Banks.

11 errors: spelling, quotation marks, and italics problems.

Corrupt (Devil’s Night Book 1) – Penelope Douglas


Hot dark romance, new adult (college and a little older) with flashbacks to teenage years

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Three years ago, Erika “Rika”, did something bad and sent Michael’s three best friends to jail. Now they are out, and the four men want payback. Rika has left the safety of her relationship with Michael’s younger brother and their small town and transferred to a new college in the city where Michael lives. This puts her exactly where the four men want her, in their grasp.

We don’t find out what happened until well into the book. I enjoyed the way it was given to us in flashback chapters along the way. In the beginning, I was chaffing at not knowing. What can I say? I’m a wait and binge watch girl. But at the end, I can say the book was much better for not front-loading this information at the start.

Penelope Douglas is an excellent writer, keeping me up way too late because I can’t stop reading and must find out what happened. The story and pacing kept me gripped the entire way through. There was much drama and some welcome humor to relieve the tension.

The characters are complex, believable, and I liked them even when they didn’t like themselves. They are all flawed, but this is what makes them great. I loved how strong Rika is. I was thrilled that she saved herself several times, not needing a man to do it for her, or at least she did a lot of damage before help arrived.

The sex scenes were hot and very well written. Their little kinks made things more interesting. There was nothing repetitive or boring here.

I do have a couple of complaints. 1. The guys are all promiscuous. They don’t make women pay or feel shameful, so at least they aren’t manwhores. Thankfully, we don’t have to read any sex scenes with other women. 2. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say a major apology is missing. Someone should have had to grovel and didn’t do so at all.

I must caution some readers. This is a dark romance. It does not contain actual rape, but rape is threatened several times by different characters. There is sexual molestation and harassment, including unwanted touching and kissing, again by different characters. Anyone with these types of triggers should stay away.

This is a sexually graphic novel. It contains many sex scenes. There is one menage scene. It felt right for the story, not gratuitous, dirty, or shameful. I actually thought it was the hottest sex scene in the book.

I give this five stars because I would read it again. I’m definitely reading the rest of the series.


Now for the grammar:

1st person past tense with chapters from both Ericka and Michael.

“Grinded” and “thrusted” are not a words. The past tense of grind is ground. It’s thrust in the present and past.

12 other errors: spelling, quotation marks, and italics problems. Two minor problems with continuity.


Favorite Quotes:

Rika speaking to her mom:

“We could re-watch Thor again. I know you like his hammer.”

“I’ll see what Noah’s up to tonight, but if I need bail money or I come home pregnant, you only have yourself to blame.”


Michael:

Rika was a lot like I was a few years ago. Confused, caged, and corruptible. The most valuable lesson anyone learns in life should be learned as early as possible. That you don’t have to live in the reality someone else had invented. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Ever.

Redefine normal. None of us know the full measure of our power until we start pushing our boundaries and pressing our luck, and the more we do, the less we care what others think. The freedom feels too good.


Rika:

There was no one to help me. There was no one to help me but me. You’re not a victim, his words came back, and I’m not your savior. I turned around, looking back at the house and seeing the lights inside slowly come on. They were in there. And once… I was one of them. Once, I ran with them, kept up with them, and stood next to them. I wasn’t their victim, and I had their attention. I’d learned how to fight. This was on me, and while I wouldn’t make it easy for them, I wouldn’t run. I would never run. I was built for this.


Michael:

“…I respectfully request that, when you come home, you do me before your homework…”

Braking Hard – Gloria Joynt-Lang

Contemporary romance with imperfectly perfect hero and lots of humor

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As a female mechanic, Eden suffered way too much sexual harassment until she was hired by Gage. Gage has his own troubles keeping his garage running with a wandering mind, the fidgets, and the stress of his business partner and mentor just dying. Hiring Eden helps, and Gage would like to be more than her boss, but he would never want to make her uncomfortable.

This was fast paced, engaging, and funny, with a writing style I appreciated. A fantastic job of “show not tell” is done throughout. I loved that we don’t get a label put on Gage’s psychological struggles until midway through, so much so that I don’t want to put the label in this review. When we label something, we often dismiss it and discount the unique experiences of those who suffer with it. The great descriptions and metaphors used allowed me to laugh at and empathize with Gage’s thoughts.

I loved all the characters in this, main and secondary. My absolute favorite is Aunt Iris. She doesn’t get much screen time, but I want to invite her for a long stay and might keep her. She’s hilariously unfiltered and reminds me of my mother who had to make sure she was wearing Depends before I came over for a chat because we made each other laugh so much. I laughed often throughout this book, which nicely balanced the serious parts.

Eden is a strong woman, confident in herself and her abilities. She was reluctant to get into a relationship with her boss. Of course I wanted them to get together, but her reasons were sound, logical. I wasn’t irritated with her or thinking she was stupid. Gage is honorable, hot, cute, and funny. They both grow along the way. The secondary characters add lots of spice to this stew. I appreciated how developed they all were with strengths and flaws. No one was one dimensional.

I don’t know much about cars, but I didn’t have to. Both of them being mechanics and the background of the garage added flavor but didn’t leave me confused. At one point, Gage laments that, “…mechanics never topped the list of women’s fantasies.” True, they didn’t rank in mine, but the ones that have worked on my cars have looked nothing like Gage! Having a hot man who can always fix my car sounds very appealing now that I think about it.

3rd person past tense from alternating main characters. Graphic sex scene (just one, so not a big part of this novel). No cheating or OW/OM drama. Occasional mild foul language.

Grammar – the author fixed the errors I pointed out.

I highly recommend this and would read it again in the future, so 5 stars!

Favorite quotes:

Gage: (After coming home with a dog when he was supposed to pick up a car part.) …he hoped he’d never stray so bad that he’d end up at a nearby farm purchasing a llama. But even if fate doomed him to seek out llamas, he’d probably load up a Jersey cow instead.

Eden: An elderly man even struck up a conversation while she selected feminine hygiene products at the pharmacy. Most men would avoid stopping in front of the tampon display but not this guy. Midway through the conversation, she thought about heading to the condom aisle to see if he would follow but decided against it. She doubted he’d gossip about her selection of tampons with plastic applicators, but he might start a rumor if she lured him near the prophylactics.

Apparently, the lonely senior made a 911 call when faced with the insurmountable challenge of opening a jar of pickled beets. The police attended to the matter, broke the seal, and left with one of her delicious apple pies.

Telling an anxious person to relax was akin to cleaning a cat by shoving it under the kitchen tap.

Being annoyed with Gage O’Neill was the equivalent of shaming a puppy for jumping on your lap.

Gage: “Aunt Iris is brutal. […] She’s beyond horrible. At my sister’s wedding, she tried pairing me with this long-haired blonde sitting across the room. […] And just so you know, hair color wasn’t the issue. I objected because the blonde at the wedding was a dude.”

Gage: “There are two times a man should do this.” He rose from his chair, shook his head and lowered himself to his knees. “And one of them is when he’s scared of his eighty-three-year-old great aunt. Please, I’ll buy you whatever dress you want. I’ll even toss in a pair of shoes. Just come to this wedding with me.”

Aunt Iris: “Maybe if you went up to Lotus Point with my handsome grandnephew, you’d toss away this friendship nonsense.”

Aunt Iris: “Getting married on the beach. A bikini and a veil. It’s utter nonsense. I hate boring weddings but if I wanted to see a bride in her skivvies, I’d go to a strip club.”

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Crossing the Line – Joy Slaughter

Great EMS Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Crossing the Line grabbed me and held on. It’s a story about building trust, not only with others but with yourself. With trust, comes love. It’s a romance between a man and a woman, but it’s also about both of them rebuilding themselves to be capable of giving and receiving love after life has broken them down.

The setting for this is the Emergency Medical Services, and it’s compelling. EMS is a completely new world for me, and I loved it. So you won’t need to know anything going in to enjoy it. It’s certainly not just for EMS workers or those who know them. My curiosity compelled me to Google several things, but it wasn’t necessary. It felt like reading science fiction or watching a medical drama, where I trust the characters know what they’re talking about or doing when I don’t. I found several things shocking, like the work hours. I found all of the little details interesting.

Both Megan and Nathan are complex, interesting characters. They have their strong and weak moments. They do good, bad, wise, and stupid things, and I liked them. I hated Todd and wanted to torture him slowly, so he’s a very good bad guy. The supporting characters provided flavor and were memorable, even a radiologist who only appears for a page (See? I remember her!)

The writing is very good, fast paced and entertaining throughout. We are shown instead of told. We don’t get a load of backstory at the start. Many things are slowly revealed with hints, like light slaps to the face, telling us something is not okay.

I liked the occupational slang and that it wasn’t dumbed down or explained to the reader, even if I didn’t understand it. It gave me that fly on the wall feeling of realism.

A staccato rhythm of thoughts and feelings, leaving sentence structure behind, is used to convey indescribable terror and pain in a very credible way. This is how the mind works, or doesn’t work, when we can’t deal.

I also laughed out loud many times. The humor is great at relieving tension, just as it is in life, and keeps this from being a depressing read. It made me sad, angry, hopeful, shocked, proud, amused – It made me feel!

Favorite quotes:

Past tense. 3rd person close to both Megan and Nathan but no head-hopping.

Sections are separated with time and place headings. I find this format difficult to follow at times, needing to flip back to see how much time passed.

Almost clean romance – no graphic sex scenes. What is shown is camera obscura or high-level lens.

No cheating or OW/OM drama.

Triggers: Verbal and physical abuse and rape, not graphically described. Some other violence and medical gore. Suicidal ideation.

Occasional foul language.

Grammar was great for most of this. I was reading an ARC and sent what I did find to the author. Fellow grammar curmudgeon’s need not beware.

Sort of HEA but definitely a satisfying ending. No cliffhanger.

Loved it. Would I want to read it again? Yes! So 5 stars. I highly recommend this!