2019 Round Up-Top 10 Redemption Books Pt. 1

So, redemption books. Redemption, according to Miriam Webster, means the action of being saved from a sin, evil, or error. And that’s sorta how I see it when it comes to redemption books. For me, a redemption book means that the main character was a really bad guy, hurt the other main character, did something evil, but over the course of the book or books, in some cases, they redeemed themselves. They end up fixing their fuckup, making amends, changing, whatever. I mean, these are the books where the hero dumps the heroine in the most evil way possible, demolishes her life, thinks about killing her, burns her house down, steals her dog, and is just a rotten motherfucker. But, over the timeline of the book, he realizes that he done fucked up, he’s miserable about it, and he’s gonna make it better, somehow. Doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be a good guy or anything, because yeah, that’s not necessarily it works.

Of course, not all redemption books are that drastic. Look at the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray starts as an ass, but over the period of the movie, he starts to realize that he’s an ass, and works to make himself better, at least when it comes to Andie MacDowell. So, there are going to be some books where the redemption is more like that.

Just in case you were wondering how I came up with the books on my various lists, some of them I remember from when I read them. But I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve read over 800 books this year. Sometimes titles slip my mind, so I look at my yearly challenge on GR and look at all the books I’ve read this year, and go oh yeah! Gives me just the nudge I need.

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Nicolina Martin-Absolution

So, I told you yesterday when I was talking about the book Redemption that you should expect to see Absolution. This is the second book in the duet, and the 6th book in the Russo series. It is the continuing story of Kerry and Christian, and in this one, we get to see Christian come back and redeem himself when it comes to what he did to Kerry. I mean, he tried to kill her in Redemption, and it did all kinds of terrible things to her mental health. And then when he accidentally finds her, after she has run far, far, far away from him, he’s really furious with her, and she’s scared AF. But, he manages to redeem himself and turn back into the Christian I loved when I first met him in Ruin. Actually, I think he’s even better than he was then. He’s more rounded and more human. Of course, I think it’s also a little bit of a redemption for Kerry too. She went through hell, and was able to come out through the other side of it and end up stronger.

Alice Winters-A Villain For Christmas

A Villain For Christmas is in a shared theme series of books. They all have a snowglobe in them somehow, they are all MM, and they are all about Christmas in some way. Because it’s an Alice Winters book, there is a lot of humor, snark, and ridiculousness in there. The reason that I’m counting this as a redemption book is because the titular hero, Landon, AKA Leviathan, is a supervillain, who was raised by a family of “super”villains, and who has the hugest crush on the biggest superhero of the city, August, AKA Chrono. Landon is never evil, really, but there is a redemption arc for him to go on. It’s a really fun book, and I really want Alice to write more in this world.

India R Adams-Ivy’s Poison

Yup, this is India’s 2nd time on my round up lists. I liked Ivy’s Poison so much that I bought a signed copy of it. It’s part of the Cavalieri Della Morte shared world. It’s kind of an Arthurian retelling, if Arthur had a Round Table of assassins instead of knights. This is the story of Bors and Ivy. Bors had to go assisinate the pres of an MC, who just happens to be Ivy’s dad, but instead he gets taken prisoner and tortured by Ivy. I consider this a redemption story for both of them because they are both in a bad place at the beginning of the book and they each go through their own journey to get to a better place and redeem themselves, as well as the journey they go through together. I will warn you that there are some difficult moments in this one, especially in chapter 1, so you may want to be careful when you read it. It is a fantastic book, and it’s the first one of India’s books I read.

Jane Henry-King’s Ransom

King’s Ransom is the latest book in Jane’s Bratva Ruthless Doms books. It’s also a Daddy book, and that’s a good place for Jane. This is the story of Stefan and Taara. Stefan is a character that we’ve run across in the series before, and I really liked him. He’s a head honcho, and makes a lot of things happen. Taara is his housekeeper and has wanted him for years. Here’s what makes it a redemption story for Stefan, IMO. Things happen, and Taara gets herself into a place where she is basically Stefan’s captive, and it just turns really bad. My heart broke for her, and I hated Stefan for a minute, but things worked out and he got his head out of his ass.

Laura Thalassa-War

I debated whether or not to put War on this list. After all, he’s less a person than a personification, but decided that it was a redemption story of sorts. It’s the same with Pestilence, which is the first book in the Four Horsemen series. I can’t wait for the next ones. These books are so good. So, the way that the story works is that years ago the 4 rode out to Earth, and then they disappeared. The Pestilence showed up and killed many, many, many people, and he disappeared. Now War has shown up in the Middle East, doing what he does best. Miriam lived in Jerusalem, and caught War’s eye, and he took her for his wife. The reason that I put this in the redemption list is that while all this is going on, War changes from who he was, a personification of the divine, to something that is both less and more than that. I think that it works well that way.

OK, come back tomorrow for part 2. I hope that everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, or had, depending on where and when you read this. I’ll probably be asleep by 10, because I have to be up at 4 tomorrow. Happy New Year, and may this coming year and decade lead to better things.

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2019 Round Up-Top Ugly Cry Books

I don’t know if there are going to be 10 or not, so this is probably just going to be a 1 part post. For me, an ugly cry book is different from a book that makes me cry. There are some books that will give me tears because there is something sad going on, a break up, a death, so on and so forth. Generally, they last for a couple of minutes, and they are just tears running down my face. An ugly cry is just that, really ugly. Full on tears, snot running out of my nose, sobs, the whole 9 yards. These are the reads that make my husband ask me if I’m OK. He’s learned to accept the answer that it’s just an ugly cry book. So, here are some of the books that made me ugly cry this year. There are some that I’ve already mentioned on other lists that gave me ugly cries, Nicky James’ Long Way Home and Eva Dresden’s Broken, so they are just getting Honorable Mentions here. So, let’s get on with the ones that made it, shall we?

***Full disclosure: I may earn a commission from Amazon from any purchase made from a link in this blog.***

Nicolina Martin-Redemption

Redemption is part of Nicolina’s Russo Saga, and is its own Duet with Absolution. (Expect to see that one show up tomorrow or Wednesday.) Anyway, no matter what the title says, there isn’t a lot of redemption going on in this book. This is the story of Christian and Kerry. Kerry is just a nice, sweet woman who happened to be working at a childcare center where a mobster’s son went. When she asked him a question, he sent Christian after her. When we first met Christian, in an earlier book, I really liked him. I didn’t by the end of this book. In fact, I downright fucking hated him. When Nicolina read my GR review on in, she asked me what my ugly cry moments were, and there were moments, not just a moment. Because it is a duet, it is a cliffhanger, but the second one is already out, so there’s that.

Addison Cain-Ravaged Captive

Ravaged Captive is the 4th book in Addison’s Wren’s Song books. They are Omegaverse and RH. All of the books have made me cry, but this one really made me cry because everything started to really fall apart. Caspian, Toby, and Kieran are at each other’s throat, Wren has been tossed out and thought dead, and the doll is in the way. I think that it was the addition of the doll that really got to me. I expect that the next one will also give me an ugly cry. Sooooooon.

Anna Wineheart-The Pretense

Anna is one of my favorite MM Omegaverse authors, and I’m lucky enough to be able to ARC her books. All of her books have some strong emotions in them, but The Pretense was just loaded with it. It’s a second chance, pretend boyfriend kind of story. It can be read as a standalone, but if you read all the Men of Meadowfall books in order, you’ll enjoy it more. They are all interconnected. There is one very particular moment that gave me a seriously ugly cry. There are some other spaces where I got teary, but this one particular scene was so hard, so heartbreaking that it really stuck with me, and made me ugly cry hard.

India R. Adams-Blue Waters

Blue Waters wasn’t published this year, but this was the year that I read it, so it counts to me, and since it’s my blog, that’s all that matters. This is the first of the Tainted Waters series that feature Whitney, Link, and Crash. All of the books in the series have made me full on ugly cry, but I’m just going to go with the first one here. It’s not a very long book, but it is very intense. Everything builds on the things before, but you do get a second to catch your breath in between. The entire series is worth reading. I don’t know that I would recommend reading them back-to-back, because of the intensity, but I would definitely recommend reading them.

B.B. Blaque-FTW

FTW doesn’t mean for the win here. It’s outlaw MC slang that means Fuck the World, and that is pretty much what happens here. This is the 3rd book in BB’s Masters MC series, and it is dark. I fell in love with Colt, Tuesday, Kash, and Barely when I read their books the first time, and I was really looking forward to this one. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a happy book. There were terrible, terrible things that happened, and I was devastated. BB will have GFY, Go Fuck Yourself, out soon, and I can’t wait.

OK, there they are, the Top 5 ugly cry books from this year.

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2019 Round Up-Top 10 MM Pt. 2

As a totally off-topic notification, I’m now an Amazon Affiliate, and any qualifying purchases can give me a commission. 

If you missed the first part of this list, go check it out here. And now, on to the second part of the list.

AJ Sherwood-Jon’s Downright Ridiculous Shooting Case

Jon’s Downright Ridiculous Shooting Case is a totally fun title, and it’s a great book. Before you read the book, you need to make sure that you read the trigger warnings, because they are hilarious. This is the TW and tags from this one.

“Trigger Warnings:
Your average cop show violence and criminals

Tags:
Companionable snark, Flirting, Kissing, Jon needs a hug, Donovan gives the best hugs, Getting together, Self-esteem issues, Explicit content, Anal Sex, Romantic Sex, Random shooting, Which Donovan isn’t happy about, Donovan is a gentleman, Sort of, Jon just makes it REALLY REALLY HARD Okay?, Bisexual character, Public displays of affection, Muscles, Communication, Healthy relationships, The fluff might kill you, Supernatural elements, Modern with Magic, Feels, All the Feels, Mostly accurate medical stuff, Multiple electronics died in the creation of this story, blame Jon”

Anyway, I would probably put this in the urban fantasy because it has a heavy paranormal side. Jon is a psychic who has some serious strong powers. He helps to solve crimes for the police and for anyone who hires the agency he works for. He is in need of an anchor, someone who can help him shield. He also needs a bodyguard, which is where Donovan comes in. This is a slow burn, but a good one. There are also 2 direct sequels, and a spinoff novella. So worth reading.

Adara Wolf-Blue Storm

Adara tends to write on the heavier end of kink and dub/noncon. Blue Storm does dabble into that side of the pool, but not as much as some of her other books. In this one, people have some basic magic, which lets them know their true names, which protects their souls. Then, there are the Nameless, who don’t have magic, and have to be bound as slaves, and named as their owners or they basically splinter into painful pieces. Blue Storm was named by his owners, and the book is about his struggle with his name and with what his owners want.

Barrie Farris-Ingenious

Ingenious is a dystopian story. The way that it works is that women have taken over the world and currently run it. Men rise and fall by the women that they marry and if they can breed children. Enter Quiggs who is a bloody genius, Einstein and DaVinci mushed up together. There is great world building in here, and the relationships between Quiggs, Max, and Beau are really interesting. I am eagerly waiting for the next book, but it is taking its own sweet time.

Susan Hawke-How Not to Tuck

How Not to Tuck is a novella in the Lovestrong series. This is the story of Larry, AKA Honey Combover, a drag queen we meet in the first book. Mama Honey is hilarious, especially when it comes to the descriptions of her tuck failing and her python. Yeah, it’s just that big and that funny. For an even better description, and one that goes on for several pages, check out How Not to Blend, the first book in the series. It’s a quick read, and one that’s just a lot of fun to read.

K Webster-The Glue

Yup, The Glue is K’s second appearance on this list. And this one isn’t technically an MM book, it’s an MMF, but I’ve decided that it counts. This is one of K’s taboo treats, starring Aidan and married couple Vale and Vaughn, one his boss, the other his professor. Like all of the other taboo treats, it’s a standalone, but it is all interconnected with other books. I loved watching Aidan figuring out who he was and what he wanted. It’s a very sexy story, and I am always looking forward to K’s new books.

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2019 Round Up-Top 10 MM Books Pt. 1

I’ve read MM for years, but this year, it seemed to ramp up even more. It ramped up enough that I’m giving it its own Top 10 list this year. Remember, these are in no particular order.

K. Webster-Wicked Lies Boys Tell

Once a year or so, K writes an amazingly, overwhelmingly emotional book that rips you apart and puts you back together. Her books My Torin and The Day She Cried fall into this category. So does Wicked Lies Boys Tell. This is a friends to enemies to lovers kind of story with some coming of age tossed in. The relationship between Penn and Cope is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. I will fully admit that there were times that I cried during this. K really just knows how to create characters that break me down and stick with me for a while.

Nicky James-Long Way Home

Long Way Home was beautiful and devastating. It’s the story of Gavin and Owen. They were high school sweethearts, but when they turned 18, they ended up being split up, and the story spans many years of their lives. We get to see what happens to each of them. It sounds like it could be nothing but a heartbreak, but I promise that it’s not. It really is a beautiful story. It was the first Nicky James book that I read, but not the last.

Susan Hawke-How to Heal

Susan Hawke is also Susi Hawke, but she writes contemporary under this name. Her first series was the Lovestrong series, and How to Heal was the last book in that series. It’s a great series, with a lot of humor and love. There is also a lot of pain, especially in this book. This is my favorite book in the series. It’s a hurt/comfort, redemption, Daddy/boy kind of book, and it works so perfectly together. Clark had been a bully in the first couple of books, but this one takes place several years later, after he has changed, but he still thinks that he has to pay a penance for what he did. His journey is a hard one, but a beautiful one. I have all these books signed, and I ARCed most of them. How to Heal is also the book I’m currently listening to in my car when I’m alone. I’ve read it at least 2xx this year.

Lucy Lennox-Wilde Love

Lucy Lennox has two main series that she’s written. They are the Made Marian and the Forever Wilde books. The two series are interconnected. Marian came first, but I read the Wilde books first and I fell in love with Grandpa and Doc, because it’s totally impossible not to. I, like all of Lucy’s readers, was desperate to find out all of their story, and thus Wilde Love was born. I own both an e and an audio copy of this. I took a mini-vacation this year and listened to this on my drive. It starts with when the guys first meet, during Vietnam while they were both serving, and runs through the current day. There are so many beautiful little moments in here and so many heartbreaking ones at the same time, and sometimes they are the same moments. This book made me just love Grandpa and Doc so much more.

Alice Winters-The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love

I laughed hysterically the whole time I read The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love. Leland is a hitman, no really, a real hitman, and Jackson is the PI who is trying to help catch him. Leland is so fucking snarky and may or may not have a gun fetish. I mean, honestly, Alice writes a damn good story that keeps you interested, while letting you laugh at the most ridiculous stuff possible. I swear that Leland just has no filter at all, and it’s glorious.

Tune in for part 2 tomorrow!

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2019 Round Up-Top 10 Darkest Reads, Pt. 2

Hopefully, you’ve read the first part of this particular list, if not, go check it out here. Like any of my Top 10 lists, the books are in no particular order, because I find it really hard to put things in order like that.

Kay Elle Parker-Monsters and Guardians

Monsters and Guardians actually got banned from Amazon because of how dark and noncon-y it is. This is probably one of the most noncon-y books I’ve ever read, and considering how much I enjoy reading noncon, dark, and disturbing, that’s saying something. M&G covers a whole lot of tropes/genres. It’s RH, shifter, and omegaverse-light. And Raine, the heroine, for all the fucking hell she goes through in this one, is pretty damn kickass. One of my favorite moments is when she hits one of the guys, then apologizes to him. And as a result of talking about it here, I’m currently rereading it. The next book is what I will be rereading when I’m done with M&G.

Scarlett Snow & Loxley Savage-Saphyre

Saphyre is literally the only book I’m aware of that was banned by Amazon under 2, count them 2, different names. When it got banned under Saphyre, Scarlett and Loxley put it out under Ember, with a little editing, which then got banned too. So the ladies went out and found a new place to sell it, and that’s when I was able to get a hold of it. This is dark, post-apocalyptic, disturbing, absolutely brutal in places, and dystopian. It was also fantastic. Saphyre, our heroine, is rather tricksy, and I lived for it.

Felicity Brandon-Daddy’s Little Captive

Daddy’s little Captive is the first book in Felicity’s newest trilogy. It involves Sophie, who has had a hard time with her husband, because he’s vanilla and she’s rocky road. So, she went online and was talking to people in a kink forum, which led her to meeting Jared. I had a hard time with this one, mostly because I hated Jared, a lot. It is dark and a lot of terrible things happen in the book. The second book came out a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m waiting for book 3, because Felicity is mean and left us hanging.

Brittany Cournoyer-Sinister Shadows

Sinister Shadows is the only MM book on this list. I think that I’m going to have a Top 10 MM books coming up. This one is dark, mostly because it’s a mindfuck. Duncan wakes him, doesn’t remember what’s going on, nor does he remember the man who says that he’s Duncan history. We spend the whole book trying to figure out what’s going on and who everyone actually is. I wouldn’t call it a romance so much as I would call it suspense or a mystery.

Ivy Chapman-Torn Apart

Torn Apart is a very, very dark Omegaverse story. It is seriously dystopian. It is one of those dystopian stories that make you worry about reading dystopian stories ever again. This story is about twins Seraphine (F) and Arden (M), who are both omegas in a time when there aren’t a whole lot of free omegas floating around. We get the stories of both twins, and they aren’t pretty, not at all. This one left me breathless.

OK, that’s my Top 10 darkest reads of 2019. Most of them appeared on my blog during the year, so if you want more of what I thought of them, you should be able to find the posts pretty easily.

I hope everyone had a good holiday!

 

2019 Round Up: Top 10 Darkest Reads Pt. 1

So, we’re just days away from having another year under our belt. I’ve read another 800 books. I’ve written a few more blogs. Life has been in an uproar, it has been calm, it has been happy and sad. So, with a few more days left in the year, I thought that I would start my yearly round up. This blog is going to be part one of the top 10 darkest reads I read this year. They are going to be in no particular order, just however they happen to come to me.

Before I get started, I want to mention that I’m going to be giving away books and gift cards in my group, Slip in Between the Pages tomorrow and Christmas, so come check it out! And now, on to the books.

Addison Cain-Immaculate

Immaculate first showed up as a short story in Twisted Sacrament, and damn, was that twisted, and this won’t be the only story to show up on this list from that anthology. Anyway, when Addison got the rights back, she brought it out on its own. It takes place in the Vatican during the Renaissance. Our main character is a lovely young lady named Lady Agnese who has been kept pure and virginal so that she can serve God. It’s a very disturbing story because the story could absolutely have happened.

Jennifer Bene & Shane Starett-Jasmine

Jasmine was Shane’s second book and a co-write with Jennifer, who shows up on the blog all the time. I have a feeling Shane will too, as long as he likes me. 🙂 Jasmine is a woman who has been trapped by a man who says that she’s his wife, and she will obey him. The problem is that she really isn’t. The book was twisty turny, and packed full of places where if one small thing had happened differently, the entire book would’ve been different.

Jennifer Bene-Reign of Ruin

Reign of Ruin was another book that came out of Twisted Sacrament. RoR is what happens when Handmaid’s Tale meets the Apocalypse. I am going to flat out say that it scared the shit out of me. Handmaid’s Tale is hands down one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, because I can see how it can happen. I could see RoR happening too. I really did love the book though, even being scared by it. I would really love to see more of this world.

Eva Dresden-Broken

Broken really flat out broke me. Eva wrote a very dark MF Omegaverse, and Quinn really got the shit end of the stick. I mean, the stick was dipped into the shittiest, nastiest, most disgusting shit that you have ever seen, and then it was handed to her. And that was the good days. She ends up stuck in hell, and doesn’t see any chance of her hell getting better. And she’s right. I really felt for Quinn, a lot. The second book has come out, and I’m eagerly awaiting the 3rd.

Myra Danvers-Delirium

Delirium may not be as dark as some of the others on this, but it is pretty fucked up. There is a whole lot of action in here, and a whole lot more dark humor. I figured it was going to be a space opera, which it was, but it was a space opera plus. It was a twisty ride, and Iris just made it better. She’s in that category of crazy heroine who is fucking chaos embodied. She will take a disaster and make it even worse. And laugh while she’s doing it. I like that about her.

So, there’s the first 5 of my Top Ten dark books of 2019. Check back tomorrow to see what comes next.

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Sara Fields-Vendetta

Sara has written a bully/mafia romance. It sounds like it wouldn’t work together, but it really does. Vendetta manages to switch from a bully to the mafia rather well, I think. And with this book, Sara has joined Jennifer Bene and Cari Silverwood in writing a disturbingly hot gun scene. I mean, hot, and disturbing. What does that say about me?

So, here’s our story. We have Col, who is the bastard son of a mafia boss. He has been hiding in plain sight, under a different name. Now, he’s 20 and about to graduate from a fancy academy in Connecticut. He tends to stay to himself while he’s there. In fact, he tends to stay to himself everywhere. He lives with his guards and cook at his house. The closest thing he has to a father is his Bio teacher who has trained Col and guarded him his entire life. Then, there’s Blaire. When he was a kid, he and Giordino were headed to a restaurant when Col saw a beautiful little girl standing at the backdoor of the place they were headed. He talked Giordino into taking her into have dinner with him, and finally finding jobs for her parents. Now, she goes to the same academy as Col.

Blaire is a senior too, even though she’s a couple of years younger than Col. She’s also the queen bee at the school. She has built up people and ruined them. She’ll do everything she can to make sure that she gets what she wants, up to and including digging up all the dirt she can on anyone. When her parents go out of town, she has big parties. Her parents don’t care, so she throws huge bashes with booze, drugs, and hot and cold running sex. This night, she’s going to have another big party, and Col is going to ignore it, except he hears her boyfriend making plans to drug her and rape her. Since Col’s her protector, even if she doesn’t necessarily know it, he has to go to the party and save her.

The two of them together are explosive. They are very much nitro and glycerin, shaken, not stirred. It doesn’t matter if they are mad at each other or happy, there is just a lot of chemistry between them the whole time.

I think that Blaire was a little naive. I mean, she walked into a situation where she thought that she had all the power but she had nothing. She didn’t know what was going on and worse yet, she didn’t even have an idea as to what the repercussions of her actions would be. I mean, I like her, I think she learns her power and her strength as the book goes on, but she starts out kinda naive.

Col was harder for me to like, at least at first. He really tries hard to hold a wall in between him and the rest of the world. A couple of chapters in, and I started to get a better grip on him, and a better understanding of why he was the way that he was. He is a very forceful character.

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The whole teaching Col a lesson thing really paid off for Blaire.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!