Aria Adams-Burned

Oh my darling children, this is not a light and happy story. This is an amazing, fiery, twisted story that I loved, but not a whole light of light and happy going on in Aria Adam’s Burned.

So, many years ago, Hans Christian Anderson, a Danish author, wrote fairy tales. His fairy tales don’t really have any happy endings. Yes, he wrote The Little Mermaid, but in his story, Ariel and Eric don’t have their happily ever after. He leaves her and she turns into sea foam. Anderson also wrote a story called The Little Match Girl. Yeah, this one didn’t have a happy ending either. The way his story goes is that an innocent young girl who is out selling matches on New Year’s Eve freezes to death. As she’s slowly freezing to death, she lights all her matches, because she sees happy visions in them. In the last one, she saw her beloved grandmother, who was the only person who treated her nicely, and grandma came to take her to heaven. Only after she’s dead, do people care about this poor little match girl. Depending on how you want to look at it, there could be a happy ending, but I don’t really see it this way. Personally, I like Terry Pratchett’s version in Hogfather better. Well, now I can add in Aria’s book in there too.

So, in the winter of Victorian-era East End London, Eve has been chased out of the house by her father so that she can go out and sell matches to support them. She used to work at the match factory, but she started getting sick, so she left because she didn’t want to die. But her deadbeat dad still needs his booze, so out she goes to sell the matches she used to make. If she doesn’t go out, he will beat her. If she doesn’t bring home money, he will beat her. It doesn’t matter if it’s snowing and freezing and she doesn’t have the right clothes or shoes, she has to go out. On this particular day, Eve has no luck. She doesn’t want to have to go home, so she goes and finds an alcove to hide and to stay the night. She’s reasonably sure that she won’t be able to survive the night.

In order to try to be warm, she lights a piece of paper that came near her on fire. She gets a little bit of fire for just a little bit and it kind of warms her up. But she knows that her dad is going to get after her for missing a match without any money. She decides to light another one, just to watch it, because why not. She’s already going to get the beating, she might as well really deserve it. Then, something happens.

A well-dressed, obviously well-to-do man comes up to her and asks her what she will do to stay warm. She tells him that she would do anything. Would she do anything that he asked her? Oh yes sir, she would do anything and everything that he asked her. Would she obey him? Yes sir, she would obey him. So he helps her up, escorts her to his carriage, and takes her home. He gives her her very own room and a servant, a full wardrobe, and a bathroom. Pretty good for a street urchin, right? All he asks is that she does everything that he wants her to do, when he wants her to do it. If he comes to her room, she’s to stop doing whatever she’s doing and see what he wants. In return, she’ll be warm, fed, and clothed. Yeah, this doesn’t sound sinister or anything, does it?

So, the sickness that Eve saw the signs of had a couple of different names. It went by phossy jaw or the blackening. Its real name is phosphorus necrosis of the jaw. The fumes from the phosphorus would break down the bones in the jaw of the people who worked in the match factories and it killed them. She had a good reason to be afraid of it.

This book had a lot of things that I loved. There were also a couple of places where I was like aw hell no. I would cut a bitch before I agreed to a couple of those things. But Eve liked them, even as they scared her, so it’s all good for her. I love Ignis’ name. I just think that is such a great name for a book about fire and fire play. And there is a lot of fire in this. Eve likes fire. Ignis likes fire. There’s a lot of fire. I like fires, but I guarantee that I don’t like fire the same way or near the same amount as these two. When I say they like fire, I mean that they LIKE fire. There is a kink called fire play and anyone who likes that kink would like this book, I think. It is very intense in a few places. It is pretty dark. I loved every single word of it.

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Eve’s first punishment with the wax? Yeah, that was pretty exciting. I really liked it. The deal with the straight razor? Yeah, I didn’t like that one near as much. That was kind of scary. Or maybe a lot of scary.

I love the wedding, or rather the wedding after the wedding. That was pretty hot and sexy.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check it out and give Aria Adams some love. Happy reading!

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K. Webster & Ker Dukey-Ven

K and Ker are two of my favorite authors and then when they get together, that favorite-ness is more than squared, it’s like quadrupled. And yes, I have a lot of favorite authors. I could probably do you a list, if you really wanted, but the best way to know who they are is to just watch who I blog about. Anyway, neither here nor there. What is relevant is Ven.

No, these lovely ladies haven’t given us a book about diagrams or anything. Wouldn’t that be funny? A dark romance written around Venn diagrams. This book is about Veniaman Vetrov, scion of one of the First Families of Russian crime. It’s also the second of the V Games books.

This one more or less, kinda sorta, maybe picks up where Vlad left off. Well, I think it might be more accurate to say that it overlaps with the end parts of Vlad, timing wise. You really don’t see a whole lot of overlap between Vlad’s book and this book, and you could read Ven as a standalone and still have enough of an idea as to what’s going on, but I would always recommend reading the whole thing, because why the hell not?

So, Diana has been disgraced because she was having sex with another man. Vlad guts the man and drags her to the Vetrov’s house and throws her at Ven. He tells the Vetrovs that he wants Diana in the V Games. However, Ven has long had a thing for Diana. She’s had one for him too. Now that she’s in his house, he’s going to keep her safe, from everyone, including his father.

Diana has been devastated. All of the First Families now look at her as trash and as a whore. She had a valid reason to do what she did, but now she’s paying for it and is lost. She can’t cope and she’s in a house of vipers. She has to deal with Ven’s evil father, his idiotic brother, and Vika, who’s engaged to Ven’s younger brother, is Vlad’s sister, and is a poisonous snake.

OK, first off, yeah, I hate Vika. She’s a poisonous nasty little bitch, but no one deserves to be saddled to Ruslan, nor to have to deal with all the things that she ends up having to handle. Vika really wants to be Diana, though, I think. When Diana is in good shape, she’s strong, powerful, and a queen. Vika is basically a cockroach under her show, and Vika knows it. Vika may be good at plotting and planning, but Diana is better. It’s the difference between someone who’s cunning and someone who is Machiavellian. Guess which one I think Diana is? The fathers in these books all need to die slow, painful, and torturous death. Death in the most terrible way possible. They need to be disjointed finger joint by finger joint. I wonder how long you could keep someone alive like that? Ven is… I’m not always sure if I like him or not like him. I got mad at him, a lot. He reacted a lot instead of acted and didn’t always listen when he should’ve. Or maybe he listened but he didn’t hear. Either way, he done fucked up. His cousins, his cousins are pretty damn awesome.

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I love Vika, Vas, and Diana’s plan. And the milk was just such a splendid touch. That was the perfect cherry on top.

It’s going to be interesting to see what goes on with Vas. I didn’t like him much in Vlad, but he got better in Ven. He was actually likable, even though he had the shitty taste to get too close to Vika. And speaking of her, HA! Sucks to be her at the end.

Diana pretty much is a queen. She’s strong, she’s fierce, she’s a proven warrior. How could I have not loved every word about her? So, go read and tell me if you love every word about her too. Happy reading!

Natalie Bennett-Ace of Spades

Stop! Hammer time!

Seriously, no, stop. If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, put this review down, put Ace of Spades down and go pick up Queen of Hearts and start the series. If you don’t, you will not know what’s going on, and you will spoil yourself. If you continue to read past my warning, you will be spoiled for the first two books. Sorry, it’s the nature of the beast. I try really hard to not spoil, you know that I do, but talking about the current book will spoil the first two, just because of the way it’s written. So, be sure that this is what you want to do.

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So, we’re back to Elena who has just found a box of ashes with her twin sister’s necklace in it. She knows that this means that her beloved twin sister, the other half of her soul is dead. Elena has to run to get some space so that she can think and make some plans. She calls Mateo and tells him that she’s not running away, she just needs a few days to take a break and think. Of course, we all know what this means, We all know how Mateo is. He’s freaking out over the whole thing, well, freaking out to the extent Mateo actually does. He demands that everyone find her, but do it quietly, so as not to warn the Ace and their people that Elena is missing.

Elena calls her buds, Mel and Peyton so that they can come and help her figure out what’s going on. They make her think of some things that she hadn’t before. Elena has spent a lot of time reacting instead of acting. Sadly, Mateo puts her in that position sometimes. I don’t think that he is doing it to be mean. He is doing it purposely though. There is a reason for him to do everything he does. Here’s one reason that I think that he’s doing it, at least my opinion. If he tells Elena who the Ace is, everything that’s going on, without making her work for it and without making her do things that she doesn’t agree with, then she wouldn’t believe him and wouldn’t appreciate all the facts. The fact that she had to go through all these steps, no matter how painful they were, she’s going to know that the facts that she found are true facts. And she’s going to know that all the steps that have been taken to keep her safe and to find out the truth were necessary.

OK, there have been times when I said I didn’t trust Elena’s BFFs because I thought that they were in on some conspiracy of Mateo’s, and I’m not too proud to say that I’m glad that I’m wrong. This book also changed my POV on Mateo. I was always in the love to hate him hate to love him camp, depending on what’s going on with him, but this book changed him for me. This book made me understand why he did the things that he did. Do I necessarily like what he did? Nope. Do I understand why he did it? Yup, or at least more yup. Overall, the book answered a lot of questions that I had. It left me satisfied and that’s always a good thing. One more thing, the Ace of Spades is often called the death card, so I found that an interesting title for the last book in this series.

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I figured the Ace was a relative, but not the relative that it was. It was kind of both a surprise and a non-surprise, if that makes sense.

I understood better why Elena’s father made the choices that he did with Mateo. It was the only thing that he could do. I would’ve done pretty much the same thing or my version of the same thing. I would want to make sure that my children would be safe.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one. Go read the entire series. It’s awesome, and since AoS is out, there is no worry about cliffies. Happy reading!

Maggie Ryan & Alta Hensley-Bride to Keep

I’ve been looking forward to this one since like January. The release got pushed back for reasons, which meant I had to wait and wait and wait. But yay! It finally released today and we’re all happy. So, let’s talk about dark and sorta scary bad boys, the woman they take, and their sister in Bride to Keep, shall we

We have the 4 O’Shea brothers, Cal, Derrick, Nolan, and Rogan. (Pro-tip: always highlight the names of the guys in RH books so that you can keep them all straight.) They are connected with the Irish Mob, and they have just burned down everything that Dallas Callaghan has because he killed their parents and traumatized their beloved baby sister, Alana. Then they are off to the witch’s den so that they can confront her about their sister.

Monet is not a witch, but she is very much into natural healing, holistic healing, herbalism, and all that. She sells all of those things plus crystals and such in the tea shop she inherited from her grandmother. She knows that she’s not a witch, but the mystique and ambiance help her bottom line, so she will make people think that she’s a witch. The boys show up and warn her to stay away from Alana. They don’t want her to take advantage of their baby sister.

Alana was with her parents when their boat blew up. She was out on the waterskis while they pulled her around. When she came to after the accident, she was terribly devastated. When she woke up the next day, she was slightly less connected to the world. She was happy. She figured out a way to live in the world but not of the world. She found Monet’s shop by accident, but she kept going back because she loved it and Monet so much.

After sneaking off to see Monet again, Alana gets found out by her brothers. They come up with a plan. They’re getting ready to move to Ireland, so they’ll just kidnap Monet and take her with them so that Alana has a friend and more help to get their farm up and running.

OK, I have to say that I didn’t like the guys for a chunk of the book. I looked at my husband and told him that I thought they were dicks. But, I did love Monet and Alana, and they were more than worth getting through the boys’ prickishness and they do get better. And yeah, this is a RH romance, but that’s not all it is. There’s also the journey of friendship between Alana and Monet. Some of the stuff that Alana said just kind of sticks with you and makes you think, it’s really deep and really important. There were a couple of points where I cried. It was terribly sad and very sad. And I can almost guarantee that when I read the book again, I will cry again at those parts. But, it was a great book and the O’Shea boys won me over, so it’s all good.

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Alana! No! I do not accept this version of reality.

And those jerks. How dare they do what they did? I mean that was just a shitty thing to do after everything they’ve been through. Seriously, I liked them by that point, but I wanted to smack each and every one of them. Dicks.

OK, I loved this book. Go check it out. Happy reading!

Jane Henry-Conviction

We’re back in NYC and at Verge, the best BDSM club in town with Jane Henry today. I really enjoy this series and all the folks we’ve met in this world so far. But, I’m pretty sure that Zoe is going to be my favorite. So, let’s talk about Conviction, shall we?

We open to a big party. Zack and Bea eloped, but they’ve decided that it’s high time they celebrate their marriage. Zoe is out drinking and dancing and having a good old time. She’s Zack’s old partner in the NYPD, and she and Bea have become good friends. Brax, who’s Zack’s best friend and works as a dungeon master at Verge, is watching her. Zack warns him off because Zoe has a lot of baggage and it wouldn’t be good. He doesn’t care. She’s hot and he wants to get to know her.

When Zoe sees that Brax is looking at her, she seems surprised, but then he comes over to see her and they start dancing. Bea catches her eye and tries to warn her off, but Zoe ignores the phone ringing. Bea does track her down before she and Brax leave and tells her that she doesn’t think that Zoe and Brax would work well together because he’s into things she isn’t. That doesn’t deter Zoe. In fact, I’m pretty sure it made her more eager to go after Brax.

The next morning, it seems like they are going their separate ways, never to see each other again. But of course, if that actually happened, we wouldn’t have a book, now would we? It turns out that Zoe is keeping secrets, and Brax gets wrapped up in them as a PI and her protector.

So, you know that Brax is a Dom. But Zoe is so not a sub. I mean, NOT A SUB. If it were tattooed on her forehead, it wouldn’t be any more obvious. She’s feisty, mouthy, independent, stubborn af, damaged, and fierce. All of these things are good things, in my opinion, but you notice how submissive isn’t on that list? It’s not anything she’s ever really tried. Brax says something interesting when he and Zoe are talking about where their relationship is. She points out that she isn’t a sub. He says it’s not being about being a submissive, but of giving submission. Submitting to his Domliness doesn’t mean that she’s a sub, it means that she’s giving submission. I thought that was a really interesting point, and one that gets brought up a few times. Brax likes her feisty, and likes the fight to gain her submission to him and Zoe needs that fight and needs for him to make her submit. It works out really well for them. And it’s a change from females that we see in a lot of BDSM books, where the heroine finds out that she’s a subbie girl all along. I get where Zoe is coming from, with her history of emotional damage, not being in control can be really scary and she has to face feelings and emotions which is scary. Brax taking control releases her from those fears and lets her face everything in a safe place, which makes everything better.

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Oh, I hate Brax’s ex, but I adored when Zoe smacked her down at Devin’s art show. I just wanted to cheer for her. The fact that she was able to keep it together well enough in a place that is traumatic for her and not get all cursy in front of Devin is pretty awesome.

I love that she saved Brax and he saved her all at the same time. It was a beautiful part of the story, for all that happened during that section.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go read this one and all of Jane’s books. They are great romances, but her BDSM is so excellent. Happy reading!

Natalie Bennett-King of Hearts

This is the second book in Natalie’s Old Money Roulette series. It’s dark, mysterious, and left me with so many more questions that I had going in. I mean, wow.

So, let’s talk about King of Hearts, shall we? Before I get into it, there’s a good chance that there are going to be spoilers for Queen of Diamonds. I don’t mean to leave them, but it is likely to happen. It’s the nature of the beast when you get book series that are set up the way that the Old Money Roulette books are. So, if you haven’t read QoD and it’s on your TBR, you may want to reconsider looking at this blog until you have read it. I will say that KoH is a big mindfuck. I mean, most things that Natalie writes end up fucking with your brain in some way or other. But this is a big one. It’s dark and there isn’t really a glimmer of light going on. So be aware of that.

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Celia Aaron-The Church

We have finally reached the last book in Celia’s Cloister series. It’s been a long, fucked up, twisted journey, and one that left me hanging at the end of the first two books. I mean, I would count down when the next one would come out as soon as I would finish the last one. I both blessed and cursed Celia’s name, usually multiple times in each book. But then we get to The Church, and damn. I was so satisfied when I got to the end of this book. It was perfect. Of course, being Celia Aaron, it wasn’t easy. Nor was it particularly nice. But, it had to be done.

And now, my precious ducklings, I have a warning for you. This review will contain spoilers for The Maiden and The Prophet. Because of the way the books have been written, with the beginning of the next book picking up immediately after the end of the previous books, spoilers are going to happen.  So, be aware of that. If you haven’t read the other books and you don’t want to be spoiled, this is the time for you to leave. If you continue on past this point and you get spoiled… Well, I warned you. Choices have consequences.

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