Nicolina Martin-I Am Eve

Before I get into I Am Eve, I want to do something I don’t regularly do. I’m going to give you a trigger warning. Mostly because this is a post-apocalyptic story that has the apocalypse being a virus. In our current situation, this may be a little real for some people. Now granted, Nicolina went a lot further than what’s going on outside our doors right now, but Covid-19 trauma is a real thing, and it’s something that we all are dealing with, so just be aware when you read this. It didn’t bother me, but I don’t want anyone to go into it blind. OK, now book.

It’s been months and months and months since the sickness went through. Eve’s family left her alone with her grandmother, and her grandmother has since died from the sickness. Now she’s left alone in her huge family home, all alone. She doesn’t go outside. She doesn’t interact with any humans except for her friend who brings her supplies, and even then, they don’t touch. When they talk, they are standing far apart, and they wear masks. Then Eve washes up, just in case. And this is the way that life is in the current time. Eve is also an artist, more precisely, a sculptor. Her basement is filled with her sculptures.

Then we have Adam. He is the leader of a gang. Well, maybe not strictly a gang, but he’s still the leader. They live in a power station and keep the power on. He has reasons that he wants to be the leader and be in a position of strength. He has a son and he wants to do everything he can to make sure his son is safe. So when one of his trucks disappears, along with a load of weapons, he has to figure out what is going on. He and one of his men go to find out what’s happening. They end up in a neighborhood in suburbia. Adam ends up getting left while his man follows the truck. He needs to find a way to keep an eye out, and he sees a house with a turret that would be perfect. Of course you know that it’s Eve’s house. He sees some asshole kids pestering her, and she has her door open, and he manages to sneak in.

I think that Eve is really kinda otherworldly. There’s just something about her that doesn’t quite seem like she belongs on this plane of existence. She seems to know things that you wouldn’t necessarily think that she should know. I really like that about her. I think that she is really strong, even though she’s been sheltered for a lot of her life. There’s just something in her that is just strong and powerful. I like her so much.

Adam is a very interesting man. I think that he is a lot better man than he wants to give himself credit for. I mean, he is handling a lot of shit, and yeah, he has to do some terrible things, but he still manages to be a good man. I like him too.

OK, no spoilers today. You have to read it, so go read it.

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Nicolina Martin-Commanding Casey

Nicolina has written a fanfuckingtastic enemies to lovers story in Commanding Casey. It was a great book with a hateful hero who I really loved to hate. And I mean that seriously.

So, here’s our story. Casey is a mechanic. She grew up with her father teaching her everything about cars, and she loves working on engines and putting things together to make them work. But right now, she’s on an airplane headed far, far, far away from her family in FLA. In fact, she’s headed as far away from them as she can be and still be in the US. She’s on her way to Alaska. She has a really good reason for heading to Alaska. There was a man who attacked her, she sent him to prison, and he’s getting out early. And he fucking blames HER for his actions and him ending up in prison. She knows that he is going to hurt her if he finds her, and she knows he’s been asking for her. So, Alaska and working as a mechanic on heavy equipment at an oil field.

Then we have Cole. He’s been working at this particular site for a long time. He has his reasons for hiding, and working as the best welder on the site lets him hide and not think about his past. One day, his boss tells him he has to go to the airport to go get their new mechanic, some dude named Casey. Only, when he gets to the airport, he finds that it’s not a guy named Casey, it’s a chick named Casey. He’s livid. Women do not belong on the job site, the work is too hard, they’re too weak, and there are a lot of rough men. He lays into Casey, and is an all around nasty ass fuck to her.

I REALLY didn’t like Cole for a lot of the book. He is a total fucking dickhole. Now, if you’ve read my blog for a minute, you know that I love me a good bad boy *cough*Christian*cough*, buuuutttt I had a hard time even trying to like Cole. I mean I wanted to walk into the book, give him a good working over and then castrate him. I really, really, really didn’t like him. But, he did grow on me. And as I’ve said before, I don’t have to like all the main characters, as long as I can grab ahold of at least one of them and there’s a great story behind it. While I didn’t like Cole, he was a character that I had some strong feelings about and someone that I was able to grab hold of, and the story just kept me dragging in.

Let’s talk about Casey. I think that she’s fucking fierce, strong, powerful, and brave. I mean, first of all, let’s talk about the fact that being a mechanic on the racing circuit isn’t all that easy and it’s an insanely male dominated world. The fact that she’s not only there, but accepted and respected says a lot about her. Then the fact that she got on a plane to travel thousands and thousands of miles away from home? That’s sheer guts right there. Like superhero level bravery right there. And to not back out when she discovered that she pretty much walked into purgatory? Fortifuckingtude.

The story is fucking hot. I mean, even as I wanted to choke Cole out, and not in the fun way, it’s smokin’. And that’s just the suspenseful part of it. LOL. Kidding. The sexxxy parts are definitely on fire, and the rest of it kept me tense, in the best way.

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Ugh. The point I hated Cole the most was when he made his accusations. Fuckhole.

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

Nicolina Martin-Capo

Capo is the 6th book in Nicolina’s Russo Saga books, and I have to tell you, I think that it is the darkest one yet. It is the story of Luciano Salvatore, who is the aforementioned capo, or head of the mafia family.

So, here’s our story. We start out with Chloe. She’s in Chicago where she has left her friend Kerry with her cousin, helping to hide Kerry from Christian, who was supposed to kill her. (Redemption and Absolution)

Fast forward 18 months, Christian has seriously gone off the rails, trying to find Kerry, and is drunk and crazy. During his crazy time, he decides that Chloe knows where she is, so he’s going to get Chloe to tell him. He beats her, mercilessly. He leaves her with a brain bleed, broken arm, broken ribs, and all manners of bruises, bumps, welts, and terrible things.

Then we have Luciano, who wants everyone to think that he’s happy, who kind of maybe thinks he’s happy, but he’s really not. He’s kind of just empty. He’s a monster, he knows he’s a monster, and he’s going to be a monster until he dies. He’s going to take women, hurt them while he fucks them, kill his enemies, and rule with an iron fist. Then, Chloe shows up. She lied to get into his house, saying that she knew where Kerry was, because she really wants to tell Luciano Salvatore off. She wants to point out what his fucknut nephew did to her, how he ruined her life, how he ruined Kerry’s life, and how it’s all Salvatore’s fault. Only, Luciano isn’t going to put up with that. Nor is he one to let an opportunity pass him by. He was just thinking that the prostitutes he’s been using don’t have any fight or spirit about them, and he wants to have a girl who will fight him but that he can train to be exactly who and what he wants. So, when already broken Chloe walks in, his cock gets hard and then he gets an idea. An awful idea. A wonderful, awful idea. He’s going to keep Chloe and break her so that she will be his little fuck doll.

He has one of his men throw her into a padded room under his bedroom, naked, unfed, soaking wet, hurting, with a damaged cast, and chained. Salvatore is going to break her, by leaving her there and basically brainwashing her.

This book does take place over a long stretch of time, and there is some overlap with Christian and Kerry’s story, but you don’t have to have read those books to read this one. It does fill up some holes though, because you are seeing things from a different POV.

I didn’t like Luci before we went into this book. I mean, really just kinda hated him a lot. And this book really didn’t help the case. I really fucking hated him during huge swaths of this book. You might think that this is a redemption book, but it’s really not. Luci doesn’t really want redeemed. He gets better, somewhat, but not redeemed, at least not in my opinion. He does go through a lot in this book, and there is a lot of upheaval in his personal life, family, and business. Those upheavals really throw him off balance, which you wouldn’t think would happen, considering who he is, but there you go. I don’t love him, but I don’t think I hate him at the end of the book. I don’t trust him so far as I can spit, but I don’t hate him.

Chloe is just fascinating. I love her defiance and her spirit. She’s strong, stubborn, loyal, and smart. I think that she’s also more than just a little devious. She may also be a little impulsive, and if she had been a little less impulsive, she might not have ended up where she was. I think that she is very good for Luci. I’m not going to say that she’s his conscience, because I think that it’s impossible for him to actually ever have a conscience, but she is something for and to him.

I’m kinda hoping that this isn’t the last book, because we get to know Angela a little more, and I would like to see her story. I would also like to see more of what happens with Luci and Chloe.

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My favorite part of the entire book is when Chloe curses Salvatore, because, frankly, I think that her curse works.

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

Nicolina Martin-Her Vampire Hero

Renee Rose and Lee Savino created a world with their Bad Boy Alpha books. These books are about shifters in AZ. The books start out with werewolves, but we branch out to lions, bears, and vampires. Renee and Lee opened up their world to other writers, and Nicolina was one of the authors to jump all over that. And guess what she wrote about? Well, with a title like Her Vampire Hero, you can be sure that it’s all about unicorn shifters.

Anyway, here’s our story. We have Lou, who is a vampire who has been around for a long fucking time. He doesn’t remember anything about himself before he became a vampire. All he knows is his name is Lou. He’s been run out of Baton Rouge, because the king of Baton Rouge didn’t want another old master vamp hanging around. So Lou, who has itchy feet anyway, moves on from Louisiana to Tucson. The problem is that the asshole in Baton Rouge isn’t about to forget about him. He has Lou attacked by werecoyotes, which ends up with him being taken to the hospital as a corpse. Which, well, he kinda really is, but you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, we have Kat. She’s a doc at the hospital and happens to be working the night that Lou is brought in. Even though she’s told that he’s dead, she goes to check on him anyway. And she mourns the fact that he is dead, even though she’s never met the man before. But as she’s standing there, mourning a dead man, she notices that he has signs of life. Of course, as a doctor, she’s going to do something about it, so she pumps a whole lot of blood into him, and he ends up in ICU. Luckily for him, Lou wakes up in enough time to escape before the sun comes up. Just barely in enough time, because he ends up having to sleep in the sewer. Kat sees him escape, but he can’t really make her forget him. That, of course, leads to problems, because it wouldn’t be an exciting story if there weren’t any problems.

I like Kat. She has a very caring heart. I mean, how many people would stand there and be sad over the fact that a man she’d never even seen before came into the hospital dead? It was that caring that saved Lou in the beginning, I think. I think that caring heart also woke up a part of Lou that hadn’t been awake for a long time. I mean, yeah, he talked about having other lovers, but, there’s just something different about Kat.

I went back and forth on Lou. There are times when I really like him. There are times when I really, really didn’t like him one little bit. I think that one of the parts I disliked him at I could’ve liked him more if he hadn’t made the choices that he had made. I don’t want to blame him for what happened, because everyone involved had choices, but he’s also not completely blameless in the situation.

And ok, I lied. No unicorn shifters. Sorry.

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I have to admit that there was one point where I really wanted to smack Kat around. She did something incredibly stupid, and I just was like, my dude, really? She kinda cut off her nose to spite her face.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

 

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?

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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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Nicolina Martin-Absolution

Absolution is the second book of the Savage Duet, which is part of the Russo Saga. I think that Nicolina definitely had the right idea when she decided to break these books up into 2 instead of trying to cover Kerry and Christian’s story all at once. It’s an intense story, and with as much of a roller coaster as Redemption was by itself, the full story together would’ve been OMG-ish. Breaking them into two books allows us to catch our breath a bit in between the two. It also allows us to get longer books, which is always a yay kinda thing.

Before I get started, it’s important for me to warn you that there will probably be spoilers in here. I’ll try not to spoil anything, but the fact is, they are a duet, and the first one was cliffhanger-y. As always, I’ll try to keep it vague and any spoilers down below the pic, but any spoilage you get now is all on you.

So, we left Kerry with baby Cecilia. She has run away and hidden in the backwoods of Canada, and is nearly off the grid. By a crazy series of coincidences (or, you know, a sadistic author), Christian has found them. And Kerry has pretty much fallen apart. She’s terrified that he’s going to kill her at worst, or just take Cecilia and leave at best. Remember, the last thing she knew about him was Luci telling her that he couldn’t control Christian. So, for all she knows, he’s been searching the past 2 years to kill her. Frankly, I don’t blame her for how she’s feeling.

Meanwhile, Christian has pretty much jumped the rails. He knew where she was in Chicago, and kind of kept an eye on her, but after she left, no one could find her. So, he’s gone a little crazy. He kinda just doesn’t give a damn anymore. He is doing all kinds of terrible things, just so that he doesn’t have to think anymore. But, here’s the thing. He isn’t doing these terrible things because he wants to, he’s using them like a drug or something. They are a way to numb the pain that he is feeling inside. He’s pretty much a walking, talking black hole at the moment. Which, really, I don’t blame him for that. Chris knows what he did and where he went wrong.

Kerry spends a lot of the time in Canada simply existing. I don’t think that she’s really alive, just exists. If she isn’t with Cecilia, then she’s just a shadow of herself. When she has to interact with Christian, she does so from a purely instinctual place. She’s being a mama who is trying to take care of her daughter and herself. There’s not much else to it, she’s just swiping at him so that she and Cecilia will be safe. Everything she does is for that. Of course, she doesn’t necessarily make the best choices that way, but she gets to a point where she’s just reacting so much that she can’t think of consequences because there just isn’t any room in her head for that.

I loved seeing what happens with Kerry and Christian. They do not have an easy journey because they have to go through all that history first, and Kerry has to deal with all the things that she would really rather not have to deal with, like Luci, and that’s hard for her. But, I think that their hard journey makes what relationship they do get a much better one, because they have worked through some of these things. They know the worst that could happen, because it’s happened.

I will reiterate that I really fucking hate Luci. I know that Nicolina is working on his story right now, and she tells me that we will like him after this, but she’s going to work really damn hard on that one. I’m not going to doubt her, because I know that she can do it, but Luci is just such a fucking asshole. I mean, he’s a nasty, prolapsed, pig asshole, so, you know, a lot of work. I can’t wait to see it though. Luci’s redemption, not a prolapsed asshole.

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I love Luci and Kerry’s interaction when she finds out some particularly crucial information. I cheered for her and then laughed my ass off.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Nicolina Martin-Redemption

You remember yesterday how I said that Eva Dresden’s book broke me? Well, Nicolina broke me too, with Redemption. I flat out ugly cried. I mean, just straight out super ugly cried. And I told Nicolina that it was 3 different places where I was ugly crying, but the truth is that I pretty much started from the first place and had tears running down my face for so much of the time after that. It was very intense and it squeezed my heart and hurt me.

I will tell you before I get started that while this is part of the Russo Saga, Redemption is a duet, so yes, there is a cliff.

This story is Kerry and Christian’s. We met Christian back in Ruin, Eric and Anna’s story.  Christian went with Eric on the job where he met Anna. He was intense, but I really liked him. There was just something about Christian that I was really drawn to. But, he hadn’t had his own book yet.

Kerry works at the center where Luci’s son David goes. David is autistic, and she is working with him to help him. One day, David says something about all the red on the man. Kerry tries really hard not to think too much about it, but then the next time she sees Luciano, she asks him about it. He tells Kerry some story, and then stares at her. The next thing she knows, David has been pulled from her center. That totally breaks her heart because she was really attached to him. So, she and her friends go out to get smashed.

Meanwhile, Luci has decided that Kerry is too nosy and knows too much. He calls his favorite nephew and ruthless killer, Christian. He wants Christian to kill her. So, he looks up all the info on Kerry that he can, and then follows her out with her friends. He meets her at the bar, and then takes her across the street to a diner, and finally home. He realizes that there is something about her. They don’t fuck that night, but they come close.

Now, remember, Christian is a ruthless killer, and he’s been tasked to kill her. Luci wants to know what’s taking him so long, because Christian should’ve had it done the first day. But, you know, it’s not much of a story if Christian offs her immediately is it?

Christian and Kerry tore me apart, just straight up fucking wrecked me. I really don’t like Christian at all right now. He was pretty terrible and the things that he did to Kerry were just horrifying. And I’m not meaning the lovely night of kinky strangle sex either. I’m talking later. He makes choices which have some terrible consequences. Some of them are consequences he’s dealing with, but more of them are Kerry’s. I’m really hoping that Nicolina can redeem him in the next part, because I’d like to like him again.

Kerry, our poor, sweet, summer child, Kerry. She gets broken, put back together, broken again, put back together again, and so on and so forth. The problem with breaking and put back together that many times is that it creates weak spots. Those spots are always going to be a place where you can break further. The more you break, the harder it is to put yourself together and the more pieces of you get lost.

And fucking Luci. Just when I think I can’t hate him any more than I already do. Hellfire and lava is too good for him.

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You know, I don’t think there is anything that I can even put down here. Sorry, not sorry.

Go check this out, as well as the rest of the series. Happy reading!

Nicolina Martin-Shame

Shame is the latest addition to the Russo books by Nicolina Martin. This one is technically a prequel and it can be read as a standalone, so no worries if you don’t know the characters.

This is Carmen’s story, really. Yeah, you are dealing with Luciano and Lucas, but really, this is all about Carmen. Most of the story is from her POV, so we really get to know her really well. We also have some from Lucas’ POV, but nothing from Luciano, and I can’t say that really bothers me a bit. I really don’t want to see any more into his head than we really have to, thank you very much.

So, Carmen came from Columbia with her uncle. After having left her uncle, she’s done what she can to survive, and sadly, there isn’t a whole lot for her to do. So she ends up selling herself. For a while, she freelances and splits an apartment with some friends. However, she eventually ends up in a house owned by Luciano Salvatore, the biggest mobster in San Francisco. While it’s definitely a step up from where she had been, there’s one big drawback. And that is Luciano Salvatore. He will occasionally send for a woman from the house to come and service him. Usually, she only goes once, and then she comes back to the house, forever changed. Sometimes, though, they never come back. This time, it’s Carmen’s turn. Everyone kind of looks at her like she’s the walking dead. When she walks out of the house, she sees the driver, who she thinks looks like a young Viking.

Lucas, the driver, is pretty young. He’s only 20-ish to Carmen’s 18. He has been doing a lot of little jobs for the Salvatore family, but he wants to get further into the family. He wants the freedom and such that can come from being a mobster. But for right now, all he is is the driver. So, he drives a beautiful young Carmen to Salvatore’s house so she can service him.

I’d like to say that Luciano was nice. Of course, I’d also like to say that I was a multi-millionaire. Too bad I can’t say either of those things. Luci was so far from nice that there aren’t even words to describe it. Let’s just stay that when Carmen did get back home, she was in bad enough shape that she had to have days of morphine to handle the pain. Lucas looks at the poor broken butterfly and starts to feel something for her.

Like I said before, this really is Carmen’s story. We get to see her try to put herself back together and come to grips with the aftermath of her trip to Luciano. Since we see her POV the most, we really get to see the psychological effects of what has happened to her and what it looks like to be the survivor. Carmen has some changes in her views of things that were interesting to watch. She is awfully cynical for someone who is so young, but then again, I can’t blame her for that, because, well, look at everything that she does go through.

I mostly like Lucas, but sometimes I just think he’s so young. Of course, my son is 24, so of course I think Lucas is young. I think the parts of him that kind of made me frustrated or angry were mostly because of that very young part of him and they would change as he got older and a little less naive. Because face it, he really is kind of naive.

Luciano. Well, what can I say about Luciano other than that he’s a massive prick who should die in a lake of hellfire?

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I thought for a few minutes that I might have to yell at Nicolina, there towards the end, but I should’ve had more faith in her.

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

Nicolina Martin-Ruin

Nicolina has given us a second book in her Russo series, with Ruin, and it knocked me right the fuck out. It was a very intense book that had quite the impact on me. For those of you keeping track, yup, that’s the second book this week that killed me right down dead.

Ruin is the story of Anna and Eric. Eric is a guy who does bad things for Salvatore Russo, including tracking down money that has been stolen from him and punishing those who stole the money. And that’s what he’s doing right now. And Anna is part of his job.

Anna is now working for a small printing company, after having left her previous jobs, because of bad things. She has spent the past year basically in hiding, not talking to anyone but her dad or the people she works with. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone, and she’s perfectly happy that way. Or so she tells herself, regularly.

Then, Eric. She goes out for coffee and meets him at the nearest coffee shop. And he makes her feel something.

This story is incredibly and intensely intimate. For most of the first half of the book, we only see Anna and Eric. They are put into a high pressure situation. They learn a whole lot about each other in that situation. And it develops a bond that goes straight into their souls. You often hear about people talking about soul mates or people who are the other half of their soul, and I think that for Eric and Anna, it is so true. Neither of them were complete without the other, and neither would be complete without the other. I think that they were only existing until they met each other. They both put on good faces, but there isn’t an Anna without Eric, or the other way around. But this book is more than just the journey of Eric and Anna getting together. It’s also Anna’s journey back into life. And that is a painful journey, but it would have to be, because she’s dealing with scarring and not quite healed spots.

The story is mostly told through Anna’s POV, although we do get to see a little bit of Eric’s head. I think that having mostly Anna’s POV really helps to make it so intimate, but I can’t exactly pin down why. But it also means that when we get to see inside Eric’s head, it’s like having a bucket of cold water poured on our heads, since we don’t see as much from him.

I liked meeting Christian, although he does seem a little scary, and it was nice to see Nate again. I’m hoping we get to see Christian’s story soon.

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I like how it seems like Christian and Anna eventually become friends, which I would think would be weird, considering, but that’s the feeling I got from them.

I was really proud of Anna for doing what needed to be done in the beginning, because I don’t think I would have been able to do it.

OK, that’s all there is for today. I cannot recommend this book enough. Really, I can’t. Go read it right now. Happy reading!