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review 2018-02-20 01:16
Release Day ARC Review: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor
Teaching Ben (Dreamspun Desires Book 52) - Shae Connor

Ben Cooper put in his time with the military, but at 24 is now looking for a fresh start, using his GI bill to attend college in Savannah, GA. And finally step out of the closet. 

David Powell is a TA in Ben's class, same age as Ben, but obviously off-limits due to his status. David also had some struggles in his past, but has tried hard to stay away from temptation and stay the course. 

The attraction is immediate, but neither can act on it, thus there is lots of UST in this book, and the romance is super slow burn. David and Ben become friends, and as they learn more about each other, and secrets are revealed, their friendship, while platonic, becomes even stronger. 

I liked how the author gave Ben room to expand his horizons, how she let him spread his wings, away from his commandeering father, away from the rigors and structure of the Air Force, building the life he wants to live. 

David made a huge mistake once and it cost him dearly. He's making up for it, but he also knows that he cannot step a single foot out of line, no matter how attracted he is to Ben. The author did a fine job fleshing out his character and giving him a background story that felt realistic and believable in how much it still impacted his life. 

Told alternatively from Ben's and David's point-of-view, we get a well-rounded story with a believable plot that even had a bit of suspense, though the villain of the story was rather clear from the get-go and the suspense was more in how this particular piece of the plot would unfold and impact their budding relationship. 

As with all the books in this series, there is little explicit steam on page, which is fine as far as I'm concerned. I much rather read about the relationship development, and how the two MCs get to their HEA than about what they do in the bedroom. I much rather see an emotional connection develop more so that a romp in the sheets, and I got that here. Ben and David really clicked, like they were meant to find each other, with both of them having had to struggle to get to this point in their lives, which meant that they were more aware of what they found and thus more protective of it. 

I enjoyed reading this. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-02-16 01:49
ARC Review: Wolf And The Holly (Rowan Harbor Circle #2) by Sam Burns
Wolf and the Holly (The Rowan Harbor Cycle Book 2) - Sam Burns

In this 2nd book in her new series, Sam Burns gives us Jesse Hunter, brother to Wade, childhood friend to Devon, reluctant would-be Alpha wolf, who came back to Rowan Harbor five years ago after dropping out of college for reasons not entirely clear and has been sort of drifting along aimlessly ever since. He's the accountant for many of the business owners in town, still lives with his parents and doesn't want to take his mother's place on the town council.

The night before his 30th birthday, which is where the book opens, we find Jesse in the bar with friends, trying out one of Cassidy's new concoctions and generally feeling a little sorry for himself. The evening is interrupted when a rogue vampire named Sol enters the bar. He's known to both Cassidy and Max and warned immediately to not feed from humans, but register with the bloodbank. 

Jesse has a bad feeling about the new vamp - he smells wrong, and Jesse's wolfy nose is still perfectly functional, no matter how much he tries to deny the wolf inside. 

As Jesse leaves the bar and walks home, he smells blood in an alley way. Thinking the rogue vamp may have struck, he investigates and find his childhood friend Isla slumped at the end of the alley, unconscious and bleeding from a head wound. 

Thus the author has set the scene for what follows, and Jesse can no longer deny his instincts - the wolf wants free to protect his family and friends. 

This is billed as a paranormal romance, and there is a romance inside as Jesse finds his mate in Sean Anderson, who recently returned to take over the flower shop in town (a unique place, you'll see). The romance however takes a backseat as the paranormal and suspense parts of the plot unfold. 

The whole story is told from Jesse's POV. Sinister forces may be at work, and Jesse must use his wits and overcome his reluctance to figure out what is going on and how to stop it and who's behind it all. I still had questions at the end, and can barely contain my excitement at the prospect of book 3.

Most of the world-building was taken care of in the first book, and these cannot be read as standalones - don't even try. A lot of the background information provided in book 1 is needed to understand the dynamics and the events in this book, and I expect that the subsequent books will be no different. The author calls this a trilogy of trilogies so these must be read in order as well. There is also no HEA for Jesse and Sean in this book, only a HFN, which made sense to me because they have only JUST found each other. I also like very much that while there is a mating pull at work, the couples aren't automatically in love - they still need to learn about each other and forge a relationship. 

This book is alternatively edge of your seat intense and giggly fun (such as when Jesse gets zapped by Sean, as I knew he would), but there are also parts that really showcased the author's talent in creating fully fleshed-out characters, who are flawed and complex and don't always have their act together. Jesse's self-doubts, his fears, and the reason he's denied his wolf for so long - there were moments when I wanted to either shake him to pull his head out of his rear end or hug him and tell him that yes, he could become what he was meant to be. 

None of these characters are perfect, not Devon whose anger can make buildings shake, nor Wade who can be a bit grumpy, nor Isla who has been running for years for reasons explained within, nor Jesse, the wolf who left to find his place in the world, only to realize that his rightful place is home in Rowan Harbor, doing what he was born to do. 

The townsfolk have interesting dynamics. Some made me laugh and some made me think - especially since not all is as it seems at first. So well done.

At the very end, the author cleverly sets up the events to come in book 3 - I cannot wait. Is it March yet?



** I received a free copy of this book as part of a review tour, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2018-02-15 06:05
Decide
A Baby for the Billionaire - Victoria Davies

Walker has a surprise bundle that was not expected. He has not idea what that will do to his life from here on out. He calls in his best friend as an expert for help.

Clara has left the mother instinct behind, or so she thought. With helping Walker, she is finding what she wants more than her current life. Should she step up and tell him too?

This was such a sweet and sexy story. I do love best friend stories, and this was a delight to read. The characters have a solid connection, lots of sparks with heat, and lives of their own. Makes for a really great read.   I give this a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!


***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review by its publisher and Netgalley.

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text 2018-02-13 01:47
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This debut by Zoje Stage will not be for the faint of heart. Baby Teeth is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller told in alternating point of view between Hanna, a silent and disturbed seven-year-old, and Suzanne, her barely coping mother.

Hanna is conniving and precocious and is beyond her years mentally. She is able to play her parents off one another for her own gain as well as at the torment of her mother. When she is around her daddy, who she wants to marry, she is a sweet and silent angel that is eager to please. In the care of her mother, she is evil and violent, and plays on her mother's fear of her.

Suzette loves her daughter, but is exhausted both mentally and physically, and like her marriage, is breaking down. Hanna is home schooled so Suzette rarely gets time away from her. The little girl is becoming more conniving with each passing day—she has turned their family dynamic upside down by making Suzette look crazy and neurotic. Suzette fears that there is something seriously wrong with her daughter and that Hanna is too much of a threat to her at home.

Stage takes the reader down the rabbit hole that is is Hanna's mind. It is a dark and twisty ride, and as mentioned will not appeal to all readers. If a creepy kid story is your bag, you will love it. If stories about demented children are not your thing, I suggest you pass. I have to be honest, this is not something I would have normally picked up, but was intrigued by the cover and synopsis. After reading, I'm on the fence. The story is well-written and captivating, but there was a lot of suspension of disbelief—for a seven-year-old, Hanna is far too advanced and this was distracting from the actual story.

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review 2018-02-12 22:00
Bitter Baby Daddy: When a Lose Can't Let Go
Bitter Baby Daddy: When A Loser Can't Let Go (Volume 1) - Niki Jilvontae Title: Bitter Baby Daddy: When a Loser Can't Let Go Author: Niki Jilvontae Publisher: True Glory Publications Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Five Review: "Bitter Baby Daddy: When a Loser Can't Let Go" by Niki Jilvontae My Thoughts.... I found this novel a very interesting storyline that will keep your attention all the way to the end. The characters were for the most part off the chart [well done] giving the reader a good read. It was definitely good in seeing some of these characters get there karma in the end. By this being a urban fiction read be ready for some [revenge] as this author ties all of the stories with the various characters together to each other. By the end it was quite a read seeing just how these Bitter Baby Daddy's were taken care of.
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