xo, Zach

2 Stars

Ok.

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**Note before getting down to business: I’m in the complete minority on my rating and thoughts for this book. We just weren’t meant to be. If Kendall Ryan normally works for you, this one may too. **

Let’s get the positive(s) out of the way. I liked the premise of the story. The advisor and a graduate student meet unknowingly at a party. I also liked the poetry major. I liked the illusion of Poppy’s strength and togetherness. I say illusion because she was a hot mess outside of her college major and her kid.

The rest hit all my no buttons in a way that I almost DNF. So what didn’t work for me?

~They meet at this house party and share some conversation and a kiss. From there, it wasn’t even an obsession- it was an odd fixation where their brains couldn’t function because everything reminded them of the other and spontaneous orgasms were a real threat each time their minds wandered. This translated to a seemingly forced connection between Poppy and Zach.

~Poppy was so hot and cold with Zach that it drove me fucking crazy. She would throw caution to the wind enough to kiss or get off and leave Zach with an epic case of blue balls. Then, after, she would run away and avoid him because she couldn’t let her desire ruin all that she has worked for. Every. Time. Rinse. Repeat.
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~Advice seeker or attention seeker? After every interaction where Poppy went hot and cold, she would go acting all sad and seeking advice about what she should do. Every person would tell her the same thing and then she would ignore it and expect a different response the next time she went to them. *Think Einstein’s definition of insanity*

~”It’s ok, I trust you and I’m on birth control.” Ummmm… what? So, you have a kid in high school (not judging, just stating story fact) and then you throw caution to the wind? *smh*

~Zach. I liked him in the beginning and then it decreased each time he put up with Poppy’s shit. In the end he was just too perfect and became a door mat.

I think it’s clear I didn’t enjoy Poppy and her brand of drama. The highlight of the story was Zach’s Mom and her lack of filter. She was OTT in the dirtiest and best way possible.

Not recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Headmaster

 

Reviewed by Cupcake

*2 Stars*

Bland

I’ve heard so many fantastic things about this author’s work that when this popped up on NetGalley I pounced. It’s not that this story is bad per se, it just wasn’t enough for me. Not enough kink. Not enough feels. Not enough zest. Not enough zhooshing.

The blurb does a good job of recapping the plot so I won’t go there. It’s a decent interpretation of fantasy rescue wish fulfillment. A little contrived, yes, but I can see the appeal.

Mariela was strike one for me. She is a dance instructor at the RACK (cute, huh?) Academy which is run by Lennox. Her crush on him predates his relationship with Winnie and they are friends, but her attitude toward him rubbed me the wrong way. I think she’s supposed to be portrayed as a sub with a spine but she comes across as a vitriolic anger ball. She antagonizes Lennox at every turn and I could muster up little to no sympathy for her cause. I get that she wants to be his submissive but her openly hostile/bratty behavior was very off-putting.

Strike number two is Lennox who’s prone to the ole martyr syndrome. Everything’s his fault, his responsibility.

Neither one of them are fully fleshed out instead relying on constructing both of their identities as “dominant” and “submissive”. I have issues with one’s entire personality construct being comprised of one thing, in this case their sexual proclivities. Even in real life if all anyone ever talks about is this one microcosm of their world they tend to come across one-dimensional and boring. At least to me they do.

The remainder of my issues are nitpicky:

1. it’s sugarkink and as hot as spanking can be, this was halfhearted at best. There’s no depth to the kink. It’s all labels, calisthenics positions and mediocre sex (dirty talk, anal, face-fucking, spanking, non-restraint bondage, mild orgasm denial).

2. Mariela gets into a fairly serious car accident and allegedly crushes her leg yet a few weeks later she’s at a BDSM club sceneing and only wears an ankle wrap?

It does have a nice HEA that is romantic and will be appealing to some. It probably would’ve been moreso for me had I liked either of the characters.

Unfortunately, I didn’t love it but sugarkink fans will probably enjoy it more than I.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley

Thrive

Reviewed by Lost in a Book

4 Stars

I’m a fan of this Guardian series Aly Martinez. She’s one of the very few M/F authors where I’ll read whatever she writes (bonus points because she can write a damn good M/M, too). We just click and this next book in the Guardian series isn’t any different.

This angsty, suspenseful, and sexy second chance romance is set up with a long separation period. A lot of life happens in the 17 years that the MCs were separated and unfortunately for Lark and Mira, it wasn’t filled with happiness.

Seventeen years ago, Lark and Mira were in love, with stars in their eyes, and plans of a future. There was just one teeny tiny problem… Mira’s actual boyfriend, Kurt. They were young, dumb, and dysfunctional. When it came time for Mira to pick, she chose Kurt.

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It was completely evident that Kurt was a cheating (I know, pot/kettle) jackass and she STILL chose him. *Grrrr* Anyway, fast forward time and Lark is a successful badass/Mira hater working with a private security firm while Mira is living in the slums, divorced, and now scared for her life. Good thing Mira is a little Lark stalker because she knows just where to find him when her life and her friend’s life is in jeopardy.

What starts as a hesitant phone call for help sends Mira and Lark on rollercoaster of danger, action, clarity, crime, drug lords, shootings, and kidnappings. And sex. And arguing. Lark taking on Mira’s case brings them in close contact 24/7 while they piece together the reasons behind her new danger. They have a truck load of old hurts to wade through while forging a path for the future. They are hot together. Smoking. But, Mira also argued or had a “snit fit” A LOT. Luckily for her, Lark got off on all the attitude. Unfortunately for me, Mira drove me bat shit crazy when she went off. *shrug* I believed their connection and chemistry. I felt their hurt from 17 years ago and how they hadn’t *really* moved past it even as the years passed them by. I fully appreciated the road they took to get their HEA. They moved fast but they also didn’t hide the hurt, hate, frustration, confusion, and most importantly, love.

The secondary characters were awesome in this one as well as the first. The Guardians are a bunch of gossiping biddies who are quite efficient in their jobs because they have a bunch of time to interfere. At least their interference was comical and I can’t wait for the other guys to get their stories. Especially Johnson *dreamy sigh* because I just know it’s gonna be an epic M/M (or MMF). Another thing I absolutely love about Martinez’s writes is the ability to include past characters from previous books without being awkward or gratuitous. There’s a purpose as they are mentioned/connected and a new reader to her writes wouldn’t feel lost at their inclusion.

This book won’t leave you wanting as the epilogue is *very* thorough. I definitely recommend this and will wait not so patiently for the next man up.

 Copy provided for honest review.

 

Man Card

Review by Cupcake

3.75 Nothing ventured, nothing banged! Stars

There were some great one-liners in this one but it’s less lighthearted than Man Hands. Man Card picks up shortly after the conclusion of the first and involves the hard-nosed Ash and the guy who worships her, Braht. Who also just so happens to be her biggest rival at VanderMollen Realty.

Both of these characters have suffered hardships in their past and those hardships play large roles in the narrative. How their pasts intertwine was a clever twist that I wasn’t expecting but solidified them and their coupletry in my mind.

Overall Man Card is what I would categorize as enemies to lovers lite. Yes, Ash “hates” him and puts up a decent front but she’s unconvincing in her hatred especially considering every two minutes she’s thinking about jumping on Braht’s brat. Granted, she views this as a character flaw but try as she might, she is unable to resist him. The thing is, she doesn’t trust herself anymore so she’s reinvented herself as a together, self-sufficient woman who is highly organized with her color coded… everything, planner with inspirational stickers and washi tape who absolutely, unequivocally is not interested in a relationship.

Underneath the Ash-kicker exterior though something in her seems to recognize that Braht is for her and that evidences itself in little ways that add up to everything. As they become closer over the course of the story she begins to trust him and seek him out when she needs comforting. She’s still take no prisoners when it comes to besting him in the real estate biz, but some part of her recognizes that Braht would never hurt her, never betray her.

Braht is one of those characters that’s hard to resist. He’s cocky, self-assured, charismatic and oozes confidence with his exceptional wardrobe, manscaping, excellent hygiene and constant usage of cheesy endearments. The thought that his honeybear a.k.a. Ash won’t be forever his some day never enters his mind. No matter how much she snubs him, he just keeps pounding at her gates. He is a force but he’s also intuitive particularly when it comes to her and I never expected to like him as much as I did.
 

Looking your best is 70% confidence, 20% raw material, 10% imported photographic lenses and 5% lighting. Pay no mind to the total of more than 100%, because in my case that’s what you’re getting. The poster is 105% awesome.

What these authors are really bringing to this series, aside from their chemistry, is the sexiness. If these two aren’t banging each other they’re thinking about banging each other. Braht even gets Ash’s office supplies in on the X-rated fun! If one were to fall into the judging a book by one’s cover category then one would probably believe that Braht with his penchant for spa days, mani/pedis, chick flicks and highbrow facial creams would be extra genteel when it came to visiting Pound Town for fear of mussing his hair or wrecking his manicure.

Exhibit A:

 

“I don’t like you very much,” she says in a small voice.
“You’ll like me better when I’ve tied you to the bed in your parents’ cottage.”
She makes a noise that’s half rage, half lust. Oh, I’ve got her number. I really do.
“I brought four neckties in preparation, Hermès, of course. Very silky.”

The defense rests.

He may be metrosexual but he’s also a “sex god in pastel”, so give that man a platinum man card! STAT!

As sexy as it is it does have more weight than the first in the series. It’s still captivating, not overly heavy and left me with the warm fuzzies, but I missed the levity of the first one. In addition to the evolution of Ash getting her HEA, Brynn and Sadie are still integral to the story as is Tom. There were also a couple of tertiary characters that really made an impact in Bramly and Hank. Hank who used the term “pancake sandwich” in reference to someone’s balls. Werd. Now, if that doesn’t leave an impression I don’t know what does.

I really hope Sadie’s story is next and that it’s not that far off, because that Earth mother needs some happy PRONTO! I *might* have a genuine conniption if it happens to be with Mr. Pancake Sandwich, because epic.

Recommend to enemies to lovers and contemporary romance fans who enjoy low-angst and fluffy reads.

An ARC was provided by the publisher.

Man Hands

Review by Cupcake

4 stars

FUNNNNEEEEEE!

SB is just an auto-read for me regardless of who she teams with but this Tanya Eby person has her own magic happening. The WAGs series is comedic but this has a bawdy silliness that I found refreshing. I laughed through an entire chapter and that hasn’t happened to me in a long, looooonnnnnnnngggggg time.

Brynn is a great character. She’s a little flighty, really honest, kind and has a tendency to accidentally verbalize her thoughts. Her ex wrecked her self-image by ignoring her, so she needs someone ANYONE to see her as a sexual being. Recently divorced, not supermodel thin, struggling to get her mojo back with two of the BEST GIRLFRIENDS! who refuse to let her wallow and who decide that she needs to stop falling for her “type”: the pseudodude. They decide she need to go for “A MAN” which probably sounds sexist (and is) but CHEESE AND RICE!!! did it play out in the most delightful way.

Enter BFFs Ash and Sadie who make her go to a party so she can… jump back on the horse, so to speak. I don’t think they meant it literally but no one can say Brynn can’t follow direction! The story flips between their points of view so when she literally carped the gardener I was choking on my own spit but when it flipped to Tom and his first thought was:

And then I look into her green eyes and everything goes into slow motion. They’re a beautiful color. Like Benjamin Moore’s Clearspring Green.

I lost my shit. Like, I had to put it down because I couldn’t see or breathe.

Not only did I find this hilariously unexpected it also turned out to be a really great way to succinctly convey exactly who Tom is and that stayed consistent throughout the story.

Tom (not merely a gardener) is one of those HGTV renovator dudes who’s just come off a horrific and humiliating breakup that sent him spiraling into 9 mos of celibacy and meditation in Michigan at the advice of his BFF, Braht. Yes, Braht. Like a bratwurst.

So when he sees Brynn with her Clearspring Green eyes and huge rack charging him at the party, all systems are GOOOOOOOOOOOOO! They find themselves in the boathouse and banging ensues.

Completely subsumed by the sex fog that they missed the dicknozzle filming them…

*cue montage of their friends and random strangers making a version of the big eyes face while looking at their devices*

A little thing like a viral sex tape isn’t enough to keep these two down, though! In an effort to right the ship they decide to follow the advice of Tom’s publicist and fake an engagement. They carpe diem the bejeezus out of their “fake relationship” and in a twist that should surprise no one realize how perfect they are for each other. Crazy hot for each other, she can’t get enough of his calloused man hands, bulging… everything and power tools and he can’t get enough of her boobs and quirky underwear and unwrapping her from her ever-present wrap dress. I love it when couples can have fun while they’re shilly shallying.

At times I thought Tom’s dick being anthropomorphized was silly but I have to admit his exuberance for Brynn made me giggle. I really enjoyed how easy their relationship developed without dramatics. They both have backstories with depth and some pain but it just is what it is and neither dwell. Brynn is slightly insecure about her weight but in the face of Tom’s (and his dick’s) relentless appetite for her those body image issues didn’t stand a chance. The added bonus of this book was all the cooking since Brynn is a food blogger who loves a good ball. Or something on a stick that pairs so well with a dip and… alright, I’ll stop before I get voted off the island.

Great secondary characters. Great banging. Great writing chemistry. Great fun. Great start to a series. I’ll be rolling right into the next one to see what Ash did with Braht’s brat in that pantry besides rolling it in flour.

Enquiring minds wanna know.

Recommend to fans of fluff, comedic romance and low angst reads.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Check out S.C. Stephens Latest Release

S.C. Stephens’s THE BEAST WITHIN is available TODAY and paranormal lovers won’t want to miss this one! Be sure to pick up your copy today!

 

About THE BEAST WITHIN

Nika Adams has had a challenging year. She gave her heart to Hunter Evans, only to have him break it. But Nika refuses to give up hope. Not when there’s a chance she can save her true-love—even if she must save him from himself.

Julian Adams finally knows what he wants, and is truly happy. But when he gets mixed up in Nika’s suicide mission to save her wayward boyfriend, he begins to wonder if his dream girl can handle the dangerous life that comes with being an Adams

Add THE BEAST WITHIN to your Goodreads shelf here!

Get your copy of THE BEAST WITHIN now!

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Don’t miss the other books in the Conversion series!

Books in the Conversion series

Conversion / Bloodlines / ‘Til Death / The Next Generation / The Beast Within / Family is Forever

 

About S.C. STEPHENS

S.C. Stephens is a bestselling author who enjoys spending every free moment she has creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance.

Her debut novel, Thoughtless, an angst-filled love triangle charged with insurmountable passion and the unforgettable Kellan Kyle, took the literary world by storm. Amazed and surprised by the response to the release of Thoughtless in 2009, more stories were quick to follow. Stephens has been writing nonstop ever since.

In addition to writing, Stephens enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading fabulous novels, loading up her iPod with writer’s block reducing music, heading out the movies and spending quality time with her friends and family. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her two equally beautiful children.

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Cover Reveal for Aleatha Romig’s Upcoming Release

RESPECT Coming Facebook banner.jpg

Respect – An Infidelity Stand-alone Novel

 “The making of a man”

Standing at what I believe is the precipice of my life, I, Oren Demetri, was too young to understand that it wasn’t and too old to imagine that it couldn’t be.

The already hefty accumulation of my successes and failures, bravery and fears, and rewards and suffering, had brought me to this point. It was hard to contemplate the things I’d done, and yet, in reality I’d only begun to learn the possibilities.

I suppose that’s how it was for me at twenty-nine years of age on the brink of all I’d ever wanted without fully realizing the price I would pay. Yet in that moment, I knew there would be no cost too great or sacrifice I wouldn’t make. I had no idea how far-reaching that moment of self-discovery would be; because as the congregation’s murmurs quieted, bleeding into silence and allowing the thump of my heart to be the only sound I heard, I was a man filled with love and adoration, emotions in stark contrast to those I needed in the world I’d built or the one I was about to enter.

Angelina Costello was my dream and now my reality. I’d worked diligently to move beyond the actuality of being a dockworker’s son to becoming a self-made, successful entrepreneur, all in an effort to earn the right to call her my own. I’d overcome servitude to others, collecting their paychecks and lowly praises, to being the one who signed the paychecks and offered the accolades when they were rightfully earned.

The world was my oyster and walking toward me on the arm of her uncle was my pearl. I’d found her amongst the empty shells life had offered. There was no need to pry open another possibility. Angelina was all I wanted. Yet my path was uncharted. There was more for me to earn, lose, and willingly give.

The top of that list was respect.

This stand-alone novel may be read without reading the Infidelity series.

From New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a stand-alone novel based from her beloved Infidelity series. With classic Aleatha Romig twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions, this new epic romantic thriller will delve into a world where family takes on new meaning and even the inhabitants are suspicious of the next chapter.

Have you been Aleatha’d?

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Aleatha Romig is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana, USA. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of over thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams and bring your imagination to life!

Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat.

In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romantic suspense with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series that has taken the reading world by storm. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK were published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.

In the spring of 2017, Aleatha released her first stand-alone, fun, and sexy romantic comedy with PLUS ONE, followed by the sweet stand-alone, ONE NIGHT.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and PEN America.  She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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Layla Reyne New Release & Giveaway

A brilliant return to the Irish & Whiskey universe with nonstop excitement and a badass heroine. It was so gratifying to see a fearless character like Mel who didn’t sacrifice love and tenderness toward a significant other just for the sake of being strong and powerful. —Nora Sakavic, author of the All for the Game series

Tequila-Sunrise-by-Layla-Reyne-300.jpgAbout Tequila Sunrise:

Release Date: 11/13/17

Publisher: Carina Press

Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey

Blurb: True love perseveres in this Agents Irish and Whiskey spin-off novella from author Layla Reyne

Former FBI agent Melissa “Mel” Cruz spent years skirting the line between life and death, knowing the next assignment might be her last. Back from overseas and eager to enjoy life outside the Bureau, she’s ready to give Danny Talley a Christmas Eve he’ll never forget. 

A proven asset in high-stakes missions, Danny’s known for having the skill and brains to get the job done. When the Talley flagship is hijacked during the company holiday party, he’ll do anything to save his family, his love and everything they’ve all worked so hard to build. But their enemies have a secondary protocol—leave no survivors—and that plan is already in play.

Navigating through a tangled web of lies and betrayal, Mel and Danny race against the clock to retake the ship before their future goes up in flames. As the seconds tick down, they’re forced to face their greatest fear—losing each other.

 

Teaser #1:

Danny finished knotting his bowtie and snagged his phone off the desk. Dark still. No more texts from Mel. He hit the call button. Straight to voicemail—not Mel’s recorded voice—automated instead, reciting a random number generated by Jamie’s embedded kill switch.

He turned the device end-over-end in his hand, giving himself reasons not to worry. Mel was on US soil, the most dangerous part of her job done. She had all the necessary paperwork and permits, never leaving for any gig without them. She could out-interrogate anyone, especially a couple of customs agents. She’d serve them their balls for dinner, and if things got physical, he had no doubt about her combat skills. He’d witnessed her take down multiple mercenaries at once, single-handed, without ever drawing a gun.

But the fact she’d activated the kill switch, the fact she’d had him phone Nic Price at the US Attorney’s office, and the fact that sixty minutes had turned into ninety and now bordered on one-twenty, meant he was worried, regardless of all the reasons not to be.

Teaser #2:

This had to be karma, retribution for sleeping his way through his teens and twenties. Don Juan Danny, Mel had once called him. Then of course he’d fallen for her, the resident badass who could break his neck as easily as she could break his heart. Which almost happened last spring when she’d nearly died, twice.

He could still remember her unconscious form, thrown against the wall and hair singed off by an explosion. And not twelve hours later, her blood, her life, pooling under his hand and staining her white sweater, bleeding out from the gunshot wound she’d taken to save his brother and their niece.

Miraculously, she’d pulled through, both times, and so had they, but Mel refused to be caged, and Danny knew they’d never last if he tried to put her in one. Granted, he got a stomach ulcer for it, no matter how calm he seemed on the outside, but if that was the price he had to pay for being with her, so be it. Having come close to losing that love, to losing her, he didn’t want to experience that awful feeling again for many, many years.

Years. They’d have years together, a lifetime, he reassured himself…


About Layla Reyne:

Layla Reyne Photo.jpg

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Connect with Layla: Author Site | Twitter | FB | FB Group | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter

Giveaway: any back catalog ebook by Layla Reyne + a secret swag pack full of Agents Irish and Whiskey goodies and gift card!

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Cover Reveal for Kendall Ryan’s Upcoming Romance

We are so thrilled to bring you the cover from New York Times bestseller Kendall Ryan.

xo, Zach is a steamy new forbidden romance full of heat, heart & humor releasing January 23, 2018!

The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he’d left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty–and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I’m crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that’s the only reaction I can get out of you, I’ll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I’m falling for you, and I know it’s wrong. I know that I’m only supposed to be your adviser and nothing more, but here’s the thing. I think you’re falling for me too.

xo, Zach

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Audible:  Live release, narrated by Andi Arndt & Sebastian York!

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras

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Juniper Unraveling

Review by Cupcake

3.5 Stars

First, let me get a couple of caveats out of the way. I don’t do zombies. They gross me out and I don’t like them. Though Ragers aren’t labeled as such, that’s what they are. I also don’t like motorcycle men/clubs/whatever. They aren’t my jam. Guess what’s also in this book? I got about 2% in when I figured out what was what and you should’ve seen the look on my face when I realized I’d chosen a %^&%$# zombie book! Fit to be tied, I was. God damn cover being all intriguing and whatnot.

Now, having said all that it’s a miracle I even finished this thing much less enjoyed it, but I did. I didn’t LOVE it, but there’s a lot to like about it, so bear the caveats in mind if you’re at all interested in reading it.

Keri Lake is a new to me author and she has a writing style that draws you in. There were times when I thought the pacing dragged, but the overall story arc was engaging and kept my attention despite the zombies and motorcycles, owing mostly to the strong worldbuilding.

I don’t want to get a whole lot into the plot because of spoiling but I will say the romance reminded me a lot of The Notebook only set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia that’s 14 different kinds of fucked up and you could legit have your face eaten off at any second. But, details. Anyhoo, remember how cute they were when they first meet? They’re always together just hanging out and doing nothing? I had those feels except these two like to bone. I’m not mad about that either. For some reason I liked the first half of the book better than the second half, though I can’t really pinpoint why exactly. However, the heart of the romance is one that should speak to the inner squishy marshmallow of all romance readers.

If there is a weak point in the narrative it’s these characters. They don’t really pop off the page. I didn’t love any of them nor do I feel like I know them like I feel I should. They seem mostly cookie cutter post apocalyptic/trying to survive/general badassery… think Katniss. The rest of the cast is made up of caricaturish villains and an alpha to top all the alphas in all the land and there were any number of alphas. I would’ve liked to have had his POV or maybe just to have understood his mindset better, though.

Let’s talk a minute about the violence, because there is a lot of it. Trigger warnings for off page rape, child abuse/neglect and a whole lot of gross monsters doing gross things. Some of it I thought veered towards gratuitous, but I can’t say that I didn’t get the Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! message and lest you forget I am a delicate flower so, grain of salt. I would caution anyone who is squeamish to know your limitations. Also if you’re a stickler for your protags being upstanding and moral… errrm, this might not be the book for you? Heed the dark tag warning!

The sex is fairly frequent and rough with some breath play. Some of it’s hot, some of it’s fair to middling and none of it changed my life.

What Lake does that spoke to me was subtext. This world she’s created is built on lies and illusions that led me down the yellow brick road to a comparison with contemporary society. She also has great insight into human nature that speaks to an inherent compassion that resonated.

You see the world as it is. I see the world as it isn’t. But what we see individually is molded by our past, our experiences, and our hopes of what’s to come. Always remember that everyone has a story, and you’ll never know hate for another human being as long as you live.

I pray, in time, your generation will heal from our mistakes. Perhaps you’ll come to know the truth that somehow escaped us along the way- there isn’t a vaccine in creation that can cure hatred and indifference to human suffering. They are the most virulent diseases in existence.

Preachy perhaps, but I liked it. These sentiments seem to be fitted into the narrative in organic ways rather than shoehorned in to make a point.

Recommended to zombie, post apocalyptic, dystopian and romance fans. Just watch out for that violence; it’s a killer.

Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.