The Sheikh’s Secret Child – Leslie North

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Author: Leslie North
Series: The Karawi Sheikhs #2

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As an ambitious American journalist, Amy Mathewson will stop at nothing to get her story—including going into dangerous, rebel-infested countries. But when she stumbles across seven-year-old Aisha in an orphanage her heart melts, and Amy vows to keep her safe.

Until the rebels start to close in.

Just when Amy thinks they’re in grave danger, a stunning Sheikh arrives, claiming Aisha as his daughter; a Sheikh with smoldering dark eyes and the kind of handsome that is difficult to forget. Unwilling to let Aisha go with a stranger, Amy agrees to accompany the Sheikh and Aisha to a safe house to confirm his claim. But it may not be safe for Amy, not with a sexy Sheikh making her feel things she hasn’t felt in a long time—and whose touch is as hot as the desert sun.

All his life, Sheikh Bahir Karawi has taken care of himself, knowing no one else would. When he discovers he has a daughter, he immediately sets out to bring her home, to make sure she never feels as alone as he always has. What he doesn’t count on is butting heads with the fiercely protective and dangerously beautiful Amy, who has taken up the duties of caring for his daughter. As they get to know one another, he can’t ignore the searing attraction he feels, nor the realization that Amy would be perfect, both for his daughter and for him.

As the rebels close in, Bahir realizes he will do anything to keep his daughter and Amy safe—even if that means putting his very life at risk.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It seems my fear of stupid unprotected sex in every ARC by Leslie North I have left was a bit premature. In this case, the unexpected child comes from another route, so I’m happy I don’t have to deal with the same plot over and over again. Let’s see what the second Karawi brother has to tell in his defense!

This time we travel to that small and fictional kingdom to meet Bahir, the middle brother of Iman. By pure chance, he discovers several hidden letters that tell him he has a secret daughter who has been taking into an orphanage. Looking for her, she meets Amy, an American journalist who is helping in one of the orphanages to write a story. There she became attached to Aisha, the secret daughter of Bahir. That’s why they are a package deal when the Sheikh stormed the building to take the child. Brusque? Maybe. But the rebels also want Aisha as leverage…

The main strength of these books is their length. Less than 200 pages to tell a simple story where the main characters fall in love and have their happily ever after. This time the story comes with an unexpected amount of action scenes, where the characters have to face rebels in several situations. It is unexpected, because it didn’t look like the main focus was there according to the plot of the backcover. Yes, the secret daughter is important, but not as a way to develop Bahir character. She is the flag that the good and the bad guys have to capture to win the game. So, if you are expecting some quality time between father and daughter, you should look elsewhere.

This book also has the same problem as the first one: the romance is underdeveloped. In this case, the issue is even more evident due to the few pages Amy and Bahir have to focus on their relationship. They don’t have time to properly get to know each other due to the sickness of Aisha or the rebel attacks. And somehow they fall utterly in love… They barely exchange a couple of sentences and, the next thing we know, Bahir is already planning a wedding. Sure, sure. Everybody knows that those kind of marriages scream steady to the world… So, yeah… the length is nice to tell about the rebels and the daughter plots, but it is not enough to put together a coherent love story.

Regarding the characters, I have to say that Amy is OK, but without any kind of spark. She is protective of Asha and I guess that is nice, but having a favourite kid in an orphanage is kind of unwise and even unethical. The one I do not like at all is Bahir. At first he seemed nice with the playful banter with his brother, but then… he becomes too bossy, too drunk of power. Breaking and entering in an orphange as if it were a rebel compound was way too much. And the problem is he is totally unapologetic about that… as if he had all the rights in the world to do so due to his title. This Alpha barks too much for my taste.

Let’s see where the story of the third brother takes us, but before that… some cowboys!!

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2019 – Book Gallery

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She’s a Spitfire – Chloe Liese

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Author: Chloe Liese
Series: Tough Love #2

Pages: 284

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Physics calls it entropy. Philosophy calls it Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, eventually it will. Professionally and personally speaking, Zed’s familiar with the principle. After a decade of trying to alter the atomic makeup of the mafia from its nucleus, now he’s set on leaving The Life and pursuing his heart. Problem is, the sassy, hot-headed spitfire he can’t quit is meddling in his slow burn escape plan, and turning it into full-on combustion.

Not to mention, Nairne’s got a painful history she won’t talk about and more secrets than she has lab instruments—which is really saying something. In an ideal world, the bad boy footballer would follow the brainy beauty overseas and they’d live happily ever after. But Murphy’s Law is proven true, as Zed finds his world imploding and his escape plan foiled. These enemies turned lovers end up discovering how costly it can be to meet the right person at the wrong time.

A present he can’t escape.

A past she can’t forget.

A future they won’t stop fighting for.

They say all’s fair in love…and war.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is going to be a hard one. It is only human to have expectations and I am not going to apologize for having them. As I said when I reviewed the first book, I think the author had gold between her hands. Interesting situation, complex characters… It just needed a nudge toward the good direction, but, sadly, it has been pushed to the other way. This is the saga of the missed oportunities.

The story continues where the other book left it: Nairne is about to go back to London and Zed is little by little trying to erase the undercover crime of Boston. Too bad the current timetable for that doesn’t work for Nairne any longer, so she tries to take the matters into her own hands. But… what kind of life are they going to lead if those plans succeed? No need of wondering… the answers are in the story itself!!

The book has a really good start. One of my main complaints from the previous one was that the author focused too much on the BDSM scenes. Everytime Zed used his dominant voice I wanted to peel the skin from my face. Thankfully, all that bullshit is totally dropped in the second book and the first chapters are all about the mafia and the plans to ruin it. That is the most interesting part. It actually gets a faster pace pretty soon and I realized we were getting into the climax of that plot way before the first half of the book. So, yeah… it is engaging, it is interesting, it is a page-turner and… suddenly… it is nothing. What? Already over? What are you going to tell me now?

For several chapters it is just a bunch of nothing, where we are punished with a really disgusting version of Zed. Yes, we know he was kind of brutish in the first book, but in this one he is so possessive. He believes himself the only decent man in the world and the rest are just targets for his fists. His behaviour everytime there is another man near Nairne is so insulting that the character is totally ruined for me. The most infurating moment is the day of Nairne’s birthday. Someone left a present in fron of her door and Zed treated it as if it were a bomb or a body part of a love one… He didn’t even want her to see it. They were flowers, by the way. Yes, I know those flowers come from a bad guy, but Zed had no idea about that. He wasn’t behaving like a protector… he was behaving like an idiot who thinks he owns Nairne. And there are plenty of other examples where his attitude is just simply unbearable.

Thankfully, there is also a new oasis after the mafia fiasco. This time, the problems come from Nairne’s past. The new badie seemed like a good candidate to become the supervillain of the story. It wasn’t crazy to think that, because there is still a third book to fill. So, my disappointment was pretty big when this new plot was resolved even faster than the mafia thing. After finishing the second book I’m wondering… what is there to tell? Because I have learned my lesson… these characters are not what I thought they were going to be, so I’m no interested in reading more about their love life. I dread that scenario, actually.

I think I’m not ready to keep reading how Zed hides his insecurities behind his fists and possessive nonsense… and the way this second book has ended, I’m afraid that that is what I’m going to get. If I read the third part is not going to be anytime soon… It has been SO disappointing so far!

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2019 – Book Gallery

Lost in Me – Lexi Ryan

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Author: Lexi Ryan
Series: Here and now #1

Pages: 216

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The last thing I remember is having drinks at Brady’s and trying to avoid eye-contact with my life-long crush—the gorgeous, unattainable Maximilian Hallowell. They tell me that was a year ago, but I have no memories of anything since then. What I do have is this ring on my finger that Max says he gave me, and this much-thinner body I’ve dreamed of most of my life. Aside from a case of retrograde amnesia, everything seems almost…perfect.

But the deeper I immerse myself into this new world of mine—planning a wedding to a man I don’t remember dating, attempting to run a business I don’t remember starting—the clearer it becomes that nothing is as it seems. Do I have the life I’ve always wanted or is it a facade propped up by secrets I don’t even know I have?

I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Love traingles must be one of the most popular cliches of the Romance genre, but truth be told I barely find them in books lately. I can’t remember when was the last time where a love trinagle (or even bigger polygons) was important in a story. Maybe the Sookie Stackhouse books? Anyway, this short trip through memory lane was just to announce that this book has a love triangle… but the way it is presented is quite original.

This first part of the story is told from the point of view of Hanna, a young woman who due to an accident has lost her memories of the last year. When she wakes up, she barely can recognize her life: thinner body, own bakery, a hottie as a fiancé… But everything that shines is not gold in nature, so she soon starts to see cracks in her new perfect life. One of the biggest ones: the stranger who is in her bed behaving like a secret lover… Now more than ever she needs her memories back. Little by little, the veil is lifted to uncover the truth.

The first book by Lexi Ryan that I read didn’t leave a good impression on me. Too much drama. So, when I took a look at the plot of this other book I was a bit exceptical. I was afraid of a replay of my previous experience with a story written by this author. It wasn’t a pleasant one. Thankfully, the drama in Lost in me is much more limited and makes much more sense. Besides, the way it is presented gives the story a pace more commonly found in Mystery books than Romance, but it is a pretty welcome one. In a few words: it is a page-turner. We are introduced to the new Hanna, where everything seems perfect, but in small dosis new details are presented that make her life stop looking like a fairy tale. What has happened in all those months? Is she happy or not? What is Max hiding? Who is Nate? And most importantly… was the accident truly an accident?

The mystery is unravaled in a very sweet slow pace. Yes, it is slow, but it never stops; so the reader is engaged at all times. And yes, I really liked this story, but I’m also a bit worried about the next two books. This is a trilogy and, even though there are still secrets and information missing, I have the feeling there is not going to be enough mystery to fill two more books. And without that mystery, the book would be pettry generic and lacking interest. But we will see… I could be totally wrong.

The love triangle is weird, but that is what makes it more fun. Hanna had a huge crush on Max the Hunk, but due to her insecurities she never asked him for a date. Big surprise when she wakes up and she is not only his girlfriend… she is sporting an engagement ring. Max looks like the perfect guy… all sweet talk and scorching attentions. But he is hiding something… And then we have Nate, the rocker who one day hop into Hanna’s bed and the poor woman almost had a heart attack. He obviously knew her intimately and it was clear that she was also having a relationship with him. Was she being unfaithful to the love of her life? I love how desperate she is for her memories aboout her peculiar love life. She admits having feelings for both of them, but she can’t understand why. She needs white and black answers, but Hanna always ends in the grey area… and we as readers know as much as she does, so it is also our task to put all the pieces together; which makes the reading more enjoyable. Right now, I don’t have a favourite hottie for her. I actually do not trust on any of them… There are still too many questions that need to be answered.

Sadly, the worst part of the book is Hanna herself. I sympathize with her insecurities, but sometimes she gets very annoying or even insulting. I don’t like when she puts all men in the same sack, the one with the “frivolous” label on it. I may prefer men, but I’m pretty sure most guys are ultimately more concerned about the woman herself than the size of her hips. So, the self-deprecating humor of Hanna gets old too fast… She behaves like a depressed woman who doesn’t have any support, but she is surrounded by friends and sisters with a very positive attitude towards her. Yes, there is an ogre dwelling nearby, one that should be slayed… but I still think the negative people is pretty much outnumbered in Hanna’s life. I hope that, in the next books, she starts focusing on the good she has and not in the so-called good she wants.

By the way, the ogre is not other than the mother. I hate her with a boiling passion. I expect her to be treated as the villain she is and that she gets the punishment she deserves. Worst mother ever!! She is selfish, unempathetic and thinks the world just spins around her. I blame her for the global unhapinnes of her daughter and it drives me crazy that she doesn’t care or, worst, that she doesn’t even notice. Your daughther barely remembers her boyfriend and you are pushind and pushing with the wedding!! I wanted to yell so loud everytime she is in the book. I demand a public flaying or something similar for her. If her psychological abuse is not treated as an issue in the next books I’m going to be very disappointed.

I have already add the next book to my TBR list, so I hope to read it sooner rather than later. Maybe even this year if I do my homewrok right. This one has left things in a very interesting setting…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Million Dollar Marriage – Katy Evans

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Author: Katy Evans
Series: Million Dollar #2

Pages: 266

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If someone had bet Nell a million dollars that she would be saying “I do” to a complete stranger on national television, she’d have called them crazy, but with her crushing student loan payments sending her deep into the red, she’s out of options. This should be nothing more than a business transaction—until she sets eyes on her groom, and everything changes.

The game is on the instant Luke spots Penelope “Nell” Carpenter. He’s out for the money, yes, but getting a little dirty with Nell doesn’t sound too bad either. Everyone knows he’s not the marrying kind, so it’s a good thing it’s just for show. God knows he’s the worst guy his pretty wife should pick for real.

They have nothing in common, but if they want the grand prize, they’ll have to beat out eight other couples. Proving that total opposites attract should be easy enough…as long as they don’t fall in love in the process.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m so glad that the first book of this saga had such a handsome guy in the cover. The blurb didn’t catch my attention that badly, but the hottie… *blush* I say I’m glad, because otherwise I would have missed a really great couple of books or they would have been on my TBR list for years before reading them. The first one was good, with a style I greatly enjoyed, but this second one… is a blast!!

This time we leave the so-called glamour of the fashion world to traverse that minefield called reality TV. Million Dollar Marriage is a brand new and super secret show with one million dollar as the final prize. Penelope Carpenter (Nell for shorts) is a brilliant doctor who is drowned in student loans. She is an introvert and, for some reason, thinks that taking part in the reality show is a great idea. Luke Cross is the owner of a watering hole that has seen better days and it is about to be picked apart by the banks. So, a reality show sounds like fast money for him and he is in it for the big prize. Luke is a social machine and everyone falls in love with him. Except Nell, who is playing hard to get. Thankfully, they are paired together in the show… as husband and wife!

I am like Nell when it comes to reality shows. I don’t watch them, I don’t like them and I am incapable of understanding their appealing. So, I wasn’t at all convincend about reading a romance blooming in one of those shows. After finishing the book, I can say that my fears were totally absurd, because it has been one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year. The pace is incredible fast, with crazy challeneges for the participants that make the reading original and keeps you engaged page after page. I swear that I was cheering on them to show my support and practically insulting Ace when he and Marta had the advantage. I was so invested in the show that I felt sad when the end of it was announced. I have discovered that a reality show is much more enjoyable when you read it than when you watch it. I feel like I have been converted into a religion or something.

It helps volumes Katy’s style. This is the second book by her I have read, but I’m already in love with her care towards the main characters, the easy flow of the stories, the sense of humor (love when it gets caustic!!), thr sweetness, the naughty scenes, the romance… She has all the ingredients and adds them with perfect precision in just the proper amount. Yes, I’m very impressed. It is not easy to impress me in the Romance genre, but these two books have left me with a pleasant aftertaste that I won’t forget easily.

Obviously, I also fell in love with Luke… who could resist? He is the bad boy premium package: big musclse, tattoos, flirtatious, extrovert and so good between the sheets (with plenty and regular experience… ask for the list of references). He is naughty, naughty… but when he falls in love, Luke shows that he can also be a really sweet guy. Very patient and loyal, making sure that Nell is in the same page and letting her decide when, where, how much and for how long. His story about overcoming his past is moving and really a great example to show that there is always hope, no matter how dreadful the current situation may look. He would be a perfect book boyfriend except for a objectively small detail (subjectively it is huge): he is a smoker!! Boooo!! Luckily, that annoying fact is barely mentioned and I was able to ignore it in order not to make the reading less pleasurable. But is enough reason to remove him from my list of book boyfriends (it’s getting crowded, anyway). Sorry, pal, you can’t always win!!

On the other corner of the ring we have Nell. She is not like any other female character that I have met before. She is brilliant, but has an alarming allergy to everything social (my alma mater!!). No problem with that, except she considers herself better than the rest of her fellow mortals and has zero problem of saying so. Somehow, that doesn’t make her a bad character or one that you wouldn’t support. It makes the story more interesting, because it is obvious that is going to be a much harder shell to brake. Which means Luke has to use his top game and that is something I could read everyday for the rest of my life. By the end of the book, we can tell Penelope is a much better character; but it saddens me a little that it is not clearly said that her essence is intact. There wasn’t anything wrong with her and her hobbies… she just needed a little tuning.

Is everything perfect? Nope. There are a couple of things I do not like (apart from the smoking thing). Not a big deal actually, but they are a bit unrealistic. One of them is during the key challenge. The couples had to find the correct key for their room among hundreds of them. Luke and Nell are incredibly unlucky with this one, but the rest are annoyingly lucky… Most of them needed few attempts to get the right key… If that were a real show, I would think that the task was rigged somehow. And the other one is when they have to choose who gets their hair cut or who does a training circuit for marines. Surprisingily, Nell wants to do the physical challenge even though she has stayed away of anything sportish her whole life. And… she nails it? A circuit with obstacles meant to train marines? It felt too easy… Maybe she is a natural ans didn’t know about it… Anyway, nothing really important for the story, so it shouldn’t stop you from picking it.

As a whole, this book is better than the previous one. The story has less gaps and the pace is even better. I have no idea if there will be more, but I wouldn’t mind reading a book for Ace (yes, that guy). In the meantime, I will need to check what other books by this author I will add to my list.

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2019 – Book Gallery

The Sheikh’s Surprise Heir – Leslie North

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Author: Leslie North
Series: The Karawi Sheikhs #1

Pages: 142

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Every time Natalie looks at her beautiful daughter, Iris, she can’t help but think about the passionate night she spent with a prince—and for good reason: Prince Iman Karawi is Iris’s father. Though Natalie longed to tell Iman about their daughter, unknown to her, Iman’s manipulative uncle hid the truth. Even as she goes on with her life, caring for her daughter and her dying mother, she cannot get thoughts of Iman out of her mind. Now, six years later, a chance meeting brings back all the feelings Natalie’s tried to forget. How could one-night haunt her after all this time? It’s clear Iman wants to continue where they left off, and it’s just as clear to Natalie that he might break her heart again. Especially if he ever finds out that little Iris is his.

For Iman, Natalie was always more than a one-night stand. He never understood why she left so abruptly, and even years later during a chance meeting, he’s still drawn to the blonde beauty in a way he can’t explain. Despite being promised to another by his parents, Iman can’t suppress his excitement—or desire—at seeing her again. But this time, Iman is not ready to say good-bye. He makes her a job offer she cannot refuse, and as he and Natalie spend more time together, it’s clear to Iman he cannot marry his fiancé, not when the love he feels for Natalie burns so deep.

As the past threatens to destroy their blossoming romance, it might be too late for either of them to find the happily ever after that has always been just out of reach.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

So, it seems that all the books from the Leslie North factory are going to be about a couple of strangers that doesn’t know how to play Tetris following the basic safety measures. That is just peachy… said the reviewer sarcastically. I have five more!! FIVE!! OK, it is my fault for clicking the Request buttons in NetGalley like a crazy person. Now I need to put on my responsible pants and review the books I was given, no matter how dreadful that task looks like right now.

This time we jump into a plane to meet Natalie, a flight attendant in private flights who desperately needs the money to pay for her mother’s cancer treatment. That’s why she tries to put on a smile to deal with Iman, the Sheikh (a.k.a. Prince) of a small kingdom who is very opinionated about her coffee making skills. In truth she just wants to tell him what is what to his face, but she must control herself. Any pretenses are drop when the plane has an accident and both of them get stranded in a remote hangar. The banter becomes passion, but heavy is the weight of the crown and Natalie has to leave Iman’s kingdom in not the best way possible. Six years later, they meet again…

The length of this book is its main strength. There wasn’t a big story to tell, so more pages would have added more annoyance to the reader isntead of enjoyment. As it is, the size of the book is perfect. Concise, direct, without useless detours and always focus on what it wants to tell. The story itself is rather simple and barely remarkable, so trying to strech it would have been a really bad idea. At least, that length work in favor of the plot thread about Natalie going to Iman’s kingdom to work for him.

Sadly, I can’t say the same for the romance. It lacks development everywhere. Leaving aside the first passionate encounter, where the adrenaline after the accident was high and the good judgement low, the next interactions between Iman and Natalie are surprisingly few. I’m not saying just in the more carnal sense… Any kind of contact between the two of them is drastically cut down due to their jobs. When do they get to know each other? How can they be so sure about their love is they have barely talked to each other? I can’t buy the platonic love that is described in the book. Too much, too soon.

As for the characters… I guess they are both OK, but I don’t really feel that I have got to know them. Iman would be a great characters if he wasn’t royalty. That fact constraints him too much. Always being careful about what he says, what he does… But with Natalie he is more relaxed and we get to read a more enjoyable individual. Too bad the flight attendant is not around that much. Natalie by her own is kind of annoying. I barely understand her. She is miserable for the most part of the book, what adds to the previously mentioned unbelievable love. If you don’t like the life in the palace, just go. You don’t need it! Why do you choose to be constantly worried for a guy you barely know? At least, when they are together she regains some self-esteem and their conversations are rather funny. On her own… it’s a pain to be witness of her rather low morale.

And talking about reading pains… In which mind was a good idea to take your six-year-old daughter to a country that has barely got over traditional values that don’t leave in good light women’s freedoms among other things? For a visit it would have been OK, but liiving there? The first order Natalie gets is: Don’t leave the palace alone! Try to stick to traditions. Do not embarras yourself (a.k.a. embarras Iman and his kingdom…). I can’t believe that any sensible mother would remove her daughter from her school and friends to be privately tutored in a palace of a kingdom whose culture is drastically different from what she knows… In the book Iris adapt pretty well, but that is just ficition… I bet that would be a traumatic experience for a kid that age. So yeah, reading that bugged me badly and I couldn’t shake the absurdity of the whole deal.

With this book, the good and the bad balance each other to make a light reading for a slow afternoon during the summer. As long as you are not looking anything meatier, this story could be a good choice for you. In the following books, we will meet Iman’s brothers who, it seems, will be as sexually reckless as him…

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2019 – Book Gallery

The Protective SEAL – Katie Knight

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Author: Katie Knight
Pages: 241

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Jack Williams has never felt so lost. For him, being a Navy SEAL wasn’t just a job, it was a way of life. Protecting people had always been his strength, until a career-ending injury forced him into retirement. He’s struggling to start over when he stumbles across a car in a ditch, springing him back into action. Only this is no random citizen in distress. He knows the pretty face behind the wheel. Intimately. In fact, there’s a good chance the baby in her arms is his.

One year ago, Samantha Engel was forced into witness protection to escape her ruthless mob-boss father. Jack had been her protector, and seeing her again now, in desperate need of help, stirs up a flood of emotions that catch Jack off-guard. Scheduled to testify against her dad, Sam is now on the run. Her father’s offering a pretty penny to anyone who can silence her for good. Jack may not the protector he once was, but he knows one thing for sure: if Sam and her baby are in trouble, he’s not letting them out of his sight.

With tensions running high and temptations running higher, Sam readily puts her life in Jack’s capable hands. Once the only person she could trust, she’d feared her daughter would grow up never knowing the man she owed her life to. But being back in Jack’s arms—and his bed—makes her heart pound like no time has passed. With the mob threat closing in, Jack knows failure isn’t an option. But even if they survive, Jack will have to fight to find a way to keep Sam and her daughter under his protection, or risk having to say good-bye again—this time for good.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have to confess that I wasn’t expecting much about this book after the last one by Katie Knight I read. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Saving the SEAL Baby Daddy; but it is hard to point out something interesting about it after several months. So, the frenzy that is this book has caught me off-guard. I was ready to hate it, but the final veredict is far from what I thought it would be.

This time we follow Sam, the only daughter of a mafia boss who doesn’t want to take part in that world. Quite the opposite. She wants to bring her father down by testifying against him in the court. But the mafia boss is not going down that easy and has put a price to her daughter’s head. Luckily fir her, a brave SEAL team takes her to a secure position. There is guarded by no other than Jack. Due to the excitement of the chase, they blow some steam between the sheets and part their separate ways. One year later, Sam is still running for her life and, by chance, she ends in Jack’s town. He again accepts the protector role, except this time there is a young girl in the mix…

So, it happened again. A couple of adults forgot all about safe sex. At least this time they were in the middle of nowhere and not in a hotel of a town with plenty of commodities. And yes, the adrenaline was high this time and that could be an excuse. But what is not excusable are those Sam’s comments when they meet again: “Let’s have unprotected sex. What is the worst that could happen? Pregnancy?” Seriously?? Have you never heard about STDs? Did you know that people can get really sick because of them and even die? Are you absolutely certain that getting pregnant is the worst case scenario? I hate that they belittle such a huge problem…

Thankfully, this book has much more to offer; so I can forgive that misstep. This story is non-stop action with Jack and Sam running from one “safe” place to another, with bad guys chasing them every step of the way. Bad guys that do not held themselves and use every page of the Masters of Evil book to get what they want. We have showers of bullets, car chases, crooked cops, traps… A whole menu of action scenes that make this book a really fast and light reading. It keeps the reader engaged all the time, with little rest to catch your breath and put a bit of romance. In that aspect, the book is superb as a summer reading.

The characters are nothing extraordinaire or with any trait that set them apart from other couples in the Romance genre, but they fit seamlessly into the story. Sam is a remarkable strong woman, being capable of rising a kid while running from one place to another in order to save their lives. It is a wonder she is capable of trusting anyone after witnessing how her father can buy almost anyone to put them aganist her daughter. Jack is also a nice character. It is not the classic ex-soldier that becomes a policeman, detective or bodyguard. He has other dreams as a teacher and farmer, what possibly makes him be less robotic about human relationships. He is also the star of some of the cutest scenes of the book, where he researches in YouTube how to take care of a kid or the time he compares changing a diaper to assembling a rifle.

With those two as the main couple, the romance comes pretty easy. It is simple and sweet, with enough passion to suppress yawns. It is not mindblowing and it won’t leave a mark, but it is the perfect companion for the action. If you prefer more the romance side than the action one, then this book is not for you.

I must also congratulate the author on those chapters where Stefan gets the focus. Stefan is the father, the big bad mafia boss. And yes, he is evil and doesn’t deserve a second chance, but getting to know him a bit has been a nice touch that has made the story much richer. I hope the time in prison makes him reflect on his actions and realize he could haver been a much better person.

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2019 – Book Gallery

The Debt – Jackie Ashenden

debt

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Author: Jackie Ashenden
Release day:  September 1st 2019
Pages: 192

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Ruthless billionaire Ash Evans finds the sexiest way to collect on a debt in the first installment in The Billionaire’s Club quartet!

Notoriously ruthless property developer Ash Evans never forgives a debt. And I have two days to convince the former street fighter not to pull his investment in my father’s company. Taking a job as his chauffeur in Paris is the only way to get close enough to ask the bad-tempered billionaire for a favor.

With his sexy tattoo, scars and magnificently cut body, he’s as powerful, sleek and difficult to manage as the sports cars my family designs. And after meeting his electric-blue eyes in the rearview mirror all night, I’m more than happy to rev his engine and take the boss for a ride!

But now Ash thinks I’m just using him to get what I want. And he’ll give me what I need, but there is a price—posing as his girlfriend to help him exact vengeance on his half brother. Pretending to love Ash is the easiest job I’ve ever had…and soon my heart is racing into danger. Will a man so full of anger ever be capable of loving me back?

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have hit a bump on my reading journey lately. The last books I have picked are more in the forgettable side of the spectrum. I was aware that my quest to get rid of the NetGalley ARCs I requested would bring some less interesting stories, but the last one I reviewd totally killed my reading mood. I needed something unexpected and that is what I have got with the next ARC on the list. Simple, direct, entertaining… less flourishes and more sustancial bites.

We follow the adventures of Ellie, a supercar designer (I guess that’s a thing…) who works in her family business. A company that is going through tough times and it is about to lose one of the most important investors. So, the resourceful designer comes with the plan to become the chauffeur of the investor to get some alone time with him to smooth things over. The investor is not other than Ash, the arrogant and sexy billionaire who eats princesses for breakfast…Thankfully, Ellie is far from one!!

The story is nothing new in Romance (hard to invent new plots in such a crowded genre), but it is presented alomost perfectly. The heroes have a clear mission, one to save the investment and the other to buy some islands. Both quests are important to them, so I am very glad that the author didn’t forget about those plot threads as soon as they get naked. Too many times, the story just become an excuse to just tell the romance. Reading otherwise makes me grateful for picking the book. Even though it is a short book, I have read even shorter ones that get stuck and are incapable of going forward. In this case, every single chapters takes us one step further, so there are no dull moments tempting my skipping skills. Perfect pace for a light reading!

I enjoyed the exchanges between the main characters, but I must admit I was expecting more fire. Ash is a pretty rude guy, with no filter who just say whatever he pleases without worrying about the receptor’s feelings. Due to his position, noone is brave enough to tell him to be gentler. But Ellie doesn’t take his bullshit and fights him every step of the way (which is what made him attracted to her). Taking that into account, I would have expected more banter, more funny or absurd conversations to proof who is tougher. I think the book misses too many chances of making us laugh. I know is not sold as a Romantic Comedy book, but the setting was so good for one that I am a bit sad that we didn’t get at least a couple of funny moments.

The anojoyable story could have been easily ruined with badly handle characters. But it is not the case. Both of them are pretty cool, with enough dark corners to keep us engaged, but not too much to make them unrealistic. Ash is what in the Romance genre is called a bully: arrogant, rude, insensitive, bossy… A cold-hearted bastard. That kind of character can be a pain to read if you are not careful, but this billionaire with the fighter body and the sexy facial scars (yes, those can be hot too… haven’t you met Geralt de Rivia?) is pretty well balanced and we soon learn that there is a heart beating inside that hardened surface. Enough to be able to sympathtize with him, because, in my book, 100% bullies don’t get my support. It helps that opposite him he has a strong woman who doesn’t take any of his bullshit just because he poops dollars.

They are not perfect. Actually, since the beginning I just wanted to yell at them due to the stupidity both of them were sporting proudly. Ash because he thinks the world spins around him and has wasted half of his life trying to avenge his mother’s trust… Have you heard the expression “hug it out“? Seriously, bro… way cheaper. And Ellie… How can a character with such strong persoanlity belive that she was the one to blame for the current money problems of the company? I know family is important, but her dad is pure poison and she should know it… being a modern woman and all. I’m glad she found Ash and someone was honest with her. Sometimes brutish is better than soft mannered.

All in all, the romance was great. With small steps at a time and a hopeful ending. Not the copy/paste I’m always afraid of. Also, the sex scenes are really great. Sweet when they need to be and naughty when they call for it. With a very soft dominant undertone that is thousands of time hotter than going full steam with the BDSM concept that is sadly horribly used in too many cases.

I wasn’t expecting to like this book that much. It has replenished my energy to face the ARCs that I have yet to read. I will have to check more books written by this factor, because I have truly enjoyed her direct way of telling the story.

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2019 – Book Gallery