Thursday, February 21, 2019

Release Blitz & Review: Finding the Fight - Brittney Sahin

Finding the Fight
A Stealth Ops Novel
by Brittney Sahin
Publication Date: February 21, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense

Their well-kept secrets are about to unravel.

Former CIA officer Jessica Scott and Navy SEAL Asher Hayes have worked together for years as part of a black-ops team for the president, but Jessica’s close encounter with death is about to change everything between them . . .

As the team hunts down her abductor and tries to prevent an impending attack, Asher will stop at nothing to protect the woman he cares about. But will his actions push Jessica, aka the Ice Queen, further away; or will he knock down her impenetrable walls?

With their pasts coming back to haunt them, and their insatiable desire for each other pushing them to the brink, Asher and Jessica will find themselves faced with impossible choices–ones that could topple their very world.

In this high-stakes mission, will they be able to find the fight inside of them to win–or will this be one mission that hits far too close to home?

A standalone romantic suspense novel in the Stealth Ops SEAL Series.
Purchase: Amazon
Available on Kindle Unlimited
5 Stars
Brittney Sahin fans' most anticipated book in the Stealth Ops series is here, Navy SEAL Asher Hayes finally gets his time to shine in Finding the Fight. Asher is the tough guy in the special black-ops team, known for fighting and throwing himself into the fire. He ribs on everyone, but particularly on former CIA officer Jessica Scott. The entire team knows there's sparks flying between the two, but they have no idea just how much. When Jessica is targeted the team agrees to go rogue to stop any future attacks, but Asher? He's willing to do whatever it takes, even if that means ruining whatever might be brewing between the two. As the stakes get higher and the mission gets personal, Asher and Jessica have to decide if they have the will to fight or accept failure.

"He was living two lives lately. It'd been easier back in the day. He never walked the fine line. No need to balance."

The buildup to Jessica and Asher finally putting into motion the chemistry between them has been going on since book one in the series. The side comments from Asher, Jessica's nickname of Peaches, and the great care Jessica takes to avoid one on one time with him has made it all painfully obvious that these two had some unfinished business. Of course, it isn't just lust and flirty banter between these two, there's an unspoken rule that Team Guys don't go after fellow Team Guy's sibling, and Jessica is just that. High-stake ops and dangerous missions, as well as Asher being back around family for the first time in years, really brings out the emotion in him, making him question his mortality and his wants, making him turn to fighting again. Jessica has always been better about hiding behind her walls, but when she's abducted and injured she comes home different, her walls broken a bit, and Asher finds his way in.

"But you need to find the fihgt inside of you. It's in there. I know it."

I love how sensitive tough guy Asher was with her, all while trying to feed his inner beast with secret fights and making risky moves to protect both Jessica and the world from further attacks. I think Ashers always been a good guy despite his bad boy appearances, I think Finding the Fight really highlighted that about him. We see him with his family, we learn about the events that hardened him and turned him into the stubborn, brash, handsome man we know. Jessica, on the other hand, has been a mystery to us and Brittney Sahin really developed her in this story. We understand her a little more than we had previously and the slow burn of the romance makes it realistic, because old Jessica would not have been on board. Like the previous novels, the secondary characters play a huge role in the story and bring the setting, the team, to life. Not only could I hear Jessica and Asher bantering in my head, but I could picture the guys as they fought against the bad guys intent on wreaking havoc. This book isn't just emotional and romantic, it's riveting, suspenseful, and an action-packed ride.

“'You,' he whisper-said. 'You changed me.' He took a breath and mumbled, 'Whether I like it or not.'”

While Asher may not be my personal favorite of the bunch, he is certainly the best looking and the one who most obnoxiously begged for a story. He's a limelight stealer, but in a good way. Like the man who inspired his image, Jason Momoa, Asher is larger than life and this story brings him back down to earth, giving readers a chance to get to know him and see another side of him. We get to see he's more than just talk and risk taking, he's got a big heart and a past that shaped him. And Jessica? We get to know her in a way that allows us to see what Asher sees in her. They're a perfect fit, even if it took a long time for their roads to finally line up. Finding the Fight is such a fantastic standalone story and an incredible addition to the Stealth Ops series.

About Brittney Sahin

Brittney Sahin began writing at an early age, with the dream to be a published author before the age of 18. Although academic pursuits (and, later, a teaching career) interrupted her aspirations, she never stopped writing–never stopped imagining.

It wasn’t until her students encouraged her to follow her dreams that Brittney said goodbye to Upstate New York in order to start a new adventure in the place she was raised: Charlotte, North Carolina. Here, she decided to take her students’ advice and begin to write again.

In 2015, she published her first novel, The Safe Bet. When she is not working on upcoming novels, she spends time with her family. She is a proud mother of two boys, and a lover of suspense novels, coffee, and the outdoors.

Release Blitz & Review: What He Never Knew - Kandi Steiner

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What He Never Knew, a standalone teacher/student romance in the What He Doesn't Know series by bestselling author Kandi Steiner is live!
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I never learn my lesson.
And I always want what I can’t have.
When Sarah Henderson walks into my life, I tell myself she’s off limits. She’s my student, sixteen years younger than me, and my boss’s niece. It doesn’t matter that I see the same pain reflected in her eyes that I have in my own, or that the dead organ better known as my heart kicks to life when she’s around.
I’ve been here before, and I know how this ends.
It’s been two years since I fell for the last woman I knew I couldn’t have, the one with the ring on her finger that I chose to ignore.
Two years of trying to overcome that heartache when Sarah slides into my life.
Another woman I can’t have. Another woman I can’t stop myself from wanting.
I never learn my lesson, but with a constant reminder of how that last forbidden love burned, I think I’ve finally learned this one.
This time, I won’t chase what’s off limits.
This time, I’m staying away.
And I’ll keep telling myself that until I believe it.
Download your copy today!
Add to Goodreads
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5 Stars
Reese Walker is a piano genius that shied away from the spotlight and embraced a quieter life teaching piano to youths. He knows a star when he sees one and he doesn't see it in Sarah, the quiet, angry niece of his boss. Sarah Henderson is ready to stop hiding and wants to love the piano again, but it sparks fear in her still, even after being away from her old university for some time. Reese is her one chance to make her dreams happen again and she's ready to fight. When Reese sees that fight in Sarah he recognizes a bit of himself and as he helps her turn her emotions into notes he feels emotion stir in him again, kick starting his heart again after it had been trampled over. They both believe it's wrong, they know everyone else will too, but the feelings they have, the hope they share, it just might be their chance to know happiness again. 

"Reese was an entire universe, and the piano was a mere telescope we tried to see him through."

There are books that make you warm and fuzzy inside, there are books that make you angry, and there are books that make you sob in sadness, or in this case, in solidarity. What He Never Knew is one of those reads that quickly became very personal for me, my connection with it may not be the same as it is for everyone else, and I ultimately loved it due to that personal connection. It's very easy to gloss over the ugly, to allow romance to clean up the mess, or to tackle difficult subjects in a way that isn't sensitive at all. I can name on just two hands the books I've read that have tackled the incident in this novel well and What He Never Knew by Kandi Steiner has just been added to that list. 

Sarah's situation isn't unique, but Kandi's sensitivity to it is. Sarah is at first despondent, she is defensive and angry, and she has given up the things she loves. She's left university, ashamed and afraid of the incident that occurred. She's left it all behind and now, after hiding, has moved to Pennsylvania to try to train on the piano again. What He Never Knew is her butterfly moment captured on pages, it's her opening up, embracing the beautiful parts of life again, and learning that the tragedies don't have to hold us down. She learns to love music again, to open up, and to trust. Reese Walker, who I loved so very much from the What He Doesn't Know duet, is her piano teacher and while he is significantly older than her he sees that she is wise beyond her years. He sees a darkness in her that he sees in himself, he too finds someone to trust with the things that have weighed him down. He shows her how to harness that pain and while he watches the piano make her shine again he begins to fall.

"He searched my gaze like I was a puzzle with all the right pieces shoved in all the wrong places, and I'd never felt more pegged down in my entire life."

Kandi Steiner is always one of my favorites, she can write angst and love in such a way that you feel it too, but in my opinion this is her at her very best. This story is told in a descriptive, lyrical way, moving much like the piano Sarah plays. It's a story of loss and tragedy, of forgiveness and hope, and of love and strength. I really appreciated the character development in this book, especially with Reese recognizing his poor behavior and Sarah realizing that her initial choice to hide isn't the right choice at all. While it is incredibly heavy, it features the promise of love, a feeling we all know how to cling to. Reese and Sarah, though unconventional, heal one another and no one can deny that their broken pieces fit together perfectly. They bring out the best in one another and even when things are hard they each push themselves to overcome it. 

"'For the record,' he finally said. 'I am in your corner.'"

If you are not afraid of an emotional read, get this one in your hands right away. I do recommend reading the duet first, but this book is equally brilliant as a standalone. Fans of Reese will be so happy he finally got the HEA he deserved, but fans of the romance genre in general will be over the moon about the gorgeous, realistic story Kandi Steiner has gifted us.
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About Kandi:
Kandi Steiner is a bestselling author and whiskey connoisseur living in Tampa, FL. Best known for writing “emotional rollercoaster” stories, she loves bringing flawed characters to life and writing about real, raw romance — in all its forms. No two Kandi Steiner books are the same, and if you’re a lover of angsty, emotional, and inspirational reads, she’s your gal.
An alumna of the University of Central Florida, Kandi graduated with a double major in Creative Writing and Advertising/PR with a minor in Women’s Studies. She started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a diehard hopeless romantic, and likes to highlight all the challenges of love as well as the triumphs.
When Kandi isn’t writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys live music, traveling, anything heavy in carbs, beach days, movie marathons, craft beer and sweet wine — not necessarily in that order.
Connect with Kandi:
Kandi Steiner may be coming to a city near you! Check out her “events” tab to see all the signings she’s attending in the near future:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: His Dark Magic - Pat Esden

His Dark Magic (Northern Circle Coven, #1)
by Pat Esden
Published: December 11th 2018 by Lyrical Press
Genre: NA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle's real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .

Now Merlin's demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin's uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can't defeat—and a passion that could destroy her.

4 Stars

Chloe Winslow wants a fresh start in Vermont, an opportunity to be the version of herself she knows she can be, all while studying medicine in hopes of righting the wrongs of her past. As a witch who is unaware of her true strength, Chloe is invited to the mysterious Northern Circle Coven, with their high priestess offering her the chance to harness her powers. Chloe finds herself crushing on fellow coven member, Devlin, with her lust for him and her desire to learn glossing over her common sense. When the coven attempts to awaken Merlin himself they find that not every member's motive is for good and Chloe must trust blindly and put her faith behind her untrained power to discern good from evil.

The foggy Vermont shores are meant to be an escape for Chloe, a place for her to learn how she can combine her power and medicine, but it soon becomes a fight to not drown in the dark magic that calls to her as the coven unearths the shade of Merlin. A classic new adult character, Chloe easily allows her emotions to get the better of her, allowing the story to be a mix of romance and gothic witch drama. She discovers that trust, while easy to give at first, can be tested too many times, and that power can be intoxicating even when thought to be used for good. I enjoyed Chloe's naivety and felt it really allowed the story to progress with significant character development. I was intrigued by her past and her future hopes, especially as she joined the coven and fell for the promise of power. Her romance with Devlin, though brief in their interactions, happens very quickly, which really highlighted Chloe's youthfulness. However, she builds a strong friendship with another local witch and I loved them as friends, their dialogue was so fresh and entertaining.

His Dark Magic was the perfect story to introduce a new series, especially with the format of the Northern Circle Coven series where each is told from the perspective of different characters. While the setting, general character personalities, and the overarching plot line of light versus dark magic is obvious, there was little detail given on the rest. I wanted to understand the characters and their ties to the coven more, in fact I wanted to understand the coven more in general. We aren't given enough information and while the characters are fiercely protective of it we don't understand why. On top of that, we aren't given motives behind why some of the characters have chosen to go dark. It's a very large part of this first novel and I think it could have been explained further. I am, however, looking forward to exploring the dark versus light side of the characters in the future novels, especially now that lines have been drawn and characters have chosen sides.

His Dark Magic is a stunning fantasy and paranormal release from Pat Esden that introduces a new series that I am very much looking forward to reading. It reminded me of the books I used to read about witches in the early '00's that I enjoyed so much. I enjoyed the characters, the overarching theme of good and evil, the friendships, and I loved the contemporary setting that the coven managed to somehow still fit into. I recommend His Dark Magic to fans of new adult paranormal/fantasy reads.

ARC provided.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Cover Reveal: Violent Delights - Jessica Hawkins

Violent Delights
by Jessica Hawkins
Release date: 2.26.19
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Cover Photographer: Perrywinkle Photography

In the de la Rosa family, old grudges run deeper than loyalty, and betrayal is a three-letter word: war. But this feud isn’t between enemies. It’s between brothers. And I’m the prize.

I was born a princess among criminals. An untouchable among thieves. Heiress to a life others have killed for, and one I'd do anything to escape. I vowed not to leave without Diego, my first love and best friend, but if his ruthless brother has his way, I won’t leave at all. Cristiano de la Rosa is a man as big and bold as his legend. Once upon a time, he was our cartel’s best soldier . . . until he became my family’s worst enemy.

A man like Cristiano will bend fate to his will to get what he wants. Even if it means dragging me to hell—and tearing me from his brother's arms.

“She is mine.”
Three words from two different men.
A life, future, and love I don’t get to choose.

Pre-Order Now:

Friday, February 8, 2019

Tackling my TBR Review: You Only Need One - Lauren Connolly

The list of books I'd like to read is long, so long that I actually think it might be impossible to ever catch up on. I might need to stop finding new books and authors I'd like to read. I don't see that happening either. So, I thought for 2019 I'd make myself a goal and read two TBR pile reads a month.  This will force me out of my usual comfort zone, reading authors new releases that I know will always be a win for me, and making me read books that I have let slide to the side in favor of that previously mentioned comfort zone.
I have 113 backlog Advance Reader Copies (yikes) to get through and according to Goodreads I've got 1,628 books that I'd like to read saved. Two books will only make a tiny dent, but at least I'll know I'm making an effort to read something new. I'll be sharing those reviews here and on Goodreads and hopefully you'll find yourself inspired to start tackling your TBR pile too.

You Only Need One

by Lauren Connolly
Published November 14th 2018

She’s agreed to give him her kidney, but he wants her heart.

Ben Gerhard lives his days reliant on a machine to keep him alive. His kidney failure has progressed rapidly, and none of his family or friends are matches to donate. Then relief comes in the form of Holly Foster. She’s bossy, adorable, and willing to undergo surgery to save Ben. Problem is, the more time he spends around her, the more he wants her to see him as a something other than the sick guy she’s agreed to help. Holly gets Ben to share hidden parts of himself, all the while keeping him at a distance.

Holly cannot be attracted to Ben Gerhard. That’s what she tells herself repeatedly even as his charming smile, constant jokes, and soothing presence entice her to let her guard down. But anything other than a friendly relationship would put the kidney exchange at risk, and there is nothing in the world Holly wants more than to save her brother. They’ve been burned in the past, and this time needs to go smoothly. Problem is, Holly is finding that the guy whose life she’s agreed to save is becoming an integral part of her own.

If she’s not careful, he’ll take more than she’s willing to give...

4 Stars
For me, You Only Need One was like a contemporary version of a Lurlene McDaniel novel. Lauren Connolly tells the story of Holly, a sister fighting to find her brother a new kidney, and Ben, a young man dependent on dialysis as he waits for a donor match as well. A donor exchange program finds Holly as Ben's savior and, with any luck, Ben's cousin will be the perfect match for Holly's brother. The program allows them to spend time together and while each is determined to let their attraction lie low, flirtation and romance blossom between Holly and Ben. Holly knows the risks though, she's felt the pain of seeing her brother lose matches, she knows what it's like to not be the match. A relationship with Ben is a risk, the biggest kind, but saving him and loving him are starting to feel like one and the same.

A quick, feel good read, You Only Need One is a perfect New Adult Romance. The pacing, the slow burn romance, and the honest portrayal of relationships as a youth made me fall in love with this story. Holly is certainly "weird," as Ben likes to call her. She's an organized list maker who takes just about everything personally, but she's also courageous, smart, and incredibly caring. She works through some heavy stuff in the novel, but it made her feel more real. People and their lives aren't perfect and Holly is never portrayed as such. Ben is the handsome nerd who hasn't allowed his silver spoon life to ruin him. He's a hard worker, adventurous, and well on the way to discover his life calling while faced with death. Lauren Connolly works through the mortality of the character's lives uniquely, their relationships helping them along and developing them. I think it made the romance mature and the topic, while sensitive, readable and understandable.

Not a typical recycled storyline NA read, You Only Need One features compelling characters that sweep you into their story with Lauren Connolly's brilliant writing. This was definitely an excellent, quick read for me that I highly recommend to NA fans.

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