Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Chasing Shadows by Brittney Sahin

Chasing Shadows 
(Stealth Ops #9)
by Brittney Sahin
Published March 25th 2021

From the hunters . . . to the hunted.

When former CIA officer, Harper Brooks, joined an elite unit of special operators, her mission was to serve and protect, not to fall in love. But Roman Riviera was like no one she’d ever met.

Echo Four was the quiet one. A broody genius. And that intense and gorgeous Navy SEAL stole her heart. But would he also steal her focus?

Roman may have set his sights on Harper, but being together could prove fatal for the brilliant, witty woman he couldn’t stop thinking about—and he couldn’t risk her life for love.

After giving in to the intense attraction, Harper and Roman are desperate to save their friendship . . . until an operation goes awry, forcing them to question everything, even each other.

With Echo and Bravo Teams cornered by an unexpected threat, Roman must share his closely guarded secrets to protect the teams. But sometimes facing your demons means having to become a devil in a three-thousand-dollar suit.

In this risky game of cat-and-mouse, Roman and Harper will be tested like never before, and all bets are off the table.

Chasing Shadows is a full-length standalone romantic suspense novel with no cliffhanger and a happily-ever-after. 

4 Stars

Roman and Harper gave into the attraction they share, but neither can commit, their secrets hold them back, so they vow to keep it a friendship so that they can remain focused on their work within a special operations unit. When a request for Harper comes from someone in her CIA past, the team follows to protect her as she meets the informant. It is there that Roman begins to realize that he cannot deny his need for her and there that a threat against the Bravo and Echo teams happens in the form of a car explosion. As more threats pop up, leading them down a path that just might turn deadly, both Harper and Roman's shadows come to light. Together they must chase the shadows.

Oh man, Brittney just keeps nailing it with the Stealth Ops series, this time with Roman and Harper, two of my more recent faves in the books. Harper is a more subdued female in Brittney's line of strong female characters, but she is no less smart, sassy, or strong. I liked how different she is, she's a truly fresh face and brings a unique perspective to the teams and the cases they handle. Roman, on the other hand, is as broody as he's been as a secondary character, only with the dirtiest thoughts ever. These two can get indecent, but they shape up when things go south on their mission. This whole dang book is on fire, both in chemistry and action, which makes it so hard to put down.

This one had a lot more romance, at least in my opinion, than previous novels in the series and I have to say, I liked it. There was a lot of building blocks to Roman and Harper's relationship and getting that insight was such a nice treat. Plus, this one has a lot of suspense and a lot of nail biting scenes, so I needed the lighter dialogue and sizzling chemistry to break it up. Written in dual-perspectives, Chasing Shadows is the ninth book in the Stealth Ops series, but is a complete standalone. That's right, you can read any of Brittney's books by themselves or all together, which is my personal favorite, because she is fantastic at giving readers glimpses into previous characters lives. If you're a romantic-suspense fan, don't skip on Chasing Shadows OR Brittney Sahin.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian

It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake
by Claire Christian
Published February 23rd 2021 by Mira

What if you made yourself your number one priority?

Of all the women and men Noni Blake has pleased in her life, there's one she's often overlooked--herself. After the end of a decade-long relationship, Noni decides it's time for that to change. She's finally going to prioritize her wants and desires and only do things (and people) that feel good in the moment.

As she embarks on a pleasure-seeking quest that takes her halfway around the world, she discovers that maybe she can have everything, and everyone, she's ever wanted.

Effortlessly hilarious and relatable, Claire Christian spins a fresh, feel-good tale about starting over as a thirtysomething woman who's been living life for everyone else. A story of self-discovery for the ages, Noni's journey serves as a sparkling reminder that life is what we make of it--so why not enjoy it?

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5 Stars

It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake was just such a joy to read. Noni Blake is here, she's queer, she's loud, and she's not really proud yet, but she's getting there. Noni's journey of self discovery, of learning to own her emotions and who she is, was beautiful and so authentic. She's been so bereft since the dissolution of her marriage that she's not paid attention to that fact she's unhappy, that she's been unhappy. Happiness is not as easy as love though, it's not as easy as following a list you make, it's not checking boxes, and Noni's figuring that out. She's doing the what ifs, quite literally, and making up some more along the way. What ensues is a hilarious, sometimes serious, adventure in sexuality, happiness, grief, and love. I read It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake in one sitting and if I could read it for the first time again I would, I just loved it so much.

I am of the perspective that her queerness was not looked over, rather Claire Christian writes it matter of fact. You know, the way we should treat it, rather than as some big difference. Why yes, I am queer in case you were wondering, and I do think I should just be treated equally and reading a book where the MC is treated that way was so nice. I am also of the belief that owning our sexuality is our business and what we do with it is personal and not up for discussion, so good for Noni for doing what she wanted sexually. It wouldn't be what I do, but I sure loved reading about it and the power it gave her. Oh, you don't think sleeping around should give people power? Good thing it isn't up to you. It helped things click for her and it made her face good and bad parts of her life, her choices, her thoughts. I was ALL ABOUT IT.

Noni Blake is the kind of character you grow to love, just like she grows to love herself. What is once embarrassingly awkward and painful self-criticism turns to embracing that awkwardness and learning to cheer for oneself. She finds joy in making choices for herself, in putting herself first, and in learning how saying yes, and sometimes no, are the key to happiness even if it doesn't make others happy. It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake is a satisfying, profound read about self love and empowerment and I cannot recommend it enough.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

The Girls Are All So Nice Here
by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published March 9th 2021 by Simon & Schuster

Two former best friends return to their college reunion to find that they’re being circled by someone who wants revenge for what they did ten years before—and will stop at nothing to get it—in this shocking psychological thriller about ambition, toxic friendship, and deadly desire.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death

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3.5 Stars

Ambrosia Wellington is going to be an IT girl in college, she just knows it. She's spent all her time and money studying the other half, except she landed the good girl roommate and within a week she knows she's being left out of things by the others in her dorm. Enigmatic and boy popular Sloane "Sully" takes her under her wing though, taking her to all the parties and getting her access to all the boys. This is all she wanted.

Ten years later and Ambrosia has left the mean girl days behind, so far behind she pretends they never happened. Her husband knows her as the studious girl, but an invite to her reunion is about to unveil all her secrets. What did Amb do at Wesleyan College and who else knows about it?

The other girls may have been nice, but Amb sure wasn't and Sully was even worse. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn took me back to college days, in my case I loved my sorority and college experience, but Amb's choices her freshman year are things she could never come back from. I felt for Amb through out the chapters told from her past perspective, her eagerness to fit in is so relatable, but adult Amb is a hard character. She hasn't matured at all and what little remorse she does feel is so quickly pushed to the side in favor of a "friend" who left her in the dust. While the book is very new adult in the drama of the past, the present chapters holds all the thrill. I liked not knowing who was out to get Amb and Sully, each little incident building up to the secrets the girls hold tight to, but there were so many holes and the big reveal lacked the shock factor I really want out of a thriller read.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here is full of very realistic incidents. It's a fiction novel, but the choices the girls make as college students are choices we see young adults make every day. College is freedom and what some people do with that freedom is shocking. Laurie Elizabeth Flynn delivers a thrilling novel about women and revenge.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Blog Tour: Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

Her Dark Lies
J.T. Ellison
On Sale Date: March 9, 2021
9780778388302, 0778388301
Trade Paperback
$16.99 USD, $21.99 CAD
Fiction / Thrillers / Domestic

Fast-paced and brilliantly unpredictable, J.T. Ellison’s breathtaking new novel invites you to a wedding none will forget—and some won’t survive.

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

4.5 Stars

What's meant to be a beautiful, private wedding turns into a dark, atmospheric thriller you cannot put down. Talk about a book with a body count! Claire Hunter has done everything to fit in Jack's life, she isn't there for his family's money, she truly does love him, but she's holding onto some secrets. Jackson Compton has secrets of his own, including that he might have liked Claire more with her tattoos, but his biggest secret might just ruin the idyllic Italian island wedding. The weekend is marred by disaster after disaster, with the family and Claire threatened from every angle. More than that though, Jack's long deceased wife has some secrets in the crypt that could upend everything.

Slow, descriptive, and haunting, Her Dark Lies is a wedding thriller with just the right amount of mystery and intrigue. I loved the historic location and the naturally mysterious atmosphere that comes with a location rumored to be haunted. Jack and Claire are both intriguing characters, I enjoyed getting their individual backstories over the course of the book rather than all up front. Plus, the mysterious third perspective makes the two all the more interesting. I asked myself several times, "what do I not know her?" With the power out, the wedding plans threatened, and secrets spilling from every mouth I could not put this book down.

So, I admit I had my hesitations when I saw this book. Its cover and general premise sounded quite similar to a book I loved last year, but I like J.T. Ellison quite a lot so I had to give it a try. I am quite happy to report that outside of the cover, similarities in location, stormy weather, and of course, the wedding plotline, Her Dark Lies is a standout, unique thriller. This one gets dark and the danger lurks in every corner, so go in prepared to be surprised.

About the Author:

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. She lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Bet the Farm by Staci Hart

Bet The Farm
by Staci Hart
Published February 23rd 2021 

Olivia Brent has one summer to save the dairy farm she just inherited.

But there’s one problem, and it’s not her lactose intolerance.

Jake Milovic.

The brooding farmhand has inherited exactly fifty percent of Brent Farm, and he’s so convinced the city girl can’t work the land, he bets she can’t save it in a summer.

Determined to prove him wrong, Olivia accepts what might be the dumbest wager of her life.

His strategy to win seems simple: follow her around, shirtlessly distracting her between bouts of relentless taunting. And it’s effective—if his dark eyes and rare smiles aren’t enough to sidetrack her, the sweaty, rolling topography of the manbeast’s body would do the trick.

What they don’t know: they’ll have to weather more than each other.

Mysterious circumstances throw the farm into disarray, and with the dairy farm in danger, Olivia and Jake have to work together. But when they do, there’s more to fear than either of them imagined.

Because now their hearts are on the line, and the farm won’t be the only casualty if they fail.

Add to Goodreads | Amazon

5 Stars

Olivia Brent's suitcase has always been pink, from the moment she arrived on the farm for her grandfather to raise her, to the time she left to live life and attend school in New York. This time, though, the suitcase is full of the things she'll need to make her life on the farm. She knows her grandfather has trusted her with the farm and she wants to turn it around, if Jake Milovic will let her. He doesn't think she'll last three months, let alone a lifetime. She accepts a wager, but along the way they discover they need each other if they want the farm to succeed.

"She smelled like whiskey and springtime and trouble …"

Looking for something sweet and heartfelt? Bet the Farm is the book to pick up. With a quirky, sassy main character and a farmhand with a chip on his shoulder, Staci Hart tells a story of love, family, and figuring out who you really are and who you need beside you. I loved Olivia, I have dairy farming in my family too and I also am lactose intolerant. It was fun to have so many connections with a character, I really felt like I could see myself in her, which made the book all the more enjoyable for me. Jake is a stubborn, typical farmhand, but underneath his chiseled body is a teddy bear heart. He's gruff, but there's a reason for it, and I love that Staci didn't make him such a typical hero. They both want the farm to succeed, but grief and firm personal beliefs have them at odds. They really are sunshine and darkness, but the chemistry between them is undeniable. Their taunts, their fights, the hidden lust, it all makes for such a great romance read.

Bet the Farm is the latest release from Staci Hart and another book I just couldn't put down. I needed the laughs and I needed the tears. It's another well written, entertaining novel and I highly recommend it to my fellow romcom fans.

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