Crime Lord’s Paradise (Crime Lord #4.5)

crimelord

After Gavin Pyre steps down from his position as crime lord, he and Lyla focus on picking up the pieces of their lives and creating the paradise they deserve.

Publisher’s Note: This novella intersects with book 4, Awakened by Sin, so books should be read in sequence.

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This is a 128 page novella that catches us up with original couple Lyla and Gavin in the Crime Lord series. I’m pretty sure this book is the result of obsessive and persistent begging from fans, lol.

OMG. I had forgotten how completely badass Gavin is!! He is uber sexy and dark and it is overwhelmingly obvious in this instalment that Lyla is the only thing keeping him just this side of the line.

But, man! that girl has changed. She went from this annoying, facetious young woman in the introduction to the series to a fierce woman and mother, battling PTSD and poor parenting models and rising above.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. It felt a bit like a catch-up with old friends and will eagerly await book #5.

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Defiance (Masters of the Shadowlands #13.5)

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Z’s day begins with sadness
A phone call from a dying friend leaves psychologist Zachary Grayson determined to fulfill the old survivalist’s request–a send-off that will comfort his grieving sons.

And then turns deadly
The death threat is only the beginning…because the letter isn’t a hoax. Z walks out of his office into a barrage of bullets. He can take being shot at, but when the second shot splinters the empty child-seat in his car, he’s shaken to the core. The horror of what would have happened if his little girl had been there spurs him to action.

Master Z is a Dom, a husband, a father—every instinct drives him to protect those under his care. When the police can’t catch his stalker, he must take matters into his own hands.

He must keep danger far from those he loves.
Secrecy and distance is the key. The funeral in Alaska is the perfect location, especially since Z won’t be alone. The survivalist’s sons have grown into men with lethal skills. With their help, he can trap the shooter and keep his family safe.

As long as his impetuous and all-too-observant wife, Jessica, doesn’t discover he’s using himself as bait.

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Defiance is a novella in the Shadowlands series. It serves to give an update on original couple – and fan favourites – “Z” and Jessica, and also to introduce a new contemporary romance series the author will premiere in January. I really like that she is starting her new series in this manner. Even if I wish she was writing certain other books for characters desperately in need of a HEA!

This short story is listed as #13.5 in the Shadowlands series, but I think it should also be listed as 0.5 in the new series. The style of writing is much more romance than erotica. There are sex scenes between Z and Jessica, but nothing like we’re used to seeing in the Shadowlands.

Defiance is a contemporary romance with military themes. It was enjoyable and I think it will flow well through both series, although regular readers might not be prepared for the lack of steam. Ms. Sinclair is one of the few authors I know who can take the short word count necessary in a novella and still produce a cohesive, nuanced story with character development, emotions and background characters.

There is a secondary character, DeVries, who pops up. He is from Mrs. Sinclair’s Dark Haven series. It was nice to see these universes blending again… I had a dark satisfaction throughout the story, knowing that DeVries hates the cold and got stuck working in Alaska to protect Z.

I am still devastated that my favourite author is moving away from the BDSM scene – at least in her books. However, I am looking forward to following up with these new characters in her upcoming Alaskan series. They might not be Doms, but they sure are alphas!

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Twisted Loyalties (The Camorra Chronicles #1)

Camorra Chronicles 1

Fabiano was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps as Consigliere of the Chicago Outfit – until the man abandons him. Left to fend for himself, Fabiano is forced to fight for a place in the mafia world. As a ruthless street fighter, he quickly earns his place as the new Enforcer of the Las Vegas Camorra – a man to fear.

Leona wants to build a decent life for herself, away from her drug-addicted mother. But soon she catches the attention of a dangerous man – Fabiano Scuderi. Staying out of trouble and living a normal life are near impossible with a man like him.
Leona knows she needs to avoid Fabiano, but men like him aren’t easy to shake off. They always get what they want.

Fabiano cares about only one thing: the Camorra.
But his attraction to Leona soon puts his unwavering loyalty to the test. Is Leona worth risking everything he’s fought for, and ultimately his life?

This is the first book in the Camorra Chronicles. This series is a spinoff from the Bound Series. Both are Mafia romance.

I have had a love-hate relationship with several of my one-click authors lately, and unfortunately, this is one of them.

I detested the previous book that I read from this author, so I bought Twisted Loyalties with some hesitation. It was better than I worried it would be, but also is not one I can imagine myself reading again and again.

Fabiano is very different from the little boy of 5 that we first met. He has grown up hard and dark and cruel, so much so that he would be willing to kill his own sister for political gain, if ordered to by his Boss.

I found that these characters were difficult for me to relate to, although the write is much improved from what I recently experienced in the previous novel.

I do intend to read the next book and hope that Ms. Reilly is able to build on it.

So should I recommend this book? If you are a mafia romance junkie or like your heroes dark, definitely give it a go. Otherwise I would say pass and save your money.

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The Rebel’s Secret (Ride Hard #3)

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She was determined to claim her revenge. He was determined to claim her.
 Michaela Armistead had only revenge in mind when she stepped into that frontier saloon. Disguised as a boy, she had been on her father’s murderer’s trail since the end of the War Between The States. What she hadn’t counted on was Major John Thomas Brice, commanding officer of the nearby fort, taking her prisoner!

One look at those flashing violet eyes and Major Brice knew this was one little rebel who needed to be taken in hand. He would be damned if he allowed her to continue on her dangerous quest for revenge. She needed to learn, in this part of Texas, his word was law. If that lesson came at the end of a leather strap, then so be it.

Problem was, his feisty Rebel was not going to give in without a fight!

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The Rebel’s Secret is the third and final book in the Ride Hard series. Like the others, it could be read as a standalone. They are each set on the western frontier, shortly after the end of the American Civil War.

Michaela is tracking down her mother and stepfather, both cruel people who murdered her father and conspired to murder Michaela. She is intent on avenging her family when she runs into Major Brice.

This is definitely a case of instant love, especially from the hero’s perspective. He is intent on wedding and bedding his fierce and fiesty little lady, but it takes more than a couple of spankings to tame her!

This was my least favourite book in the series. For some reason, I just didn’t click with the characters and the lack of plot development in the book itself, and the series as a whole, was irritating.

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The Gunfighter’s Pursuit (Ride Hard #2)

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Emma Fairfax has a secret. She is not the prim and proper new schoolteacher this small Arizona town had been expecting from the East. Emma chased that poor woman away when she robbed her stagecoach and shot a man in cold blood. It wasn’t Emma’s fault. He would have shot her first. Now she was in a bind. No money. No place to go. A wanted criminal. Murderess! Her only way out was to pretend to be Miss Glendolene Rimmel, respectable schoolteacher.

And it was going remarkably well… until he rode into town.

Jackson Horn noticed two things straight away about the town’s pretty little schoolmarm. The sweet sashay of her hips when she walked… and that she was hiding something. As a Confederate soldier turned gunfighter after the war, he earned his money tracking down men for their bounties and hiring out his gun to the highest bidder. So he was good at spotting liars and thieves. He didn’t give a damn about the coin, what he really wanted was information on the man who framed him for murder. Each bounty, each kill brought him closer to his revenge.

The schoolteacher’s secret started out as a mild curiosity. A way to get closer to the straight-laced beauty’s charms.

Then she tried to kill him… twice.
Now Horn is determined to learn her secret. Determined to rein in her stubborn spirit and get her to accept his discipline and protection. He might even be falling in love with the feisty beauty… if he can get her to stop trying to kill him long enough!

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This is the second book in the Ride Hard series. It is set in the west, shortly after the American Civil War ended. This book could easily be read as a standalone.

Emma is terrified when she first meets Horn, convinced that he is a lawman tracking her down, ready to hang her as a murderess. Luckily for her, he is more of a bounty hunter – a hired gun – who has no intention of prohibiting a future with the lady he has fallen for.

The Gunfighter’s Pursuit is a short novel that I read in one sitting. It contains a couple of scenes of dubious consent, but I would not consider the novel to be “dark”.

If you are looking for a quick and easy read with dirty scenes and insta-love, this is one book I would recommend for a cozy evening in bed.

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Educated: a memoir (Tara Westover)

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An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

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Educated: a memoir is making the rounds of bestseller lists right now. I saw an ad for it online and didn’t even realize that it was a new release. So the audiobook request in my library got scrapped, and I had to read it on my trusty old ipad.

I have to say, this is one book I could not put down. It is thoroughly engrossing and I read it in a day and a half. It is shocking that her story takes place in recent days. Ms. Westover was born in 1986. She grew up in the 90s and early 2000s. She was a child who watched Y2K madness on television, the same as me.

She also didn’t get a birth certificate until she was 9. She didn’t see a dentist or medical professional until she went to university. She had never heard of the Holocaust until she was a student at Brigham Young University. Her upraising, and that of her siblings, is so unique and atypical that it baffles the mind that whole networks of people still live like this, in the modern day, in the “first world”.

While reading Educated, I also streamed this interview she gave to The Economist on their youtube channel, which I highly recommend.

Learning about her survivalist prepper upbringing in an ultra-conservative family in the mountains of Idaho was super interesting. Especially given the juxtaposition between her childhood and the eloquent, thoughtful speaker she is today as a highly educated, well-travelled young woman.

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