Tormentor Mine by Anna Zaires

Note: This is the first novel in a new series that is a spin-off of the Twist Me series, but Tormentor Mine CAN be read as a standalone.

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A new dark romance from New York Times bestseller Anna Zaires

He came to me in the night, a cruel, darkly handsome stranger from the most dangerous corners of Russia. He tormented me and destroyed me, ripping apart my world in his quest for vengeance.

Now he’s back, but he’s no longer after my secrets.

The man who stars in my nightmares wants me.

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Tormentor Mine is a dark romance novel written by Anna Zaires. The relationship between the two main characters is strained and non-consensual to begin with, but this book does not contain any scenes of rape or sexual violence between the hero and heroine. If you are a fan of the original series, Twist Me, I do not think this book is as dark in comparison.

I wish Tormentor Mine had been longer! I finished in about 3 hours so the most disappointing part of the story for me was that it ended so quickly! I have a bit of a book hangover from Peter and Sara, to say the least. They are my new favourite couple from this author and I cannot wait for the sequel! It hasn’t officially been announced yet, but it is obvious from the ending in TM that one will be written.

I was eagerly anticipating Peter Sokolov and ever since his introduction a couple of years ago, I have wondered at his actions and his backstory. Thankfully the author takes the time to provide all the information I had been hoping to get. And now, when my typical anti-hero romance authors have been going through a drought, I was especially excited to get my hands on a dark new book.

Sara is different from most of the previous heroines that Zaires has written, in that she is highly educated, confident and comfortable in her life. Not that everything is perfect – far from it – but she is a full-fledged OBGYN doctor, a homeowner and just generally seems to have all her shit together (unlike myself).

I like that Peter fell in love with her from afar.  His traumatic life, from childhood all the way up to the present, has created a need in him to possess love, to be fully in control of his woman. But this violent and controlling nature is tempered by fierce protective instincts.

Peter’s wife and son were murdered five years previously and although his marriage was one of convenience, he was affectionate towards this first wife and loved his son fiercely. In his relationship with Sara, he isn’t only protective of her safety or of his position in her life. He respects her intellect and her skills as a doctor, and is proud of her work with mothers and babies.

Peter respects her strength and the inherent emotional vulnerability that he sees in Sara. She is loyal, strong, compassionate and good. The type of good he hasn’t seen much of in his life and these are the main reasons that he decides to insert himself into her life. He has already fallen in love with her, knows he wants her to be his permanently, and also recognizes that his previous actions have left her absolutely terrified of him.

It is kind of cute and romantic – in a decidedly creepy way – that he inserts himself into her life completely against her will, and almost becomes a sort of househusband. During the daytime while she is working at the hospital, or volunteering at a free clinic, he does his super secret “shadow work” as the head of a team of assassins. But every night this run-down, underfed, stressed out, PTSD-suffering doc comes home to a home-cooked, candlelit meal, and is pampered and taken care of. He doesn’t press her for sex until she initiates it, just sleeps with her in his arms so that she can become desensitized to him and learn to trust him.

Peter has the power to abduct and keep Sara anywhere in the world. To keep her exclusively his. He makes sacrifices and undertakes significant risk to stay in her world, so that she can remain close to her family and care for her patients for as long as possible, supporting the work that she does. Sara’s wings may be clipped, but he still wants her to soar as high as possible, within the cage he has created.

I love how Zaires has expanded the original Twist Me world and introduced three new hunks with potential future hero statuses: Yan, Ilya and Anton. This is one book that I would love to see be turned into a movie!

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Shade’s Lady by Joanna Wylde

Shades’s Lady counts as book #6.5 in the Reapers MC series. It is a novella and a fun departure from the previous books. It tells the story of Shade, the national President of the Reapers MC and takes place in a different location than any of the other books. You won’t meet many familiar faces, but the new ones introduced certainly make up for it!

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Looking back, none of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t dropped my phone in the toilet. I mean, I could’ve walked away from him if I’d had it with me.

Or maybe not.

Maybe it was all over the first time he saw me, and he would’ve found another way. Probably—if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that Shade always gets what he wants, and apparently he wanted me.

Right from the first.

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So first off, this is a novella so obviously it is the shortest book so far. Also as obvious, I wish it was longer! I wanted to explore Shade more and the unique aspect he is in as national President of an outlaw MC. Most of the complaints that I had about the book stem from its shorter length, but I want to be fair and judge the book as the novella it was intended to be.

So I did love this book and feel that it added some freshness to the series. We didn’t get to revisit any of the former main characters, although readers were briefly introduced to Shade in a couple of earlier novels.The heroine, Mandy, is also completely new to Reapers MC.

The one thing that all heroines in this universe seem to share is that they have gumption! They are all real ladies, not too prissy or perfect and each has faults. But they have to have a certain level of confidence to stand up to an outlaw biker, and this is usually what attracts the hero to them.

Mandy has had a rough life so far but she gave up everything to support her sister and three little nieces going through a rough time. This pretty much nominates her to knighthood in my opinion, since she doesn’t even have a bed to sleep in as a result!

Shade has the patience of a Saint! It surprised me how much of a “good guy” he is considering his office, but I guess you need to have a fair amount of patience and diplomacy to be the big honcho.  I wish we could have explored his character more but you can only do so much in a novella. Hopefully, these characters will show up again in future books.

I love how the author weaved together the subplots and new cast of characters that Mandy brought with her. From her boss “Bone” to her family and the Sheriff’s Deputy her sister starts dating, I didn’t feel at that the story was lacking due to a smaller word count. It only became obvious in the club world. The only Club characters that really get introduced, besides Shade, are Dopey and his Old Lady.

This struck me as weird, since Shade supposedly has two brothers assigned to him at all times, in a bodyguard capacity. But we are only ever introduced to one. It would have made a lot more sense to me to either add on a couple of pages every few chapters to give Muscle #2 a storyline or to just write him out completely.

Otherwise, this story gets five stars and I cannot wait to get another book from Ms Wylde! She has recently teased that she is writing a book about Taz and that this will be the first book in a “side-quel”series about the Devil’s Jacks!!! Hopefully we also get Fathomless soon as well! It was originally supposed to be released in 2015 but apparently keeps getting pushed back due to publishing issues.

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Reaper’s Stand by Joanna Wylde

Reaper’s Stand is the fourth novel in the Reapers MC novel. Finally the CDA President of the Reapers MC gets a second chance at love ❤

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As Reapers Motorcycle Club president, Reese “Picnic” Hayes has given his entire life to the club. After losing his wife, he knew he’d never love another woman. And with two daughters to raise and a club to manage, that was just fine with him. These days, Reese keeps his relationships free and easy—he definitely doesn’t want to waste his time on a glorified cleaning lady like London Armstrong.

Too bad he’s completely obsessed with her.

Besides running her own business, London’s got her junkie cousin’s daughter to look after—a more reckless than average eighteen-year-old. Sure she’s attracted to the Reapers’ president, but she’s not stupid. Reese Hayes is a criminal and a thug. But when her young cousin gets caught up with a ruthless drug cartel, Reese might be the only man who can help her. Now London has to make the hardest decision of her life—how far will she go to save her family?

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I loved reading Picnic and London’s story. Although I have loved every book in this series so it was to be expected. Every time I go back and reread this series, I get a little bit more out of it. The first time around, I remember feeling that Mellie’s character was redundant and that all the drama with Jess was annoying and a distraction from the love arc. But the addition of all these young new secondary characters sets up future stories. It also separates this book from the others in the series and keeps things from becoming repetitive.

Pic and London are both a little older than previous couples, although at 38 and 43, they aren’t exactly geriatrics. This life experience – added to the fact they are both parents of adult children – provides each with more perspective, wisdom and ability to overcome the little things … and ahem *not so little things*. Like attempted murder.

Also, Pic is hot for an older guy! I’d definitely date him if I were fortunate enough to take London’s place.

Reaper’s Stand definitely has some unexpected sad parts. I’ll admit that I have been a teensy weensy bit emotional lately, but hearing Picnic talk to his dead wife Heather, and make peace with taking a new old lady, had me in tears multiple times.

Although Heather and London share some characteristics, the comparisons are minimal which kept the book from going into the creepy-zone. However, they both were super feisty ladies. Sorta a necessity when dating the President of your local outlaw motorcycle club!

Case in point… this is from London’s POV.

Thirty minutes later the roast was in the oven and I was setting out frozen rolls to rise. I’d had a second, strictly medicinal shot of vodka, and while I wasn’t exactly buzzed, I was feeling a little more balanced about things. Of course, dumping yellow food colouring in the back of the downstairs toilet tank and pouring vinegar in his milk helped restore that balance . . . I also loosened the lid on the salt shaker. Why did I do these things? Probably best not to examine that too closely.

Wylde, Joanna. Reaper’s Stand (Reapers Motorcycle Club Book 4) (Kindle Locations 1823-1827). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Parts of Reaper’s Stand get pretty dark, especially around chapter 14. Personally, I like “dark” in my stories so it was a fun extension of the story for me, but could push triggers for some readers. Thankfully, all of Wylde’s stories end with a good love story so push through to reach your happy ending.

Bonus:

There were essentially three epilogues at the end of RS and fans get a mighty big update on Hunter and Em’s arc which was glorious!

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Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde

Devil’s Game is the third book in the Reapers MC series by Wylde. It tells the story of Em and Hunter that was teased throughout the entire second novel. The first part covers Em’s kidnapping and the fallout, only told from her and Hunter’s perspectives, rather than Sophie’s. As such, it is more detailed. Em and Hunter are a classic Romeo and Juliet story retold from the perspective of contemporary characters who belong to enemy outlaw motorcycle clubs.

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Liam “Hunter” Blake hates the Reapers MC. Born and raised a Devil’s Jack, he knows his duty. He’ll defend his club from their oldest enemies-the Reapers-using whatever weapons he can find. But why use force when the Reapers’ president has a daughter who’s alone and vulnerable? Hunter has wanted her from the minute he saw her, and now he has an excuse to take her.

Em has lived her entire life in the shadow of the Reapers. Her overprotective father, Picnic, is the club’s president. The last time she had a boyfriend, Picnic shot him. Now the men in her life are far more interested in keeping her daddy happy than showing her a good time. Then she meets a handsome stranger-a man who isn’t afraid to treat her like a real woman. One who isn’t afraid of her father. His name is Liam, and he’s The One.

Or so she thinks.

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I loved this book! I actually had to read it twice to appreciate its glory. The first time I read it was just a few days after the previous book and it was too soon. I didn’t want to recover any of the same material. But after taking a few months before going at it a second time, I am so thankful for the author’s decision to retell the kidnapping from Hunter and Em’s POVs. This decision provides insight into their psyches and lots of  delicious tension. Em is fiery and passionate and makes several escape attempts that were tons of fun to read.

The prologues and a couple of flash backs give excellent background info on both characters It is pretty funny to see some of the things that Em had to deal with growing up as the daughter of the President of an outlaw MC. Despite some of the very difficult periods of her life that she has gone through – or maybe because of them – she understands the value of life and second chances quite clearly and is very forgiving.

A little vengeful too. But that just keeps life interesting.

Devil’s Game opens up the Reaper world just a little bit more. The reader gets to meet Deke further, and see the beginnings of a relationship between him and Cookie develop. I hope they get a story of their own one day …. I would be super excited to read it! We also see the Portland chapter of a Devil’s Jacks MC start up.

Hunter is delicious. Very ignorant of how to conduct himself in a relationship but charming all the same. He may be pretty rough around the edges but he loves his girl and that shines through clearly.

I loved Em and Hunter’s story. The only problem I had with it is that it ends very suddenly. As soon as the main plot point was resolved, the story just drops off with one chapter. I think the ending would have been improved with more of a lead off.

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What are you reading?

I am reading 5 books right now. If we were talking about food, you would say my eyes are too big for my stomach. Not too sure what the literary equivalent would be, but the message is still communicated fairly effectively.

Blame it on my advanced reading level.

Or the fact that I am a stereotypical Gemini. Easily Bored multi-tasker. Interested in a variety of topics and stories.

It probably has something to do with my job as well. I work in a public library and every day I am there, talking books with co-workers and customers. I check books in. I check them out. RA. It is difficult not to come home with an armful after each shift!

So I read. A lot. And usually many at one time.

I have made it a personal goal … er, limit, to try to keep to one type of each book. Originally, I was going to limit myself to 1 book checked out from the library at a time. This rule developed because I had had certain books out for months that I hadn’t finished *ahem started* yet. But of course, it didn’t stick. So now the rule is one book per type.

So what am I reading these days?

 Well, on my ipad I am reading my personal copy of Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde. It is book three in my favourite MC romance series and I will post a review shortly. I was trying to re-read the whole series before her new book, Shade’s Lady, comes out tomorrow, but I am only half way there so I think the others will have to wait until the following new release for a re-read.

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 I also started The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I checked this out through my library’s Cloud Library e-book program. I read it a loooong time ago when I was way too young to appreciate the story. Like, I was in elementary. And now that the miniseries is coming out, I wanted to read it again before I watch the show.

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 I am also reading a library book called The Wealthy Renter by Alex Avery. It was just released in the fall of 2016 so I am hoping it will help shed some light on the current housing situation in Canada (bubble!) and hopefully make me feel better that I will probably never be able to afford to purchase my own home.

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 Lately, I always seem to have a religious text on the go. Currently it is the Book of Mormon.

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 Finally, the audiobook. I am listening to The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This book is emotionally charged and incredibly well-written, but I have to listen at the right time and place, because I end up crying every two or three chapters. Not a great on-the-way-to-work book! Unless raccoon eyes are in vogue in your workplace.

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 So what else do I have on the go? Well, I’m working on learning a few recipes from an Indian cookbook, but don’t really classify that as reading. Starting tomorrow, I will be working on the aforementioned Shade’s Lady (obviously). I also just picked up three books about buying a car and tips for women when negotiating with a car salesman. I have already picked out the vehicle I want and am saving up a bigger downpayment, because the monthly payments were a little high, but I want to make sure I get the best deal possible (duh). So of course I went to the trusty library for advice!

 What are you reading?

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Yours and Mine by Christine Duval

Yours and Mine is the long-awaited sequel to Positively Mine. They are both books in the Freshman Forty Series.

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Picking up from the dramatic ending of Positively Mine, Yours and Mine continues the Freshman Forty series as we meet Danny Santoro, Laurel’s baby’s father, for the first time.

It’s been almost a year since he last saw her, that sultry morning she walked off the beach before dawn had even cracked the August sky. It seemed from her silence, she was out of his life forever.

But Laurel’s timing couldn’t be worse to tell him he’s a father. The last year hasn’t been easy. Danny’s own father was arrested for a DUI, his mother moved out, and Danny started sleeping with his brother’s old high school, drug-abusing girlfriend.

After Laurel shocks him with the news, she attempts to relinquish Danny of any parental responsibility leading to a heated custody battle. In an unorthodox arrangement, an eccentric judge orders Danny and Laurel to spend alternating nights with each other for the upcoming school year.

Told from Danny’s point of view, Yours and Mine explores the second chapter of a romance that never got off the ground, the challenges of young parenting, and the hope of rekindled love.

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I am so excited that Yours and Mine has finally been released! I have been periodically checking back on the author’s goodreads profile for a couple of years with no luck, only to find out this time that it was released at the end of last year! It was also pretty surprising that the entire book is written from Danny’s perspective, a character that we had barely met before.

But as surprising as this was, it worked. I like how the author planned it out.

This is a story of a custody struggle between two young parents. Its a story of growing trust and coming of age and working out relationships. It is the pinnacle of a new adult novel, and a fairly clean one. Yours and Mine starts the same way that Positively Mine ended, with Laurel telling Danny that they have a three month old daughter together.

Something that really stood out to me in this novel is that the characters stay very true to themselves.

Laurel is 3-4 years younger than Danny and has had much less responsibility throughout her adolescence, and certainly more financial privilege. Her experiences of being emotionally estranged from her father and of burying her mother as a pre-teen shaped her to be secretive and withdrawn. She has a difficult time sharing and recognizing other’s feelings. Especially since find out she was going to become a mother herself, Laurel relied only on herself and has a difficult time letting Danny into her and their daughter’s lives.

Danny has been working a fulltime job for years, and is now juggling that job with a Masters program in Homeland Security and adjusting to the news of fatherhood. He also has to worry about his mother and help her to recover from his father’s alcohol and gambling addictions.

Although Laurel is a good person and a good Mother, her relative immaturity is apparent. She often fails to communicate with Danny, and clings to the idea that she can be a normal college girl on the nights that Danny has physical custody of their daughter. When things don’t work out the way she had dreamed, she is initially heartbroken and doesn’t know how to move forward and make it right. Although changed by mommyhood, Laurel clearly has less experience in relationships and less confidence in herself. Her go-to move is to hunker down and completely withdraw.

I loved reading Yours and Mine from Danny’s point of view, but at times I wish we could have also had Laurel’s. It was a little funny to not be in her head at all, after the first book was entirely from her perspective.

At the end of the day I loved this book, but I can’t give it 5 / 5 stars because I felt that it was too short and that their problems were resolved too easily. I was expecting the same format as the first book, which covered the entire academic year, but Yours and Mine resolves by (American) Thanksgiving. The ending was also fairly predictable but I loved the happily ever after fans were left with so I can’t really complain about that.

I hope that the author writes another book, and that this time the wait isn’t so long!

Edit: I also love this cover! It is perfect in its simplicity and represents the story and characters wonderfully.

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Reaper’s Legacy – Joanna Wylde

Reaper’s Legacy is the second book in the Reapers MC series by Joanna Wylde. If you are rolling your eyes right now, thinking to yourself NOT ANOTHER MC romance series, take heart, because this one is the best around and you’ll be glad you sucked it up and read just one more.

Wylde was a professional journalist before she moved into writing novels and her experience shows. She did major research into how MCs operate and the people who choose that lifestyle. It is reflected in the quality of her work, which has an integrity and honesty few other authors have managed to communicate. Wylde has done countless interviews with outlaw bikers and their women.

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From Goodreads:

Reaper’s Legacy is a raw and intensely erotic tale in Joanna Wylde’s Reapers Motorcycle Club series.

Eight years ago, Sophie gave her heart-and her virginity-to Zach Barrett on a night that couldn’t have been less romantic or more embarrassing. Zach’s step-brother, a steely-muscled, tattooed biker named Ruger, caught them in the act, getting a peep show of Sophie he’s never forgotten.

She may have lost her dignity that fateful night, but Sophie also gained something precious-her son Noah. Unfortunately, Zach’s a deadbeat dad, leaving Ruger to be Noah’s only male role model. When he discovers Sophie and his nephew living in near poverty, Ruger takes matters into his own hands-with the help of the Reapers Motorcycle Club-to give them a better life.

Living with outlaw bikers wasn’t Sophie’s plan for her son, but Ruger isn’t giving her a choice. He’ll be there for Noah, whether she wants him or not. But Sophie does want him, has always wanted him. Now she’ll learn that taking a biker to bed can get a girl dirty in every way.

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Ruger is basically Noah’s Dad, in everything but name. So at its heart, this is almost a baby daddy / estranged parents story, except that Ruger and Sophie have never actually done the deed.

Reaper’s Legacy is the second story in the MC world of the Reapers where the heroine is new to club life. This gives the audience a chance to learn the rules with her. Like the heroine in the previous book, Sophie initially struggles with the sexist rules of the MC and with certain terms like “property” … but she also quickly becomes friends with the bikers’ Old Ladies, and none of those broads are the least bit intimidated, or oppressed by the club members. Sophie can see the differences in the treatment these women receive and how the club sluts are treated. Added to how kind everyone is to her and her son, she can’t quite slam the door on the biker world. Or Ruger.

I love how Wylde seamlessly patches together subplots involving a whole cast of secondary characters without taking away from the hero and heroine. In particular, we get to learn a whole lot more about Em Hayes and also have regular updates on Horse / Marie and their upcoming wedding.

Wylde’s bikers are alpha males, and kinda assholes to be honest, but they’re asses who love their women and would throw down for them anytime anywhere which takes a bit of the wind out of the feminist sails. While Horse, from book 1, is still my ultimate dream guy, I also absolutely love Ruger. We might kill each other in real life, but I love him.

Highly recommended!

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