Fighting Attraction (Redemption #4)

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My sweet, sexy Penny has a dark side. Just like me.
I will have her. And then I will lose her, and suffer a lifetime of regret.

Rampage. Everyone loves him. He is Redemption’s top heavyweight fighter and the biggest gossip in the gym. But he isn’t the teddy bear everyone thinks he is. He’s hiding a dark secret-and he hates himself for it.

Twice a week, Rampage transforms into Master Jack, a notorious dom only the most hard-core submissives will play with. How can he-a Southern gentleman, bred to respect and protect women-want to dominate them?

But Penny Worthington wants him. Beneath her pearls, kitten heels, and prim British exterior beats a tortured heart…Master Jack is the only one who can set her free.

—                         —                         —

Fighting Attraction is the fourth book in the series Redemption, which features alpha heroes who train mixed martial arts at a fight club called (you guessed it) Redemption. This instalment is about club favourite Rampage, who has a secret life as a prominent Dom/sadist at the local private kink club. When friend Penny accidentally stumbles upon his secret, something in her is piqued at a healthier way to mix pain and sex than the abusive relationships and self-harm she hides in her past.

In many ways I felt that Fighting Attraction was the best written book in this series so far. Many of the interactions and conversations were more realistic to how people actually talk and I could appreciate the way that Penny and Rampage tried to overcome some pretty big differences to work things out.

However, I felt like the author got some ideas in her head about how to write Rampage as the hero for this book, ideas that were inconsistent with her past descriptions of him. Here, Rampage is both an up and coming professional athlete, a past underground champion and still maintains a secret life as a top Dom in the city of Oakland where the whole story takes place. I found it difficult to believe that he could be so well known in one life and so low-profile about his secret at the same time.

Also, Rampage is the club gossip who knows everything about everyone but somehow disappears a few nights a week to attend the kink club. You would think he would value other people’s privacy more when he has such a potentially devastating secret to hide.

He also is seemingly able to turn down his need for a sexual submission in an instant when Penny indicates that she is a masochist but not a submissive. It made it seem like that was a fun kink he played at rather than a strong part of his personality and I felt like it did the real work D/s lifestyle a disservice.

Rampage is also charmingly southern in this book. Its not overdone, but he was most definitely raised a southern gentleman, something that didn’t come across in previous books. He also apparently has access to his family’s “old money” despite being estranged from them. These inconsistencies kept popping up throughout the story, distracting me from the romance at hand.

Overall, Fighting Attraction was entertaining but I hope the author keeps improving in her writing. I noticed she has the fifth book coming out in early 2018 and will be happy to jump back into this world then.

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A Stranger In the House

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He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

—                         —                         —

After finishing The Couple Next Door in record time last week, I decided to jump straight into Shari Lapena’s new book, A Stranger in the House. It is another crime thriller and features the same investigators, Detectives Razback and Jennings, but an entirely new cast of characters otherwise.

The story flows smoothly and I found myself just as engrossed as I was in the previous book. There isn’t the same sense of urgency in my approach because the crime isn’t centred around a missing baby. My maternal instincts weren’t in play this time – fiction or not – and the murder victim isn’t nearly so sympathetic. I still wanted to know who had killed him though and whether Karen would get off.

The thing about twisty authors is that the reader learns their style and it can become easy to predict certain things from that habit. I had theories about the identity of the murderer of course, but as the chapters wound down, it was easier to predict the outcome.

*** Minor Spoiler Ahead ***

I will say that I really appreciate that the author named the murdered man Robert, and the neighbour’s husband Bob. This threw me off for awhile because I thought that Karen was referring to Bob when she was brought into the hospital, semi-conscious and rambling Robert’s name. I kept waiting for him to pop up as sudden suspect, or at least to take on increased significance.

I loved this book as well and will anxiously await the announcement of another coming from this author. On her website, I learned that she is a local author so I am going to try to convince the library I work at to invite her for an author visit event in 2018!

The only other point of note is that the audiobook has a different narrator than the woman who read The Couple Next Door. I like both voices but this narrator pronounced certain things differently, (read: wrong in my opinion!), such as Det. Razback’s name, and this annoyed me.

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The Couple Next Door

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You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

—                         —                         —

Shari Lapena has been the bestselling author behind a couple of book club heavy hitters the last couple of years. Her book The Couple Next Door remains popular in my library and has received mostly rave reviews.

It is a crime thriller. A baby is abducted from her crib with no apparent evidence or motive. The parents are desperate to find her but police aren’t so sure that they are innocent.

The Couple Next Door is told from several different perspectives, but most of the chapters are from Anne (Mum), Marco (Dad), or the detectives’ points of view. This story is engrossing, and super easy to read. The language is simple but every character has multiple issues you have to work through, layers to peel back, while the reader tries to figure out who is behind Cora’s kidnapping.

Although abducting an infant is a heinous crime, there is little violence in the book and none of it is graphic. I wouldn’t consider The Couple Next Door to be a particularly dark book and several friends with young children were able to enjoy the book as well.

I loved this book until the very end. The only part I didn’t like was the final bit, after the arrest (or arrests), but I can’t elaborate without giving away an important plot point. You’ll just have to trust me that you’ll know it when you read it.

The narrator of this audiobook has a pleasant voice that was very easy to listen to. I would definitely be interested in other books she has read.

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Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

So I recently listened to the book Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (aka JK Rowling) but somehow I ended up with the wrong book??

There are technically two books by this name. One is the original screenplay that Rowling wrote for the 2016 film, and the other is a textbook Harry Potter gets for school, which Rowling actually wrote and released to raise money for a charity in the UK.

Confused yet?

I was!

I thought I was going to be listening to the actual screenplay when I downloaded the ebook from my library’s digital catalogue because it did say original screenplay in the description, and the cover art matched that of the screenplay on goodreads.

Despite having almost identical titles, these ARE different books and I ended up listening to the former rather than the latter.

So the text book version of Fantastic Beasts is very interesting, although not quite what I was looking for. The audiobook is only two or three hours in length and I listened to it while driving one day, so I did end up finishing it. At first I thought it was just a cool introduction before the story started but once I was halfway through I decided to continue. It didn’t help that the textbook was read by Eddie Redmayne which made me believe even more that it would eventually evolve into the story told in the film. (He does have a very sonorous voice though).

Needless to say, I am ready for my first day of class for Magizoology!

Here is the official blurb for Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander’s classic compendium of magical creatures, has delighted generations of wizarding readers. With this beautiful, large-scale new edition illustrated in full color, Muggles too will have the chance to discover where the Runespoor lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why shiny objects should always be kept away from the Niffler.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief and J.K. Rowling’s international charity, Lumos, which will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, one can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.

—                         —                         —

A very interesting read for any Potterhead who is desperate to learn more about the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry.

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Breaking Free (Shadowlands book #3)

The Shadowlands series should be read in order. The first book is called Club Shadowlands and the kindle version can be acquired for free from Amazon : )

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A sadistic husband left Beth scarred, inside and out. Only at the Shadowlands BDSM club does she feel like a woman. But her fears limit her to Doms who won’t overwhelm her–the very ones who cannot arouse her. The Master of the Shadowlands gives her an ultimatum: accept the Dom he assigns or lose her membership. The last thing Beth wants is a ruthless, powerful Dom, but that’s just what she gets.

Asked to take on a problem sub, Nolan sees the issue immediately–although truly submissive, the little redhead is too scared to relinquish control and her Doms have let her get away with it. That will change right now.

As Master Nolan takes Beth under command, compelling her submission, she’s terrified, but the experienced Dom brings her pleasure, not pain. His only demand is that she never lie to him. Under his capable hands, her body comes alive, and she begins to heal. As he pushes her limits, she learns to trust…and then to love. And she realizes he is beginning to care for her in return.

But now her cruel husband has found her, and Master Nolan discovers she’s been lying and lying and lying.

—                         —                         —

I love Master Nolan. He is my very favourite Dom so far, and that’s saying something because every Dom in the Shadowlands is hot, attentive and genuine!

Breaking Free is about Beth’s overcoming past abuse but I LOVE that this isn’t a simple hero-rescues-heroine story. Beth escaped her powerful and influential abusive husband before the book begins, going into a self-styled witness protection plan. She started and built up her own landscaping company to make a new life for herself – a far cry from the financially-privileged house wife role she played before.

Even more impressive, she joins a private BDSM club in this new life, trying to overcome the physical, emotional and sexual abuse to regain her control over intimacy and engage on an interpersonal level with another kinkster. Although this is something she is seriously struggling with, I am so thankful that the author didn’t paint Beth as a wilting flower, afraid to try again.

“She’s a good person. Honest, full of enthusiasm. But when she gets here, she turns into a mouse. She’s not just submissive; she’s terrified. She comes to the club because she requires more than the vanilla world can offer, but we’re not meeting those needs.”

Nolan studied the scene some more. Pretty obvious what the problem was. She was too scared to give up control, but she needed to give up control to get her needs as a submissive met.

“She wouldn’t be an easy sub to top.”

“Exactly.” Z tilted his head. “You up to the challenge?”

Sinclair, Cherise. Breaking Free (Masters of the Shadowlands Series Book 3) (p. 5). VanScoy Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Breaking Free is another short novel, like the first two in the Shadowlands series, but it is self-contained. I am super thankful that the author evolved into writing longer novels after this one, and also that she later wrote a novella that follows Nolan and Beth, updating up on their future life and relationship. I look forward to reviewing it soon!

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Leap of the Lion (The Wild Hunt Legacy #4)

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She shifts for the first time on the day of her escape.

After a decade of captivity, Darcy MacCormac escapes the corrupt, clandestine organization called the Scythe, leaving family and friends behind. She must find a way to rescue them. Discovered by other shifters, the brand-new cougar gets two mentors. Blademage Gawain is an easy-going blacksmith with a steel-hard core. His brother Owen is a deadly warrior. Grumpy. Rude. And he doesn’t like her.

They aren’t the mates she’d dreamed of—they’re more.

Powerful, dominating Owen protects the clan—especially the weak—and the only remnant of an abused childhood is his avoidance of females. Now he has to mentor one? Although Gawain soon falls for the dauntless little cat, Owen knows better than to lose his head. But Darcy has a gift for repairing everything…including damaged hearts.

Love isn’t in her destiny.

In the brothers’ arms, Darcy finds safety. Comfort. And love. But however much she longs for a future with Owen and Gawain, her people need her. Somehow, she must find the courage and skills to save them, even if the attempt demands her life.

—                         —                         —

I have been eagerly awaiting this book all year. The Wild Hunt series is one of the handful of book series that I wish I could bring to life. It has the personality I look for in books, where the whole town comes to life through a supportive cast, strong leading characters and well thought out culture and backstories (since this is a fantasy series). Nothing in the Wild Hunt Legacy feels contrived or forced.

Cherise Sinclair masterfully balances the needs and distinct personalities of three main characters in a way no other author can match. Owen, Gawain and Darcy each had their moment to shine and I felt that the needs of each character were balanced with each other, and with the plot demands.

The romance kindles much slower in Leap of the Lion that readers of Sinclair would expect.  Owen and Gawain develop respect and friendship for Darcy before attraction takes over. There isn’t the same level of insta-romance that I typically expect but once love developed between these three, it was everything that I had hoped for.

Leap of the Lion grows the series in a lot of ways. We learned more about shifter culture, specifically Tinkers, Blade Mages and Healers, and several more shifters were introduced who could lead in stories of their own. While I am excited to get my paws on Tynan and Donal’s story, I think that Fell/Patrin/Heather will come first, which isn’t exactly a hardship.

I definitely recommend this book, this series, this author! But these books should be read in order, starting with Hour of the Lion.

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Obsession Mine by Anna Zaires

This is the second book in the trilogy. To read my preview of book one, please click here.

Obsession Mine is available for pre-order today and will be released on 14th November 2017. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I stole her in the night. Caged her because I can’t live without her. She’s my love, my addiction, my obsession.

I will do anything to keep Sara mine.

—                         —                         —

Anna Zaires is the reigning Queen of dark romance in my world. I loved her Twist Me and Capture Me series, and now the current WIP has stolen top spot.

I absolutely loved both Tormentor Mine and Obsession Mine. This book starts off immediately from where the previous one ends, which is certainly an action-packed couple of chapters, as Peter is kidnapping Sara, stealing her away from the world!

Sara becomes a true captive of Peter, even more so than when he was living in her house because he has taken her away from her family, her friends and her patients. I think that the lack of work is the hardest to adjust to for Sara. She is a workaholic who fills emotional needs through her efforts as an OB-GYN and to suddenly have days that are mostly empty is difficult to reconcile, especially given the circumstances.

It is difficult to believe, but the sex just gets hotter in this instalment! And it is now beyond obvious that there will be a third concluding book in this trilogy, something I was hoping for though it also means having to suffer through the months of waiting for the conclusion. Anna, please write quickly!

Some of the sex in Obsession Mine is of dubious consent and there is an oral rape scene. Please read the tags for this blog post if you are concerned about triggers.

The only thing that struck me as odd in this book is the limited amount of time spent developing relationships between Sara and Peter’s team, in the first half of the story at least. I expected them to have more interaction right off given the circumstances and hope those secondary characters will be expanded on in the next book because they all deserve their own trilogies!

I also really wanted Sara to have a full-fledged freak-out at some point, and the bathtub scene on her first day at the safe house seemed perfect. Readers of the first book will remember that before Peter and Sara became romantically entangled, he tortured her for information, and part of this was him water-boarding her. She has PTSD and an angry Peter standing over her in the bathtub should have triggered this.

Otherwise, an exceptional book that I will be re-reading again and again while I wait for the concluding part in this series!

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