Crime Lord Series (Books 1-3)

Three years ago, Lyla fled from her ex, Gavin Pyre. She created a new identity and began a relationship with a man who knows nothing about her past. The normal life she built for herself is shattered when Gavin blackmails her into returning to Las Vegas where he rules the criminal underworld. As Lyla navigates through the dark secrets of her past she’s forced to face a man who refuses to let her live without him.

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I read all three of these books in one day. They are just slightly addictive.

Crime Lord is a series of mafia romance books. The first three tell the story of Gavin and Lyla. Gavin is the King of the Underground in Las Vegas.

I felt that these books got better as they went on. The first one was a little over-dramatic at times, and I kept waiting for Lyla to overcome her fear enough to show Gavin how she has changed in their three years apart, but she seems to just slide into her old role of silly, spoiled airhead. Despite her misery, she goes shopping, and has spa days and wears her old styles instead of updating her wardrobe to reflect the person she is now. I also expected her to pick up volunteering – since Gavin won’t let her work and she purports to miss it – but this doesn’t happen until the third book.

I don’t feel that these books are the best of the Mafia or dark romance genre, but they are still delicious reads that I greatly enjoyed. They certainly hit the spot and I will be reading more from this author as books are released. I’m glad that Ms. Knight has started to expand the series by giving background characters like Blade expanded roles, and also introducing more dark anti-heroes, like the Roman brothers and Lucifer.

The heat level of this series is a solid “romance” level but doesn’t pass into erotica, IMHO.

The author has announced that she is working on the fourth book in this series, but is finished with this couple for now. The next books will feature different anti-heroes/heroines and there are lots of yummy folks to choose from!

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Dirty Dealings (Zeta Cartel #3)

Dirty Dealings is the third book in the dark romance series Zeta Cartel by AJ Adams. Click these links if you are looking for my reviews of book one or book two.

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Quique is having a bad time. Back in Mexico his marriage has fallen apart and his wife has made him a laughing stock by cheating on him. Now he’s in London and finding himself out of his depth with a complex commercial deal. To make things worse, Natalia Truelove, a chef and pub manager, is blackmailing him. Quique is ready to commit murder and he’s pretty sure who his first victim will be.

Warning: Dirty Dealings contains strong adult language and themes as well as graphic violence and fully depicted love scenes

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I somehow completely missed the release of this book last year. I just picked up and started book four and realized that Quique was now married to someone new, and went back to one-click this book. No wonder it seemed like such a long time between book releases in this series. I’m just a dunce.

Dirty Dealings features an antihero who is familiar to readers of the Zeta Cartel. Quique is a surprising revelation within the macho Latino world of the Cartel. He has a thing against hitting women, and is amazingly lighthearted and sweet when not in work mode. He also likes his woman to be independent, a partner in life, when most of his colleagues view a woman as an ornament.

This book is mostly set in Britain, with lots of dry Brit humour and colloquialisms throughout. The heroine is a tough, brash woman with a disreputable backstory and an extended family of ex-inlaws with reputations of their own. Natalia reminds me of a workhorse, in the nicest of ways. She just doesn’t stop. She doesn’t acknowledge the obstacles in her way, she is always looking for solutions, searching for better, and will drag her family along with her no matter how much bitching or feet-dragging they do. She truly cares about them and their BS, even when they treat her horribly and have been the cause of much past suffering.

I felt like Quique and Natalia were well-matched and once they got over being on separate sides of a business deal, they realized it as well. Bruja mala leche (evil, little witch) is one of my favourite insults to use IRL (and I’ve been known to call my sisters this) so I was vastly amused as Quique’s use of this term gradually changed from a hate-filled curse to an endearment.

Also, apparently my efforts in learning the Spanish language are having an effect because I could translate most of the Spanish bits without referring to a dictionary or the internet! Woot!

Dirty Dealings is very plot-driven, more so than the previous two books. I felt that the romance took a backseat, and should have been brought forward more. The couple don’t fall into bed together until nearly 60% of the way in, so if you like super steamy books, that is something to take note of ahead of time.

** getting darker … **

I also wish that the issue of rape had been examined more. Adams wrote Quique mostly as a dark hero, a baddy who would still drop everything to rescue a child, but he is also a high-ranking member of the most powerful Cartel in the world, and a former Guatemalan special forces soldier. He doesn’t like rape, but had used it in the past as a tool of war, of intimidation and interrogation. Unfortunately, this subject is examined in a couple of short, introspective paragraphs and I think it is something that should have more of a big deal in the plot. Hopefully Adams will bring it up again with a future character in the Zeta Cartel.

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Claim Me by Anna Zaires

Claim Me is the third and final novel to the Capture Me Series, which is in turn a companion series to the Twist Me series. Reading both series would enhance your enjoyment but is not necessary; however it is necessary to read these novels in order.

captive

Here is the blurb, from Goodreads:

She’s on the run.

Yulia Tzakova’s freedom comes at a heavy price. Her former captor dominates her dreams, and survival consumes her waking moments. She may have escaped, but she’s far from safe.

In the shadowy world of spies and betrayal, nothing is what it seems.

He’s obsessed with getting her back.

Lucas Kent’s rage knows no bounds. The danger of his job occupies his days, but hunting down Yulia is what he lives for. When he finds her, she’ll never escape again.

He’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

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* Please note that my review contains some spoilers. Read with caution. Also, I received a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Claim me is much longer than either of the two previous novels, which is something I was super thankful for. The pacing remains fast, but I enjoyed the experience of reading a full-length novel instead of a longish novella.

Unlike in Capture Me and Bind Me, there is very little of the struggle between Yulia and Lucas that was previously present. They have both given up on fighting their feelings and present more of a united front. Similarly, the book didn’t feel like a “captive romance” anymore, because Yulia wasn’t really a prisoner. She wasn’t allowed to leave the compound sure, but she also didn’t have any desire to and Lucas certainly indulges her everything whim and desire. I would venture to say that they have an easier relationship than Julian and Nora!

The first third of the book follows Lucas’ attempts to retrieve Yulia after her escape. He ends up rescuing her and her brother in Ukraine, and feels like a right idiot for not realizing she was protecting a sibling from him, rather than a lover. I was glad to see that little realization since I wanted to kick him in the last one.

The main issue is that Julian will never forgive Yulia for her actions in the Twist Me series, which is a very awkward thing when Lucas and Yulia live on his compound. The solution to this problem actually made me a little sad. It makes sense and it works, but I guess I wanted a Brady Bunch family-style moment.

My least favourite part is Nora going badass on Yulia. Having read the Twist Me series, I didn’t feel like it was in keeping with Nora’s normally very forgiving personality, especially given her (admittedly limited) interactions with Yulia in the past. I’m going to have to re-write that little scene in my head if I ever re-read the story.

Claim Me is a very character-driven book; Zaires’ focus is on the relationship between Yulia and Lucas growing and establishing roles for Yulia and her brother in his world. The whole arc in the series is wrapping up and I didn’t find that there were many plot twists or much that I could comment on. Everything was very predictable to me, but I still found the book enjoyable. The story is satisfying as a conclusion, although it did leave me wishing that Peter will give his own books sometime soon.

I did read this in one sitting and highly recommend it to anyone who has read the series. There is also an epilogue from Julian’s point of view taking place a few years in the future. As much as I loved Yulia and Lucas, I still prefer Julian and Nora and hope we will get to return to them one day!

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Reaper’s Property – a review

reapers property

Reaper’s Property is the first book in the Reapers MC series. It is about outlaw bikers in southern Idaho and one of the best examples of MC romance going, IMHO. The second book is Reaper’s Legacy and I’ll post my review of it shortly.

Blurb:

Marie doesn’t need a complication like Horse. The massive, tattooed, badass biker who shows up at her brother’s house one afternoon doesn’t agree. He wants Marie on his bike and in his bed. Now.

But Marie just left her abusive jerk of an ex-husband and she’s not looking for a new man. Especially one like Horse—she doesn’t know his real name or where he lives, she’s ninety percent certain he’s a criminal and that the “business” he talks with her brother isn’t website design. She needs him out of her life, which would be a snap if he’d just stop giving her mind-blowing orgasms.

Horse is part of the Reapers Motorcycle Club, and when he wants something, he takes it. What he wants is Marie, but she’s not interested in becoming “property of”.

Then her brother steals from the club. Marie can save him by giving Horse what he wants—at home, in public, on his bike… If she’s a very, very good girl, she’ll get lots more of those orgasms only he can offer, and he’ll let her brother live.

Maybe.


I freaking love this book, and the series as a whole. Horse is scary and possessive, passionate and exciting. He is the ultimate rough and tough manly-man, but I love how he is also sensitive to Marie. I see a lot of myself in her, in mannerisms if not life experiences. Her tendency to stress out like crazy and unintentionally pick a fight as a result is certainly familiar. At one point in the book, Marie starts freaking out and he just pulls her in, forehead to forehead and sweetly tells her “you got to stop, babe”. Its such an emotionally intimate moment between the two, it really stayed with me. Horse is exactly the type of man I want.

One of the best things about Wylde’s writing is that she is a GODDESS at letting a story naturally unfold and balances the needs of the main couple with the abundance of secondary characters clamouring for a piece. In doing so, she creates a rich world that feels completely real, and interactions that are organic.

The author strikes a great balance between entertaining drama and maintaining a story that still is believable. It isn’t so over-the-top that I said “this is ridiculous” and tossed the novel aside. And yet, this is a drama-filled world where stuff is always happening, some of it pretty crazy. Wylde does a fantastic job at letting the drama move the story along instead of shoving it in for the sake of it. The bit at Marie’s trailer, then at the Silver Bastard’s and Reaper’s Club Houses, and finally the end scene were awesome.

And I know I’ve already said that but I really mean it and am running out of things ways to tell you how good this book is.

Just go read it!!!

Favourite Quotes:

My heart stopped when I saw that bike, right on the end. I wanted to touch it, see if the leather of the seat was as smooth as I remembered, but I wasn’t stupid enough to do that. I didn’t have the right. I really shouldn’t even be excited to see him, but I felt a rush knowing he was right inside my trailer. Things weren’t smooth between us and I honestly didn’t know if he’d even acknowledge me. For a while he’d seemed almost like my boyfriend. The last time I’d seen him, he’d scared the crap out of me. Even scary, the man made my panties wet.

and

My baby brother knelt in the center of the room, beaten raw and dripping blood all over the carpet. Four men wearing Reapers’ cuts stood around him. Picnic, Horse and two I didn’t know— a big, built hunk of a man with a mohawk, tattoos on his skull and about a thousand piercings, and another who was tall and cut, with light-blond hair in short spikes. Horse studied me with the same cool, almost blank expression he wore when we first met. Detached. Picnic studied me too. He was tall with short, dark hair that looked far too stylish to be on a biker and bright blue eyes that pierced right through a girl— I’d met him at least five times. He was the club president. Oh, and he also stood right behind my brother with a gun pointed at the back of his head.

I love me some Joanna Wylde! I’ll be posting reviews to the other books over the next few weeks, as a count down to the fifth, which comes out in November.

PS The author just released a novella called Reapers and Bastards.
reapers and bastards
Among other things, it includes portions of Reaper’s Property re-written from Horse’s perspective and a short story about Horse and Marie that is current day, updating us on their lives. I enjoyed it and would recommend you check it out. Reapers and Bastards does not contain any spoilers for the other books in this series.

Edit: I just discovered that there is a FREE preview of the prologue from the book’s goodreads page. Click the link directly under the cover photo:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18076876-reaper-s-legacy?ac=1

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xx

The Bonus by AJ Adams – a review

The Bonus is the first book in the “Zetas” series, by AJ Adams. I discovered it through the recommendation of another blog: http://www.romanceandsmut.com/topics/best/all/1/

This is actually the same blog where I discovered the “Twist Me” series by Anna Zaires, which I loved and previously reviewed on here. Another hit, so I guess I’ll keep using Romance and Smut when searching for books for awhile.

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Blurb:

Chloe is a seasoned drug courier who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Facing a lingering and painful death at the hands of the Zetas, Mexico’s most brutal cartel, she persuades their enforcer to claim her. Has Chloe made a huge mistake, or will her choice prove her salvation – and his?

Warning: This book contains explicit scenes of dubious consent, graphic violence and sex.

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I really liked this one!!!!

If you regularly read my blog, you probably know by now that I favour books with anti-heroes, partially because I like bad boys and partially because the characters tend to be more complicated and twisty, exactly what I am looking for.

Kyle Suarez is definitely that. Former Spec Ops Marine and Gitmo interrogator, he became disenfranchised with life in the United States after as nasty run-in with DEA agents hunting his older brother. So he moved to Mexico and became the number one interrogator and security specialist for his broski’s cartel.

The way that he and Chloe, aka “The Bonus” meet is seriously f***ed up. Like, the brother and his men torture her by making her balance on a melting block of ice, with a noose around her neck until she slowly strangles. But she gets off and runs to him, the late-comer, offering him whatever if he will only take her with him. Since his brother just offered Kyle a bonus gift for a job well done, he takes her home to serve.

What I like most about The Bonus, is the author’s balancing of Kyle’s personality. He is a bad dude. And not like in a cool leather jacket, brawler kind of way.

Hello?!!! He’s the head enforcer for the cartel and specializes in sending … messages.

Like crucifying his victims. To make headlines around the world. Not the kind of guy you expect to be merciful.

But Kyle gets to know Chloe really well and really quickly. She has been through things as bad as anything Kyle could dish out and reading her journal, he gets to know her intimately in a matter of days. Add to that her shaking, night terrors and just generally being one step away from a complete mental breakdown, he is more gentle with her than you ever expect him to be based off of first impressions.

I definitely enjoyed this book and will read the next couple in the series forthwith. Hope you enjoy, my loves.

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Broken Love Series by B.B. Reid

As promised, here is my review for the first and second books in the Broken Love Series by B.B. Reid. They are new adult novels that feature a strong, anti-hero male protagonist who really isn’t that nice of a guy, especially in the first book. Be warned that it is a “dark romance”, not as full of the fuzzies as most contemporary romances are.

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Blurb:

I don’t believe in fairy tales and Prince Charming.

I believe in fear.

He taught me how to be afraid.

We first met on a playground on a wonderful summer day. It was the first time he hurt me and it wouldn’t be the last. For ten years, he’s been my tormentor and I’ve been his forbidden. But then he went away, and yet I was still afraid.

Now he’s back and wants more than just my tears. You see…he thinks I sent him away so now he wants revenge…and he knows just how to get it.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00037]

Blurb:

What happens when she’s had enough?

Lake Monroe has given in to her childhood tormentor too many times. She knows it, he knows it, and even their enemies know it. When he returned after being found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit—a crime he thought she set him up for, he returned darker than ever, demanding her body and her submission. To survive him, she knew she had to give in to fear once more or suffer the deadly consequences…

But Lake experienced what it was like to submit to the dark and demanding boy who invaded her dreams. Now she’ll experience what it’s like to fight him.

What happens when he wants more?

Keiran Masters has a past that is both shocking and dark. Once enslaved, he now has demons he can’t escape—demons that have followed him for ten years, demons he blames his beautiful obsession for. He promised to make her pay. He promised to make her break…

But after Keiran had conquered her body and tasted her submission, he found a new addiction instead—one he has no intention of giving up.

As secrets unfold,
Identities are revealed,
Danger closes in,
And they both discover what it really means to fear…

*** Please note, these books are new adult and contain rough elements such as harsh language, mild violence, strong sexual content, alpha male, antihero, blackmail, and dubious consent. These books, Fear Me in particular, contain sensitive themes many people aren’t able to swallow.

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What I liked about these books:

Keiran is one of the darkest protagonists that I have read in awhile, which was exactly what I was looking for when I picked up this book. It is difficult to balance a truly dark character and still have him be redeemable to some extent, because at the end of the day, the genre is still romance. He was downright evil at times and I found myself wondering why I was continuing to read the Fear You, half way through, because I thought there was no way Reid could soften my opinion of Keiran, but she did it.

Even though he is so dark and does awful things to Lake, he never read like an insufferable asshole to me. He didn’t become annoying, because he wasn’t being a prick just to be a prick, most of the time. Even before the reader learns the backstories and subtext in the second half of the novel, you have the sense that Keiran is that way for a reason … a very sinister reason.

I liked his counterpart as well, Lake, though not as much. I am a very dramatic person and I found it difficult to imagine her continuing to “just take it”, with everything Keiran was dishing out. There was some seriously dubious consent going on in multiple instances and I am waaaay too dramatic of a person to let that stand. If I had been in Lake’s shoes, I would have to taken (most likely drastic) action because I am the type of person who doesn’t care if she makes it worse, as long as she make it different, and takes back a little bit of control. She balances him though and perhaps that why is why have their happily ever after.

If she had been like be, it probably would have been a funeral instead.

I also liked that there was a lot of secondary characters who will be coming up and having their own books pretty soon. Keenan, Desh, Q and others… I like when there is interaction between more than just the romantic leads, something you have probably already picked up on if you regularly read my blogs.

What I wasn’t as fond of:

Q needed more page time. I actually forgot who he was completely and thought it was a new character introduction, because of how he seems to disappear for half the book, while the other main characters are still present.

I didn’t like that this story took place with the characters in high school, twelfth grade. The content was very adult and it is supposed to be a new adult novel. Based on the violence and the amount of power and connections Kieran has, I felt that it would have been better suited to characters a little older, perhaps twenty rather than eighteen. Two years extra in age may not be a lot of difference, but it would have been enough to make the story feel more authentic to me. Also, new adult generally applies to characters 18-26, but I do believe going to the youngest in that range was a mistake in this case. I’m glad that book three reportedly takes place several years later.

Another thing I didn’t love was how the Keenan’s chapter closed in the second novel. I can’t expand on that without spoilers, but I was not a happy camper. I don’t like when things like that happen to the male protagonist (even if it happened in a book where he is a secondary character). It’s too real, like when an author gives their heroine cancer. Romance is escapism reading, so that plot-line just didn’t jive for me.

I wish that there was more interaction between the secondary characters that didn’t depend on them fighting with each other. It became a little much, especially when those relationships will not be resolved until they get their own books. I would have rather seen them interact more with each other, even if it wasn’t with their better half since all the couples seem to be fighting at some point.

Finally, Lake had her lightbulb – I understand him – I completely forgive him moment just a little too easily in book 1. Even if she did forgive him that easily, I wanted her to have more trouble with it. That was rectified a bit in the second novel, but I would have liked to have seen her struggle with it more in the first.

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