Secret Obsession (Cordova Empire #3)

secret obsession

Layla

From the moment of my birth I’ve been rejected by those who should have loved me, labeled as a freak because of my birthmark, bullied and tormented because I look different. When you’re told every day that you’re ugly and worthless you start to believe it. I managed to escape my malicious family and build a life for myself, but they’d broken something inside of me. I’m afraid to go outside, afraid to be around large groups of people, afraid of any type of confrontation and my panic attacks have left me pretty much house bound. If it wasn’t for my online friends I probably would have given up on life long ago. But there is one special friend, a man by the name of Mark, who keeps me going. He’s brave, smart, strong, and kind…and has no idea that I’m secretly in love with him.

Mark

Once I was a good man with a perfect life. I had a job I loved training dogs for the police with my wife, had a great family who filled our lives with laughter, and I woke up every day with a smile on my face. I was completely content in my blissful ignorance. I had no idea about the criminal world that thrived all around me, no idea that I’d made some powerful enemies who do anything to destroy me. Including killing my wife. I swore my revenge, and got it, but in the process I lost my soul. It was during these dark times, after my vengeance was fulfilled and I was drifting in anguish, that a beautiful soul rescued me from my own personal hell. I tried to keep my distance, tried to shield her from the villains of the world, myself included, but the evil that surrounds me wouldn’t be denied. Despite my best attempts to keep her safe, someone is out to destroy Layla, and I’m the only one who can protect her.

But who’s going to save her from me?

—                         —                         —

Secret Obsession is the third book in the Cordova mafia series, written by Ann Mayburn. This series would best be enjoyed if read in order, but each could be read as a standalone.

Ms. Mayburn is an excellent writer who has crafted an intricate and detailed world in for the Cordovas. It is linked to two of her other series, the Iron Horse MC and Submissive’s Wish.

Unfortunately, Secret Obsession did not live up to the expectations that she has previously built. SO felt much shorter than the previous two books, and the storyline was simpler, predictable. In addition, there was less interaction between the main couple and their friends and family, compared to the first two books.

Mark and Layla do not engage in a physical relationship until about halfway through the novel. This can be done really well and make complete sense for the characters in some novels, but felt like wasted time in this instance. Mark’s inability to accept his love for Layla grew tedious long before he overcame it.

Overall, this is not a book I enjoyed or would read again.

*

xx

Advertisements

Luca Vitiello (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles #0.5)

Luca

I was born a monster. Cruelty ran in my veins like poison. It ran in the veins of every Vitiello man, passed on from father to son, an endless spiral of monstrosity. A born monster shaped into an even worse monster by my father’s blade and fists and harsh words. I was raised to become Capo, to rule without mercy, to dish out brutality without a second thought.

Raised to break others.

When Aria was given to me in marriage, everyone waited with baited breath to see how fast I’d break her like my father broke his women. How I’d crush her innocence and kindness with the force of my cruelty. Breaking her would have taken little effort. It came naturally to me. I was gladly the monster everyone feared. Until her.

—                         —                         —

Luca Vitiello is the retelling of Bound by Honor from Luca’s perspective. It is a full length novel from author Cora Reilly, but it does retell stories mostly already known by fans. I found that reading this one made me a little more sympathetic to Luca during his stupid moments.

There are a few new scenes from Luca’s POV, especially several from his childhood and induction into NY mafia.

I got the sense that if Luca and Dante were not from separate (warring) mafia families, they might have made good friends.

If you are looking for a brand new story by Cora Reilly, this would be a book to skip, but it is a fun addition to the series if you are Team Luca.

* * *

xx

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.

3

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

—                         —                         —

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.

* * * *

xx

Echoes of Silence – Anne Malcom

30316819

People make love seem complicated. Intricate. Novels try to capture its intensity; music tries to rein in its soul.
I’ve read every novel I could. I’ve lived and breathed every song that I could listen to. The sounds fill my unquiet mind.
Then he came.
Killian.
He brought with him the beauty of silence that echoes through my soul and showed me love isn’t complicated. It’s simple. Beautiful.
Some say love at first sight doesn’t exist, that you can’t find your soul mate at sixteen years old. Those are people rooted in reality, chained to the confines of life that dictates how you are meant to think. Killian broke those chains. He broke everything, shattered it so I can see that reality is overrated, that daydreams can somehow come to life.
My life tumbled into darkness in the time after I met him, so dark I’m not sure I’ll ever see the light again. But he is always at my side. His life means he knows how to navigate the dark and he can lead me out.
I wade through the darkness with him at my side.
We’ll be together forever; I’m certain of that.
Until I’m not.

—                —                   —

Officially, this book is the first in the Unquiet Minds series, but Echoes of Silence is the spin-off to the Sons of Templar MC series, written by Anne Malcom. I’m going to just talk about it as if it is all the same, because it’s just easier, and hey, this is my blog. Malcom wrote this story as a YA novel, which tells the sweet romance between 16yo Lexie and bad boy Killian.

If you are familiar with the Sons of Templar series, Lexie is the daughter of Mia, who was featured in the third novel. She and Killian were so enchanting as secondary characters that they have sparked their own novels. Although I would recommend reading the series in its entirety, Echoes could be read as a stand-alone.

Surprisingly, Echoes of Silence was my favourite novel so far by Malcom! I didn’t expect this because I usually read dark romances (so not YA!) and worried that there would be too much re-telling from Out of the Ashes.

The witty banter that I loved in the mother’s book was still present, but few scenes were retold from a different perspective. Reading Echoes made me realize how much was missed from her story before, and Killian in particular I got to know so much better. He is the son of a deceased club member and has been largely raised by the club since childhood due to maternal neglect.

Another favourite aspect is to see the relationship develop between bubbly, positive Lexie and her step-dad Bull, who barely speaks unless with her. I love seeing new relationships develop in a healthy manner instead of the typical “step family” tropes. Who doesn’t want one big happily, Brady-style family?!

There was one unique aspect that set this book aside from the Sons of Templar series, besides the sexual content: the music.

Lexie’s musicality and her band feature heavily throughout and it a key defining tone of the book, particularly in the conclusion. I love that after the story, the author included a “playlist” because I was trying to mentally keep track while reading to go back and listen to the songs that made such an impact to the characters.

Here is a screenshot of Lexie’s (Malcom’s) play list … and hopefully it isn’t a problem I just copied and pasted this one in.

playlist

I recognize many of the artists on the list, but not all and learned a bunch of great new songs.

Echoes of Silence is the first in a two-part special featuring Killian and Lexie. It does not end happily, but the upside is we get two full novels devoted to an amazing couple! Malcom isn’t making us wait too long either; the follow-up – Skeletons of Us – should be released September 2nd, 2016. She even has the first chapter available on her website.

* * * * *

xx

T.M. Frazier’s King – a review

This is the first time I have read a book by this author, and am excited that it turned out to be an author I’m following from now on. I am already a “friend” or “fan” of many authors on facebook, and one posted about this book on its release day, with the note that she had been counting down the days and couldn’t wait to read it. I was looking for a new book and that was as good of a recommendation as any, so I picked up a copy and I’m so thankful I did!

King is the name of this book, and the series. The first and second book are about the romantic couple, King and Doe, but there are rumours online that Frazier is thinking about turning it into an actual series, with a third book where an already-introduced secondary character becomes a lead.

This series is young adult romance. So far, the sex has been explicit enough for me to bump it up into an erotica novel. It contains some elements of dubious consent, but it doesn’t push the envelope nearly so far as some of the other books I have reviewed. I would suggest this is a middling on the range of what I review. Here’s the bones of the book.

kingBlurb:

Homeless. Hungry. Desperate.

Doe has no memories of who she is or where she comes from.

A notorious career criminal just released from prison, King is someone you don’t want to cross unless you’re prepared to pay him back in blood, sweat, pussy, or a combination of all three.

King’s future hangs in the balance. Doe’s is written in her past. When they come crashing together, they will have to learn that sometimes in order to hold on, you have to first let go.

Warning: This book contains graphic violence, consensual and nonconsensual sex, drug use, abuse, and other taboo subjects and adult subject matter. Although originally slated to be a standalone, KING is now a two part series.

I really liked King. It had enough surprises and a twist ending that I didn’t see coming. I liked that the protagonists had people that they were loyal to but were otherwise bad a’s. Doe’s fragility and desperation at the beginning of the novel was unique. I have read a lot of novels with bad boy protagonists and this was different from the crowds of others on bookstore shelves.

I am excitedly anticipating the next installment, due out in August.

tyrant

* * * * *

xx