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.

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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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xx

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Bound Series – a review

The Bound series is written by Cora Reilly. They are fictional accounts of the New York and Chicago Italian-American mafia families and their attempts to put to rest decades of violence between them in order to solidify their power. Russian and Taiwanese crime syndicates have been gaining power along the Northeastern coast of the U.S. Each book features a couple that have been matched in an arranged marriage to strengthen their families’ positions in The Outfit (Chi-town) or The Cosa Nostra (NY).

Bound by Hono[u]r: book one features Luca, the heir to the NY criminal throne and Aria Scuderi, the 18yo daughter of Bigshot #2 in Chicago.

Bound by Duty: book two features the new Chicago Capo (Dante) as he  ascends following his Father’s retirement and 24yo bride, Valentina, also from Chicago.

Bound by Hatred: book three features Aria’s younger sister Gianna and Luca’s younger brother Matteo. With the passing of time in book world, Gianna is also 18 when she marries. No child brides here.

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I discovered these books by searching for recommendations on goodreads and google and read all three over two days. The stories really attracted me and were exactly what I felt like reading last week. All three follow the same basic principle of big bad Alpha mafioso male protagonist (I can’t bring myself to say hero, they’re definitely anti-heroes) and a younger, virgin bride. Despite these similarities, so far the characters have all had very different personalities. Reilly isn’t just duplicating a successful debut novel.

That fact that she is a relatively new author, within the last year or so is astonishing, because she is pumping these babies out! I admire her story-telling, and while I’m sure that there are people in the life who would say that they aren’t remotely accurate, to me they are, and what’s more, they are entertaining. My only major criticism is that this lady needs an editor and quick. I suspect that she is self-publishing the books on Amazon, and more power to her, but there cannot be any third party editor reviewing. The grammatical mistakes are endless, irritating, and ultimately distracting for the reader. Little words that give sense to a sentence like “to” or “for” will be missing. Or miscalculating how many inches taller Luca is than Aria; you specifically said that he is 6″5 and she is 5″4, that makes him 13 inches taller (there are 12 inches in a foot), not 10 as specified in the wedding kiss scene. Ms. Reilly, please find a passionate and detailed editor! If you are reading this, I will gladly fill the role for you. Nothing is a bigger pet peeve for me than stupid little ‘housekeeping’ mistakes ruining an otherwise well-told story.

Since I read the Bound books so quickly and they are part of a series, I am mostly reviewing them as a set, but I do have a few individualized comments.

The first book (Aria and Luca) was probably my favourite in the series. I liked the evolution of Luca and Aria’s relationship and although Luca was a lot more patient with their wedding night than I think he would have been as a real-life Capo, his sweetness towards his wife was redeeming. Secondary characters pop up regularly throughout the series, and I found it to be a little annoying in this one. Aria was such a sweetheart that she didn’t stand up to her out-spoken sister Gianna … which made me want to tell G to just shut the hell up at times. I get that she was protective of her sister and Gianna gets mouthy when scared. Given the lifestyle they were born into, that’s just about all the time, but there was too much going on in that respect. I really wanted Aria to turn around and tell her “Gianna, you are making this harder on me” but they never had that adult to adult conversation. It’s too bad, it would have cut down on tedious arguing between Luca and Gianna and allowed for more character development in both girls.

Bound by Duty is Dante and Valentina’s book. This was my least favourite but that has more to do with my personality clashing with the hero and heroines’ than poor story-telling. An emotionally closed-off male character is a complete turnoff for me, just as it would be in real life. Valentina had a strong personality, but she wasn’t super confrontational, she backed down before a situation went too far. That is probably what worked for their relationship but I refuse to live through intermittent “cold wars” so I felt disconnected from them. I did like the subplots with Bibiana though, and at the end when Dante has absolute faith in his wife, it was heart-warming to see how his love for her had grown.

The last book in the series thus far is that of Matteo and Gianna. I love these two together! I suppose my main criticism is the same as I had of Gianna in the first book: that she is so incredibly bratty and mouthy when scared, which is most of the time, and she never really overcomes that satisfactorily. As a result, she is extremely emotionally dishonest and I wanted to shake her. I would have liked to have seen her mature more throughout the book and be braver, more willing to share how she feels with Matteo and Luca rather than reacting and attempting to cover her true feelings. Hopefully we will see her evolve in the next novel, otherwise I don’t know how good a life she will have.

Still speaking on Bound by Hatred, although this book was only my second favourite in the series, it had my favourite scene! I love see the Russian interrogation was which glossed over in book one, and the interactions between Matteo, Gianna, Luca, Lily and Romero that occurred here. The book started off with action! But BbH didn’t top my list because I would have emphasized different scenes in the book than Reilly chose to. I felt that (minor spoiler ahead) Matteo taking G’s virginity was a much bigger deal, because of how their marriage came into being. It was such an opportunity to foster honest emotions and grown-up relationship conversations between them and it didn’t happen. The same at the end of the book…. how to say this with minimal spoilage. Hmm. I expected the confrontation that occurs between Luca and Gianna to be much bigger and more explosive. I actually expected it to by physical on Gianna’s part, with the way he stayed in her way and refused her entrance. I was disappointed that there wasn’t one big blowout before they make peace in the epilogue. That last bit showed a huge amount of character growth on Gianna’s part, and though we didn’t see as much of “real Luca” in there as I would have liked, hopefully we get glimpses in book four.

Speaking on book four…

Bound by Temptation will be released in June 2015 and it will feature familiar characters, the youngest Scuderi girl, Liliana, and NYC ‘made man’, Romero.

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From goodreads …

Liliana Scuderi has been in love with Romero from the moment she first saw him. After her sisters were married off for tactical reasons, she hopes she might be allowed to choose a husband for herself, but when her father promises her to a man more than twice her age that hope is crushed. No begging can make him change his mind.

Romero has always ignored Lily’s flirting. Her age and status made her off-limits but even someone as dutiful as him has only so much control. Wanting her when she’s supposed to marry another man could mean war between New York and the Chicago Outfit, and Romero has always put the Cosa Nostra first.

Lily suspects her sisters and Romero would risk everything for her, but is her happiness worth that much? Is love worth a war between the Cosa Nostra and the Outfit?

I can’t wait until the next book is out! I already pre-ordered it for my kindle, hope someone else out there falls in love with this new author as well.

Edit: Since I wrote this post, the author has also released the cover and blurb for the fifth book, due out Fall 2015!!!

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xx

Silver Bastard – a review

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From the cover:

First in the new Silver Valley series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Reapers Motorcycle Club Novels

Fourteen months. For fourteen months, Puck Redhouse sat in a cell and kept his mouth shut, protecting the Silver Bastards MC from their enemies. Then he was free and it was time for his reward–full membership in the club, along with a party to celebrate. That’s when he saw Becca Jones for the first time and set everything in motion. Before the night ended he’d violated his parole and stolen her away from everything she knew.

Five years. It was five years ago that Puck destroyed Becca and saved her all in one night. She’s been terrified of him ever since, but she’s even more terrified of the monsters he still protects her from… But Becca refuses to let fear control her. She’s living her life and moving forward, until she gets a phone call from the past she can’t ignore. She has to go back, and there’s only one man she can trust to go with her–the ex-con biker who rescued her once before.

Puck will help her again, but this time it’ll be on his terms. No more lies, no more tears, and no more holding back what he really wants…

When you highly anticipate a book, and then it turns out to be vastly different from what you were expecting, it can either be amazing, or disappointing. This one was closer to the later than the former, unfortunately.

It is difficult to judge a book, when you follow an author online, or participate in discussions. Because you start to build up anticipation and expectation in your head, and sometimes, feel misled.  This is how this book felt, and I’ve sat on the review for several days, thinking how to rate it.

Ms Wylde posted the prologue on her website several weeks before the book’s release, and having read it, I was salivating over Puck’s story. I follow her author facebook page and in retrospect, feel many of the posts were not true to the characters. Puck was described as rough and ruthless, darker than the other characters in her MC novels to date, but I actually felt that he was the opposite.  Certainly, the first and fourth (Horse and Picnic) Reaper MC novels had much darker protagonists, and Hunter and Rueger equally so.

The characters were annoying and I just wanted to shake Becca at times, for making the same mistakes over and over.

It felt like Silver Bastard had a great plot to start off with and could have been something great, but just felt flat.  It built and built but never reached that fever-pitch explosion I anticipated. Maybe this is because I had to much time to dwell on the promotional teasers before receiving the book, but I hope the next few books are a bit darker.  This realism is what sets Wylde apart from the usual romantic outlaw MC novels I’ve come across.

On a positive note, the epilogue gives us a hint of at least one, likely two new novels coming from the author in a separate but connected series.  These few pages gave me a bigger thrill than the last 150 pages Silver Bastard, and I hope that the anticipation doesn’t kill those books too.  In the mean-time, perhaps I need to give myself a little more distance from author fanpages.

* * * and a half

Edit: I liked this story a whole lot more the next time I read it, several months later. At least 4 stars. I think it just wasn’t what I had pre-conceived in my head from promotional media posts…. have to stay away from author’s social media accounts!

Enigma by Eric Walters – A review

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If you have never heard of Canadian author Eric Walters, you must live in a cave and have never been a child.

He is a former teacher from Toronto who started writing to inspire his students and hasn’t stopped since. The guy churns out amazing novels for 8-14 year olds at an amazing rate. I first experienced his brilliance more than a decade ago in seventh grade, when we read several of his books. He promptly became my favourite author and even as an adult, I go back to re-read the occasional standalone or newest addition to a series.

Okay, okay, I should be writing a review for Enigma, not fawning all over the guy. But I love him so much, I’m going to leave a list of his best novels at the end of this post, in case you are that youth or parent looking for some good reads.

Enigma is the sixth, and presently the most recent, installment of the Camp X series.  It follows two teenage brothers, George and Jack, and their exploits helping Allied powers during the Second World War.  The first several books take place in Canada, the fifth in Bermuda, and Enigma, in the UK.

The style of the book changes slightly, in that George and Jack really don’t seek out trouble this time around. In fact, 70% of the way through the book, lots has happened but there are no suspicious characters to be found.  Hopefully there will be one more book to tie the series off, but I enjoyed Enigma, and it certainly redirected the series after the previous book flopped.  You can see the progression of time, the boys are older and becoming more independent. The elder brother Jack is barely in this book, spending most of it at work or with his girlfriend, instead of with George and the reader.

If you are a fan of Eric Walters or the series itself, definitely make some time to read this one.  I am always impressed with the level of research Walters does, and his attempts to write a fictional tale within a historical framework.  Not many authors take the time to do this when writing for youth and it matters.

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Books I highly recommend you start with (boys and girls): The Bully Boys; Camp X series; Northern Exposures; Safe as Houses; Sketches; Shattered; Trapped in Ice; The Hydrofoil Mystery; Stars; Diamond in the Rough; Stand your Ground; Visions

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