Review of Mind Games by Cara Malone

Mind Games

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of true crime and murder mysteries. So when I found out about Cara Malones book Mind Games I knew it would be right up my ally. Mind Games is a mixture of murder mystery, forensic files, and romance that will knock your socks off.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book: 

A rookie forensic investigator, a seasoned patrol officer, and a crime scene that just might be the death of them both.

 

 Kelsey Granger is meticulous and careful, determined to turn her OCD into an advantage in her new job at the coroner’s office. There’s just one problem – her boss doesn’t think she’s ready. When Kelsey arrives at her first death scene to find the responding officer contaminating the evidence, she starts to wonder if her boss was right.

 

 Zara Hayes hates death scenes. She’s been on patrol five long years but her chief won’t promote her until she can overcome her fear. So here she is, just feet away from a dead body while a pretty young investigator reads her the riot act because she thinks Zara screwed up her scene.

 

 With a killer on the loose, there’s no time to argue so Zara and Kelsey team up to solve the case. As they get closer to the truth – and to each other – they must confront the mind games we play… in life, in love, and even in death.

 

Mind games is the type of books that you will want to read in one sitting. As I have said before I’m a huge fan of all things true crime and murder mystery when you combine that with romance I’m all in. While the book focuses on the suspicious death of April Messner it isn’t the sole focus of the story. The main focus is on the budding relationship of Zara Hayes and Kelsey Granger who meet at the scene of the crime as members of law enforcement and forensics. Kelsey is not your average forensic investigator. She has OCD which makes her overthink every aspect of her job, it also is what makes her so good at her job. I appreciated how the book didn’t gloss over Kelsey’s mental illness. The book discussed what having OCD meant to Kelsey and her relationship and her relationship with Zara. When boundaries were crossed, they were clearly explained and corrected. 

 

One of the best parts of this book is the inclusion of bigger girls as one of the main characters. It isn’t often in lesfic that there is a truer to life main character. Normally they are rail thin and perfect in every way. It is nice to see a character that breaks the mold. Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a story. 

 

What stood out to me about Mind Games is the sex scenes. While Cara Malone has always written amazing sex scenes this book blew me away. They were on a whole new level compared to her past books. Maybe it has something to do with the amazing chemistry between Zara and Kelsey. 

 

The only flaw this book had is that the romance seemed to develop too quickly. I wish Zara’s rakish ways would have been shown more throughout the book. It seemed to be glossed over. Overall the book was a little low on angst. But that wasn’t a huge deal-breaker for me. 

 

I can’t wait to read the upcoming books in this series which should be coming out early 2020. 

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a steamy workplace romance.

 

Mind Games is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Rising from Ash by Jax Meyer

Rising from Ash

Rising from Ash is the latest book in the new Forged by Fire series by Jax Meyer. Jax’s writing has grown since her debut novel Dal Segno. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed reading this book. Once you get started reading it will be hard to put down.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Phoenix Murray has had enough. Enough of her incompetent boss. Enough of her addict father always asking for money. Enough of the struggle to survive. So when her aunt offers her a job as a cook at the South Pole, she jumps at it. Even when she’s asked to avoid casual sex to keep the peace in the tiny community.

 

 Astrophysicist Ashley Bennett can’t wait for her year at the South Pole. Not only will it allow her to focus on her PhD research, it’s a key step in her plan to become a Mars colonist. Avoiding the complications of dating in a society that doesn’t understand asexuality is a bonus.

 

 When Phoenix and Ash meet, they can’t help but push each other’s buttons. Phoenix doesn’t understand that her confident sexuality puts Ash on edge while Ash’s curt formality triggers Phoenix’s insecurities about her upbringing. But living at the bottom of the world means there’s nowhere to run, and as they find common ground, their differences aren’t nearly the hindrance they thought.

 

 Rising From Ash is the first book in the Forged by Fire series, a slow burn contemporary lesbian romance that shows the power of intimacy to form a new life.

 

 Note: While Rising from Ash features a character on the asexual spectrum, the story does include physically intimate scenes. However, none are gratuitous.

I was really blown away by Rising from Ash. Phoenix’s character pulled me into the story with her struggle to settle down and commit to one person. When Phoenix meets Ashley Bennett, she is drawn to her in a way that she has never experienced before, even though they push each other’s buttons. Being stuck in a tiny community of the South Pole for a full year Phoenix doesn’t want to ruin her career chances by sleeping around and causing drama. So when Phoenix meets Ash she is forced to take things slowly and develop a deeper connection than she has with any of her past hookups.

Ashley Bennett is an interesting character. I have never read about an asexual character before. It is refreshing to see different types of identities explored in romance novels. Ash’s character helped to give me a better understanding of asexuality from someone on the asexual spectrum. Ash considers herself demisexual which means that she is unable to form a sexual connection with someone until an emotional connection is already in place. Phoenix and Ash snuggle to find a happy medium between Phoenix’s allosexuality and Ash’s Asexuality.

Even though one of the characters is asexual the sex scenes in Rising from Ash stand out. Rising from Ash has one of the most intimate sex scenes I have ever read. While there is quite a build-up to sex once it happens, there is no holding back. Phoenix and Ash have amazing chemistry.

The book ends with more of Phoenix and Ash’s story to be told. I’m excited for the next installment in the Forged by Fire series.

I would recommend this book for people on the asexual spectrum as well as anyone who enjoys a slow-burn romance.

Rising from Ash is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

 

Review of Forget Me Not By Melissa Tereze

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not by Melissa Tereze is different than most of the books I read for my blog. While it is a romance novel, I would say that it focuses more on overcoming grief and learning to trust again than a traditional romance. I was really pleased with how well it tackled the difficult emotions surrounding loss.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Jess Edwards’ life could be better. Six years ago, her world was turned upside down when she lost the love of her life to London. In the years that followed, she found herself preparing for the inevitability of losing her grandfather, too.

 

Word around town is that her first love is back, leading Jess to question the decisions she’s about to make, but nothing is as it seems. Jess may be known to have a heart of gold, but is she prepared to have it broken once again?

 

Amber Powell has returned home after receiving devastating news from her sister. Now within reach of her ex-girlfriend, she tries to remain invisible. Over the years, that had worked well for her, but with the potential of heartbreak just around the corner, will Amber realise that the only woman she ever needed… is standing right in front of her. A story of life, loss, and ultimately love.

 

Forget Me Not really hit home for me. My grandmother passed away two years ago from complications from dementia. I could really empathize with the grief that Jess and Amber were feeling as they dealt with the loss of their loved ones to Alzheimer. Forget Me Not mainly focuses on Jess’s coming to terms with her life after her grandfather’s death. She is struggling to get back to normal and when Amber comes back into town with a new fiancée. Jess has never forgiven Amber for hiding their relationship and ultimately leaving her.

Amber slowly realizes that she needs Jess in her life. Jess helps Amber though her mothers Alzheimer diagnosis.

 

I thought Jess ability to overcome her own pain as she relives the effects of Alzheimer was moving. It showed that she was willing to overcome her own past to help the person she loves. It was beautiful. At the beginning of the book, Jess seemed very harsh but that was because she was dealing with a lot of emotions and didn’t know how to express herself. I really enjoyed seeing her growth throughout the book.

 

The book also has a very cute dog named Beau. I’m a huge sucker for dogs in books and this book is no different.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys second chance romances.

 

Forget Me Not is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

Review of A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J. Werlinger

A Bitter Sweet Garden

Caren J. Werlinger is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books have always shocked me by how well written they are. A Bittersweet Garden is no exception. It is a beautiful written paranormal romance that will suck you in from the very first page.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.

 

Briana Devlin has arranged her life the way she likes it: a good dog, good mates, and work with horses. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Especially with an annoyingly clumsy—and attractive—American who is only going to be around for a few months.

 

The weeks fly by, and Nora’s ghost becomes more demanding, seeking her help in solving the mystery surrounding her death. Briana watches as Nora becomes more wrapped up in the past, seeming to fade away before her eyes.

 

Past and present are on a collision course, leaving Nora and Briana caught in a ghostly intrigue that could cost them not only their chance of a future together, but their very lives.

 

A Bittersweet Garden is like nothing I have ever read before. It is a mixture of ghost story and romance novel. I was sucked into the history of the cottage and its past inhabitants. The haunting of the cottage is so interesting it really sucked me into the book. I wanted to know what had happened to the past inhabitants. But I don’t want to spoil any of the story so I will stop here.

 

The romance aspect of A Bittersweet Garden is great. Briana is the strong silent type. She might come across as hard and uncaring but that isn’t the case at all. She is just very selective about who she lets in. Nora on the other hand never really thought that she deserved love. She was used to being everyone’s second choice. When they come together their chemistry is amazing.

 

I really loved the side characters in this book. Eve is one of the most interesting characters that I have ever read. I can’t say too much about her because it would spoil the story, but she is my favorite character. As most of you know I love the addition to pets in a story and Shannon, Briana’s wolfhound, is a great addition. The way she reacts to the haunted room and protective nature make Shannon a great addition to the book.

 

The one thing I wish was different about this book is the lack of an epilogue. I think it could have really added to the book. I would have loved to know what happened to everyone at the end of the book.

 

If you are looking for steamy sexy scene this book might not be for you. The sex scenes are all fade to black. But there is some sexy build up to where there would be sex.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves paranormal romance and to anyone who likes a good ghost story.

 

You can purchase a copy of A Bittersweet Garden by clicking here.

Review of Sandman by Tammy Bird

Sandman

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of thrillers. When I was given the opportunity to read Sandman by Tammy Bird I jumped at the chance. I mean who doesn’t love a strong group of lesbians fighting against time to bring a serial killer to justice.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Katia Billings, EMT with the Emergency Medical Services of Buxton Beach, NC, is one of the first to respond after a hurricane rips through the small island community. As she helps search for survivors, she and her fellow responders discover a secret that will haunt Katia the rest of her life.

 

Lurking beneath the sand dunes is an evil that no one suspected.

 

A sandy grave not connected to the storm leads investigators to uncover the tomb of a serial killer, literally beneath their feet, hidden for years from the residents of the tight community.

 

For Katia, it’s personal because she knows one of the killer’s victims. She enlists help from K-9 search expert Paige, and Katia’s on-and-off lover, Zahra, in her determination to find the killer, dubbed Sandman, and stop him from killing again.

 

What small-town secrets will they unearth in their pursuit of the truth? Will the three women survive the physical, emotional, and psychological attack being waged against their small slice of sand? Or will they become the next victims of Sandman?  

 

I was drawn into Sandman from the very start. Katia is everything I love in a main character. She is cool in the face of danger and willing to do anything to help protect the ones she loves. When a hurricane rips through the Outer Banks of North Carolina Katia’s life changes forever. The woman who was like a mother to her growing up was found dead in the dunes with her throat slashed. This gruesome discovery leads the team of investigators to find several more bodies and the discovery that there was a serial killer in their small town.

 

Zahra is an investigator on the case of the Sandman serial killer. She is also Katia love interest. Before the story starts, they had fooled around a little bit but nothing serious. The case brings them closer together. I liked that the romance element didn’t overpower the thriller aspects of the book.

 

The book uses points of view from all of the characters involved. For me, this really made the book interesting. It really transformed the story into something spectacular. Marco was one of my favorite points of view. Marco is Katia’s brother and is non-verbal autistic. Marco knows who the killer is, but he struggles to communicate who the killer is.

 

What really made this book standout is that you never truly know who the Sandman is until the very end of the book. When I found out who the Sandman truly was my jaw dropped. It was such an amazing twist. It is by far my favorite book of the year so far.

 

 

I would recommend Sandman to anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers.

 

You can purchase a copy of Sandman by clicking here.

Review of Shipped by Amanda Kayhart

Shipped

With the cold weather enveloping Arizona, who thought it would snow in Arizona, I thought I would escape with a little reading. Shipped by Amanda Kayhart is the perfect escape into a tropical beach vacation.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

No one understands that more than Leah Ives–a fresh college grad who spent the last several years studying, working hard, and counting pennies. So what did all that hustle earn her? A dismal day job, debt up to her eyeballs, and a Bachelor’s degree in fetching coffee.

 

Leah needs a getaway.

And luckily, she’s taking one.

 

After years of planning, Leah finally saves enough for her dream cruise in the Bahamas. Her bags are packed, and she’s ready to board that ship and sail off on a trip of a lifetime. Except all that organizing doesn’t prepare Leah for Mallory Miller, her bitter ex-girlfriend who threatens to capsize her entire Caribbean vacation.

 

Shipped is a novella that focuses on Lucy’s cruise to the Caribbean. Lucy’s vacation starts with a catastrophe. Somehow the cruise line double booked her room. They ended up moving her into a suite with another woman. The shock truly comes when Lucy finds out her roommate is no one other than her ex-girlfriend Mallory who she ghosted shortly before she started college.

 

Malloy and Lucy were uncertain how to approach their new living arrangement and ended up walking on eggshells around each other for the first part of their stay. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. It kept me wondering if they would ever be able to get over their past. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when Lucy and Malloy spent their final day on the beach.

 

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the inclusion of a gender non-conforming character. It is not often that you see trans character in books and I was pleasantly surprised by Devon’s character. I would love to see more books with trans characters.

 

There was only one thing that I thought detracted from the book. I felt that it could have used an epilog. It seemed like there could have been a more in-depth ending.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good second chance romance or to anyone who likes new adult romances.

 

Shipped is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Charm City by Monica McCallan

Charm City .jpg

 

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I thought I would get myself in the spirit by reading a Valentine’s Day novel. The book I chose was Charm City by Monica McCallan. It was so much more than the traditional cutesy romance novel and I couldn’t put it down.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Taylor Tate has one last chance to turn things around. As the owner of Charm City Events, she needs her upcoming week of Valentine’s Day events to go off without a hitch. She’s painstakingly planned every detail down to the last red heart decoration, but what Taylor doesn’t plan on is the less than enthusiastic bar manager she’s paired with stumbling into her life at the worst possible time, making things more difficult every step of the way.

 

Carson Smith is getting by fine. She loves her job as the bar manager at Second Chances, a dive bar staple of the Baltimore landscape, and she doesn’t need anything or anyone disrupting the delicate balance she’s finally created. Especially for a stupid Valentine’s gimmick to take advantage of desperate singles. When the owner of the bar forces her to work with an event planning company to drum up business, she has no choice but to begrudgingly agree. It’s either play along or see the bar close, and she can’t let that happen.

 

It’s only a week, but time passes differently when there’s love in the air and too much on the line, and both women soon find their lives, and hearts, intertwined as they work together to make the week a success.

 

Can opposites attract? Find out in this HEA Valentine’s Day novella.

 

I wouldn’t really call this book a novella. I defiantly saw it as a full-length novel. No matter what you want to call it Charm City sucked me in from the very beginning. The book had more layers than I was expecting. I really enjoyed Carson’s character. She is the type of person who seems tough on the outside but once you get to know them, they turn into a huge softy. Carson’s past has left her broken she finds it hard to trust anyone because in the past she didn’t know what would happen in her life from day to day. Carson is the exact opposite of Taylor who seems to have her life so put together. While Taylor appears to have her life together that is not truly the case. Behind the scenes she is struggling, she is working her butt off in order to save her business and rebuild her brand.

 

I really liked the opposites attract aspect of Charm City. It made me want to keep reading to see how they would push each other buttons. I also liked how Taylor and Carson’s backstories played into their behavior. I could really see why Carson would shy away from relationships and why Taylor had trouble trusting. It really added to the angst keeping me hooked into the story.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good Valentine’s Day read or to anyone who likes opposites attract romances.

 

Charm City is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.