Drawn by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite’s latest novel, take us back to Dallas and drops us write in the middle of a murder mystery with a heaping dash of romance. Taite excels at writing this type of novel, she drew me in and give me a ton of anxiety. I was reading feverishly to find out how the damned killer was.

Riley Flynn is an up and coming artist who just landed a deal with a highly sought after Dallas art gallery. This is the big break she has been working for. On the flip side, life is throwing more at her than she needs right now. She needs to focus on her art, not deal with her father, and the bucket loads of drama that him being back entails. Frank Flynn, Riley’s dad was convicted of a brutal murder fifteen years ago. Frank has been released from prison because new information and DNA samples have shed new life on his case. He has always proclaimed his innocence, but that does not erase the terrible years that Riley has had to endure because of his trial. Upon his release and weeks from her gallery show, a murder near Riley’s neighborhood in Dallas have made both Frank and Riley suspects.

Claire Hanlon is the lead homicide detective on the murder of a young woman who has been strangled and left with an urban art sketch in her suit pocket. There is a lot of heat on her to wrap this case up as fast as possible. The higher-ups want a Flynn to be brought in, but Riley knows that this will just create a media frenzy. Claire is not convinced Riley or her dad had anything to do with this heinous crime. She just can’t prove it yet, and the pressure to wrap it up quickly and her attraction to Riley is not helping matters at all.

The story leading up to finding out who the killer is is really good. You have a detailed story with shifting POV and it draws you in. You have multiple layers of the plot that give the story depth and really engage you, the reader. My only complaint is the story is too short. We needed more, to wrap up the ending and we needed more one on one with the mains. The romance felt like a side note, and while I got lust. I didn’t get true love. I needed Taite to show me more than the attraction between Riley and Claire. A few more chapters would have made this book go from good to great. Even with all that said, this is a book well worth your time.

3 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/drawn-by-carsen-taite-3271-b

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In the Shadow of Darkness by Nicole Stiling

Nicole Stiling’s latest novel gives us vampires. What is it about vampires that draws us in so much. Paranormal isn’t usually one of my go-to’s but this was a fun and well-written change of pace.

Megan Denham is in the wrong place at the wrong time and all hell breaks loose. The 30-something realtor stops by a local gas station and walks right into an armed robbery. I won’t give away all the details but know, all hope was lost for Megan until something stepped in and saved her.

Our other main character is Angeline. Angeline is definitely not what she seems. The gorgeous veterinarian has secrets that she has kept for a very long time. She is drawn to Megan in a way she has not been drawn to another woman in ages. As the book progresses you learn of Angeline’s story, often through flashbacks. Stiling does a great job of giving you the history of this enigmatic character and how she become who she is today.

There is romance, there is a lot of action, history and well, vampires. It is a well-written book, my only hang-up is that at times it felt too rushed. There is a lot of detail coming at you in regard to Angeline’s character and her past life. That took away from the romance in my opinion. I would have liked more emotion between our leading ladies. It felt superficial in the love department. Lust, yes, I got that, true love, I needed more.

Overall, this was an engaging story that was a fun and exciting change of pace. If this book continues into a series, which I felt like that was the direction the ending gave us, I am totally here for it. Stiling is a great writer and I am so interested to see what direction she takes us next. Give this book a chance if you love vamps, history or you just need to switch things up from your regular les-fic.

3 out of 5 stars

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Out of Practice (Legal Affairs #2) by Carsen Taite

Out of Practice by Carsen Taite is book number two in Taite’s Legal Affairs series. This book can easily be read as a standalone, but I would recommend beginning in order. This book is focused on Abby, an overworked lawyer who is finally doing something for herself and taking a dream beach vacation to relax, unwind, and have a little more fun for once. Abby meets Roxanne, who dazzles her from the very first moment she sees her.

Roxanne is a blogger, who specializes in weddings. She has a huge following and therefore is undercover while working at the beach resort both she and Abby are staying at. Roxanne makes the calculated risk of not telling Abby who she is and what she really does. They hit it off and a vacation romance begins and ends. The hiccup is both feel more than they should for a vaca hook-up and when they both get back to their hometown of Austin. They do meet again but it turns out they are on opposite sides of a legal battle involving a bridal dress shop gone bankrupt.

You know if you go for a Carsen Taite book you are going to get a great read. It’s guaranteed every time. I thought this book was so fun and engaging. The characters are well developed, the chesty is there and the legal drama keeps you engaged. I am not usually one for the instant-love but Taite does this one so well. I cannot wait for book 3 in this series.

3 out of 5 stars

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Flavor of the Month by Georgia Beers

Georgia Beers does it again, she wins our hearts with delightful leading ladies, witty dialogue and a story that keeps us invested till the last page. Really what more could you ask for? Beers delivers every time and I love to settle in with one of her books for a relaxing evening of fun and damn good storytelling.

Emma and Charlie were besties growing up. As they grew, so did their relationship. They became each other’s first everything. After graduating high school each of them chose their own school and while they tried their best to keep the relationship going, it fell apart because of the distance. Charlie followed her dreams, graduated, and headed off to New York. She fell for her boss, a gorgeous older businesswoman who oozed sophistication, power, and money. She becomes the older woman’s lover for a few years, giving up her career to tend to her girlfriend’s needs until she is replaced by someone else. Heartbroken, penniless, and full of shame and guilt, Charlie heads home to her small town to lick her wounds in her parent’s basement.

Emma has never really gotten over Charlie. She wants to bury her broken heart and throw everything into her restaurant. Charlie was the love of her life, now Emma only takes time for superficial hookups. There is no way anyone can destroy her the way the breakup dis. You can only imagine how mad Emma is when her childhood sweetheart shows back up in Shaker Falls as the new resident.

This book is full of regrets, angst, forgiveness, and understanding. This second chance at love is a sweet tale that a great escape. I promise you will adore Emma and Charlie’s story.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Temptation by Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant is a really good writer. She writes stories that are engaging, her characters are well thought out and her stories have some great sexy time. I think Temptation just missed the mark with ME. Emphasize the me.

I thought the premise of the book was fantastic. College grad student cut-off from upper middle-class parents for not following their dream for her to follow in their footsteps and become a doctor. Grad student begins taking babysitting jobs to survive and falls into the gig of a full-time nanny for an ultra-wealthy single mom. It’s a good plot line!

I liked the plot, liked the characters, but the romance just fell short. Between the sheets, hot as hell. The romance was a bit thin in my very humble option. I liked it, I just did not love it. Still glad I read it though. If you are looking for something steamy, this one will definitely be for you.

2.75 out of 5 stars

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Not Since You by Fiona Riley

I am a huge fan of Fiona Riley’s books. I though her Match series was such a great collection of books. With that being said, Not Since You was not my favorite of Riley’s work thus far. There is nothing technically wrong with it, not by any means. I just thought the book was more erotica than romance. That will totally work for some, but for me, I would have loved to see more dialogue between the two mains. I want that push-pull, I want those little moments that grab at your heartstrings. This one just did not go there, its a lot of hot steamy scenes in the sheets but thin in other aspects plot-related.

Lexi Bronson has worked as a bartender on for a cruise line for the last ten years. With no family back home, Lexi finds comfort is the traveling nomadic lifestyle that this industry provides.

Charlotte Southwick has just ended a three-year relationship. She came home early to surprise her fiance and found her in bed with another woman. Charlotte decides to take their honeymoon cruise alone and runs into her high-school ex-girlfriend, Lexi.

This one goes very much into you broke my heart at eighteen, and I have carried the hurt around for 10+ years to naked time. (The naked time is super hot by the way.) I just thought the plot needed more. If you are looking for a traditional romance this one might not be for you. If you are looking for something hot and steamy, you will love this one.

2.75 out of 5 stars

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The Woman at the Edge of Town by Georgette Kaplan

I have never in my life read the 50 Shades of Grey series. I don’t get the draw on a lot of levels, but I think I may have just read lesbian version. If you have suffered through my reviews in the past you might remember that I am a big fan of Georgette Kaplan’s writing. It’s fast, it’s witty and it is undoubtedly unique. So naturally, I picked this one up! What do I think about it? That is usually not a hard question for me to answer, yet this time it is. Conundrum of epic proportions!

Sarah Keys moves home from college after the unexpected death of her professor father and she hates being back. She has a strained relationship with her mother, her grief is suffocating and while she loves her boyfriend, nothing is working right in the bedroom. She is working part-time at the grocery store and shuffling her way through her days in this small town. Suffering, Sarah is suffering. A car accident on a desolate country road leads her to a chance meeting with Nina Rose. The rich, beautiful hermit that lives in the mansion on the outskirts of town.

Nina used to be one of Sarah’s father’s students. She is a gifted mathematician how often spends her day hidden away in her home working on codes for government agencies. Nina is ultra-mysterious. As Sarah becomes employed as Nina’s part-time gardener they slowly begin to develop a friendship and then something more.

At the beginning of the book, I kept waiting for Nina to become a vampire. She is not. Then I thought, oh she’s a killer. She is not a killer. I was never exactly sure where the book was going to turn and why there were so many rats (you’ll see). I was trying to find my footing with it, unsure but still interested. I’m not really sure what exactly I thought would happen but this one doesn’t have a formula you can put your finger on. Wild, yes. Sexy, yes, maybe. I’m confused! BDSM, big time and that was so unexpected. Perplexing, yes. I can’t quite explain it, I left the book thinking, what did I just read. It needed more details, I still have so many questions. An odd book that left me with a furrowed brow. See my conundrum, because of all that and yet I still liked it.

3.25 out of 5 stars

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Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews

Jenn Matthews’s book Hooked on You by takes you into the world of crochet with a heavy dose of romance. One of our main characters Ollie owns a craft store that offers crochet lessons. This group comes together not only to create scarves and throws but also as a support network for people that need a friendly face. The group finds that in Ollie, a 50+ year old ex-soldier that carries a ton of baggage from her time in the Middle East, her divorce and being a lesbian.

Anna, our other main character decides to find a hobby at the request of her college-aged daughter. Anna spends all of her time working as an English teacher and her kids think she needs something for herself. She decides on crochet and that takes her to Ollie. A woman she just cannot help but be smitten with.

This one was a tough one to nail down when it comes to a rating. First and foremost the book is well written. I thought that Jenn Matthews did a great job with character development and dialogue. The secondary characters add depth to the story and really make it shine. The romance felt authentic like this book could mimic a real-life love story. What holds me back a bit is that the pace was slow. I mean really, really slow and pretty heavy-handed in the crochet department. It almost felt a bit repetitive when it comes to crochet but the romance was written well enough to make up for talks of hooks and stitches.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Pursuit of Happiness by Carsen Taite

I am not going to lie, I was very hesitant to pick up a book based on politics. In today’s political climate it is hard enough to read the news every day without becoming more and more depressed. I read to escape, so whether its fact or fictional politics, is that an area I want to wade into? The author is was what sold me on this one. I like Taite’s style of writing. She is consistent in terms of quality and always writes strong female characters that are as intelligent as they are beautiful.

Senator Meredith Mitchel is part of a political dynasty. Her family knows the political arena well. Being president is a dream of Meredith’s but that’s years from now. When the story begins, Meredith is fully backing another female Democrat, a senior senator from Texas who has been positioning herself for the presidency for years. A wrench is suddenly thrown in Merideth’s plan to wait out this presidential cycle. A damning scandal hits and suddenly Meredith’s name has shot to the very top of the candidate wish list. The biggest question is does she go for it, and everyone is pushing for a yes, everyone but the women she has developed the biggest crush on.

Our other main is Stevie Palmer. Stevie is a public defender in DC who avoids politics at all cost. She will testify before Congress on criminal justice reform but anything more than that is too much. Her focus is on her work and ensuring justice for her clients. Through hard work and a ton of sacrifices, Stevie has found herself in a job she loves and friends she can count on. As attracted as she is to Senator Mitchel dating a presidential nominee is overwhelming and the spotlight is blinding.

First off, yes this book deals with politics, but I would not say it is not a political heavy book. I think more than anything it makes you wish this was real life and not what we are currently living through. I really liked both characters and I thought their romance was sweet but the story needed to focus on them as much as it did on Meredith’s campaign. I felt it tilted more towards a drama than a true romance. My biggest fault with this book is that the ending was way too fast and abrupt. It felt like the pacing was off when the book was screaming for more chapters. We hit the crescendo of the story and then bam the end. I needed more and I wanted more from this book. Still good, just could have been great.

3 stars out of 5 stars

London, Actually (London Romance Series Book 5) by Clare Lydon

London, Actually is book 5 in Clare Lydon’s the ‘London Romance’ series. This one takes us to a corporate setting involving Rachel’s younger sister, Becca. Becca has landed her first job since graduating from college working for an event planning firm. One big problem for Becca upon starting her dream job is that she just made out with her new boss Saturday night.

Cleo Nightingale is a 39 year old is the head of events for Workplace as global office space company. On Monday morning she is reeling from an unexpected yet amazing Saturday evening. Saturday, Cleo and her brother Duncan attended the wedding of their childhood neighbor. At the wedding, Cleo met the most amazing woman, 23 year old hottie, Becca. They enjoyed each other’s company went out after the nuptials for drinks and had a fabulous drunken goodnight kiss. One she was still thinking about later.

Becca and Cleo are caught up in a workplace romance neither expected. They both try like hell to put their kiss behind them but as they learn more about each other the attraction only intensifies. As much as Cleo does not want to date a younger woman she just cannot deny the sexual chemistry.
Clare Lydon’s always writes a clever, fun-loving story with well-defined characters. Overall, London, Actually is a very good addition to this wonderful series. A good romance to unwind with after a long week!

3.25 out of 5 stars

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