The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley

There are books out there that you love, 5 stars all the way, you read the book, you love it and depending if you are like me you will most likely read them again. There are some books though and these are the truly great ones. You know these books, The Blind Side of Love, How Sweet It Is, and And Playing the Role of Herself. The books that are truly in another realm of greatness. Outstanding books that pull emotion from you, that the story wraps you in a cocoon and all you see and hear is the characters on your page. Those books are the ones when you find them you treasure them forever. I found one!

The Music and the Mirror by Lola Keeley isn’t good, it isn’t great, its next level amazing. This book is exceptional in every single way. No flaws, no lags, no character misses. Nope, it is phenomenal. Yes, I used my thesaurus for adjectives. You cannot just say awesome eleventy billion times, come on now.

Anna Gale is a new dancer at the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center. She has been a ballet dancer all her life, she lives and breathes it. Coming to New York from Dubuque, Iowa to studying and dance under the greatest ballet dancer of the modern era is her dream come true. Anna embodies this wholesome rock solid nature. She’s one of these really good people that others cannot dislike because she is just a noble person. She cares for others, even when it’s in her best interest not too. She works harder than everyone else without complaint and eager to do so. Ballet literally fuels her soul.

Victoria Ford is known as the greatest ballet dancer in modern times. When she danced audiences were captivated by her skill and artistry. An injury to her knee has sidelined her from dancing so now she choreographs and runs the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center. Victoria is not an easy woman to please, she is beyond tough, she expects excellence from everyone around her and when it’s less than that you can expect biting, caustic remarks intended to sting. She is truly the emotionally detached ice queen.

This is a dialogue-heavy book, with lots of exchanges between characters. Lola Keeley takes her story and layers it. There is no skipping ahead or fast-forwarding through life moments, hell no. This author takes her time and draws out the story and the tension The sub-plots are done with craftsmanship and skill. She creates supporting characters that are distinct and authentic. The banter between Anna and Victoria, oh the banter, well its legendary and they talk like real honest to god people. The key to real-life characters is nuance. Lola Keeley could teach a class on it because her characters have it and it is glorious. As the reader I thank you.

It’s bittersweet when this book ends. This is a story that I adored, absolutely cherished. I miss it already, but know without a doubt will visit many times again. Lola Keeley made true love jump off a page like a ballerina in a Grande Jeté. Her first book by the way. Yeah, WOW and that wow is the understatement of the year.

All the stars

  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • To Purchase: https://www.ylva-publishing.com/product/the-music-and-the-mirror-by-lola-keeley/

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Blend by Georgia Beers

I really like the way Georgia Beers writes. I love the way she develops characters that are interesting, dynamic and well, hot. It’s been a while since I have read her stuff, the reasoning, I have not a clue why, but I am so glad I picked up her latest novel, Blend. This is a fantastic romance novel. So good, fabulous!

Lindsey Kent is the general manager of a wine bar, Vineyard. Lindsey is likable, cheerful and always has something positive to say. She loves her job. She lives and breathes wine and has an amazing relationship with Ellen Bradshaw, the owner of Vineyard. When Ellen tells her she is taking a sabbatical to explore the world, Lindsey is truly excited for the widow. What is is not excited about is learning that she will need to run all of Vineyard’s business decisions through Ellen’s youngest daughter, Piper.

Piper Bradshaw is the direct opposite of Lindsey. She is an ice queen with a hard, no-nonsense personality. Her job is in the financial sector, and she has learned to be hard-nosed and closed off to thrive in this male-dominated field. Piper’s work and the loss of her father two years ago has hardened Piper’s heart. She is a closed off control freak. Having to work with Lindsey throws her orderly world off-kilter.

These two get off on the wrong foot. Neither is excited about working with the other. Lindsey has big ideas of how to take Vineyard to the next level and draw in a younger hipper crowd. Piper is hesitant to change anything, not wanting to change anything her father created when opening the business. The butt heads, but as their time together increases the begin to see each other in a new light. The walls fall, and perceptions fall away. The chemistry between these to is dynamic and sexy.

You know a book is good, first when you don’t want to put it down. Second, you know its damn good, when your reading it and thinking, I’m totally going to read this one again. Great read and is absolutely a 5-star romance.

5 out of 5 stars

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Survival Instincts by May Dawney

Survival Instincts by May Dawney was absolutely stunning! It has everything you want and need all wrapped up in one glorious tale. This is EASILY the best book I have read in 2018! The romance gives you the feels, the characters are strong, badass dynamic women! Off the charts amazing read.

Lynn Tanner is a survivor. That’s what she does, that all she knows how to do. In a world that was devastated by war, living by your wits and survival skills is a must. Lynn has no family left, she has kept to help and traveled the wilderness living off the land for a decade. Traveling south from Ottawa, Lynn is determined to head south to avoid another harsh winter. Traveling along, she kinds a dog, Skeever, whose owner had just passed. Meeting this dog makes Lynn take stock of just how lonely she is. Even the will to hunt has diminished. His arrival changes everything for Lynn.

What is amazing about Lynn is her mental fortitude and resilience. She is one of those characters that while her life has been so difficult, she never gives up, she fights for everything she has, every day. Her spirit captivates you as the reader. You love her for her weaknesses as much as her strengths.

Dani Wilson is the other main character in Survival Instincts. Dani is a skilled hunter, but Lynn see’s her as weak, and an adversary she believes she came overcome if necessary. These two definitely get off on the wrong foot. Dani is witty, extremely smart, and tough as nails. These two go toe to toe and then become an unbeatable force. They are so different but absolute equals.

I think what really sets this book apart from so many others is how multi-layered it is. May Dawney has given you a long detailed story full of twists and turns and characters that stay with you long after you turn the final page. Dawney takes her time and draws the characters out. Backstories are cleverly crafted, the scenes are set, and you feel the story as much as see it as you read. I was equally mesmerized and terrified at the same time. What I loved most of all, and I am talking really loved, is how the character’s chemistry between each other is just dynamite. It just jumps right off the page! You have sexiness, cuteness, agonizing pain and badassness all rolled into one epic adventure. This book is so beyond awesome!

6 out of 5 stars! SOOOOOO GOOD

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Hearts Like Hers (Seven Shores #2) by Melissa Brayden

Sooooo, I read Melissa Brayden’s newest book, Hearts like Hers. OMGeezy, let me tell you something, Melissa Brayden is a true romance badass. This book is everything. E V E R Y T H I N G! I could throw out adjectives for greatness all day long and it still wouldn’t be enough. The queen of romance has dazzled me yet again, and I cannot thank her enough for it. Brayden doesn’t just write a love story, she writes an epic love story!

Hearts like Hers focuses on Autumn Primm, the owner of The Cat’s Pajamas coffee shop. Autumn is witty, she’s sarcastic and an all-around adorable character. She has spent her life up until now completely learning the coffee trade and now running her small business. An invitation to her ex-girlfriend, Olivia’s, wedding hit Autumn especially hard. Not for the fact that she has any residual feelings for her former lover, no, that ship has sailed. What she feels is more the loss of a chance, she has let her love life evaporate while she has been solely focused on business. So she forces herself to watch the ex get hitched and comes to the conclusion its time to have a child, she’s going to take that next step in life even though she has not found her Mrs. Right.

Kate Carpenter is the newest residence at the Seven Shores apartment complex. She has taken a two-month hiatus from her job fighting fires in a small sleepy town in Oregon. She needed to get away. Kate was in the right place at the right time to save two small children from a house fire, but it wasn’t without pain and suffering for everyone involved. Touted as the town’s hero, Kate wants anything but the attention. She heads to Venice for some rest, relaxation and far away from anyone that will call her a hero.

This book, to me, deviates from the Brayden formula just enough. Now, I have never been one to knock said formula because to me it works and it works exceptionally well. There is a reason that readers drop everything for these books, they are time and time again outstanding reads. What I’m saying is this book is captivating and keeps you on your toes. The slight change up works but even more than that it’s just about two fabulous characters that have so much chemistry. I’m talking chemistry for days. Big and bold smoldering chemistry! This book is hot and sexy, with all the wit and spark you expect from the master of dialogue. Brayden stepped up to the plate with this one, she pointed her bat Babe Ruth style into the grandstands, and nails that sucker out of the park. This is a true romance that does every single thing to perfection. Every. Single. Thing! Once again Melissa Brayden stands at the top. She unequivocally is the queen of romance.

All the stars!!!

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My Top 10 Books of 2017

Best of 2017

Well, this year has come to an end. It was like riding the crazy train all year long. In terms of books, I thought the year started off strong, hit a pretty significant slump and then once fall rolled around, boom we had so many amazing books it was hard to keep with all the awesomeness coming my way. I swear I read five-star after five-star books for six weeks straight. Thanks to all of you on here, I love finding great recommendations from y’all and seeing your thoughts on the books that I loved or felt blah about.

Overall my favorite book of the year: Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler
This one hit on everything I love the most when it comes to a romance book. Captivating characters, one being an ice princess. Yessss! Then make them badass athletes with a slow burn hate to love scenario. Well, you go me. I was hooked. This one just resonated with me and easily goes into my must read again and best ever categories.

Tricky Chances: The Clinical Years (Tricky, #2) by Camryn Eyde
As close at it can be this one was right up there. So, so good. Ice princess medical student. A heartbreaking breakup and then that good old get the girl back with laying all the emotions out there. I love this series.

Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’Beirne
An absolutely delightful book that was a breath of fresh air. So full of diverse characters and two mains who are just amazing. Emily O’Beirne is just an amazing writer, and in this book, she took her amazingness to a whole other level.

Who’d Have Thought by G. Benson
Halfway through this one and I wanted to close it and start it back over. It was so damn good that I wanted to savor every chapter. This one was outstanding. Loved it!

Worthy of Trust and Confidence (Agent O’Connor, #2) by Kara A. McLeod
You have a fantastic mystery, a ton of corruption and a love story that just won’t quit. The two main are badass Secret Service agents with smoldering hot chemistry. I don’t need to say much more, do I?

Known Threat (Agent O’Connor, #3) by Kara A. McLeod
Yeah, the follow-up is one here too. This series has me hooked for sure. This book was one of the ones I was most excited about. Oh, and it so delivered! This one is better than the predecessors. It will stick with you long after the last page and have you impatiently waiting to meet up with these characters again.

Making a Tinderbox (The Tinderbox Tales, #1) by Emma Sterner-Radley
This is one of those books you find and just turn to mush because it did everything right. It took a hold of my heart, as sad as I was that the story was over, I was dazzled by its brilliance as well. I am so glad there will be more in this series.

The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter
Tension, oh that glorious sexual tension. This was a long slow burn that was delightful. Everything about this book is done right. The writing is crisp, the characters, well they were amazing and the dialogue could go from biting to amusing at the flip of a page.

The Price of Cash by Ashley Bartlett
Ashley Bartlett has me spellbound with this series. This is one of the other books that I was so excited about finally getting my hands on this year. I love how she writes, it’s fast-paced and sharp. Her characters are multi-faceted that live their lives in a grey area of a whole lot of wrong but is it really that bad? This is the moral dilemma of epic proportions that haunts both or our main character. Cash the lovable drug dealer and Laurel the undercover cop that is head over heels in love with her. SOOOO GOOD!!!!

Repercussions by Jessica L. Webb
A roller coaster ride of awesomeness is what this book is. Twists and turns with a ton of sexiness. This psychological thriller like no other is the f/f romance genre. You cannot put this one down once you start. 

Known Threat (Agent O’Connor, #3) by Kara A. McLeod

From Kara A. McLeod’s first book to her now third book, there has been such a progression from really good to phenomenal. I was enthralled by the third installment of her Agent O’Connor series. She made my heart race, my emotions jump all over the place, I was taken right into the book, real life be damned.

McLeod has become a master in on writing a fantastic story with main characters that exude fortitude, strength kindness and underneath it all, raw vulnerability. It hard not to be captured by this series, I can easily say this is one of the books I have been most excited about this year.

Like I have said before this is a series, each book building off of each other. Do not start here, you want to pick up Actual Stop and then Worthy of Trust and Confidence. Without a doubt, this is a damn good series and you will not be disappointed have three amazing books to devour.

Special Agent Ryan O’Connor returns to action after being somewhat physically and emotionally recovered from her bullet wounds. Back to active duty and dealing with the craziness that life continues to throw her way. When we ended the second book, we knew that Ryan’s girlfriend, Special Agent Allison Reynolds was having some type of an issue with her boss Beau Byers. Well, get ready for that onion to be peeled. It’s picked right off the headlines of today’s papers and it is enough to make your blood boil for both of the Agents.

The Beau debacle is just one iron in the fire. Ryan has another monstrous disaster to put out. Her sister has been captured by a madman. Remember the paranoid schizophrenic from the last book who thinks the president’s daughter is his wife. Well, Adam Royce Walker is back and has taken Ryan’s sister as a way to meet up with Zoey Carmicheal.

This is a heart-stopping adventure that will drag so many emotions from you. My heart broke for all the ladies involved. There are parts of this book that will crack your heart into tiny fragments. One part, in particular, will cause you true anguish.

While I say this, I’m also saying its worth it because this book is so, so good. You are there every moment, McLeod transports you into the story and never takes you out of it until the very last page is turned. The book will stick with you and have you impatiently waiting to meet up with these characters again.

This one surpasses the first and the second in the series. Not an easy feat to do. The best of the series so far! I cannot wait for the next one. Kara A. McLeod, you have stolen my heart with this series. If you read this review, thank you!

A big 5 out of 5 stars

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The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair

I tend to shy away a bit from sci-fi. It’s not that I don’t like the genre, I do, but I’m always leery because for the most part, I want the romance, I’m not so much into the world building razzle-dazzle that can often times pull my focus from character interaction. When I came across the premise for The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair I felt a pull towards this book. Maybe it’s the cover, maybe the botanist aspect, whatever it was I was ready to take a chance on it. Oh my, I am so glad I did. Sinclair is a rockstar and wow did she ever write a story.

The book is very much a romance. The sci-fi theme only furthers the love story even further. If you’re holding back because of that don’t jump in, and get ready for your heart to be stolen. This is an amazing book with characters that a vibrant and captivating.

Ari Geiker is a botanist who spends the majority of her time alone with her plants. She shies away from human contact and she feels like an outsider. Raised by a father, who is military to his core and has little to do with his child, she found solace for her loneliness in plants. She has resigned herself to this lifestyle. Her whole world is thrown out of whack when a slave is given to her.

Assistant, this is what the slave will allow Ari to call her, has been captured by Ari’s father’s forces. The sole survivor on a pirate ship she has been given to Ari for companionship. Ari has never wanted anyone to be in her quarters and is repulsed that a slave would be awarded to her. Assistant, is stunned by Ari’s kindness, generosity and that she is a champion for her. They form a reluctant friendship that evolves over time. There is a whole lot more to Assistant, I’ll let you find that revelation out on your own.

This book is sweet, it’s genuine and at times it is downright sexy. The relationship builds and builds and as the reader, I could not get enough. This grabs you and holds you, you are invested to the final sentence. This book is beyond good!

5 out of 5 stars

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