Making a Tinderbox (The Tinderbox Tales #1) by Emma Sterner-Radley

I don’t even know how to start with this one, but I am going to give it my best shot at articulating just how good this book was. One word summary, Wow. I was wowed, amazed, and totally spellbound by Making a Tinderbox. If I could read books like this one everyday life would be truly grand. This is one of those books you find and just turn to mush because it did everything right. It took hold of my heart and a sad as I was that the story was over, I was dazzled by its brilliance as well.

Lady Elisandrine ‘Elise’ Falk has been told by the queen that she is to marry the queen’s brother, Prince Macray in three months time. Elise, not being one to ever want to marry, especially to someone of the male persuasion is undeniably angry at the situation she has been put in. She is literally being locked in a castle until her wedding day. Elise is a character with smart, witty and a ton of spirit. She is never one to hold her tongue and it tends to land her in a heap of trouble.

Nessa Clay is the direct opposite of Elise. A commoner who has worked beside her parents in a small town, taking care of the crops to make ends meet. She is quiet, self-conscious with a bit of a stutter. What draws you to Nessa is that she is both selfless and gracious. A strong, stoic woman that when needed arrises to the occasion. When Neesa meets Elise, and Elise requests her help Nessa goes above and beyond to help the lady.

I think what really sets this book apart from so many others is how multi-layered it is. Sterner-Radley has given you a long detailed story. There are no cutting corners to save space, no rushed ending to warp it. The author takes her time and draws the characters out. Backstories are cleverly crafted, the scenes are set, and you feel the story and see it play out as you read along. What I loved most of all, and I am talking really, really fell in love with, is how the character’s chemistry between each other is just dynamite. It just jumps right off the page! You have sexiness, cuteness, agonizing angst and self-sacrifice all rolled into one epic adventure.

This is a book that has everything I look for and it does it to perfection. Fantastic characters, dazzling dialogue, a delicious plot full of adventure, angst, and romance. You cannot ask for more. Making a Tinderbox stole my heart from the very beginning and by the end I wanted to read it again.

***If I could give this six stars I would. How in the world have I read two books within a ten-day time span that have been this amazing? I have just been giving out 5 stars like nobody’s business.

5 out of 5 stars, but really a six!

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Perfect Rhythm by Jae

I have taken a step back from reading for a bit, there is a lot going on and at times I find myself reading current events more than being able to zone out with a book. It hasn’t helped that the last couple of months nothing really sounds interesting to read. When I got a chance to read Jae’s newest book, it sat on my Kindle for a few days before I opened it. Can I just say, I am so glad I did. Perfect Rhythm has that quintessential Jae style. It’s focused, romantic, detailed and has that amazing quality where you come out on the other side smarter than you went in.

Leontyne Blake is a pop star. She has made it big, a household name with millions of fans and millions in her bank account. She is also just going through the motions of life, she’s burnt out, tired and needs a break from the constant travel of pop star life. She’s lost in a sea of fans and adoration. When her mother calls and tells her to come home, her dad is very ill, Leo finally has a break from music but has to face her demons of coming back to her childhood home.

Holly Drummond is Leo’s father’s home health nurse. Her job is her passion, so going above and beyond the call of duty is nothing new to her. She is a godsend to Leo’s mother. Holly is happy with small town life, loves seeing her friends and family regularly and she can’t begin to understand how Leo left her hometown and her parents behind.

These two start off on the wrong foot, they spar a bit before breaking down and communicating their misconceptions about the other. Jae keeps the tension high and then takes it from “enemies”, friends and then to romance. She does it wonderfully, the emotions that pour out in this book are amazing. I found myself hanging on every word, devouring their dialougue and loving every moment. It is a very well written romance!

While the two characters move from friends to the development of romantic feelings, Holly holds back from Leo. Holly is an asexual lesbian. Coming from poor relationships in the past, Holly is not willing to take that risk with the world famous pop star, no matter how down to earth she is. Leo is everything she wants in a partner, but the uncertainty of their future is too great to chance it. You can say angst, and it’s my favorite when done right. Let me tell you, it’s done masterfully!

Never does the book feel like a human sexuality book or preachy soapbox, this is a romance novel. The love story is front and center, Holly lets Leo know how she feels, her experiences, how she’s different but it never overshadows the heart of the book. You don’t want to miss this one, it’s a fabulously written romance that pulls at your heart strings. Thank you, Jae, for a book that renewed my faith in taking time out for a damn good book.

5 out of 5 stars

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Tricky Chances: The Clinical Years (Tricky, #2) by Camryn Eyde

Tricky Wisdom was one of those books that just stayed with you. I will honestly tell you I have read it more than once. Yes, I am one of those people! What I loved about the book was how complicated and multifaceted each of the two main characters are. As the book went on you learned more about them and it didn’t help that the sexual tension was off the charts. I love a great story full of angst and bits or humor. So, with that being said I needed the sequel in my life. Thank the heavens it finally arrived this week. Tricky Chances: The Clinical Years is absolutely as good as its predecessor is not just a hair better. Don’t you just love it when a sequel is awesome! Not an easy feat, I applaud you, Camryn Eyde.

We come back to the story, (yes you must read the first one first) as Darcy and Olivia head into the second year at Harvard Medical School. If they thought the first year was difficult, well just add in clinical rotations on top of class and studying. You got it, they barely have time to breath much less eat or sleep. This new schedule causes havoc on their social lives and their relationship. You see the daily stress they are under, those hairline fractures in their love become under a constant pressure. What it makes for is strain, anguish, and some tears. What it gives you as the reader: a fantastic story that will be damn hard to put down.

If you ready the first one in this series, hold your hat, cause you are in for one hell of an awesome ride. If you haven’t, well I’m a little jealous of you getting to read that book for the first time. Darcy and Olivia are characters that will steal your heart.

A big 5 stars!

The Butterfly Whisperer by Lisa Moreau

I read the news every day. Every day lately, I wish this was a habit I could break. As much as I try every morning at 5 AM, I’m up, back at inundating myself in the latest world crisis or political snafu. I decompress/escape by heading out for a run or grabbing a book. The Butterfly Whisperer was just what I needed after a long week of craziness that just won’t quit. A great escape, that didn’t overthink what it really was, two girls with a life-long bond that even after ten years of separation, the love was still there.

Jordan Lee owns one-half of a matchmaking company that is super successful, and super exclusive. Her clients are Hollywood’s elitist. A self-made woman, Jordan left her home at the age of 18 just months away from graduating from high school. Her father threw her out when he discovered her personal journals. Only through her writing could Jordan admit the truth. She was undoubtedly head over heels in love with her best friend Sophie.

Sophie Sanders is a lepidopterist. Her work and life’s passion is running a local Monarch butterfly sanctuary in her hometown of Monarch, CA. Sophie is a character that is ruled by her spirit, she has this great zen-like approach to life. She is literally adored by the entire town. The only thing she hasn’t been able to find is her true love. She is hobbled by the fact that Jordan took off and never looked back. Jordan doesn’t know it but she took Sophie’s heart when she ran away.

Add a bit of conflict, add a bit of angst and you have a really good read. Is this anything revolutionary, nope, but it’s not intended to be either. What this book is a great escape. A few hours or days (depending on your speed reading capabilities) to decompress for life’s craziness, and enjoy a quality story with cute characters. Not to mention butterflies, who doesn’t love those.

4 out of 5 stars

To Purchase on Amazon: The Butterfly Whisperer29502529

A Fine Mess by Breanna Hughes

Harper Foley’s life is a manageable mess. When you first meet her you find out that both of her parents were tragically killed in a car accident a few years prior. This life changing incident sent her, as a young adult, on a trajectory of change. First, Harper becomes the guardian to her sister Emily, who happens to be a seventeen-year-old with a serious drug problem. Emily runs away from home, and Harper spends years searching for her to no avail. Second, at the time of her parent’s death Harper is engaged to a nice guy named Finn. They have been together years, in Finn’s mind, they were blissfully happy, to Harper something quintessential was missing. So, Harper breaks in off one week before the big “I do” moment. Ouch! Third, well… let’s get to that in a minute.

Harper, a college graduate, spends her days working at a bookstore. Her career is unfulfilling to her. She spends all of her other time devoted to her music. This singer/songwriter is trying to break out in LA’s music scene, and she does okay playing at local bars and coffeehouses. You feel a sense of sadness and despair as you read Harper’s story, but for quite awhile I wasn’t sure where we were headed with her.

So Finn is still an integral part of the story as well. He is seeking therapy because he cannot get over Harper. She has wrecked his heart but he takes any sign from her, even a simple phone call as a chance to win her back.

Then you have Kiley. Kiley, Haper’s ride-or-die best friend, is a drop dead gorgeous tornado. She blows in and out of guy’s bedrooms like there’s no tomorrow. To say there is a revolving door would be an understatement. A product of an unloving home, Kiley uses sex as a way to forget. This is fine and dandy, do what you want, but every action has consequences.

What consequences, you ask? Well it takes a while to get to this point, for a long time I was somewhat as lost as you are right now. So big reveal, Harper has a thing for her BFF. Harper, lets no one in on the big secret. Not even a hint that she might be looking at girls in a different way. She internalizes everything and lets Kiley’s promiscuity eat away at her.

My thoughts on this one are a mixed bag. First off, I liked Haper and Kiley, and I wanted to know more about them. I was invested in those two characters. With that being said, the hooking up with random guys, and this is for both ladies, detracted from the overall love story. There were a few parts, I was left shaking my head at why would you do this! Also, I needed more from Kiley’s point of view. I felt myself wanting to get in her headspace and see why she acted and at the times reacted the way she did. I wanted more on why she used sex with random men to hide her true feelings and how that made her feel afterwards. If as the reader I could have tapped into her angst level, it would have made me feel more towards her and overall the book. Kiley’s character need more fleshing out, because she was a really, really intriguing part of the book.

Second, I really did not want to read about Finn, his story and his pseudo-romance with his therapist was distracting. I found myself trying to skip these sections to get back to the leading ladies. I didn’t know what Finn brought to the table storywise other than he’s really nice and not over Harper. I wanted more on the main characters and less history on the sub-characters, Emily was fine, Finn and the therapist, not so much.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, it does have some typos/grammar errors but I was able to move easily past them. It was not a problem in the slightest for me, but you can probably read my reviews and kill a red pen with my missed commas.  With all that being said, Breanne Hughes is a talented writer. Her story, while it had a lot of moving pieces was formed well and held my attention to the end. Overall a good read, and an author I would not hesitate to read again.

3.25 out of 5 stars

    • Publisher: Triplicity Publishing, LLC

To Purchase:A Fine Mess

A Fine Mess by [Hughes, Breanna]

Heart Trouble by Jae

Loved it….scream it out loud again…Loved it! This book had me from the get go. I was enthralled by the characters, by their story and oh yes that delicious angst. It had everything I could have asked for, and even had a little unexpected twist that made it even more delightful. You can stop reading now, just buy this book.

You are still reading? OK well here is the synopsis.

Dr. Hope Finlay is your typical uber-smart loner. She’s all work, very little play. She grew up in foster care after the loss of her mother to cancer. This tragedy and therefore background has caused her to keep everyone at arm’s length. Relationships are not her strong point. What she is, is a gifted emergency room physician.

Our other main character is Laleh Samadi. Laleh is a second generation Persian American, who in her parents’ eyes is an underachiever. Underachiever in the sense she passed on college because her passion was working in her family’s restaurant. Also, she refuses to marry without finding true love. Neither of her parents can understand Laleh’s actions and they do rib her about it, but overall they are a loving bunch.

So a heart condition brings these two characters together and a little mishap intertwines them into a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I won’t ruin it with too many details. These two lives become intertwined and it is funny, witty and straight up sexy. Hope and Laleh have banter too, which I am a huge sucker for dialogue, so this made my heart sing. I adore this book. Easily one of the best I have read this year. Jae is a writer that you can always count on to deliver a fantastic book and you always come away with a little more knowledge.

5 out of 5 stars

Hooked by Jaime Maddox

I was super intrigued when I read that Jaime Maddox was going to write a story about Dr. Jessica Benson. She was an important character in Deadly, and quite frankly came across as a giant jackass. I wanted to see how the author would bring this character some redemption.

First, you really want to read Deadly Medicine before you take a go at this one. Do you have to? Well no, who am I to tell you to follow the rules, but I would recommend it.

If you remember Jessica is Ward’s ex, who basically trampled her heart, cast her out like a stone, all the while popping OxyContin and Xanax like tic-tac’s.  She was a hot mess before being held hostage by the psycho serial killer doctor from Lucifer’s lair, and now it has gotten even worse. So Jessica decides to take treatment for her PTSD and drug addiction, before life spins even further out of control.

Enter Mac Calabrese as Jessica’s love interest in this novel. Mac is your all around dashing, do-gooder detective for the Pennsylvania State Police. One-hundred percent committed to her job, never meeting anyone who interested her more than catching bad-guys.  Mac meets Jessica as she tries to put the pieces together of the Edward Hawk case.

Do sparks fly? Well kind of.  Jessica is going through such a huge transition in her life after completing her stay at a rehabilitation center and getting sober, but she doesn’t really know what to do with her attraction to Mac. Mac being the good gal knows that Jessica is totally off-limits while the Hawk investigation is open. Really, you would have hoped for more tension during these trying times, and it’s there, it’s just not tense enough, in my opinion.  Plus there are these other sub-plots going, which to be honest were super unnecessary and trivial.

I will say I enjoyed this book. I absolutely did not like this character coming out of Deadly Medicine and surprise she is redeemed. This is a solid book that will entertain you for its duration.

3.75 out of 5 stars

Hooked
by Jaime Maddox
Link: https://amzn.com/1626396892

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Flinging It by G. Benson

A gauntlet of emotions! A gantlet of emotions is the best way I can describe of Flinging It by G. Benson. This book is witty, angsty and also so incredibly genuine.  There were times I wanted to shake the main characters and then I would then the next page and want to give them a ginormous hug. Oh the emotional roller coaster how I love you and hate you all the same.

Frazer is a midwife in Perth, the head of Midwifery to be exact. She is beyond dedicated to her job. She spends her days and nights delivering babies or suffering through mind numbing hospital administrative meetings. Work, work and more work. No dates, little fun, just babies, babies, meting and back to babies. Frazer has spent all of her free time developing a program for at-rick parents and reaching out to them through the hospital and mentors to guide them through the pregnancy, birth and trying months after. This do-gooder needs help and a fresh set of eyes, so she turns to an unlikely source Cora, the head of the social work program at Frazer’s hospital.

Cora the head of social work for the hospital spends her day guiding people through the hospital system. While she is a co-worker of Frazer’s these two never speak, some hostility may be in part because Cora happens to be married to their boss, Alec. Alec is a first rate douche bag by the way, he emotionally abuses his wife to the point she is just a shell of her former gregarious self. As Cora and Frazer move forward with the mentoring program they develop an amazing friendship, and after one night of way too much booze the fall into bed.

This book pulls at your heart. While you know that the affair is oh so wrong, you also see that it is a lifeline of sorts for Cora. This is a woman that something to empower her and give strength, even if it’s wrongly through an affair. While her husband is a first rate prick (that’s being kind), and she should be running for the hills, she is terrified of disappointing everyone. Alec has stripped her down to nothing, so when Frazer comes along and becomes her friend, her ally and even her lover she has a renewed since of self. Does this have morality issues? Sure, but know that it is very evident that this marriage is on the flimsiest of last legs. Infidelity is a big no-no for me most of the times, but in this case it did not give me much pause.  Both women know that this affair is wrong, but it’s hard to stop when it’s the only time you find any since of happiness. Frazer and Cora have magnetism to each other. Their interactions are delightful, fun, sometimes really sexy.

4.25 out of 5 stars

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Tokyo Love by Diana Jean

Beware Tokyo Love is a really addictive read. This is a well written and beautifully portrayed romance. What you will kind is a journey of finding love without feeling afraid, discovering yourself and finding your perfect match.

Kathleen Schmitt has recently moved to Tokyo by way of Illinois. This oversized American is like a fish out of water, struggling to adapt with the language and the Japanese culture. Kathleen jumped at the opportunity of a job promotion within her employer a technology company, Mashida, thinking that she would love a fresh start in a new country. Low and behold, Kathleen hits a roadblock at every turn. Her job is to do the coding for a personal love companion. Yes, you heard me! She’s developing sexy personal robots!

Yuriko Vellucci, is an American by birth, but move to Japan in her formative years after the divorce of her parents. Yuriko keeps her head down and lets work consume her. After a string or bad relationships, one especially heartbreaking, Yuriko focuses on her career as a mechanical engineer of quality control for Mashida. Yuriko’s main role is building the AI life-sized dolls that Kathleen writes code for. A chance meeting at the train station throws Yuriko and Kathleen together. Yuriko feels for Kathleen’s struggle to adapt to her new surroundings, she is at times annoyed and charmed by this overwhelmed American.

Okay so first off, don’t let the personal love companion throw you off. This book is in no way about people hooking up with life sized robots. While Kathleen and Yuriko work with this project and at time platonically interact with one, they absolutely do not hookup with one. I know you were wondering! No this is truly a romance between two women who would normally never have looked twice at the other. Chance interactions and work continuously throw these ladies together and a mutual respect and friendship begins. Romance blooms between the ladies, and it’s absolutely delightful.

The story is told in first person format you get to see what each of the leading ladies are thinking and, this is why this book is so enchanting. The internal dialogue is masterful. Fairly early into the book Kathleen comes to the realization that she is attracted to Yuriko on some level, (she has no clue it goes both ways). She fights with the fact that not only does she have a first time crush on a female, that it’s also with the one person she has become to depend on. Yuriko’s friendship means the world to her and keeps her grounded in the overwhelming city of Tokyo.

Enter Ai. Ai is a person love companion that has been made specifically for Kathleen. Kathleen must beta test the robot before production is to begin, get all the kinks out before it is available for consumers. Somehow this companion is made to look exactly like Yuriko. Awkward! Ai continuously pushes the reluctant friends together, and watch out because there are fireworks.

The scenes are hot. The connection sizzles. The writer draws you right it and doesn’t let you go. If you are anything like me you will find yourself fighting sleep to finish this one. Great book! You will not be disappointed.

5 out of 5 stars

I received this novel by the publisher, Crimson Romance in return for an honest review.

  • Publisher: Crimson Romance
  • www.crimsonromance.com

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Capturing Forever by Erin Dutton

Capturing Forever is a story of second chances. Losing the love of your life, because you put work over family too many times, she finally had enough and left you. Could you have another chance or is eight years separated too long?

Jacqueline “Jac” Knight is a regional manager of human resources for a large shipping company. She travels non-stop, home only a handful of days in a month. Jac has worked tirelessly to rise up the corporate latter. She has put everything on the backburner on her quest to the top. Unfortunately the sacrifices she has made for her career have been huge personally. The love of her life asked her to leave, never being home was too much to endure, and her relationship with her father has deteriorated greatly. When Jac’s father’ health begins to rapidly decline, she must make some hard choices. She must rely on her ex-wife to hold things together while she is gone on business. Finally, Jac begins to see the error of her ways years ago. Is it too late to get her back?

Casey Meadow’s is Jac’s ex. She has a thriving photography business that she has built over the years. Between running her small business and caring for her teen son, Casey has had to do most of it alone. Her girlfriend wants them to take it to the next level and move in together, but Casey isn’t sure. She finds herself pulling back every time. When Jacqueline’s dad, who is also very close with Casey, takes a turn for the worse, she can’t help but jump in and assist in his care. Being around Jac raises old feelings, but is she willing to risk her heart again on the one person that could absolutely destroy it.

Jac and Casey have chemistry with each other, while it doesn’t set the pages aflame, it is there. You can feel their love for one another. I loved their dialogue between each other I just wish there had been more of it. There are a number of players in this one and they do take away some of the time between the two mains. Both ladies have another lover, and that was kind of hard for me. I felt like we needed more buildup. Fan the flames so to speak. You most definitely wanted them to find their way back to each other. Their reunion just had so many obstacles to overcome.

I liked this one. It’s a well thought out book, interesting and the pacing is done well. The character’s felt real and relatable.  I wish these two would have been honest with each other and had more substantial conversations. Overall a good read.

3.25 out of 5 stars

I was given this book by Netgalley & Bold Strokes Books in return for an honest review.

Capturing Forever
by Erin Dutton
Link: https://amzn.com/1626396310

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