Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Review: Fake Love - Claire Contreras

In the twenty-five years I’ve known Cory York, the only thing I didn’t fake with him were my orgasms.

In seventh grade, I faked a stomach flu to stay home and keep him company while he was sick. I ended up with a virus that kept me out of school for an entire week.

In twelfth grade I faked an injury to avoid going to prom by myself. He took pity on me, dumped his original date and escorted me to the dance where the spurned girl dumped an entire pitcher of red punch over my head.

In college, I faked being in a relationship with him to get him out of a bind with a classmate. Most recently, I faked a proposal, an engagement, and wedding date.

Between the ring on my finger and the home cooked meals every night, I fell for him. So I left, because Cory York is a good friend, but a terrible boyfriend. I had to leave before he broke my heart.

We went from best friends to silent strangers. Now that I’m back in town, he wants me to be his plus one for his cousin’s wedding. This time I’ll have to fake not loving him.

THIS BOOK IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN AUDIO ON THE READ ME ROMANCE PODCAST. Listen for FREE here:

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Website - www.readmeromance.com

Visit Claire Contreras' website for more information.

Review:
You can listen to this audiobook for free via the Read Me Romance Podcast or purchase the ebook from Amazon. Some of the ebooks will have extra content like an extended epilogue but I'm not sure if that's the case with this one since I've only listened to the audio version.

I have to be honest and say that the stories I've listened to in the Read Me Romance podcast have been a bit hit and miss so far so I was a bit wary going into Fake Love, especially since I've not read anything by Claire Contreras before. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised and this was my favourite of the stories I've listened to so far.

I always enjoy a good friends to lovers romance and as much as I would have liked this to have been a longer book I still liked Evelyn and Cory's story. Evelyn has known she's in love with Cory for years, they've been best friends forever but even though they faked being in a relationship to get an ex girlfriend off his back she knows Cory doesn't feel the same way about her. Moving away to school has put a lot of distance between them both physically and emotionally, especially since they had a big falling out before she left. When she comes home to visit they're thrown together at a mutual friend's wedding and Evelyn finally realises that Cory might not be so emotionally uninvolved after all.

This was quite a cute story that was very quick and easy to read. I liked both of the main characters and thought it had enough depth for a short novella, obviously there could have been more character development if it had been a full length book but for a freebie introduction to the author it did a great job and I'll definitely consider reading more of Claire Contreras' books in the future.

Source: I listened to this audiobook for free via the Read Me Romance podcast.

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Monday, 18 February 2019

Review: Twisted Truths - Rebecca Zanetti

Twisted Truths is the third book in New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti's breathtaking romantic suspense series, Blood Brothers, that will be loved by fans of Karen Rose, Kylie Brant, Elaine Levine, Maya Banks's KGI series and Lisa Jackson.

Noni is desperate. Her infant niece has been kidnapped, and the only person who can save her is a private detective with too many secrets to count - and more enemies than he can name. A man who walked away from Noni without any warning a year ago and broke her heart. But with Talia's life on the line, Noni won't take no for an answer...

The moment Denver Jones sees Noni, the memories come rushing back. The fire in her eyes. The determination in her voice. The danger of having her in his life. Denver had to push her away once, but now with vicious criminals threatening Noni and her niece, he'll do whatever it takes to protect them. But enemies from his past are circling, and they'll use anything - and anyone - to get to Denver.

Sin Brothers Series:
Forgotten Sins
Sweet Revenge
Blind Faith
Total Surrender

Blood Brothers Series:
(Spin off from the Sin Brothers)
Deadly Silence
Lethal Lies
Twisted Truths

Visit Rebecca Zanetti's website for more information

Review:
Twisted Truths is the final book in Rebecca Zanetti's Blood Brothers series and it's definitely the one I was most excited about. Poor Denver has been pining for Noni since the beginning of the trilogy, he met her and fell in love before the series started but broke both of their hearts by walking away. He knows he left to protect her but she has no idea why he up and left without even saying goodbye. Noni never thought she'd see Denver again but her niece has been kidnapped and she needs help desperately, desperately enough that she's willing to ask the man who broke her heart for help.

There is no way Denver can turn down Noni's request for help, especially now that she's put a target on her back by very publicly searching for him on the internet. Even if he wasn't still in love with her he wouldn't be able to leave a young baby in the hands of a brutal gang though. Denver will do whatever it takes to keep Noni safe and to bring Talia home but he's going to have to work fast if he wants to do it before Maddison and Cobb catch up with them both.

I already loved Denver but it was so great to see him finally fighting for his chance at happiness. He's always been willing to risk his life so that his brothers will survive but once he starting to see the kind of future he could have with Noni it gave him even more strength for the battle. Denver has always been the silent one of the group and Noni used to let him get away with keeping secrets the first time they dated but now she's not willing to let him get off so easily and I loved how she kept pushing him for answers. They make such a fab couple, the chemistry between them was intense from the beginning but there was so much more to their relationship than just sex.

Dr Madison has been the evil at the centre of both the Sin Brothers and Blood Brothers series so I can't tell you how satisfying it was to finally have everything come to a head. This is a battle Denver, Heath and Ryker can't win alone though and that means bringing in the Dean brothers too which made it even better. This was a fantastic conclusion to both of these series, I'm going to miss these characters but at the same time I'm glad they're going to get to enjoy their HEAs now without the constant threat of Madison and her soldiers hanging over their heads.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Review: Fury - Rachel Vincent

Magic, fate and hope collide in the stunning conclusion of New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent’s acclaimed Menagerie trilogy…

1986: Rebecca Essig leaves a slumber party early but comes home to a massacre—committed by her own parents. Only one of her siblings has survived. But as the tragic event unfolds, she begins to realize that other than a small army of six-year-olds, she is among very few survivors of a nationwide slaughter.

The Reaping has begun.

Present day: Pregnant and on the run with a small band of compatriots, Delilah Marlow is determined to bring her baby into the world safely and secretly. But she isn’t used to sitting back while others suffer, and she’s desperate to reunite Zyanya, the cheetah shifter, with her brother and children. To find a way for Lenore the siren to see her husband. To find Rommily’s missing Oracle sisters. To unify this adopted family of fellow cryptids she came to love and rely on in captivity.

But Delilah is about to discover that her role in the human versus cryptid war is destined to be much larger—and more dangerous—than she ever could have imagined.

Weaving together past and present in this heartbreaking tale of sacrifice and self-discovery, Fury is the deeply moving finale to a series that readers won’t soon forget.

Menagerie Series:
Menagerie
Spectacle
Fury

Visit Rachel Vincent's website for more information

Review:
In the third book in the menagerie series we see past and present collide in a really clever way. This book alternates between the present day where Delilah is heavily pregnant and about to give birth. She's  in hiding with the small group of friends and allies that escaped from the Spectacle with her and they're trying to figure out how to reunite with the others who either escaped or were recaptured and moved to different locations. We are also introduced to a new character, Rebecca Essig, who is one of the few children who survived the reaping in 1986. We see how she survived and what happened to her and her family in the aftermath of the tragedy and that really brought home how horrific it was for people who witnessed the reaping. At first it isn't clear why this new point of view was introduced but Rachel Vincent very cleverly ties both storylines together in a way that makes total sense by the end of the book.

I loved the first two books in this trilogy so I was sad it was coming to an end but I've loved all of Rachel Vincent's books so far so I wasn't actually nervous going into this one. That's why it's painful to say now that I was so disappointed I was with this ending. It just felt to me like the story is unfinished, a character makes the ultimate sacrifice (which was utterly heartbreaking and I STILL can't believe it really happened!) to try and bring peace between the humans and the cryptids but I didn't for a single second believe that what happened would have made a big enough difference. There was just two much fear, hatred and resentment between the two groups for a single event, no matter how powerful, to have such a huge, worldwide impact. The fact I didn't believe things were resolved meant that the sacrifice made felt meaningless which made me even more sad about it.

I did enjoy getting to know the new character Rebecca and of the two storylines hers was by far the most satisfactory but I wanted that same satisfaction for the characters I've grown to love over the previous two books. I ended up so horribly disappointed in the way things turned out for so many of Delilah's friends, and so many of their stories were left unfinished, that this series feels open-ended. I guess I'm just going to have to imagine my own ending but this is the first time one of Rachel Vincent's series has left me wanting more in a bad way and that left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Saturday, 16 February 2019

Review: Lethal Lies - Rebecca Zanetti

Lethal Lies is the second book in New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti's breathtaking romantic suspense series, Blood Brothers, that will be loved by fans of Karen Rose, Kylie Brant, Elaine Levine, Maya Banks's KGI series and Lisa Jackson.

A deadly secret can't stay buried forever...

Revenge. It's the only thing that helps Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars. But she can't do it alone.

Private investigator Heath Jones's job is to bring the bad guys to justice. He knew the Copper Killer's latest victim so when her sister asks for help, he's all in.

But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath's identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, long-buried secrets are coming to light - and the forces determined to destroy Heath are watching, waiting to exact their own revenge by any means necessary...

For more addictive romantic suspense look out for the rest of the titles in the Blood Brothers and Sin Brothers series. And for thrilling passion played out against a dangerous race for survival, look for the titles in The Scorpius Syndrome series: Mercury Striking, Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending.

Sin Brothers Series:
Forgotten Sins
Sweet Revenge
Blind Faith
Total Surrender

Blood Brothers Series:
(Spin off from the Sin Brothers)
Deadly Silence
Lethal Lies
Twisted Truths

Visit Rebecca Zanetti's website for more information

Review:
Lethal Lies is the second book in Rebecca Zanetti's Blood Brothers series and this time we get to know Heath as he continues hunting for the serial killer mentioned in the previous book. Anya is being stalked by the killer as he keeps sends her photos of the victims, she is a profiler who has been helping the FBI try to track him but his latest victim was her sister and she is devastated. Now more determined than ever to catch the murderer she decides to taunt him by announcing her engagement to Heath in the middle of a press conference. Heath couldn't be more shocked about suddenly gaining a fiancee he's barely spoken to but the biggest problem of all is that she's just announced his name and location in the national news. It's a race against time to try and catch a killer before the enemies from his past manage to catch both Heath and his brothers.

I just completely devoured this trilogy in three days, I was totally sucked back into this world (I already read and loved the Sin Brothers books) and I couldn't seem to read these books fast enough. They're the perfect blend of action and romance and I really enjoyed getting to know Heath and Anya. I have to admit I was a little shocked by Anya's bold plan and the way she pulled Heath into it without speaking to him first but she had just walked out of her sister's funeral service and was emotionally all over the place so it was fairly easy to forgive her.

I've always loved the bond between Heath and his brothers Denver and Ryker but it's also been really interesting to catch a glimpse of the Dean brothers and their partners. Family is so important to all of them because they all had such horrendous upbringings and its really nice to see the two groups accept each other so easily. This book had less movement on the plot regarding the people from the past who are chasing the brothers but the hunt for the serial killer kept things moving and kept the tension levels high. It was interesting to see how everything is starting to tie together ready for the end of the series too, I've already read the final book and can confirm that it's a very satisfying ending.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Friday, 15 February 2019

Review: Virgins - Diana Gabaldon

FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE JAMIE MET CLAIRE IN THIS BRILLIANT NEW OUTLANDER SHORT STORY.

1740: Young Jamie Fraser has left Scotland and, with his best friend Ian Murray, is running with a band of mercenaries in France.

Both men have good reason not to go back to their homeland: both are nursing wounds, and despite their best efforts to remedy the situation, both are still virgins.

So when a Jewish doctor hires them to escort his granddaughter to Paris, they readily agree. Both men are instantly drawn to the beautiful young lady.

What neither know is that their lives and their friendships are about to become infinitely more complicated - and a lot more dangerous ...

Outlander Series:
Virgins (Prequel Novella)
Outlander (Originally published in the UK as Cross Stitch)
Dragonfly in Amber
Voyager
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Written in my Own Heart's Blood
Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Release date to be confirmed)

Visit Diana Gabaldon's website for more information

Review:
Virgins is only a short novella so I'm going to keep my review pretty short too. Set before Jamie and Claire meet this story sees Jamie travel to France to meet up with his best friend Ian. Jamie is recovering from serious injuries and can't return home for his own safety so he joins the mercenary band that Ian has been working alongside.

I don't really want to say much more than that so you'll just have to read the story for yourself if you're interested. I did really like the friendship between Jamie and Ian so it was nice to see how supportive the two are of each other but I wasn't particularly interested in the story and didn't really think it added much to the series as a whole.

I've only read the first book in the series but I'm already leery of the amount of attempted rapes (& actual rapes!) that have already occurred and friends have warned me it only gets worse as the series continues so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that there was a rape scene and at least one attempted rape in a story that's less than 100 pages long. I get that rape would have been a huge threat to women back then (it still is now after all!) but I honestly think there is too much of it included in this series and I would enjoy the books so so much more if that was dialled back a bit. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to see how I get on with the second full length book, Dragonfly in Amber, which I'm hoping to read sometime soon.

Source: Purchased

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Review: Deadly Silence - Rebecca Zanetti

Deadly Silence is the first book in New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti's breathtaking romantic suspense series, Blood Brothers, that will be loved by fans of Karen Rose, Kylie Brant, Elaine Levine, Maya Banks's KGI series and Lisa Jackson.

Run for your life... And don't look back.

Paralegal Zara Remington is in over her head. Helping out a friend has put not only her job but her life in jeopardy. Zara needs help from someone she can trust - she just doesn't expect it to be the mysterious PI who recently appeared in her life.

Ryker Jones has problems of his own, including recovering from his investigative agency's recent brutal loss of a client. He wants to keep Zara at arm's length - and protect her from the reality of what he's running from.

But when danger arrives on Zara's doorstep, Ryker can't walk away. He might be the only one who can save her - if his deadly past doesn't catch up with them first...

For more addictive romantic suspense look out for the rest of the titles in the Blood Brothers and Sin Brothers series. And for thrilling passion played out against a dangerous race for survival, look for the titles in The Scorpius Syndrome series: Mercury Striking, Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending.

Sin Brothers Series:
Forgotten Sins
Sweet Revenge
Blind Faith
Total Surrender

Blood Brothers Series:
(Spin off from the Sin Brothers)
Deadly Silence
Lethal Lies
Twisted Truths

Visit Rebecca Zanetti's website for more information

Review:
I love Rebecca Zanetti's Sin Brothers books so I was excited to dive into Deadly Silence, the first book in the spin off Blood Brothers series. This story introduces us to three new brothers, Ryker, Heath and Denver, raised together in an orphanage they all have questions about their backgrounds that they are trying to find answers to while running their own detective agency specialising in searching for missing people. When a new client asks them to find a mysterious woman they remember from their own childhood it looks like their past and present are about to collide.

Zara has been casually seeing Ryker for months but knows there will never be anything serious between them. That doesn't stop her turning to him for help when one of her closest friends goes missing though and when it looks like Zara may be in danger too Ryker realises that he would do anything to keep her safe. The timing couldn't be worse considering Ryker's past, and his enemies, are about to catch up with him, but Zara needs his help and he could never walk away from her.

Rebecca Zanetti always manages to write books that are full of action and danger but also great characters, strong family bonds and scorching hot romances. Zara and Ryker's relationship is a little different because they're already seeing each other before the story starts but because they've both been trying to keep things casual we still get to see their relationship blossom throughout the book. Ryker was a very overprotective alpha male but Zara holds her ground and she's willing to fight for what she needs and not let him walk all over her which was good. He's actually more willing to pursue a relationship than she is because she has a fear of him walking away and breaking her heart and he could actually be a really sweet guy even though he was also quite demanding and knew exactly what he wanted.

As I've come to expect from this author one of my favourite things about this book was the bond between Ryker, Heath and Denver. The boys aren't related by blood but instead they chose each other and they are very close. They all had awful childhoods that were made even worse in the orphanage where they met and surviving that kind of hell together left them with an unbreakable bond. They've always known that someone from their past is hunting them so they've had to work hard to stay under the radar but when they take on a new client they start to realise that perhaps it's time to confront their past so they can finally move on with their lives. There was a lot to love about their story and I really enjoyed seeing characters from the Sin Brothers books put in an appearance too, I hope we see more cameos from them throughout the series.

I loved all three brothers so much that I've already started reading Heath's book, Lethal Lies, and I expect to be devouring Heath's story, Twisted Truths, immediately afterwards. Sometimes there are huge advantages of not starting a new series until all the books have been published and I intend to make the most of them!

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Review: Spectacle - Rachel Vincent

In this riveting sequel Delilah Marlow will discover that there is no crueler cage than the confines of the human mind…

When their coup of Metzger's Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of "exotic wildlife." Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle's owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted—for the right price.

But Vandekamp's closely guarded client list isn't the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light.

Menagerie Series:
Menagerie
Spectacle
Fury

Visit Rachel Vincent's website for more information

Review:
After Delilah and her cryptid friends finally managed to take back their freedom at the end of Menagerie I honestly expected Spectacle to be about them travelling the country and rescuing other cryptids along the way so the direction this story took really surprised me. They do manage to run Metzger's Menagerie for a couple of months but then they're captured by Willem Vandekamp, owner of The Savage Spectacle. No matter how brutal and humiliating the Menagerie was the Savage Spectacle somehow manages to be so much worse. On the surface they are kept in better conditions, they have mats to sleep on, they're fed proper meals and they're even allowed to shower but that is only because Vandekamp needs them looking their best. You see the Savage Spectacle caters to the fetishes of the rich and powerful, no matter how depraved your desires may be if you have enough money Vandekamp will provide your deepest, darkest wishes.

I really enjoyed Menagerie but I think Spectacle was even better and I just couldn't put it down. If you've read the first book then you'll already know that this series is dark but I should probably clarify that it doesn't get any easier in this one, the things that Delilah, Zyanya, Lenore and the others go through were horrific but I'm glad to say most of it wasn't shown in full detail. Even Gallagher and Eryx are forced to kill in an arena to survive so this is not a happy book full of sunshine and roses. What it is is a book that will make you think about what it means to be human. Does it really matter that you're physically human if you're a monster on the inside, how does that make you any better than someone who is different on the outside but who just wants to be free to live their life in peace? It was far, far easier to relate to the cryptids in this book than it was to their human handlers and I spent most of the book just waiting for Delilah to find a way to release her inner furae on them all.

I don't want to spoil the book by telling you if that happens or not but I will say that some characters definitely get what they deserve even if it isn't all of them. It's not often that I read a whole trilogy without taking a break between books but with the way this ended I'm incredibly relieved that Fury is already available because I'm diving straight in. I really want to see Delilah, Gallagher and the others find some happiness and a safe place to be and more than anything I want to see them punish anyone who has ever attempted to abuse them. Humanity had better watch out because the cryptids are coming for revenge!

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Review: Renaissance Man - Tessa Bailey

A standalone novella from New York Times Bestselling Author Tessa Bailey...

The last place ex-Special forces soldier, Kyle Musgrave, expected to find himself was in a joust at a renaissance fair. There's a prize for winning, however--her name is Cameron and she's just as horrified by her medieval circumstances as Kyle. She needs his help badly to escape her would-be suitors. For Kyle, that means donning uncomfortable armor, galloping to victory on a stubborn steed and claiming a reward he never expected. If she'll have him.

THIS BOOK IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN AUDIO ON THE READ ME ROMANCE PODCAST. Listen for FREE here:

iTunes - http://geni.us/A888vRA
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Website - www.readmeromance.com

Visit Tessa Bailey's website for more information.

Review:
You can listen to this audiobook for free via the Read Me Romance Podcast or purchase the ebook from Amazon which I believe comes with an extended epilogue not available via the podcast.

When Cameron agreed to spend time at the renaissance fair to get to know her stepfather she didn't realise she was agreeing to be the prize offered up for the winner of the jousting contest. That wasn't what she had in mind at all but she can't figure out a way to back out without upsetting her mother. Kyle is dragged along to the fair by his friends and isn't at all sure why he agreed to be there but when he meets Cameron and realises she's in need of rescuing he finds himself signing up to take part in the jousting contest.

The first meeting between Cameron and Kyle was great, and the start of a quite sweet romance. It's obvious that they're both attracted to each other but with this being a novella everything happens in the course of an afternoon so we're not looking at the next great love story here but they made a cute couple and I was totally on board with that.

My main issue with this story was the whole jousting contest though. If I'm reading fantasy you can throw anything at me and if your world makes sense I'll happily go along with it but when I'm reading a contemporary romance it has to feel believable. Could I get on board with Cameron and Kyle's instant attraction? Yes, easily. It's not like they were spouting words of love straight after meeting, they were attracted to each other and agreed to go on a date, something people do all the time.

What I had and issue with was the fact that Kyle, who has never been to a renaissance fair before, walked in, signed up for a jousting contest and was just instantly allowed to take part. They didn't even ask if he'd ridden a horse before, let alone whether he had experience jousting (which he didn't!). Are you seriously telling me that anyone can walk into one of these fairs and they'll let you jump on one of their horses with a big pointy stick and tell you to get on with it? Have you any idea how dangerous jousting can be? A quick internet search will tell you about broken bones, punctured lungs, even death! Can you imagine the cost of the insurance for these events if they just let anyone walk in and take part completely untrained?

I know I'm making a big deal out of something that won't bother most people but I just hate it when a contemporary story doesn't feel realistic. If he'd been an amateur jouster who was already taking part in the contest before they met then I could have sat back and enjoyed the ride but that ruined the whole experience for me because I kept waiting for him to lose an eyeball to a wooden splinter! It just felt like sloppy writing in my opinion but your mileage may vary.

Source: I listened to this audiobook for free via the Read Me Romance podcast.

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Monday, 11 February 2019

Review: Lake Silence - Anne Bishop

In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, an inn owner and her shape-shifting lodger find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others--vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget....

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki's don't have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe--one of the shape-shifting Others--discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken--and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

The Others Series:
Written in Red
Murder of Crows
Vision in Silver
Marked in Flesh
Etched in Bone
Lake Silence (World of the Others book 1)
Wild Country (World of the Others book 2)

Visit Anne Bishop's website for more information

Review:
I have to admit when I found out this book wasn't set at the Lakeside Courtyard I assumed it would be at one of the settlements we've already seen in previous books. There are lots of groups I'd be interested in seeing more of so I was really surprised that this was about a completely new set of characters that haven't been mentioned before. I love this world though so it didn't take me long to fall into this story and it was actually really refreshing to have so many new faces to get to know.

Vicki is a human who has recently got out of an abusive relationship, her ex-husband gave her a run down resort near Lake Silence as part of the divorce settlement and she's slowly settling into her new home and carrying out much needed renovations to turn The Jumble into a going concern. Vicki knows the town is run by the terra indigene rather than humans but she didn't realise that the Others paid so much attention to her home until she walks into the kitchen one day to find her only lodger about to eat an eyeball. Thats the first time Vicki realises that Aggie is one of the Crowgard but Vicki's biggest problem is that the eyeball Aggie thinks would make a tasty lunch comes from a man who has been murdered on her property. When corrupt detectives try to pin the murder on Vicki some of the Others start paying a lot more attention to what is happening at The Jumble, and they're really not happy about the people who are trying to force Vicki out of her home.

I really liked this little town and most of it's inhabitants. You have a mix of humans, intuits and various terra indigene from the sanguinati and elementals to crows, bears and cats who are all trying to learn how to live amongst each other. The Jumble is a perfect place for the different groups to get together in a safe environment and mingle, that's what the Others had always planned the place to be used for and they're happy that Vicki seems to be taking her responsibilities as custodian of the land seriously. Someone wants her out though and that is a threat that concerns everyone, especially when the Elders are currently paying so much attention to the remaining human settlements and the threat of war isn't that far away. As much as I'm still hoping to see characters like Meg and Simon again I'm enjoying this new group and looking forward to spending more time with them in the next book.

Source: Purchased

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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Review: Etched in Bone - Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves...

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness...

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave...

The Others Series:
Written in Red
Murder of Crows
Vision in Silver
Marked in Flesh
Etched in Bone
Lake Silence (World of the Others book 1)
Wild Country (World of the Others book 2)

Visit Anne Bishop's website for more information

Review:
As humans are struggling to comprehend the new world order since the Elders unleashed their fury on members of the HFL movement Simon and the rest of the members of the Lakeside Courtyard know this could just be the beginning. The Elders have seen first hand how much trouble humans can cause as a group, many cities and towns didn't survive the punishment they doled out after the attacks on the Wolfgard and the places that remain are under intense scrutiny. In the past the Elders kept to the wild country and left the rest of the terra indigene to monitor the humans but now they're paying attention and it wouldn't take much for them to decide extinction is the best course of action after all.

The community around Lakeside is trying to pick up the pieces and Simon is having to deal with finding extra supplies for the ever increasing members of the human pack at the Courtyard. Things are going quite well until Lieutenant Montgomery's estranged brother turns up expecting a free ride. When Jimmy realises that his mother and brother aren't just going to keep giving him the handouts he thinks he's entitled to he puts plans in motion that could end up destroying what's left of humanity.

I've loved every minute of this series so I was really sad to find out that this is the last book focusing on Meg, Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard. I still don't feel ready to say goodbye to this group so I'm glad there are more books in the world and I really hope we'll see more than minor cameo appearances from the people we already know and love. I've been rooting for a Meg and Simon romance from the beginning, it's been blindingly obvious to everyone but the two of them that they've been falling in love since they first met and I've been waiting for them to realise it for such a long time. I hate to say it but I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see more of their romance in this final book, yes they finally start to admit their feelings and the way things ended left me very hopeful about their future, but I wanted more. I wanted to see them take the next step in their relationship, wanted to see them try to figure out how to make things work, was looking forward to seeing how everyone around them would react to them as a couple and to seeing how many funny misunderstandings they would have because they both see the world so differently. There was just so much potential there that it seems like a wasted opportunity to end things where they did.

Having said that there was still a lot I enjoyed about this book, including what we did see of Meg and Simon starting to admit their feelings, in fact if there was going to be another book staring the two of them then I'd have been over the moon with what we did get to see of them in Etched in Silence. I also really enjoyed seeing how the Others coped with having more humans around the Courtyard, there were some funny misunderstandings because they all see things in different ways, I'm particularly thinking of Kowalski on his bicycle here! Every single one of these books have had moments that made me laugh out loud so even though the series is quite dark in places there has been plenty of fun along the way too. The storyline with Monty's brother was extremely frustrating (mainly because I wanted Simon to just eat Jimmy and be done with it!) but it was interesting to see how much attention the Elders were paying to the courtyard and to Meg in particular.

I'm sad our time in the courtyard is over but I'm glad we're not completely done with this world yet. I'm assuming the next book will be set in one of the smaller communities we've already seen glimpses of and there are lots of characters I'd like to know more about so it's going to be fun to see who we're spending time with next. I really hope we'll get to see Meg and Simon making cameo appearances though.

Source: Purchased

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Saturday, 9 February 2019

Review: Marked in Flesh - Anne Bishop

In the fourth novel in Anne Bishop's New York Times bestselling series, the Others will need to decide how much humanity they're willing to tolerate - both within themselves and their community...

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the dynamic between humans and Others has changed. Some, such as Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn see the closer companionship as beneficial.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don't realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land - and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to safeguard what is theirs...

The Others Series:
Written in Red
Murder of Crows
Vision in Silver
Marked in Flesh
Etched in Bone
Lake Silence (World of the Others book 1)
Wild Country (World of the Others book 2)

Visit Anne Bishop's website for more information

Review:
As a species humans really are pretty stupid. The Others may call us "clever meat" but really a large majority of us are so stupid you could almost call us suicidal. Rather than learn from the lessons the terra indigene tried to teach them in the previous book the members of HFL decide they're going to continue the attacks, this time with devastating consequences for both the Others and for humanity. Now the humans have the attention of the terra indigene Elders and they're throwing around words like "total extinction". All that remains to be seen is how many, or how few, people will survive when the Elders come calling.

I've been so hooked on this series that I devoured the first four books (about 2000 pages!) in five days, I made every excuse I could come up with to spend as much time as possible reading and I think I've actually given myself eye strain because today I'm having too much trouble focusing to dive into book five. Anyway, that's my really long winded way of telling you that I absolutely LOVE this series. Everything about this world is fascinating to me, I love that humans are at the bottom of the food chain, I've really enjoyed getting to know all the different characters who live in the Lakeside Courtyard and I was desperate to know what would happen when the Elders came calling.

Unfortunately we have to witness some pretty terrible attacks on the Others first though. Is it weird I was more upset when the werewolves were attacked than I was when humans were facing possible extinction? I honestly don't care if that's weird because very few humans in this world actually deserve to survive so I'd be quite happy to see most of them wiped off the face of the planet. Obviously I'm not talking about Meg, her human pack or even the Others friendly police officers but anyone who had a membership card for the HFL would make a very tasty Elder snack in my opinion!

Anyway, we finally get some pay off in terms of the Others fighting back, the Elders have watched, they've listened and they've learned and now they're ready to treat humans the way they deserve to be treated. My one slight complaint was that I wanted to see certain people suffer a bit more, I'm not normally one for graphic violence but I would actually have enjoyed more here! I also really wanted more Meg and Simon, of course we do see a lot of them but what I'm desperately waiting for is some payoff in the romance department. Can someone just smash their heads together and MAKE THEM KISS! Please, for the love of God lets bring this romance to the boil because the slow build that I was enjoying so much in the beginning is starting to kill me!

Yes, I am possibly a little too invested in this but I've spent more time in the book world than I have in the real one this week so the lines between fantasy and reality are starting to blur. Surely that's a sign on Anne Bishop's fantastic writing though? I can't recommend this series highly enough!

Source: Purchased

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Friday, 8 February 2019

Review: Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop transports readers to a "stunningly original" world of magic and political unrest - where the only chance at peace requires a deadly price....

The Others freed the blood prophets to protect them from exploitation, but their actions had dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn's help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions might be Simon's only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the battle is threatening to break out right on Meg and Simon's doorstep....

The Others Series:
Written in Red
Murder of Crows
Vision in Silver
Marked in Flesh
Etched in Bone
Lake Silence (World of the Others book 1)
Wild Country (World of the Others book 2)

Visit Anne Bishop's website for more information

Review:
The terra indigene may have saved the blood prophets and destroyed the compounds where they had been held captive and exploited but it turns out that was the easy part. The hard part is going to be finding a way to help the girls survive life on the outside, away from their strictly regimented routines and experienced handlers. The Others and the intuits are doing their best to make them comfortable in their new homes but they're finding so many changes hard to cope with and the only person who has a chance of helping them survive is Meg.

Meanwhile the animosity between humans and the Others is increasing thanks to the HFL (Humans First and Last) movement. Nicholas Scratch is the perfect spokesperson for the group, full of charm and playing on people's fears and prejudices to stir up hatred and bigotry. Not all humans agree with the HFL but unless Simon can figure out a way to reduce tensions between the two groups all humans will pay the price. They have no idea what kind of trouble they are stirring but they're about to get a few reminders.

I'm still totally hooked on this series and haven't really come up for air since I started Written in Red a few days ago. I'm fascinated by this world that Anne Bishop has created and I love so many of these characters. It's been really interesting to see the changes that have come over the Lakeside Courtyard since Meg walked into their lives, the small human pack they've accepted for her is gradually growing and the Others who live there are starting to see how interesting life can be with cooperative humans around. Of course the more trouble that HFL stir up around the whole of Thaisia the greater the danger is but Simon is still trying to find a way forward that allows both groups to live side by side.

I've loved seeing Meg start to make friends and build a life for herself but now she's facing her biggest challenge yet and struggling to find answers that could help the rest of the blood prophets. She has friends around her now though and I really like the camaraderie between the human pack but also the Others who have taken her under their wings. One of my favourite things is the friendship between Meg and Simon though, it's so easy for everyone else to see that they're falling in love but Meg has no experience and doesn't understand while Simon isn't willing to admit his feelings because Others mating with humans just isn't the done thing. I really want to see some payoff between these two soon but so far I'm enjoying the slowburn. We're starting to see more of police officers like Monty and Burke and how the way they act is having a huge impact on relationships between humans and the Others too. Monty has a lot going on in this book and honestly it was something I was really hoping would happen so I did cheer a little when a certain new character showed up.

I finished this book at 6am this morning so that should give you an idea of how much I was enjoying it, especially if I add that I managed to grab three hours of sleep before I was awake again and making a start on Marked in Flesh. I honestly can't remember the last time a series grabbed me this hard but right now I'm loving every minute of it.

Source: Purchased

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

Review: Murder of Crows - Anne Bishop

Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop's world of the Others--where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules...

After winning the trust of the Others residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard--Lakeside's shape-shifting leader--wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet--and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

The Others Series:
Written in Red
Murder of Crows
Vision in Silver
Marked in Flesh
Etched in Bone
Lake Silence (World of the Others book 1)
Wild Country (World of the Others book 2)

Visit Anne Bishop's website for more information

Review:
With two new drugs on the market that seem specially designed to cause trouble between the humans and the terra indigene Meg's prophecies are coming more frequently than ever, the problem is figuring out how to interpret them in time to prevent the tragedies she's seeing. She's setting into life in the Lakeside Courtyard, finding new friends and slowly coming to grips with life outside of captivity but that doesn't stop her worrying about the girls who were left behind, she wants them to get a chance at the freedom she has found but worries about how they would cope on the outside. The Controller is still determined to capture his escaped "property" but Simon and the rest of the courtyard residents will do whatever it takes to protect Meg, they're confused by her human ways but find her extremely amusing and are surprised by how much they enjoy having her around. As tensions between the humans and the terra indigene become increasingly fraught the only chance they have of diffusing the situation is figuring out where the drug is coming from and stopping it's distribution but even that may not be enough to stop the HFL organisation from starting a war they have no hope of winning.

I'm totally hooked on this series and I'm actually having trouble stopping reading for long enough to write proper reviews so I'm going to keep this short and sweet. These books are fantastic, if you like dark urban fantasy then this series is a must read that I can't recommend highly enough. I'm kicking myself for not discovering it years ago but I'm also celebrating that I can continue to binge through another 5 books before I have to start waiting a year for each new instalment.

I love everything about the Lakeside Courtyard, there are so many wonderful characters living there and it's been so much fun getting to know them all. These aren't your usual shapeshifters, vampires and supernatural creatures, Anne Bishop has put her own spin on all of them and created a world that is totally captivating. The humans are at the bottom of this food chain and they're not happy about it but they really wouldn't stand a chance against the terra indigene so it's a good job at least some of them are sensible enough to see that. I have a feeling tensions are only going to get higher though so it remains to be seen if all out war can be avoided.

As I write this review I'm already nearly halfway through the third book in the series and I have a feeling I'm not going to come up for air until I've binged the lot. It's the first time in a long time that I've devoured a series so quickly and I have absolutely zero regrets!

Source: Purchased

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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Cover Reveal: Salvatore - Cecy Robson


SALVATORE

by Cecy Robson
Publication Date: March 13, 2019
Genres: Adult, Gritty, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone


#PREORDER NOW!


SYNOPSIS

Desperate men do desperate things . . .

Salvatore Torre is a dangerous man. If you’ve lived the life Sal has, rage is to be expected and maybe so is heart. After his father killed his mother in a jealous rage, Sal was left to raise his two younger brothers, becoming a parent long before he was ready.

Desperate for money to support his family, Sal sought help from his old friend, Vincent Maggiano, the son of New Jersey’s top crime boss being groomed to take over his ailing father’s empire.

Sal never planned to join the mob. He also never planned to fall for his brother’s sweet and ultra conservative counselor, Adrianna Daniels.

Aedry isn’t the type of girl Sal is usually drawn to. Her skirts are longer, her hair is tamer, and her heels aren’t clear. But he can’t deny the attraction he feels. And Salvatore’s dark, sexy, and dangerous persona is the exact opposite of the clean-cut business men who usually catch Aedry’s attention.

Neither planned on a life of crime nor did they plan on love. But now, both are in too far.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT- CHAPTER ONE

“What do you think, Salvatore?”

Donnie taps her iPad with her long red nails when she finds yet another pair of shoes she wants. Like I actually give a shit what she’s buying with Vincent’s money.

“Sure. Get them,” I answer, not bothering to really look and fixing my gaze back on the door.

She pouts in that way that annoys me, but probably gets Vin hard. “That’s what you said about the other six. I’m serious. Which ones should I get?”

I don’t have to tell her that Vincent will buy her whatever she wants so long as she keeps blowing him, but I come close. The muscles along my back are ready to tear away from the bone. Every nerve along my spine fires a warning that shit’s about to go down. But I don’t show it, my face giving nothing away. “Donnie, I’m paid to watch your back. Not help you pick out shoes,” I mutter.

She starts to argue, but a knock to the door shuts her up, so does me motioning her to the corner. She may spend her days worrying about what she looks like and what she’ll wear, but she’s not stupid enough to ignore me.

I lean against the wall, opposite the door. Donnie might have shrugged off Vin yelling down the hall, but I didn’t. He isn’t happy. Neither are the other mob bosses in Jersey. It won’t be long before hell itself rains down on us. “Yeah?” I ask, keeping my deep voice casual, like my piece isn’t already clutched in my hands.

“Vincent wants you in on the meeting,” Lucca says.

Lucca’s smart. And for someone who hasn’t been in the family long, he’s tough and good on his feet. But I pick up enough in his voice to know this meeting’s not going as planned. So maybe Vin didn’t send for me. Maybe Lucca thinks I’m needed. If so, things are a lot worse than I thought.

Donnie looks at me, her preoccupation with shoes nothing more than a memory. “Lock the door behind me,” I tell her.

She rushes forward. I snag her elbow and pull her in tight to whisper in her ear. “You hear shots, you leave out the back, through the alley and down the street. Find a diner, a store, any place with lots of people. Got me?”

She nods, but she’s trembling already. Shots fired means there are plenty more to come. The other family knows who Donnie is to Vin. But if they don’t know she’s here or if they find her with too many witnesses, she’ll be okay.

She clutches my arm when I start to leave. “Sal . . .” she says.

Donatella and me are from the old neighborhood. We’ve known each other since back when we were kids and we were too stupid to know shit about organized crime. Now, we’re more stupid, because we’re willingly a part of it. She wants to say something like “be careful” or “keep him safe” or something else I don’t need to hear. So, I don’t.

I crack open the door, making sure Lucca’s standing there alone, and step out.

His eyes cut toward the hall leading to Vincent’s office, where he’s meeting with Arturo, the boss in charge of most of South Jersey, including Atlantic City. Yeah. Shit’s going down. But I don’t move until Donnie clicks the door lock behind me.

Lucca starts forward, moving fast. I haul him back. “Easy,” I mutter.

That’s all he needs to hear. He slows, mimicking my pace and stance, chest out, hand curled near the piece at his waist, face hard and unreadable.

Arturo’s men stand in unison when we round the corner. At the sight of me, Vin’s men rise, too. They see what I want them to see in me and Lucca and me. A united front. It solidifies our crew and tenses Arturo’s. As Vin’s crew fixes their hard stares on the other family, I know they’re ready for what the next few minutes will bring.

I reach Vin’s office door. It’s open, wide open, and it pisses me off. An open door shows weakness and it demonstrates how scared Vin is about being alone with the other boss.

I march in and take point to Vin’s right. Lucca starts to head to his opposite side, but he catches the subtle motion of my left hand that tells him to stay by the door. I want to tell him to shut the door and lock it, but I can’t without raising the paranoia already thickening the air. Like I said, Lucca’s smart. He shuts the door and flicks the deadbolt.

Arturo huffs when he realizes he’s closed in. “What the fuck’s this?” He doesn’t turn around from where he’s seated directly in front of Vin, but his second sitting beside him and his enforcer straighten at my presence. I expected them to react upon seeing me, but I don’t expect the same response from Vin’s third, Angelo. Their reaction is so subtle that everyone gathered seems to miss it. But me, I don’t miss a thing, ever. The one time I did, it cost me the only woman I’ve ever loved.

“Just a little privacy, Mr. Sorenzo,” I answer, because Vin waited too long to respond and he’s already lost enough face.

Vin eases back in his chair. He knows I’m there and that I have his back, but his fingers digging into the armrest give away he’s scared shitless. Christ. How many times have I told him to keep his hands relaxed and his expression like stone? His ailing father has been grooming him to take over his empire for six fucking years and Vin’s still not ready. The other bosses are honing in on his incompetence. Which is why I’m not sure how much longer I can help keep Vin alive.

“Let’s get back to business,” Vin says, trying to sound harder than he is.

Arturo smiles in that sleazy way of his and tosses a hand out. “I believe we’ve reached a standstill,” he says.

“You’re right, we have,” Vin fires back, getting pissed. Good, anger is better than fear and, right now, it’s exactly what he needs. He leans forward. “You’re not getting the rest of A.C. And you’re not getting an eighty percent―”

My 380 auto is out and pointed at Arturo’s enforcer before his fingers reach the hilt. “Move and I’ll blow your fucking head off.” Without me telling him, Lucca rams his guns in the back of Arturo’s and his second’s skulls. Smart guy. I reach for my 9 mil tucked in my leather jacket, not even blinking when I shoot Vin’s third in the leg, blowing out his knee cap.

With a scream, Angelo falls to the floor howling. “What the fuck?” Vin growls, leaping to his feet.
I don’t explain why I shot one of his made men, someone he trusted. My next bullet goes into the enforcer, the impact and his pain enough to send him flying off his chair. He went for his Sig. I wasn’t waiting for him to pull the trigger. Outside, all hell’s breaking loose, my heartbeat pounding fast in my chest until I hear the voices of Vin’s family taking control.

Less than a minute later, a sharp rap to the door is followed by Benny’s deep voice. “Sal?”

“All clear,” I tell him, my tone steady. “You?”

It’s not my words that he believes, it’s the confidence behind them. “All clear,” he responds in the same tone, letting me know they have Arturo’s men on the ground.

Vin’s reaching into the drawer, pulling out his Glock. To his credit, he’s not questioning anything anymore, not after Arturo’s enforcer went for his piece. He’s reining in his shit like he needs to.

Lucca covers me as I strip everyone of their weapons. Angelo is wailing like the little bitch he is. The enforcer is swearing, pressing the wound to his shoulder as blood seeps through his fingers. I intentionally missed his heart. But no one needs to know that.

I drop the weapons beside Vin and far out of everyone’s reach. Arturo and his second haven’t said a damn thing. They weren’t scared of Vin before. But they are now.

I’m not sure what Vin’s going to say. My fear is, he may say the wrong thing in front of Lucca that makes him look pathetic. Lucca is loyal, so are a few others, but if they keep seeing Vin acting like he’s acting, they’ll lose whatever respect he’s managed outside his title of boss.

“Vin knew you were playing him, you pussy,” I tell Angelo, lying through my teeth. “Were you going to kill him in front of Arturo? Was that your way into the family, you lying piece of shit?”

In not answering, he answers enough. At Vin’s nod, Lucca puts a bullet in Arturo’s second, and finishes off the enforcer.

Vin motions to the door. “Call in a few of my men,” he tells me.

I unlock the door and do as he asks, after I make sure everything is still under control. Vin’s not ready to be boss, but he isn’t stupid, at least not completely. He knows Arturo needs to die by his hands and that he needs witnesses to see as much. I pick three who have started to question Vin’s strength, knowing they’ll tell the rest of the family what’s about to go down, and to show them what happens to those who don’t stay loyal.

The men pile in, but Vin doesn’t let them get too comfortable. He shoots Arturo in the face with his Glock while the last two who enter are still busy taking in Angelo writhing on the floor. Vin keeps his face neutral, his confidence returning now that he knows his life isn’t immediately on the line.

I take a step back when he prowls toward Angelo. Angelo was Vin’s trusted third. To be who Vin wants to be, he has to send a message. But I don’t tell him that. It’s something he needs to realize on his own.

“What did he promise you after you killed me, pussy?” he asks Angelo.

Angelo doesn’t deny his intention. Doesn’t beg for his life. He knows it’s over. So, he hits Vin the only way he can. “Your father’s the pussy for letting a chicken shit like you take over.”

Vin’s heel comes down hard on Angelo’s face, smashing his nose in. But he doesn’t stop there. He snatches the paperweight on his desk and flings himself to the floor, bashing Angelo’s face in, not stopping until the side of his temple caves inward.

To anyone eyeing me, it looks like I’m watching everything and immune to it all. Yeah. My face never gives anything away. That doesn’t mean my body’s not punishing me on the inside. I fight back the nausea working its way through my gut and how hard my heartbeat thunders out of control. Weakness in the mob and in life gets you killed. I need to live, despite how my sins have all but sliced my throat.
“Fuck,” one of the boys says, looking away. He’s new and probably has killed with his gun. But shooting someone is easy. Too easy. It’s not intimate. Not like killing someone with your bare hands like Vin just did.

Vin stumbles to his feet, out of breath and covered with plenty of Angelo’s DNA. His face twists as if angry, which makes him look good, but I know better. “Get rid of them,” he says, spitting out blood that hit his mouth.

“What about his men?” someone else asks.

“All of them need to go,” Vin says, falling back into the leather seat behind his chair.

“All right, boss,” another says.

Vin’s focus darts my way. He expects an approving nod from me. But he isn’t going to get it. As much as I’m a part of this shit, it doesn’t mean I like it.

Or that I don’t want out.

* * *

I climb into my Range Rover and shut the door tight. Vin’s hand is shaking as he takes a drag of his cigarette. I knew he wasn’t going to keep it together long, so I made it like he needed to be away from the cleanup in case someone heard the shots and called it in.

“Is Donnie coming?” he asks, sprawling across the back seat.

“Yeah. She’s picking out girls she thinks you might like. Says she’ll be right out.”

I snagged Donnie at a street festival a few blocks away after I secured Vin in my ride. She flung her arms around me and started crying when she saw me. I quickly pulled her off me and led her to Vin. Donnie cares as much as someone like her can, and mostly for all the wrong reasons. I know this and, maybe, she does, too, which is why we’re outside a strip club Vin owns waiting on her and whoever she’s recruiting to lift Vin’s spirits.

“How many girls is she bringing?”

“Two, maybe more,” I answer, not because she told me, more because this has become the norm.

“Yeah, she knows how to take care of me,” he says with a laugh, despite how his hand continues to tremble.

This isn’t the first time Vin’s killed with his hands or the first time I’ve watched him do it. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t fucked with my mind or given me more nightmares to stash in my memories. Christ, it took all I had not to puke, seeing all those bodies lying in a mound and the mess Vin made of Angelo’s head. But I still have a conscience. Real mob bosses surrender their’s to get what they need. If he’s going to be one, he needs to lose what’s left of his fast.

He takes another drag, his forced humor fading. “How long has Angelo been playing two sides?”

“No idea,” I mumble.

He straightens. “Then how did you know Angelo was in on it?”

I rub my eyes. I’m only twenty-seven and I already feel too old for this shit. “He tensed at the same time and in the same way Arturo and his second did.”

Vin curses under his breath and reaches for another cigarette. “I didn’t see shit and I was looking at them the whole time. How the hell do you pick up on these things?”

“It comes from the years I spent fighting,” I answer, looking out through my tinted windows and wondering what the hell is keeping Donnie.

“In the octagon?” Vin asks.

Vin knows I fought in the mixed martial arts circuit for a few years, just like he knows I fought anyone who messed with me on the street. We’ve known each other since we were kids and long before his father became the most feared man in Jersey. I’m not sure why he’s asking, but don’t bother to question it. Vin isn’t the same guy I once called a friend.

“Yeah,” I mumble. “It helped me anticipate my opponent’s next move.”

“You miss that shit?” he asks.

Considering I was on my way to becoming the next light heavy weight champion? Hell, yeah. Fighting in the MMA put money in my pocket and gave me a way to unleash my rage. But neither were enough when push came to shove. “It was all right,” I tell him.

Vin takes a few more drags before he says, “I want you to think about watching my back full-time. I’ll pay you a hell of a lot more if you do.”

Any other boss would just tell me this is what I’m doing and not give me a choice. But for all Vin’s not the same guy I once knew, he was there when my world imploded around me. And in hiring me to watch his mistress, he’s able to keep me on the mob payroll without staining my hands with their blood. That doesn’t mean I haven’t made a lot of people bleed. It only means I haven’t killed anyone. Yet.
“I make enough watching your gumad,” I respond.

Vin doesn’t like my answer, but he doesn’t push it. After what went down with Angelo and with his second serving time, I’m the only person he completely trusts. But, despite our friendship, the time’s coming when I’ll no longer have a choice but to do what he wants.

In killing Arturo, Vin will either gain respect from the other bosses or turn them against him and the family. I don’t think any of the higher-ups want war, but they’re greedy and looking to expand their domains. My gut tells me that when Vin’s father Carmine dies, the cards unfold. But they won’t be in Vin’s favor, and if he doesn’t wise up fast, none of us will make it out alive.

The back door to the strip club opens and Donnie steps out, leading three laughing and almost naked women in clear heels forward.

“I won’t forget what you did for me today, Sal,” Vin says, right before the women pile in.

He won’t. I know that. Just like I know I added a nail to my own damn casket the day I went to him for help.

I’m supposed to take Vin and his dates back to Donnie’s. But Vin’s not waiting to get there. I crank the engine when I hear his zipper yanked down and the first sound of smacking lips. He groans, likely relieved the day is finally going in the direction he wants.

“You, go take care of my buddy, Sal,” he says between sharp intakes of breath.

I stiffen and not in a good way when a blonde with more hairspray than brains falls laughing into the front seat. With a hard stomp, I step on the brake and set my SUV in park. She’s already naked by the time I reach into the center console and shove a condom in her hand.

She huffs. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No. I’m not.”

She looks insulted, but I don’t care. She’s going to do what Vin’s paying her to do, whether I want her to or not. It takes a while for me to get hard enough for her to roll the condom in place. Once she does, she immediately buries her face in my lap.

I lean my head back against the headrest. I should enjoy what’s happening. And at one point I did, seeing it as the perks of the job.

Now, all I wonder about is how my life became what it is, and how I’ll ever survive it.


ABOUT CECY ROBSON:


Cecy Robson is an author of contemporary and new adult romance, young adult adventure, and award-winning urban fantasy. A double-nominated RITA® Finalist, Winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and published author of more than twenty titles, you can typically find Cecy on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine.

Connect with Cecy online:


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