Fiona Cole is a military wife and a stay at home mom with degrees in biology and chemistry. As much as she loved science, she decided to postpone her career to stay at home with her two little girls, and immersed herself in the world of books until finally deciding to write her own.
I’m going to put this right here, right now: I think Skye Warren is a writing genius. There, I’ve said it. Now, I can move on. Warren is one of the first authors I read who took on the mantle of crafting universes for her characters. In past reviews for her other books, I’ve noted my excitement at her ability to weave in characters from prior books, so that you feel connected to this larger community. When a former character pops up, you know that Warren has taken care to drop us back into a community such as Tanglewood. For all of its darkness, Tanglewood is one of my favorite places BECAUSE Warren makes us want to live there. We want to meet Damon and Penny and Gabriel and Avery and Harlow and Christopher and Hugo and Bea and Blue and Hannah…and on and on. Warren makes us feel like we are life-long friends with her characters, and we hate to leave them. So…thankfully, Warren doesn’t make us.
Enter Sutton Mayfair, one of the devastated heroes in Warren’s Trust Fund series. When we left him, Sutton had been spurned by the loves of his life, Harlow and Christopher. Rudderless and grieving the end of his love affairs with these two, Sutton has fallen into despair, anesthetizing himself and his grief in alcohol. Having agreed to act as Christopher’s best man, Sutton feels overwhelmed and unprepared for that folly. One night, he meets Ashleigh, a prostitute, and he feels a connection with her. As Sutton engages in the wedding festivities for Harlow and Christopher, Ashleigh becomes his lifeline, and she awakens something in him that helps repair his broken heart. However, is it possible for these two to have a future given her occupation and his trepidation about relationships, given his broken heart? Is it possible for the bastard son of an abusive man to find a happy ending?
From its first pages, Warren makes herself known as a poet. There is a lyricism in her words. Since poetry seems to be one of the connections between Sutton and Ashleigh, it makes you wonder if Warren’s own prose becomes poetry as an inspiration for her characters. There were these moments of heavy prose that stirred my little lit student heart. With words like this: “[u]fortunately. Unfortunately, I’ll always be his friend. Unfortunately, there are knives carving the inside of me, writing patterns of loss on the slick side of my skin. ‘Yes,’” you fall deeply into this world of loss and restoration. Every page that turns, Warren’s prose lays bare Sutton’s fractured soul and offers up Ashleigh as his balm. Warren’s words become the catalyst for redemption in her story.
Even in its beginning, there is a tension in Sutton’s story. My heart hurt for him which made traveling through his story at times difficult. Even in the Trust Fund series, you vacillate between the emotion of his eventual rejection and the defenses he raises to protect himself from this rejection. There were times in the duet when I both despised him and hurt for him. Entering Mating Theory, I knew his journey would be a difficult one. I was curious how Warren would transfer our acceptance of Sutton with someone other than Christopher and Harlow. Interestingly enough, she does this with the act of empathy through the character of Ashleigh and the use of repetition to help us better understand his relationship with his past loves. First of all, Warren crafts Ashleigh in such a way that, while she is the youngest character, she reads as the wisest. She sees Sutton’s soul in ways that Harlow and Christopher failed. There is a moment on the day of Harlow and Christopher’s wedding that brilliantly exemplifies her care and compassion for him. It’s here where we begin to understand their connection to each other and its superiority over his relationships with Harlow and Christopher. Even more, Warren, through her use of repetition, illustrates his disconnect from the two. We realize that Sutton has idealized his bond with Harlow. Warren elucidates for us that Sutton doesn’t “know” Harlow as he supposed. Yet, Sutton recognizes Ashleigh’s pain and seems to see into her soul, into the essence of who she is. Warren imagines them as soul-mated, and it allows the reader to accept Sutton’s journey to love Ashleigh. This is necessary because we need to accept a love interest for Sutton beyond Christopher and Harlow, who have chosen each other before him.
For me, this story is Sutton’s story. Ashleigh is a wonderful heroine who is the catalyst for Sutton’s restoration, and she has a clear story in this book. But this is more about a happy ending for Sutton. Don’t get me wrong. I love Ashleigh as the heroine. Again, for me, she’s wiser than the older, more mature adults, and her story is a heartbreaking one. However, I showed up for Sutton. Skye Warren ameliorated Sutton’s life in such a way that the message of second chances is clear. Even after heartbreak, we can find a better path, a richer life, and a deeper love. Moving beyond his past, Sutton finds a brighter future, one he truly deserves. Honestly, I loved Mating Theory a bit more than Warren’s Trust Fund duet because Sutton and Ashleigh’s story could be any of our own.
“I was all in with this slow burn romance that had me laughing and swooning from cover to cover” –Author Andrea Johnston
Beef Cake, an all-new small town contemporary romance from Jiffy Kate, is LIVE!
If opposites do actually attract, then Gunnar Erickson and Frankie Reeves take the cake.
Frankie Reeves is complicated, even though she won’t admit it. She fills her days working as an ER nurse, taking care of her mom, and searching for the father she never knew. Anything else has no place in her perfectly compartmentalized, purposefully simple life. Attachments? No thank you. She has no time for that.
Gunnar Erickson recently moved to Green Valley to train at Viking MMA with his brother Cage. Being the youngest of the Erickson clan, he’s always felt like he has something to prove, and now that he’s finished with college, it’s his time to shine. But before he can step into the ring, a freak accident sends him to the ER and into the care of one Frankie Reeves.
While he’s immediately smitten, she pretends to be unfazed by this six-foot-three, two hundred and thirty-pound beef cake. Gunnar sets out to prove to Frankie that, not only does she like him more than she wants to admit, but he’s not the uneducated, brute she assumes he is. To Frankie, he’s the worst kind of complication, but that doesn’t make it easy to stay away.
‘Beef Cake’ is a full-length contemporary romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #4 in the Donner Bakery series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.
Jiffy Kate is the joint pen name for Jiff Simpson and Jenny Kate Altman. They’re co-writing besties who share a brain. They also share a love of cute boys, stiff drinks, and fun times.
Together, they’ve written over twenty stories. Their first published book, Finding Focus, was released in November 2015. Since then, they’ve continued to write what they know–southern settings full of swoony heroes and strong heroines.
If you fell in love with the rock stars of Sunder in A.L. Jackson’s Bleeding Stars series, then you WANT to read Kiss The Stars, Jackson’s newest offering. A standalone in her newest series, the Falling Stars series, Kiss The Stars marries the rockstars of Jackson’s group, Carolina George, with the rock stars of Sunder. It’s a story about brokenness and finding a completion in another person when you believe your penance for past sins shouldn’t allow it. As we found with the men of Sunder, Leif, the hero of Kiss The Stars, is more of the fraught heroic type, something we adore about Jackson’s stories. He’s a compilation of pieces broken by devastating events while seeking retribution for his losses. Jackson’s heroine, Mia, has also been fractured by the death of her best friend. Grieving and feeling lost, while needing to be stalwart for her children, she’s searching. One night, these two damaged souls meet, and their chemistry is electric. It is here where Jackson does her best work. It would be easy to simply love this story, but, to be honest, Kiss The Stars has the same sensibility as her Bleeding Stars: a hero or heroine finding redemption in the love of their soulmate. This reads as an extension of that series, offering us more connection to their world. It reminds us why we loved their stories as the heroes and heroines fight to overcome life’s challenges to find their happy ending. Kiss The Stars offers all of the best parts of Jackson. So…why should you read it?
There is a lyricism to this book. When I first read the books from the Bleeding Stars, each book read, to a certain degree, like a songbook of sorts. Her prose reads like song lyrics. Jackson is the queen of well-placed fragments that create a cadence to her words that feel like the poetry of a song. If it isn’t intentional that her stories for rock stars would offer this lyricism, then she easily intuits the presence of these characters through her words.
The characters of Mia and Leif are crafted in a way that creates an emotional connection from its start. These two are different sides of the same coin of tragedy. While their tragedies are very different, they are both struggling with living an abundant life. In meeting each other, they find life again. Jackson builds their relationship beautifully on the page, capturing them between equal parts of deflection, connection, and attraction. From one moment to the next, Jackson holds her readers captive to an emotional spectrum of frustration, tears, and happiness. Everything is here in this story, meaning this story is for everyone.
As she has shown us in the past, A.L. Jackson is a consummate storyteller. She stamps her books with her own style, punctuated with well-placed fragments and metaphors. In Kiss The Stars, readers will find the tale of Mia and Leif, two people destined for each other yet with the potential temporality of a falling star. Thankfully, the endearing love of these two is a reminder that love will always conquer the sins of our past, even when we believe ourselves unworthy of that love. If you missed those broken heroes from Sunder, then Kiss The Stars should be at the top of your Kindle library or e-book.
The Aussie Next Door, an all-new standalone romantic comedy by USA Today Bestselling author Stefanie London is LIVE!
American Angie Donovan has never wanted much. When you grow up getting bounced from foster home to foster home, you learn not to become attached to anything, anyone, or any place. But it only took her two days to fall in love with Australia. With her visa clock ticking, surely she can fall in love with an Australian—and get hitched—in two months. Especially if he’s as hot and funny as her next-door neighbor…
Jace Walters has never wanted much––except a bathroom he didn’t have to share. The last cookie all to himself. And solitude. But when you grow up in a family of seven, you can kiss those things goodbye. He’s finally living alone and working on his syndicated comic strip in privacy. Sure, his American neighbor is distractingly sexy and annoyingly nosy, but she’ll be gone in a few months…
Except now she’s determined to find her perfect match by checking out every eligible male in the town, and her choices are even more distracting. So why does it suddenly feel like he—and his obnoxious tight-knit family, and even these two wayward dogs—could be exactly what she needs?
There is this interesting phenomenon with J. Kenner’s story universe. There is such a juxtaposition of storytelling that, quite frankly, there is a little something for everyone. At the heart of her storytelling universe is Damien and Nikki Stark, the stars of The Stark series. These are edgy, angsty, and $exy. Personally, I ate those books up. I binge-read Damien and Nikki’s series in a week, and I was hooked to J. Kenner.
Within that Stark Universe are so many other fantastic stories from the periphery characters, one of the series being the Blackwell-Lyon Security series. This series is “day” to Damien and Nikki’s “night.” These books follow the main guys of the Blackwell-Lyon Security group, and while, seemingly, filled with some angst, these are really more beach reads.
J. Kenner’s newest offering from that series is Tempting Little Tease. This book tells the story of Leo and Samantha. Samantha is Leo’s best friend, Brody’s, sister. Growing up, Samantha was always near Leo and Brody, even though she was not always intentionally included. To Leo, Samantha is still a young woman, until he realizes she isn’t. Brody asks Leo to accompany Samantha to her friend’s wedding in order to make Samantha’s ex-boyfriend jealous. Leo’s intention initially is tame. However, Leo’s draw to Samantha is too great, and he fights his attraction and interest in Samantha. It also doesn’t help that Samantha seems to be affected by Leo. Will Leo restrain himself, or will he and Samantha find a future together?
To me, Tempting Little Tease is a great little beach read. First of all, it’s a quick read. I started and finished it in a couple of hours. It’s engaging, and the story pulls you through to the end. There is more to the story than the simple trope of falling for the best friend’s sister. There is also a corporate espionage storyline that I think adds to the romance. It’s simply a story that keeps you reading.
As characters, Leo and Samantha are interesting. When they finally acknowledge their attraction, they are hot and steamy together. Kenner writes their chemistry off the page. I don’t think they are meant to be highly developed characters, so if you’re looking for depth, Samantha and Leo aren’t your characters.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book especially if you’re a J. Kenner fan like me. This is the type of book to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, sitting out in the sun with a tall drink or two. You can never be disappointed in reading a J. Kenner book like Tempting Little Tease.
★ ★ ANNOUNCEMENT ★ ★ Rebecca Jenshak is thrilled to announce that she will be a participating author in Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward‘s new Cocky Hero Club World! These will be a series of books written by various authors and each story is inspired by one of the original books in Vi and Penelope’s blockbuster series. If you want to follow the new world, here are all of the important links! Be sure to join our mailing list first to keep up on the releases!
Tempting Little Tease, a sexy, new standalone from New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner, is available now!
My business is security. I protect other people—sometimes at my own expense.
It’s the only way to explain how I got talked into playing fake fiancé for my best friend’s little sister.
Now I’m seeing little Samantha Watson through new eyes. Instead of the little girl I used to tease, I’m up close and personal with a stunning woman whose curves and heat and heart-stopping smile rocket straight to my heart, not to mention parts south.
I’ve never minded going above and beyond for a job. Except playing the smitten lover doesn’t feel like acting anymore.
Despite all my experience, I’m the one who forgot to secure my heart.
The only rule for this job was to walk away at the end.
But maybe this time—for the first time—I’m going to break the rules.
J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over one hundred novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A six time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy) and in 2017 for Wicked Dirty in the same category. Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development as a television show.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.