No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey

3 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers—with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.

Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.

Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well—spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?
 

 

The Review

A fake relationship for the weekend with someone you’ve never met face to face shouldn’t be that awkward of an experience. Right? In the second installment of Rachel Lacey’s Ms. Right series, Lia and Grace’s story unfolds.

            Lia has always heard about the mysterious Grace from her best friend Rosie. Yet, somehow, Grace has always conveniently dipped out of any obligations that would have allowed them to meet. Attending a wedding in London is the perfect opportunity for the pair to meet face to face and see. Lia grabs the chance to meet Rosie’s ‘best friend’ who lives in the UK.

            Lia wasn’t expecting to like Grace as much as she does. Grace is everything she wants in a partner. She’s fun, smart, gorgeous, and keeps Lia on her toes in the best way. It’s an impulsive move, but when the opportunity presents itself for Grace to come to New York, Lia offers to accompany her on a road trip.

            Feelings and lines get blurred. Lia wants everything she can have with Grace. Grace only wants right now. She doesn’t do relationships and can’t give that to Lia. She’s upfront about that, which was nice, but she was so stubborn.

            I loved each of their stops on the road trip. It was exactly the kind of trip I wanted to take and to go on with my partner. My favorite was the T-Rex moment. It just warmed my nerdy heart. And immediately went on my to-do list with my partner. The flirtation, kisses, and spice between them was excellent. There were a few times my heart fluttered and I let out a happy little sigh.

            Grace was a frustrating character. I just … I’m trying to put it into words without spoiling anything for ya’ll, but there were a few times I skimmed Grace heavy scenes. She irked my nerves.

            I do have to say, the ending really pulled everything all together for me and I was definitely happy with how their story ended up.

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Too Like the Lightning by Travis Beaudoin

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Andrew Madigan had everything he ever wanted.

He’d worked hard to build this perfect little life. A stable relationship with a successful man. A beautiful home in a quiet suburb. And best of all, a job where he spent his days talking about literature.

Then his tenure was denied and, too quickly for him to stop it, everything crumbled.

Now, with his dreams in the dust and his confidence shattered, Andrew has one summer to figure out his next move.

Bulbs, Florida, is like no place Andrew’s ever known. It’s small and provincial. It’s hot as hell. Storms roll through every single day. But Andrew just has to keep his head down. Finish his book, find a new job, put things back on track. Easy-peasy.

He didn’t plan on making a friend.

Coley Brandt has a green thumb and an easy smile. He’s much younger than Andrew, but he puts Andrew at ease, makes him feel at home. Their time together reminds Andrew what having a purpose feels like.

Suddenly, this long, lonely summer feels too short.

But Coley has dreams of his own, and they’re a million miles away from the life Andrew’s trying to get back.

Maybe this is just a summer fling. Maybe, like the lightning, it’s only meant to be glorious for a moment before it disappears.

Or maybe it’s something more.

Review

I don’t know what it was about this book, but it was the most satisfying read. It had an ebb and flow that made Andrew and Coley’s store easy to get lost in. I could see the cottage, the pond, and hear the shrill of crickets and frogs at night. Beaudoin brought the story to life and invited us into a rich, hot, Floridian world.

            Andrew lost everything that made him who he was. His job, his partner, his home. Florida was a means to recharge and get back on track with his writing. Finding a job would be nice too. He didn’t expect to find Coley.

            Their first encounter with each other isn’t the greatest. There may have been tears, but Coley was surprising. He may have been younger, but there was a sense of maturity in him. He was kind and didn’t judge Andrew for not knowing where he was going to end up past his time in the cottage. He slowly pulled Andrew out of his shell. Andrew helped with the yard work, took a swim in the pound, and went out with Coley.

            Andrew and Coley together was *chef’s kiss* spectacular. There was a chemistry that steadily grew from their first meeting. Uh, and those kisses? Can I get more of those? There was something about reminded me of my special somebody. I’d give this a three out of five on the spice scale.

            My heart hurt for Andrew at times. Then there were times I was rooting for Andrew to stay in Florida. He found his happy while he was there. He slowly learned who he was outside of his career. Coley helped him get there.  

            I loved that both Andrew and Coley encouraged each other to go for opportunities they may not have gone after on their own. How comfortable they became with each other. I laughed at Andrew shuffling through the kitchen naked. Coley and his red pick up truck coming to shake up Andrew’s world.

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Too Much Man by Katy James

3.5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Summary

A grumpy former hockey player and a bisexual coffee-shop owner refuse to commit—to themselves or each other—in this fun, flirty debut.

Piper Welborn has created a warm, welcoming space for all in her queer-inclusive coffee shop, even if the long hours came at the cost of her love life. But she’s not ready to welcome one man in particular—a grumpy, muscular former hockey player. His smoldering presence is a temptation and a challenge to her long-standing vow not to date cis men.

Gavin Williams has no business starting a relationship, least of all with a woman he’s not sure even likes him. He can’t resist the Friendly Bean’s hot, pink-haired owner, but a casual fling is all he can commit to. He’s hoping to leave town for the next stage in his career…if he ever gets the call with the job offer.

A friends-with-benefits arrangement is perfect for them both—but neither is ready for the feelings that hit. When the post-hockey life Gavin always dreamed of is suddenly within his grasp, they’ll both have to make a choice: hold tight to what they thought life should look like, or work together to build something new.

 

Review

I haven’t had much in the way of bisexual representation here and it’s time I remedy that. Too Much Man by Katy James was a great book to review. It addressed issues that I have dealt with and could relate to. James has put everything I’ve felt into words that I had a hard time putting into words.

I’m not sure I can avoid spoilers, so here’s your warning!

Piper, a bisexual, coffee house owner. Piper offers up her coffee as a coffee house as the location for a charity event for the area hockey team. She is tasked with making sure the players can serve coffee as well as make sure the winners have a great time.

That is a very small aspect of the story, but it’s how she ends up meeting a very angry Gavin Williams who is still healing from a devastating injury. He’s in pain and unsure of his future. I’d be grumpy too.

Piper fights against her attraction to Gavin. She’s made a promise to herself as a bisexual woman she was done with men. The queer community is where she feels most at home and whenever she is with a man, it’s almost like a party trick, her liking women. She feels excluded from the community whenever she dates a man.

I felt that so much. Personal information time, I’m Demi. My attraction tends to lean more towards women, but I’ve been in a relationship with a man the past year and there are times I feel like I’m not who I’ve thought I’ve been my entire life. That people will claim all those dates and relationships were a phase. Spoiler alert, they weren’t. But it just felt good knowing I wasn’t alone in that feeling.

Piper bargains with herself. She can have a friend with benefits relationship with Gavin. He’s leaving, there’s an expiration date on it. There won’t be any feelings and when he’s gone, she’ll move on. Easy as that. Right?

It’s never as easy as that.

Now I will fully admit, I can’t give a rating to the spiciness. I was more focused on the emotional journey that both Piper and Gavin went on as they learn who they truly are as individuals and what they want in life.

The beginning was a little slow for me. At times I got irritated with the pair of them, but overall I enjoyed reading this. The secondary characters weren’t memorable. Which I feel terrible for saying, but I was so focused on Piper and Gavin.

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Errant by L.K. Fleet

3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Aspen Silverglade used to be a force for good, but now she’s just a sword for hire. On the run from the people she once trusted most, she needs to keep her head down and keep moving.

But old habits are hard to quit. One night in a tavern, Aspen tries to save a woman from some unwanted attention. The woman, Charm Linville, is in the middle of a subtle and delicate act of thievery, and she does not appreciate Aspen blundering in.

The disastrous and public rescue-gone-wrong makes the townspeople think Aspen and Charm are a couple. This mistake sets Aspen’s bloodthirsty betrayers on Charm’s trail, tying the two of them together.

Even if Aspen can’t run from her past any longer, Charm shouldn’t have to suffer. Despite Aspen’s determination to work alone, Charm insists on helping—and she has a past of her own. The two of them don’t care for each other’s methods, but as they journey through the villages and wildernesses of Falland, solving problems and meeting magical friends and foes, Aspen and Charm grudgingly come to care for each other. Can these two guarded, stubborn women admit their feelings, or will Aspen’s enemies kill them first?

 

Review

 

Errant (volume one) features two novellas penned by a combination of three authors: Felicia Davin, K.R. Collins, and Valentine Wheeler under the name L.K. Fleet.

In a series of mistaken heroics, Aspen attempts to save Charm from what she believes to be unwanted attention. As it turns out, Aspen interrupted Charm in the middle of pickpocketing her latest victim. In effort to cover, Charm pronounces Aspen as her wife. This marks the start the wild journey they end up on together.

This is a lighter fantasy filled with mischief, tropes, and adventure. Aspen and Charm annoy each other in the best ways. I got an absolute kick out of the pair of them. The romance was a little lighter and there were no spicy scenes in this volume (but I read there may be some in the next!). It was a little campy at times, but I feel like that’s what made this a fun and easy read.

What I had wished for was full length novels. With a novella you get dropped into the story and action without much build up. There was so much about Aspen and Charm that I feel like we weren’t able to learn about them. Perhaps in volume two?

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Hard Sell by Hudson Lin

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

One night wasn’t enough.

Danny Yip walks into every boardroom with a plan. His plan for struggling tech company WesTec is to acquire it, shut it down, and squeeze the last remaining revenue out of it for his Jade Harbour Capital portfolio. But he didn’t expect his best friend’s younger brother—the hottest one-night stand he ever had—to be there.

Tobin Lok has always thought the world of Danny. He’s funny, warm, attractive—and totally out of Tobin’s league. Now, pitted against Danny at work, Tobin might finally get a chance to prove he’s more than just Wei’s little brother.

It takes a lot to get under Danny’s skin, but Tobin is all grown up in a way Danny can’t ignore. Now, with a promising patent on the line and the stakes higher than ever, all he can think about is getting Tobin back into his bed—and into his life for good.

If only explaining their relationship to Wei could be so easy…

Review

There are some mixed reviews on this Hard Sell by Hudson Lin, but I enjoyed this one. There were a few things that I didn’t like, that irritated me a bit. But that’s normal for me. I’m an emotional reader. I think the corporate setting, mixed with a long-distance relationship was something I could easily relate to.

            First, let’s get to the tropes. Brother’s best friend, long-distance, workplace relationship, second chance romance. I’m ALL about these tropes.

            Tobin and Danny were electric when they could get their act together. There were a few romance scenes, a couple of stolen moments. I wish they were a little spicier.

            Tobin had to fight hard to get out of the brother’s best friend role and establish himself as an individual. He made sure that he made his own way from college onwards. He worked hard to become the man he is today. It irked my nerves, unbelievably so, when everyone just acted like he was still a teenager.

            Danny, while older, acted more like a kid. Instead of communicating, he acted in secret. When he could have up front said, “this is for a job, but you should come with me” instead of pretending it was just for fun.

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My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham

5 Star Read

Summary

Wilder Girls meets The Craft in this Sapphic horror debut that asks: what price would you be willing to pay to achieve your deepest desires?

Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy… but she’s also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of the river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn’t let her drown. Finch doesn’t know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she’s felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.

Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena’s suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.

One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts—beauty, power, adoration—in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.

The Review

I don’t know if I was in a darker headspace or what, but I LOVED this book. I was very suspicious about the fact that it was branded as Wilder Girls meets The Craft. Which was an entirely accurate description. This is a YA sapphic horror, and there are some intensely dark moments.

Finch Chamberlin experiences an unthinkable tragedy the day she additions for a position at the Ulalume Academy. She isn’t sure why she didn’t drown with her parents, but she knows it wasn’t natural. Whatever is calling her to Ulalume Academy, it feels like it needs her to be there.

Selena St. Clair, the stereotypical popular girl, and her friends accidentally summon the creature that sends them spiraling on their dark journey.

Selena was the most surprising character out of everyone. I thought I was going to HATE her with a fiery passion, but I really ended up liking her.

There were a lot of elements that seemed to draw me deeper into the world of Ulalume. The imagery was vivid and rich. The dialogue flowed well (and it was clear the author wasn’t trying to sound ‘young’). I felt like I was in Rainwater, Maine on the ride with Finch and Selena.

The cyclical nature of Nerosi, Finch, and Selena discovering what happened in the past, understanding the echoes and then their lightbulb moments. There was a sick part of me that wanted to know how far these girls would go to get what they wanted, but at the same time, I was pleading with them to stop.

This is the first book this year that I had fun reading and I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for Kayla Cottingham’s work in the future.

On Sale March 29, 2022 – Pre-Order Here

Heart2Heart Volume 5

5 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Once upon a time, a bunch of authors wondered… what would happen if Heart2Heart, the dating and community app responsible for bringing together couples from all over the world, encouraged people to do something they’d never done before?

#NeverHaveIEver is trending on H2H, and fourteen authors who’ve never before appeared in a Heart2Heart anthology (and one who’s never left) have come together to show how funny, hot, and heartwarming it can be when H2H app users challenge themselves to do something outside of their comfort zones–from singing in public, to skinny dipping, to getting their first real kiss–while they manage to fall in love along the way.


As always, all proceeds from this anthology will benefit LGBTQ+ charities to ensure that love in all its incarnations will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!

The Review

I was super excited to have the opportunity to read the latest batch of stories for the Heart2Heart Anthology. There were some authors I had followed and wished they’d get to participate at some point and HERE THEY ARE!!! These stories take place all over the globe and it’s exciting to see all the different settings.

Never Have I Ever … Dyed My Hair Flaming Red by Daryl Banner -Three Stars

I had the opportunity to meet Daryl Banner at a book signing, so since then, I’ve kept up with his work. Seeing his name pop up in this collection was exciting for me. He is one of the few authors I enjoy reading from their work from the first person point of view.

If you are a fan of the new adult genre, this will fit the bill for you. It’s more conversational, delves into the drama of stage work, and I could hear the characters’ southern twang in my head while I read.

Zakary is very young, learning who he is and what he wants in life. Jonatho, has a bit of an ego, but what director doesn’t? Zakary is right though; we need more stories that end sweetly and with a sense of hope. Instead of doom and gloom.

It’s a bit cheesy in places, but it was a fun, easy read.

 

Never Have I Ever … Spent the Night with Blanche by Louisa Masters – Four Stars

Okay, if you haven’t ever binged a few episodes of the Golden Girls, you need to treat yourself to that stat. It was the perfect meet-cute for Fin and Clay. A Golden Girls screening to get them to meet outside of the Heart2Heart app.

Also, I cannot get over Ripper’s character. The minute I laid eyes on him; I knew I’d love him. Big biker with a soft spot for the Golden Girls? Yes, please.

This was such a feel-good story that had me grinning throughout it.

 

Never Have I Ever … Been on a Date by Tal Bauer – Five Stars

Tal Bauer is a master at weaving romance into a heart-pounding thrill ride. He creates such strong, intelligent characters that it’s easy to connect with them, no matter where the story takes them. So, it was no surprise that I fell headfirst into a story taking place on Antarctica. I wish I could have gotten a full-length novel for these two.

A chance encounter twines Cletus and Damien together during the time they spend on Antarctica. A missed opportunity that turns into a second chance. Even if it’s not under the greatest of circumstances?

The steam level is fade to black, but it’s very the emotional connection between the men is as strong as you would expect from Tal Bauer’s work. There’s grit, heart, and happiness in their story.

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Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

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4 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

Review

This is a first for Broome’s Books! A story featuring a nonbinary character as a romantic lead! I was so excited to get my hands on Love & Other Disasters. It has such a diverse cast of characters too (like any competition show would have). It featured the friends to lovers, forced proximity, and if you squint a workplace romance.

Dahlia Woodson lands a spot on the cooking competition, Chef’s Special. She’s a bit clumsy, even face plants in the first appearance, but she still is a strong chef giving the classically trained chefs a run for their money.

London Parker is all business when it comes to the competition. They keep their head down and focus on the ingredients in front of them. Dahlia is a little difficult to keep away from. There’s something magnetic about her.

This was such a fun read! I love watching competition shows. It was easy to get lost in the world Dahlia and London were in. I could see the set and their cooking stations. The cute expressions London would make and the kinetic energy that Dahlia was. They were such an adorable pair, but they also had depth to them. They both had conflicts they needed to address and grow from. It wasn’t all flowery rainbows. They challenged each other and went on all these cute dates (even if they weren’t officially labeled as dates).

The romance scenes? Ooh, there were some good ones in there. Some of the things London said to Dahlia were, oh my. The heat between them *fans self* it was fantastic. I’d give it a 2.8 out of 5 on the heat index.

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Season’s Change by Cait Nary

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3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Olly Järvinen has a long way to go. He’s got a fresh start playing for a new team, but getting his hockey career back on track is going to take more than a change of scenery. He’s got to shut his past out and focus. On the game, not on his rookie roommate and his annoyingly sunny disposition—and annoyingly distracting good looks.

All Benji Bryzinski ever wanted was to play in the big leagues, and he’s not going to waste one single second of his rookie season. Yoga, kale smoothies and guided meditation help keep his head in the game. But his roommate keeps knocking him off track. Maybe it’s just that Olly is a grumpy bastard. Or maybe it’s something else, something Benji doesn’t have a name for yet.

Olly and Benji spend all their time together—on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment—and ignoring their unspoken feelings isn’t making them go away. Acting on attraction is one thing, but turning a season’s fling into forever would mean facing the past—and redefining the future.

The Review

            Ya’ll know I love my sports romances. Especially, hockey. So, it hurts me to say this one, was a little difficult for me to get into.

            I think it was more the presentation of the material than the actual storyline. The story was good. There were too many page breaks and not enough transition from scene to scene that I got lost a couple of times. There were a lot of shifts in time that weren’t entirely clear.

            There were aspects about Olly that I think the reader was supposed to infer but later it’s finally spelled out. I’m not a fan of that in writing. I need to understand why a character acts the way they do for me to connect to them better. I didn’t connect as much with Olly and Benji as I usually do with characters.  

            On to the actual story.

            Olly is a bit of a jaded, veteran hockey player. He’s got a lot of issues that impact how he plays on his new team and you can see it in how he plays the game now. Benji is the bright-eyed, excited rookie. He is himself, no matter what anyone else (Olly) may think about his yoga, meditation, and kale smoothies. I like that about Benji. Even if he was pretty clueless at times lol.

            Olly and Benji are a good balance of each other. There is a push/pull kind of relationship that developed between the two men. Benji doesn’t back down when Olly is his angry, grumpy self. Olly listens to some of the things that Benji talks about, like yoga and meditation.

            I was very surprised when Olly and Benji participated in a … spoiler alert …. I’ll let your mind do the running or you can check my tags. I just, don’t feel like Olly would have done that no matter what. Benji? Yes, one hundred percent. That I could see happening.  

            I wanted more affection between the pair. I wanted more tender moments of actualization. I wanted more romance.

            This was definitely a story that focused more on Olly coming to terms with who he is as an individual and as a hockey player on a new team. It got a bit angsty at times, but that was an emotion called for in this storyline.

 

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Winter of the Owl by Iris Foxglove

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary: 

Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.

Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.

Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…
 

Review

So many tropes in this one! Forced proximity, opposites attract, share one bed, snowed in, strangers to lovers, chosen family.

My heart broke for Victor in the beginning. I had a legitimate what the actually fuck? kind of moment. He’s such a bright character and to see someone so willingly just throw that away? Oh it hurt my heart. I was so glad to see he landed somewhere like Lukos.

In an island of exiles, Victor found something beautiful, a home.

Sava had been living his winters alone since the loss of Milan. He has steadily been building a home that would be fit for a mate. Sava has got to be the kindest soul out there. He’s definitely something you would look for in a partner, no matter what world you live in.

There were light BDSM tones. In this world there are dominates and submissives, but it’s not on the extreme end of the spectrum. While there are the traditional roles, Sava and Victor didn’t hold stead fast to them. Victor was very much the scholar, not the best at the home tasks. I found that adorable, seeing Sava step in and explain and teach things to Victor. He did it in a way that was not at all condescending towards Victor. You could tell they cared about each other.

The romance scenes between the two of them weren’t so steamy. You can definitely feel the chemistry between the pair. There were some great kisses between the pair. If you’re looking for something extremely graphic, you definitely won’t get that here.

The suspense or conflict in this was an easy one for me to figure out. I had that figured out pretty early on, but I kept reading because I loved Victor and Sava’s interactions. I knew there was a lot of their relationship I wanted to read about.

Overall, did I enjoy this? Oh yes. Will I read future books in the series? Yes. I needed the fantasy fix and there were so many tropes in this that had mee excited.

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