New Ink on Life by Jennie Davids

432630293.5 Stars out of 5

The Summary: Quiet does not equal weak… 

Leaving a dependable job to apprentice as a tattoo artist was a drastic step after surviving breast cancer, but Cassie Whiteaker is nearly five years cancer-free. Nearly. She’s not ready to go out on her own until she clears that all-important hurdle. Also off-limits are relationships and sex—something Cassie is sure she’ll never want again.

Struggling tattoo shop owner MJ Flores doesn’t give a damn what people think, but losing Thorn & Thistle would mean losing everything. When her former mentor’s protégé arrives at her door, MJ hires her out of obligation…at first. Cross-stitching goody-goodies are not her type, but Cassie’s business background might just get the shop back on solid footing. They strike a bargain: Cassie will enact new marketing plans and MJ will teach her to find her inner bitch.

Only when clients request to see Cassie—having learned of the beautiful, compassionate tattoos she creates for survivors and their families—does MJ realize all Cassie has endured. And as Cassie’s fears fade, she finds it harder to keep her admiration for her bad-girl boss from reawakening all she’d feared was lost.

The Review

Cassie Whiteaker is a survivor. She’s nearly five years cancer free and she’s finally pursuing her dreams. She went from a corporate job to apprenticing as a tattoo artist. She ends up at Thorn & Thistle and MJ Flores hires her out of pity (that’s what it felt like to me). Cassie knew MJ’s mentor who had passed from her fight against cancer. It’s the tipping point that pushes MJ to give Cassie a chance.

The two women couldn’t be more different than each other.  Cassie is quiet, reserved and polite to a fault. MJ is definitely not. She’s loud, brash and has an attitude that is hard to get past. They end up working out a deal, Cassie will help MJ with the shop’s marketing and MJ will help her grow a backbone. Ending up in bed together was supposed to be a no strings kind of deal, but can you really keep something no strings when you start to get to know another person, their struggle and fight?

I liked the concept of New Ink on Life but there was something missing. I think it was the fact that Cassie and MJ were such polar opposites. It was hard for me to like MJ and it was difficult to relate to how meek Cassie was. MJ’s attitude was all a cover and I eventually came to understand that. I did appreciate what she was trying to teach Cassie. To stand up for what she wants and believes in. I just felt like it was the wrong way to go about that. The initial build up to their first kiss and first touches was intense. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to happen. But then I was a little let down the further we progressed into the book and their exploration of each other.

I like that art played a big part in Cassie’s growth. This is what she wants to do with her life and she’s settling into her skin as a tattoo artist. The description of some of the pieces she drew were vivid.

Due to be released May 27, 2019

Perfect Partners by Maggie Cummings

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Sara Wright knows better than to fall for a cop.

For Sara, an elite police dog trainer for the federal government, attractive women in uniform are an occupational hazard. But she gave her heart to a coworker once before and the battle scars from that failed relationship are still fresh. She dodges every chance at romance with the officers she trains, focusing her energy on turning out the finest handler-canine teams in the country. But when annoyingly perky, unfairly sexy Isabel Marquez arrives at Homeland Security’s Northeast Regional Training facility brimming with excitement, and a surprising desire to succeed, Sara’s good intentions start to falter. She can’t help being drawn to Isabel’s enthusiasm, and, okay, her long dark hair and brilliant smile don’t hurt either. Keeping their contact limited to friendship is harder than she thought. When it comes to enforcing her own rules of the heart, Sara might need to break a few for a chance at forever.

The Review

If you are looking for a quick, fun read then this is the book for you.

Isabel Marquez arrives bright eyed and excited to become a K-9 officer. She’s determined to do her absolute best and prove that favors weren’t all that got her into this position. Sara Wright trains the officers and dogs for the real world and all the risks that come with being a K-9 officer. She doesn’t want to get involved with another cop, but it’s hard to resist Isabel especially once Chase picks her as his officer. There is no other way to explain the bond between Isabel and Chase but it was moving seeing the two get to know each other and learn to work together.

What I really enjoyed about this book with the romance. It wasn’t too spicy and it fit Sara and Isabel. Their relationship was gentle, kind and well thought out. I liked the realistic sex scenes (that felt odd admitting to) but it wasn’t like last few books where I needed to skip a few pages. The way they touched each other was intentional and done with care. I like a soft, subtle romance scene. That’s what you got with this book.

There was a little drama with Sara’s previous girlfriend, but it wasn’t too angsty.  It kept the story moving and helped us learn more about Sara’s past and why she does what she does. Family was also an important aspect in this novel. While we didn’t get huge family scenes, the ones we did get were enjoyable and felt exactly how you would feel meeting your significant other’s family.

This was a cozy romance with a touch a spice.

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The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

The Review

This was another book that I needed to read for one of my graduate studies coursework. So I’m going to make this as non-academic as I can because I’ll be writing an in depth analysis of this for the rest of the week.

The Paying Guests was the first book I’ve read in full by Sarah Waters and it was definitely one that will keep my reading her work.

This was a stunning story. The setting was vivid and I could see the house, the streets and the back garden like a movie playing in my head. I found myself engulfed in Frances and the situation she and her widowed mother found themselves in, needing to take in lodgers in order to pay their bills. Lilian and Leonard Barber had taken rooms at the house and it’s an entirely new experience for them all. They face all the daily rituals that you don’t think about until you faced with it. For instance, passing each other on trips to the outdoor bathroom, hearing coughs, arguments, furniture moving around and interpreting those odd noises coming from the couple upstairs.

Through all this Frances and Lilian take a shine to each other. First they’re friends and seem to be exactly what each other needs to get through the day. They start to bond over Ana Karenina which my nerdy little heart swooned over. Soon those feelings turn into something much stronger. I was entranced with their stolen moments filled with kisses, want and need for each other.

I literally picked this book out of a bag, so I had no clue what was awaiting me towards the end of this book. I did not expect to end up in a courtroom or dealing with the day to day emotional toll a court case will take on a person. I was so happy that Frances and Lilian were together that this BOMBSHELL broke my heart for them. I’m being deliberately vague here because I don’t want to give anything away, but my poor heart.

Sarah Waters has this was of making you feel for her characters and have you just as invested in an outcome as they are. So when things go wrong, it just really freaking sucks and leaves you feeling just as horribly as the characters did.

So, the question here is: should you read it? Yes. This isn’t full on romance. There’s daily life, flirting, a criminal court case and emotions all over the place. But it’s all in the best ways if that makes sense. Will I finally open up Fingersmith and give that one a read? After I finish this paper, you bet cha!

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Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: A landmark coming-of-age novel that launched the career of one of this country’s most distinctive voices, Rubyfruit Jungle remains a transformative work more than forty years after its original publication. In bawdy, moving prose, Rita Mae Brown tells the story of Molly Bolt, the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who boldly forges her own path in America. With her startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes—and she refuses to apologize for loving them back. This literary milestone continues to resonate with its message about being true to yourself and, against the odds, living happily ever after.

The Review

Rubyfruit Jungle is a book one of my graduate studies professors recommended to me for a term project in comparison of a classical vs. contemporary work. I hadn’t ever heard of this book and out of all the choices, this sounded like the least torturous option out of them all. I actually read it over the weekend and enjoyed the story, although I don’t see it in the amazing light that so many other people have. And I’m not going to review it in a literary way because I already have to do that for class.

Molly Bolt is most definitely gay. I figured that out very quickly when she decided to make money off of getting her cousin to show other students his penis. She didn’t care at all as to what he was packing. I think that was the best part of this book, even if it through me way off, I was cracking up laughing at how methodical she was at getting her money.

We get to watch Molly as she grows up in the south and how each experience she has in different times of her life impact who she ultimately becomes. First we meet Molly in elementary school. Middle school is when she first kisses a girl and falls in a younger version of love. Then, in high school she has sex with her ‘cousin’, who really isn’t her biological cousin but a male sexual partner.

I really started to enjoy this book once Molly went to college. She finds love in a sorority sister and once they are discovered, there goes their college careers. This was the relationship that I was most invested in. They were friends first, sarcastic, witty, and jerks to each other kind of friends. The pair felt real compared to the rest of Molly’s love interest. I think perhaps because of how everything played out. I felt for them.

No matter the trouble Molly found herself in, she never gave up. She was still sassy and one hundred percent herself. She didn’t make any apologies for being a lesbian, enjoying living a much different lifestyle than she did where she grew up. She fought for what she wanted and I admired that about her.

Now, do I recommend this to every person who is coming out the closet? Eh, probably not. It was a good read and I can see the literary value in it. The boundaries were pushed upon its first publication in the early seventies. It could be seen as quite racy in several sections. I do think if you are into literary fiction this is a great read for you to pick up and try out.

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Breaking Down Her Walls by Erin Zak

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Leaving is what Julia Finch does best.

When a meeting with her birth parents goes horribly wrong, Julia escapes on a hastily planned road trip and winds up breaking down in a Colorado town so small the cows outnumber the people. Completely out of her element, she takes a temporary job as a ranch hand at Bennett Ranch. She only has to survive long enough to get her car fixed, and then she’s out of there for good.

Her bad luck continues when she meets the ranch owner, Elena Bennett. Elena is unhappy, abrasive, and annoyingly breathtaking. But the longer Julia stays, the more the ranch starts to feel like home, and her feelings for Elena become impossible to ignore. She’s spent years building her defenses high and running from her past. Could a love worth staying for be the key to breaking down her walls?

The Review

Julia Finch is a runner. If something doesn’t work out well, she moves on. There’s no point in living the disappointment day in and out, is there? When a road trip ends up with her car broken down and no where close to being fixed without dropping a pretty penny, Elijah strikes her a deal. If she works at the Bennett Ranch to pay off the repairs to her car, he’ll get it fixed and then she can move on. It’s a decent deal, even if she has no idea what she’s doing. She didn’t expect to like the ranch owner, Elena Bennett as much as she does. It makes leaving all that much harder.

Now this is an age-gap romance and I have a difficult time finding that in lesbian romances but this hit the spot. It wasn’t your typical meet and move in type of relationship that I have a knack for finding. This was a slow, steady burn that made you want Julia or Elena to make a move. When the move was made, *fans self* whoa boy. They had some intense chemistry and weren’t afraid to get lost in each other. Zak writes sex scenes that don’t make me uncomfortable when I’m reading them. They flow well, it’s never one-sided, both characters are just as into to the moment as the other was.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that each character, Cole, Elijah, Toni, the horses and even Penny, they were all what pushed the story along. (Although Penny I felt like wasn’t entirely necessary to this story, more like just thrown in there as an after thought) I liked reading about the secondary characters as much I liked reading about Julia and Elena. Cole is my spirit animal.

Elena and Julia found themselves when Julia’s car broke down in Colorado. They flourished as they got to know each other. It was a treat to see both of these women settle into their skin again and I don’t think they would have done so if they hadn’t met each other.

I’m definitely looking forward to more written by Erin Zak, she’s become a one-click author.

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Going Down by Barbara Bell

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

The Summary: Trapped in an elevator with her boss… 

Ellie has been trying to keep her distance from Casey, her supervisor, ever since last year’s Christmas party. A quickie in a bathroom stall left both women breathless…and more than a little embarrassed when they rejoined the party. Workplace snogging is highly inappropriate.

Though enormously erotic.

Body temperatures are already rising when Ellie and Casey find themselves alone in the elevator one Friday night at the office. When the lift comes to a grinding stop, awkward isn’t large enough a word.

Trapped in an elevator with her boss. Her tall, powerful, beautiful boss—the woman who monopolizes Ellie’s fantasies and sneaks into her dreams.

Whatever will they do to pass the time?

The Review

First, let me give you a little background on Dirty Bits by Carina Press. Dirty Bits gives you what you want, when you want it. Designed to be read in an hour or two, these sex-filled microromances are guaranteed to pack a punch and deliver a happily-ever-after. So any time I review one of these, expect a micro-review, because I’m not giving everything away 😉

Ellie and her boss, Casey, may have crossed a line in a bathroom stall at the previous work Christmas Party. It’s been months and Ellie has been avoiding Casey and only speaking to her boss about work matters when they used to be friends with each other. It takes getting trapped in an elevator for a couple of hours together for Ellie to relive the mind blowing experience, and try to figure out where they went wrong.

The sex between the two is going to leave you fanning yourself and wondering how Ellie could have ever let Casey disappear out of her life as a potential lover. There’s a specific part that I wasn’t really into and I’m finding this in a lot of lesbian erotica, check the tags for that spoiler, but the rest of it was great. I’d definitely want to visit Ellie and Casey again to find out how their relationship has progressed.

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The Shape of You by Georgia Beers

38927846

Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: Personal trainer Rebecca McCall is furious when her coworker is sidelined and she’s forced to teach the “Be Your Best Bride” class. As if being a size two for your wedding photos is all exercise is good for. Could the whole thing get more vain and sexist? The class is full of preening, giggling Bridezillas, but one woman stands out. The one who confesses she’s only there because her fiancée signed her up. Who does that to someone they care about? And why can’t Rebecca take her eyes off her?

Spencer Thompson is a second-guesser. After making the worst mistake of her life, she’s happy to abdicate responsibility and let other people make her decisions for her. She’s always felt a little bit too soft, a little bit too curvy in all the wrong places. Her fiancée apparently agrees because she signed Spencer up for a class at the gym. Terrified by the online profile of the instructor, the epitome of Zero Body Fat, Spencer is relieved to find someone new, and realistic looking, leading the class. Except the instructor seems to hate her and Spencer has no idea why.

When a perfectly innocent post workout smoothie leads to an earth shattering kiss, Rebecca wonders if she’s been wrong all along, and Spencer is challenged to make another decision that could change her life forever.

The Review

Georgia Beers has definitely become one of my favorite F/F authors. Any time I get the opportunity to read any of her books, I jump at it.

I was just as excited about the “Be Your Best Bride” as Spencer and Rebecca were. It just sounded like the easy set up for mean girl, queen bee situation. But Rebecca was the most surprising character. As a trainer I thought she was going to be hardcore, angry fitness instructor. Instead, she was much different. She looked at fitness as, feeling your best and not only worth doing to become a skinny model type.

Spencer, well I could relate to a little too well. I do have to say I have a little more bite than Spencer did. If my wife to be signed me up for a twelve week fitness class, I would have been livid.  Then we would have had a talk and probably would have no longer been wives to be. Because if you don’t like the way I look now? Twelve weeks in a fitness class isn’t going to change it. Instead, Spencer was very passive and just took things. I have a feeling she felt like she didn’t deserve the happiness she was chasing. She just settled.

The main issue of this book, which I knew of from the get-go was the fact that there would probably be infidelity at some point. Spencer is engaged while she’s attracted to her class instructor. Spencer and Rebecca’s chemistry was intense. They were a bit antagonistic towards each other before they figured out what was really going on between them. I think the fact that Spencer was so not in love with Marti and Marti was such a workaholic jerk, that I was rooting for Spencer and Rebecca to get together. They had the passion that soon a to be married couple should have. They communicated with each other, they worked together and then had explosive sex. If you aren’t excited by your partner, or can’t remember the last time you were intimate with them, you may need to stop, think and have a sit down with them.

Rebecca brought Spencer out of her shell and challenged her to be the person she had once been. Then Spencer brought gentleness out of Rebecca that kind of made my heart melt. Just a little.

I like how there is always a healthy dose of reality in this. Spencer’s friends and family weren’t all happy about what she had done, but they did encourage her to think her wants/needs through in order to decide what she truly wanted. Then Spencer and Rebecca didn’t immediately get together. Time passed. Spencer had to figure out who she was.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was excited to see how everything turned out.

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The Dark Bloods by Destiny Hawkins

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3.5 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Summary: Alveya Tera. A monster, a killer, and an abomination. It was hard for anyone to believe that she was anything more, but one wolf thought differently. That was… until she lost control of the hybrid within her and left the Dark Bloods clan covered in blood.

Months later, Alveya returned to the Tera Mansion no better than before, and to make matters worse, she brought a friend. In less than a week after her arrival, a mysterious group of strangers began hunting the one person that she was trying to keep away from. The one that fate wouldn’t let her resist…

Crystal Blue.

And it was damn hard to play keep away while protecting her.

Even through the rage, the loneliness, and the pain of struggling to recover from years of neglect and abuse, Alveya would continue do anything to keep Crystal safe.

Even if it cost her her life.

The Review

The Dark Bloods is the second book in the Blue Moon Series by Destiny Hawkins. First, this story is more about Crystal than Alveya, I just want to make that one hundred percent clear.  It’s 85% told from Crystal’s point of view. Which I really liked reading from Crystal’s POV a lot more than the few times I got to read from Alveya’s. *shrug* I just wasn’t Alveya’s greatest fan.

Onwards to the review!

Crystal Blue and her brother Alan are the last remaining wolves in existence. She’s been training to fully being able to call herself alpha and to protect herself from the impending danger from the Krystal Tooths and the newest threat to the Dark Bloods. Vampires. She had previously formed a bond with Alveya, who had ran away from the Dark Bloods and Crystal in fear of the ‘monster’ she was becoming. In the process, Crystal is trying to live her everyday life and improve herself physically and when it comes to shifting. When Alveya returns, she returns with another women and breaks Crystal’s heart just a bit.

It seems like everywhere Crystal  looks, there’s Alveya and Kristy. She’s having to deal with jealousy, angry and keeping her wolf in control. When you think things are going Crystal’s way for once, it’s like a knife to a chest. A group of vampires are out to kidnap Crystal and they’ll do whatever it takes to get her.

I was a bit lost as to where this was going at points but Crystal, Alan, Amber and Angela are what kept me reading and engaged. Alan was such a little brother and he had me laughing out loud at times. Then how Amber would do magicky things in solidarity had my inner evil genius grinning. I will vividly remember the book/classroom scene.

I wish we would have gotten the why the vampires were so focused on taking Crystal. Even if it would have been at the end. There is going to be a book three so maybe then? There were a few sex scenes but as another reviewer mentioned, they were extremely vanilla for two animalistic beings. It felt like they were love scenes in your typical romance novel. Not in a paranormal, action story.

These ladies were kickass and I really enjoyed this aspect of it. They had their faults, they had plans to improve and worked together. Will I read the next one? Most likely.

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Take A Chance by D. Jackson Leigh

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3.5 Stars out of 5

The Summary:   A Pine Cone Romance

Veterinarian Trip Beaumont likes being a big fish in a small pond. There’s hardly an animal she can’t heal or a woman she can’t charm within fifty miles of Pine Cone, Georgia—except for the irritating and elusive new cop who keeps leaving parking tickets on her truck.

Officer Jamie Grant has never liked rule breakers, but she’s especially incensed when she discovers Trip owns the truck that is constantly parked illegally. She’s searched carefully for a quiet, eclectic community to settle down with her drug-sniffing—albeit gastric-challenged—canine partner, Petunia. Instead, she finds herself on a collision course with the woman who stole her college girlfriend and broke her heart after an ill-conceived threesome.

The Review

Interesting fact about the Pine Cone Romance series, each book is written by a different author.  I didn’t know that coming into reading this and now I kind of want to go back and read the first installment to see what I missed. Saying that, these are stand-alone books so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first book in the series. You won’t be lost.

Trip Beaumont definitely has the golden touch when it comes to charming the ladies of Georgia.  She’s managed to charm everyone but the new cop in town who keeps writing tickets every time she parks illegally. She’s pretty much funding the police department with home many fines she’s going to have to pay. Little does Trip know that the cop causing her so much trouble is former college friend, Jamie Grant. Jamie has changed a lot sing Trip last saw her. She joined the army after the attacks on 9/11, ended up getting a job in law enforcement and has a trained drug dog with quite a heart breaking medical history.

At first, Jamie doesn’t want to have anything to do with Trip. Having her heart broken in college and then run the risk of it happening again? No thank you. But slowly they’re drawn together.  Trip is an amazing veterinarian with access to treatment options for Petunia.

Their romance was well paced. They didn’t immediately jump into bed together. If they would have after the backstory we got, I would have been more than a little annoyed. They spent time together and started to understand each other as adults.

There were bits that bothered me. Like how is a town that small full of that many LGBT people? I’d love to find a place like that in real life, especially in the deep south. So please, tell me this secret! There were a lot of clichés and I felt that it added to the bleh factor.  That’s kind of why the rating dropped from a four star to a three-point-five star rating.

It was an easy, quick and decent escape from what my week has been. I’d give it a try if I were you. I’m definitely going back to read the first book in the series to see if it lives up to everyone’s reviews.

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Hers to Protect by Nicole Disney

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: Kaia Sorano is a police officer in the dangerous and gang dominated streets of Chicago. She thinks she’s prepared for anything, but when she responds to a bloody domestic violence call, only to find her high school sweetheart is the victim, she knows she has to find a way to help.

When Adrienne Contreras’s mother moved her to the south side of Chicago at seventeen, she quickly saw her safe life and idealistic love with Kaia replaced with poverty, crime, and violence. Now twenty-seven, Adrienne is dating Gianna, a high-ranking member of a brutal gang. She has the streets figured out, but the first rule is to never talk to cops, even one she used to be in love with.

As their attraction grows into love, Adrienne and Kaia struggle to see past the changes in each other and escape Gianna and the gang, who have threatened both their lives.

The Review

Hers to Protect is a hard book for me to review. There are two sides to every story and seeing it told from a cops point of view and then from a gang member’s point of view was something I hadn’t seen done before. I liked that we were getting to see Kaia, Adrienne, Gianna and Anna’s story unfold but there was such a disconnect between the two main characters, it was hard to read.

I love a cop story, the violence, the gore, the gritty gang life? None of that bothered me. It was a part of this story and if it had been left out, I don’t think it would have worked at all. But if you’ve ever been a friend with a cop, if you’ve ever had cops in your family, the things Kaia did for ‘love’ they wouldn’t have done. There’s a set of values, morals and care that cops have. Kaia abandoned all of that. Does it happen in real life? Oh, no doubt that it does. But how easily she drifted over the line from lawful to unlawful because of Adrienne, it made me angry. Sure in the end Adrienne realized that not all cops were corrupt but the whole thing irked me.

Due to the above, I found their rekindled romance unbelievable. I read some pretty crazy things, like men getting pregnant crazy, but this left a bad taste in my mouth. Sure they were teenagers in love, separated by parents and tragedy but it didn’t feel real. Like maybe more internal thought? More talk between the two? I don’t know. They were missing something vital for me.

Do I think that was the over all attention and to grab your attention to make you think? I do. Disney wanted us to see the allure of gang life, how far they would go for each other and how that influenced even those not initiated into the gang yet. She showed up that cops are both good and bad. That anyone can be tempted for the right reasons.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of her romance scenes. It was super fun reading about dancing tongues every time they kissed. It was a bit of an instant replay every time they got together.  (I’m sorry, that sounds really bitchy and it could be the fact I had a procedure done on my neck this morning) But seriously, give us a little more variety.

Do I believe that Nicole Disney will become an amazing author? Oh yes. She has skill and can craft a scene well but there were bits and pieces that tricked a nerve for me. Maybe this one wasn’t my cup of tea and perhaps it’ll be yours.

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