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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Hair Out of Place

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary

Confined to a London penthouse his whole life, hardly anybody knows that happy-go-lucky Raphie d’Oro is a prince in exile. Not even his grumpy new bodyguard, Griff Thompson. But when assassins strike, Raphie is forced to flee out into a strange new world with his crush on Griff growing. It’s a race against time to get Raphie to his European home country so he can claim the throne and save his life.

Griff has to remain professional, especially when he discovers Raphie is a real-life prince, but he’s increasingly drawn to the beautiful Raphie and his mesmerising long hair. There are only so many beds they can share before the pull between them becomes impossible to ignore.

But they’re living in a fantasy. Raphie is going to be a king, and Griff is almost twice his age and going nowhere. Griff knows they have no future together, no matter what Raphie insists. However, Griff also knows he’ll do anything to protect Raphie from harm, and that includes not breaking his heart. Can he really do his duty and walk away, or will true love conquer all?

The Review

Raphie d’Oro has spent his life in a penthouse with his mother, keeping a secret that never would have been told if his father, King of Campulan, hadn’t died. This triggered a flurry of events. Relentless and entirely unlucky assassins attempt to fulfill the contract on Raphie’s life.

Griff, Raphie’s bodyguard, hadn’t expected his first day on this assignment to appear like a bad action movie. But here they were, running for their lives and on a deadline to get Raphie to claim his birthright.

What appealed to me was the nonbinary representation with Raphie. I wish there were more books with nonbinary characters. The way Raphie’s choses pronouns, his preferences of dressing, was all handled excellently. It felt natural and easily understood.

The romance between the Raphie and Griff was so-so.

With the good, comes the bad.

This read like a comedic romance, with some unbelievable plot points that I couldn’t get over. If they were on such a time crunch to get Raphie to the throne, why did they have so much time to stop for the day and get to the romancing? They wouldn’t have. Also, the assassins, while they offered more comedic relief, were not very assassin like.  I found myself skimming through some of the pages.

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Common Goal by Rachel Reid

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

New York Admirals goalie Eric never thought his friends-with-benefits arrangement with much-younger Kyle would leave them both wanting more…

Veteran goaltender Eric Bennett has faced down some of the toughest shooters on the ice, but nothing prepared him for his latest challenge—life after hockey. It’s time to make some big changes, starting with finally dating men for the first time.

Graduate student Kyle Swift moved to New York nursing a broken heart. He’d sworn to find someone his own age to crush on (for once). Until he meets a gorgeous, distinguished silver fox hockey player. Despite their intense physical attraction, Kyle has no intention of getting emotionally involved. He’ll teach Eric a few tricks, have some mutually consensual fun, then walk away.

Eric is more than happy to learn anything Kyle brings to the table. And Kyle never expected their friends-with-benefits arrangement to leave him wanting more. Happily-ever-after might be staring them in the face, but it won’t happen if they’re too stubborn to come clean about their feelings.

Everything they both want is within reach… They just have to be brave enough to grab it.

Review

First, ya’ll I apologize. I’m in a strict hockey headspace because the Stanley Cup and HOCKEY IS BACK!!

That being said, this cover, uh, yes please, thank you. I need all the gorgeous goalie covers in my life. I have a soft spot for goalies and their quirks. Like, the goalie head-bumps at the end of the game? I LIVE for those moments.

Eric, veteran goalie, recently divorced and he is exploring his bisexuality for the first time. He’s seen several other players find the type of love he didn’t think he could have and he’s finally found someone who he wants to experience these moments with.

Kyle is getting over his long time crush and offers his expertise to Eric. As he and Eric end up in each other’s lives more often than not, it would be hard not to form a friendship. That relationship steadily develops the more time they spend with each other.

What I absolutely loved? Eric, just one hundred percent Eric. He had a kinship with the goalie posts and it reminded me of all the moments I caught of a goalie tapping their goal posts after a save, or pregame as they’re getting into the zone. There was more to him than being a professional hockey player. He has a love for art that he wants to share with people (which just so happens to be Kyle). I enjoyed the party scene where he and Kyle were off on their own connecting with each other. Even in a house full of hockey players, it still felt intimate.

Kyle,  oh I felt for him. I just wanted to give him all the hugs. Like I know what it feels like to be in those shoes, crushing hard on someone only to find out they’ll never return those feelings. I just wished he would have had more faith in Eric instead of being stuck on the age difference.

They were such a great pairing though. Their chemistry as both friends and lovers was off the charts. They communicated, tried new things and enjoyed themselves when they were together.

I have so much love for this series! If you are a hockey fan, give these a read because they don’t let you down At all.

Pre-Order your copy here

To be released September 21, 2020

 

Starcrossed by Allie Therin

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

When everything they’ve built is threatened, only their bond remains…

1925 New York

Psychometric Rory Brodigan’s life hasn’t been the same since the day he met Arthur Kenzie. Arthur’s continued quest to contain supernatural relics that pose a threat to the world has captured Rory’s imagination—and his heart. But Arthur’s upper-class upbringing still leaves Rory worried that he’ll never measure up, especially when Arthur’s aristocratic ex arrives in New York.

For Arthur, there’s only Rory. But keeping the man he’s fallen for safe is another matter altogether. When a group of ruthless paranormals throw the city into chaos, the two men’s strained relationship leaves Rory vulnerable to a monster from Arthur’s past.

With dark forces determined to tear them apart, Rory and Arthur will have to draw on every last bit of magic up their sleeves. And in the end, it’s the connection they’ve formed without magic that will be tested like never before.

The Review

Rory Brodigan and Arthur Kenzie are back in the second installment of the Magic in Manhattan series, and they are as insatiable as ever.

From the opening pages, I was transported to 1920s New York. The historical accuracy is my second favorite part of this series (nothing can beat the relationship between Rory and Ace). The settings created dazzle the reader. I could feel the cold when Rory managed to get himself into trouble, because of course he can’t help but put himself in troublesome situations.

Rory faces Ace’s ex, and all of his insecurities come to light. He’s not from the same class as Ace and he’s much younger. He has to sneak around to be with Ace, hell, he can’t even get access to Ace’s apartment from the front entrance. How could Ace really want him? What Rory fails to realize is that he’s everything Ace needs in a partner.

For me, the plot in this novel was pushed back until the end of the book. Rory is dealing with the effects the ring from book one has on him. His bouts of destructive jealousy tickled me. He’s so smitten with Ace.

It was interesting to get a bit of Ace’s history in this book, and we got to see the monster in his closet. There was a little wobble between he and Rory, but they worked through it and managed to come out of peril safely. Well, relatively so.

The spicy scenes were fade to black in this novel, but I didn’t need that with these characters. Their interactions were intimate and loving. How they spoke and touched each other showcased their feelings for each other.

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Burn Zone – Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

Review

A brand-new series featuring firefighters and written by Annabeth Albert? SIGN ME UP!

Linc is a veteran fire jumper. He’s been through hell and back. After facing an incredible loss, he doesn’t expect his best friend’s little brother to follow in their footsteps. The warning to stay away from Jacob still echoes loudly in his mind. No matter how attracted to Jacob he is, he gave his word to stay away and that is what he intends to do.

Jacob is pure temptation. After coming out, he goes after what he wants and that’s Linc. A few rushed kisses isn’t enough for him. He takes the time to grow up, work his way to fire jumping, and deals with the fears his mother has after the death of his brother. Everyone treats him like a kid, that he needs to be protected rather than utilized as a team member.

The chemistry between the two, *fans self* it’s intense. It was a constant struggle between should they or shouldn’t they. Once they give in, it was every bit as explosive as you would hope for. Two alpha men, taking the time to bring each other to pieces with burning touches. What made this better, was the fact that it wasn’t all rose between the two men. Linc had to fight something that he had programmed into his mind. He had to learn that it was okay to be himself, yet still remain part of the family that had claimed him for so long.

Jacob challenged Linc to become comfortable with himself. Jacob stopped hiding his sexuality and his wants at the age of nineteen, it was high time for Linc to realize he could do the same. There was something about Jacob that I adored. He wanted to be an equal on the jump-team. He went after what he wanted in his professional and personal life.

The only thing that drove me crazy was how self-sacrificing Linc was. If it wasn’t so extreme this would have easily been a five-star read for me. I’m already looking forward to the next in the series.

Get your copy here

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Check out an excerpt below

Read an Excerpt Below

Happy Place by Jay Northcote

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

A first kiss from a younger man leads to a sexual awakening…

George’s strict upbringing has left him ashamed of his sexuality. In his forties now, he’s yet to come out or even kiss a man – until he meets Quentin.

Quentin has had enough of bad relationships with men who won’t commit. Still raw from the last one, he’s not ready to try again. But George is sweet, and helping the older man get some experience might be a fun diversion.

Swept rapidly into a deeper connection than they bargained for, they face a dilemma. George isn’t ready to come out, and Quentin wants a boyfriend who isn’t afraid to be seen with him in public. Can they find a way to navigate the unpredictable waters of their new relationship and find happiness together.

The Review

This is the first book I’ve read of the Rainbow Place series and I’m sitting here wondering why I waited this long to grab one of these books? George, I wanted to give him a hug and tell him to trust that it was going to be okay if he was true to himself.

George is firmly planted in the closet, coming to terms with his sexuality and is used to denying himself basic companionship. Quentin tears into his life in the form of an interview for a local paper. It’s hard to resist an older man with no strings attached.

George, I felt for him. He’s denied himself for so long, he doesn’t know how to handle himself. He wants to experience actual human touch and interaction, but he’s terrified. I one hundred percent understand that  fear. There were so many expectations on him, at one time being married to a woman, having a child with her. He was an older man, with no experience.

Quentin lived openly and wanted to have a relationship he didn’t have to hide. Some how, George’s offer was too hard to resist. He’d help George experience life as a gay man outside of the porn he watches.

The two together, you don’t think they would work out well. But they do. Eventually. There are hiccups in their arrangement. George is terrified and Quentin wanting more than what he is getting from their arrangement. Their interactions sizzled. Like there were some intense moments between the two men. George was willing to try any and everything, but wasn’t afraid to say he didn’t like something. One thing that didn’t work for me was the dirty talk, that’s a personal preference though. I’m not a fan of it.

My favorite scene was the date on George’s boat. They were both so free, happy, and excited about life. It was only fitting that it served as a turning point in their relationship. It is a scene that still floats around my mind when I think of this book.

After reading this, I did go out and get the rest of the series. Northcote writes in a way that it’s easy to get lost in the characters.

Get your copy here

Being Enough by Alie Nolan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Eli has been looking forward to his yearly trip to Camp Lost Lake—a sports camp for underprivileged kids—all season. He is more than ready for a month-long break from his offensive coordinator responsibilities. Until a public fight with the Piranhas’ star tight end, Colton Roth, and the subsequent media fallout, results in the pair being forced to spend the summer at Camp Lost Lake together.

Colton is almost as good at antagonizing Coach Conley as he is at playing football, but as usual, his behavior has landed him in hot water. Now, his position with the Piranhas is on the line, and he must stay away from any potentially scandalous situations. Trying to stay on his best behavior doesn’t last long though, and after hooking up with Coach Conley, it looks like Colton might have put the final nail in his career’s coffin.

Can Colton and Eli survive an entire month in the middle of nowhere together? And will either of them still have their careers intact after the summer is over?

The Review

I found myself falling in love with both Colton and Eli in Being Enough.  They were a true opposites attract couple. Eli Conley is a coach who doesn’t have the time to deal with the drama that one of his players, Colton, brings with him. A risque situation on Colton’s part and a physical confrontation between them lands them both in hot water with their PR people. They needed to find a way to get these men to get along and they find it in Eli’s off season routine. Volunteering at a summer camp together.

Being at this summer camp, seeing each other outside the realm of professional football, allowed them to get to know each other. Being able to see each other in a different light, ignites an attraction they were unaware of.

Colton exudes confidence and sensuality. It’d be hard to resist, no matter who you were. Eli, being older and never having been in a relationship with a man? *fans self* It pushed all my buttons. He’s so open to everything that Colton offers him and willing to explore a completely new part of himself. This definitely had some steamy romance scenes.

I felt the emotions that tore through Eli from the opening pages to the last. He was experiencing something so new, but revelled in everything that Colton had offered him.

I’m really glad that I continued on with this series. It dove in and read it in one sitting. Do yourself a favor, check out this book.

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Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: When a plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, the best place to land is in the arms of a younger man…

Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.

Just his luck.

But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.

As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.

Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.

The Review

Reuben Graham, a workaholic attorney, finally goes on the vacation he wasn’t excited about going on. His pilot and tour guide, Toby, is young, vibrant, social and everything an older man like Reuben shouldn’t want. He can’t help himself thought. The attraction and chemistry between the men is intense and hard to resist. When their plane goes down in the Alaskan wilderness, Reuben finds himself wanting to stay to help and provide a place for Toby to recover.

If you aren’t into hurt/comfort or the age-gap romance, this book is not going to be for you. That said, I actually loved this book. There was a tenderness to Reuben that you don’t typically come across. He’s described by Toby as a ‘silver bear’ so he is a bigger, fuzzier guy. Which I kind of like that he was a normal character. And all the aspects Reuben was insecure about, Toby found attractive and pushed Reuben to embrace those pieces of himself.

Reuben has to take extensive care of Toby in this. Toby ends up in a wheelchair and has a cast on his arm. He needed help getting into the shower, cooking, everyday functions. It didn’t lead to sexy times – it was rooted in making sure Toby was healing. Toby had a difficult time accepting their relationship for fear of what his family would think, which was entirely believable.

The sex between the two was a slow burn, in the best way. I don’t see scenes like what was given for Reuben and Toby. It was teasing, enveloping and full of emotion. They were one hundred percent vulnerable with each other. It was kind of perfect for them.

I totally read this series out of order, haven’t read the first yet, and it was easily understandable. Looking at other reviews many people have mixed thoughts, but honestly if you like Annabeth Albert, give this one a read. It is a bit different from her usual but I loved it.

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Picking Up the Pieces by Annabella Michaels

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

The Summary: Two Shattered Hearts

Brody Murphy feels as if he’s lost everything when his best friend and partner, Paul, dies in the line of duty. Partners on the force for years, Paul Donovan was all Brody had. Paul accepted Brody as he was—standoffish from a childhood in the foster system, bisexual in a police force that wasn’t entirely welcoming, Brody is now adrift. Wracked by survivor’s guilt and grief, Brody devotes what’s left of his heart to help Paul’s widow and her children. And when his partner’s oldest child returns home a grown man, Brody is torn between what he thinks he should do and what his heart wants.

Grief Binds Them

Cooper Donovan is in his senior year of college when the unthinkable happens. His father dies, and Cooper returns home to be with his family, and help his mother with his little sisters. So many things were left unsaid between Cooper and his father, a fact that weighs heavily on his heart. College helped Cooper learn more about who he was and what he wanted from life, and with Brody Murphy comes unexpected feelings and complications.

Hope Leads Them Home

Brody and Cooper forge a connection that leaves Brody conflicted, Cooper determined, and both men wounded by their shared grief. While Brody struggles with why he lived, and Paul died—he had no one and nothing, and Paul had everything to live for, Cooper sees a man who deserves love and happiness under the grief. Tension rises when Brody and Cooper can’t deny what’s happening between them. Both men are picking up the pieces of their previous lives and putting together a new future, one where hope and love heals, and home is in each other’s arms.

The Review

Picking Up the Pieces by Annabella Michaels is a story of loss. It is a story about finding hope in the face of losing one of the most important people in your life and finding love in a place you may least expect it.

Brody Murphy watched his partner Paul Donovan get shot in a botched robbery attempt. Not only was Paul his partner at work, but he had become part of Brody’s family. Brody is wracked with guilt. He doesn’t have a family, no children or spouse. Why was he the one who made it out alive?

Cooper Donovan, Paul’s son, returns home to help his mother take care of his little sisters and to make sure they’re going to make it through this as a family. Cooper’s thoughts weigh on him. He never had the chance to come out to his parents and he would never have that chance with his father. Brody evokes feelings in him he didn’t think he should have. He was much older, his father’s best friend and one hundred percent off limits. Or so he thinks.

This is a story that pulls at the heart. There were moments that my heart broke for both these men. Cooper is picking up so much responsibility, while attending school, and trying to keep it all together. Brody becomes a support, someone he relates to and can speak of his secrets with. The attraction between them is established quickly and it runs deep. It’s not only an age-gap romance, there’s depth to it that makes it feel realistic. Brody and Cooper are equals that compliment and keep each other balanced.

I do feel like there was something missing here though. I feel like there weren’t enough scenes between Brody and Cooper. I loved the date scene, and Brody making sure Cooper knew that he felt like Cooper was someone worth being treated special. That he deserved dates and to be won over. It wasn’t just sex between the two of them, it was more. I think everyone deserves that and I love to see it written out in books.

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Spellbound by Allie Therin

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first… 

1925

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.

The Review

Now I’m going to start this review by saying, this is the book that pulled me out of my reading slump. I went quite a while without finishing a book and Spellbound was the one that pulled me back into my happy reader universe. It combined magic with the prohibition era in New York and I fell in love with Ace and Rory (Jade and Zhang were pretty awesome too).

Rory Brodigan is a psychometric, who uses his gift to find counterfeit antiques. He can see into the history of objects. Ace is in need of someone who can see into the history of a magical object. At first, Ace thinks the psychometric might be Mrs. Brodigan, but soon finds that it’s Rory who has this talent. As the pair works together, they become closer and the attraction between them grows.

I found Rory’s talent fascinating and I enjoyed the way the history of the items was portrayed to the reader. Also, Rory’s backstory, very fitting of the time period. Rory was not entirely trusting of Ace at first, but once they learned to trust each other it was sooo good.

It was easy to get lost in 1920s New York, with Ace, Rory, Jade and Zhang. It was refreshing to see that this group of friends weren’t all powerful. They had limits to their powers and had to think creatively to overcome obstacles.

A lot of the romance happened off the page, which was a little disappointing, but I was so into the story line and what was happening that it was okay. So if you’re looking for red hot romance, you’re not going to get it here, but the action combined with the characters kept me entranced in finding out how the story was going to end.

I’m excited to see that this is a series and it’s going to kill me to wait a year to get the next book! But I’ve been recommending this one out to friends and definitely want to get my hands on a physical copy of Spellbound!

Get your copy here!