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Isabella Jolie

Book Recommendations

This Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Book ReviewIt Ends With Us Book Review

A heart-rending, thought provoking, emotional journey you won’t want to end.

In one sitting I devoured It Ends With Us.  I fell in love with Lily. And Riley.  Issa and Atlas.   I wanted to know who does she end up with?   What does she choose?

I want to be careful to not give any spoilers.  This book deserves to not be spoiled.

Colleen Hoover shares with us one perspective on an abusive relationship.   One perspective on the choices a woman in such a relationship might make.

Naked Truth

My biological father was an alcoholic.  Verbally abusive.  A mean drunk.  These things I know on my own, not because my mother told me.  Because I witnessed these things later in life.   My mother left him when I was an infant.  I have a new appreciation for her choices and what she went through.

I discovered he was an alcoholic when I was sixteen.   I found him, on a sofa, passed out with an empty gallon of Jack.  So many pieces to my puzzle started to fit into place.  My mother never spoke badly about him.  I had to figure him out on my own.

I share this because it’s one of my naked truths.  Without spoiling This Ends With Us, I want to share with you the kinds of naked truths this journey will have you thinking about.  The kinds of places your mind may wander.   The kinds of understandings this novel may give you.

Recommendation

I didn’t want this book to end.  I wanted a second epilogue.  I sat up until 3am finishing this book and felt punch drunk the day after.  And I kind of want to read it again.   It’s a beautiful book and I can’t recommend it enough.

Yes, I do recommend this book.  But, I must add that I felt deeply sad for days after reading this book.   My heart ripped apart at the end, and I believe she ended the book in the best way possible, but that doesn’t mean I liked it or it’s what I wanted for the characters.  So, if you’re looking for a light, feel good read, this isn’t it.  It’s not going to leave you with the warm and fuzzies.  But, it’s a worthwhile book and an amazing romance, when you’re in the mood to take on all it entails.

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Book Recommendations

Just This Once by Mira Lyn Kelly

Just This OnceJust This Once Book Review

Friends to lovers romance of the very best kind.   And, can we take a moment to appreciate the cover?  It’s rare that a cover captures the likeness of the characters so well.  I can see the personalities of Sean and Molly.  I read this book back in 2018 and it’s stayed with me, and when someone reads as many romance books as I do, that’s saying something.

Molly’s older brother is Sean’s best friend.  They’ve known each other for ages.  Sean comes from an affluent family with high aspirations.  He dates women based on academic pedigree, hence the reason Molly’s never made it on his radar.  She’s crushed on him, but she’s the little kid sister who doesn’t AT ALL meet the criteria he’s formed for his ideal mate.  And they’re best buds, so she knows all about his criteria.

The chemistry between these two is off the charts.  When they end up living together, they can’t help but give in ‘just this once’.   Yeah, it’s a light hearted romance, but I just love these two.

This book is #3 in the Wedding Date Series.  I’ve read all of the books in this series and do recommend them.  But for me, Just This Once is the “empire of the series”.  I’ve read most of Mira Lyn Kelly‘s books and eagerly await her next release, The Dirty Secret, due out “mid-2019”.   That one is a part of the Back to You series, which I super enjoyed as well.

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Book Recommendations Fave Authors

The Obsession by Nikki Sloane

The Obsession Book ReviewThe Obsession Book Review

This gut-wrenching, page-turning sequel to the demented Filthy Rich Americans series by Nikki Sloane gripped me and had me twisting in anguish.

Rarely has an antagonist filled me with disgust and hate to the degree Macalister does.  Minotaur? Zeus?  Monster?  I go with monster.  Sick, twisted, depraved monster.

Marist plays the chess game on par with a naive, young guileless chess player joining the rank of seasoned experts.  Bountiful mistakes and missteps befall her, but through her struggles, she holds onto herself to some degree.  She recognizes the importance of not completely losing her soul.   Maybe she’s the young Medusa who hasn’t yet come into all of her powers?

The father son dynamic between Royce and Macalister roils the stomach.  The psychotic, unhealthy relationship borders disgusting.   But, I kept turning the pages because I had to see what happened.   Like a twisted reality TV show, I knew it was all kinds of wrong, but I couldn’t just turn it off.

About halfway through the book, I found myself thinking, “This is not a romance!”.  I mean, really, just what the fuck?   I read romance for joy and happiness, maybe to watch a character grow, but this??   Then I finally saw a more human side to Royce and I thought to myself, maybe.  Maybe there is a romance story here.  Maybe this is the ultimate fight against the all powerful ruthless heartless Gods.

And I guess we won’t know the answer to that – because The Obsession ends with a massive fucking cliffhanger.   I’d be lying if I said I’m okay with that.  I find massive cliffhangers to be painful – like physically PAINFUL.   If I realize in advance that it’s a trilogy with a series of cliffhangers, I wait until all three are released so I can, well, read all three.   That whole not knowing thing really doesn’t work for me.   THAT said (whine), I’ll be ordering the pre-order for The Deception because the DAY it comes out I’ll be reading it.

Nikki Sloane delivers in this series.  Yes, it’s twisted and demented.  But Sloane is a master storyteller and I can’t wait to see how this story ends.

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Book Recommendations

To Have and Hate by Donna Alam

To Have and Hate by Donna Alam

Book Review

Sexy, page-turning fake marriage romance done London style.   The chemistry between Beckett and Olivia sizzles right from the start.   I found myself wanting to beg them to just get on with the fornication already.

Olivia’s clumsy tendencies and some of her attitude remind me a tad of another British chick I adore, Bridget Jones.   Olivia, however, is way more buttoned up.  For one, she’s an entrepreneur and has launched a dating service (think eHarmony) called eVolve that leverages social networks to find the right match.   She’s a nonsmoker, bad vegetarian, and while she does wear leggings to lay on the sofa, she’s not weighing herself daily.   So, not a perfect match for Bridge.

Beckett’s a gazillionaire financier with a knack for making savvy investments and purchases.  An alpha with smoking abs, he goes after what he wants.

The fake marriage comes about as part of a win-win scenario.  He wants to be married to ensure he can buy a controlling share of a specific company and he needs to prove he’s reliable, and she needs funding to keep her start-up afloat.   The whole scenario unrolls in a believable fashion, but it’s after the temporarily binding marriage that the sparks fly and the slippery, heated ride commences.

Anglophile romance lovers will love this book.   Donna Alam‘s writing style is like a lesson on British speak.   Anyone who loves fake marriage tropes is gonna get a kick on this spin and be dreaming of Beckett.

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Book Recommendations Series

beneath this INK by Meghan March

beneath this INK book reviewBeneath this Ink Book Review and Recommendation

beneath this INK delivers a page turning romance starring a tattooed muscle man named Con. He’s a former foster kid with a murder to solve.   The romance between Con (Constantine, but come on now, how hot is that nickname?) and Vanessa hooks the reader.  Anger-inducing antagonists woven into this who done it plot are the cherry on top.

Vanessa, the gorgeous lady Con’s been lusting after since high school, struggles with food issues.  And I kind of love that about her.  For one, it makes her real and two, it’s a topic romance books filled with hot bodies don’t really broach enough (IMO).    She has some pretty serious hang-ups that never morphed into either anorexia or bulimia (that we know of).  But, she does mention years of therapy, so maybe that’s just a part of her past we don’t learn about in detail.

One of the antagonists, who comes across like a grade A asshole, has his own book in this series, Beneath These Scars.   All the books in the Beneath series are standalone. But I’m gonna have to read Beneath These Scars because we never find out what the fuck Titan’s deal is in INK.   And he’s sexy and tattooed too, so that doesn’t exactly hurt the appeal.

Meghan March delivers a fun sexy twisty romantic ride set in New Orleans with INK.  The New York Times called this series “deliciously addictive” and “binge worthy.”  I can see why.   Tattooed, muscle bound, sexy alphas – sign me up!

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Book Recommendations Series

Sinner by Sierra Simone

Sinner by Sierra Simone Book Review and Recommendation

Sinner Book ReviewIn Sierra Simone‘s own words, Sinner is a book about “God, sex, death, belief and unbelief.”  A good friend recommended this book, and I’m so glad she did.   Sinner sends your mind on twisted rides and mental digressions.

Sierra Simone paints a portrait of theodicy with skill and ease.   In Sinner, Sierra Simone makes the reader think.  My mind spun off on a dozen tangents while reading this book.  And I’m an atheist.  The book may be even more profound for a believer.  Well-crafted.  Well done.  Sean and Zenny’s love story is a love story that is so much more.

When Sean’s mother succumbs to cancer, my eyes filled with tears.  Tears because the moment is so well told it seemed I was back in the hospice room with my father.

Belief and Unbelief

As an Atheist, I would argue Sinner isn’t so much about unbelief.   Sean hates God, and you can’t hate someone you don’t believe exists.   Sean, and his family, struggle with forgiving God for horrible things.   An atheist doesn’t bear this struggle.  We don’t believe in a magical mystical superpower behind the curtain controlling everything.   Science, the order (or disorder) of the universe dictates bad things  happen to some people (good or bad).

Thousands of children have been molested at the hands of priests.   The Kansas City Bell family grapples with how to accept their daughter/sister is one of those victims.  Of course, asking adults to swear off sex increases the likelihood of said adults caving into temptation and molesting children.  Or, one could argue, the practice of giving up sex attracts sexual deviants to the religion as a way to hide from the demon within.

I find it interesting that leaving the Catholic Church for another denomination never surfaces as a possibility to these families.   Yes, other denominations don’t have the mix of saints, demons, angels and popes.   But, there are denominations that accept homosexuals and bisexuals (both families in the book have homosexuals in the family).  There are denominations that allow one to devote one’s life to the church and become some equivalent of a nun or priest AND have sexual partners.   It’s not really a zero sum game unless one sticks with the Catholic Church.

Zenny belongs to a fictional order under Reverend Mother that I kind of love.   Reverend Mother believes in a Goddess and shuns the idea of papal authority.  Without doing any research, I’m fairly certain such an order would not be seen as “Catholic” by Pope Francis.  Just a wild guess.   So, in a way, Zenny does find her own progressive denomination.   That STILL asks nuns to foresake sex.  That’s just one of my personal issues with the Catholic Church (one of many, I might add).

This book is a part of a series.   Priest is the first, and the novella Midnight Mass is book two.

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Book Recommendations

Missing by Noelle Adams

Missing Book ReviewMissing by Noelle Adams Book Review and Recommendation

Sexy, balanced romance set in Washington D.C.   She’s in her late thirties and he’s in his late forties.   They don’t act like teenagers and I really kind of love it.

Nathan’s the son of a former two-term President and a powerhouse on the political scene.   Security follow him and his daughters.   One of his daughters has gone missing.

Lynn’s an editor of a political magazine she founded with her ex-husband.  She’s well respected.

After an unforgettable one night stand, they agree to see each other once every three months.   Then more frequently.

Their love grows slowly.   They treat each other with respect.  And kindness.   They’ve both learned from failed marriages and appreciate the good things in each other.    The story unfolds in third person.   The narrator does a good job of letting us see both sides of this indelible relationship.

I’d also like to add a little note about this book cover.   HOT.   Brings Nathan to life.    A quick glance at Noelle Adam’s author page shows she has a knack for picking out delicious male book cover models.   Thumbs up, Noelle.

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Book Recommendations Series

Stay by Tia Louise

Stay by Tia Louise Book Review and Recommendation

Stay Book ReviewSecond-chance, first crush, single Mom romance.   This one has all the feels with a heart-gripping battle with a child’s illness.   Not only did this one keep me turning the pages, but it kept me on edge. I grew to care about these characters.  It’s a sexy love story with a heavy dose of real mixed in.

Emmy loses her virginity to Stephen the night before he heads off to join the Navy.  He’s her brother’s classmate and she’s had a crush for years.  He has no idea she’s a virgin.  Before or after.

Ten years later, their paths cross again.  She’s a divorced single mom working at a dry cleaners.   He’s a billionaire after selling technology he developed.   Chemistry zings, but she’s still pissed he wished her a good life after banging her in a bathroom ten years ago.   This time around, he does ask her out on a date.

Her son needs an expensive surgery.  Stephen comes up with the idea of a fake marriage to get her son on his health insurance and get them both into safer housing.   The chemistry between these two zings. Hot.  Tia Louise keeps the reader engaged with this story that tugs at the heart and makes you fall in love with this newly formed family.

Make Me Yours Book Review and Recommendation

Make Me Yours Book ReviewMake Me Yours isn’t marketed as part of a series (that I’ve seen) but Stephen Hastings from Stay plays a role as Remington’s friend and business partner.   Make Me Yours is a heart warming single Dad romance.   It’s lighter than Stay, much more in the romantic comedy range with no scary crisis.

Remington’s first wife passes away when his daughter Lillie is a newborn.   He’s been through grief therapy.  Four years have passed since he lost his wife.  When he meets Ruby, he wakes up and starts to live again.   Instant attraction to her in a heart swooning kind of way.

The obstacles they face include a mother-in-law (his first wife’s Mom who now lives with him), her Mom, and a bully bitch from high school.   Ruby and Remi handle them all maturely and with humor.  Who doesn’t love to hate a mother-in-law who’s all over healthy eating and dressing properly?   Take that bitch.  Remington stands up to her each and every time.  Swoon.

There’s another book, Make You Mine, that features Drew (Ruby’s BFF) and Grayson.    Proper reading order would dictate it’s read before this one.   Whoops.  My bad.  But these are all true stand alone.  Make You Mine is definitely on my to-read list.

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Book Recommendations

The Prenup by Lauren Layne

The Prenup Book ReviewThe Prenup Book Review

Cute, loveable, page-turning fun.  The Prenup by Lauren Layne is a film screen worthy romantic comedy.   Seriously, I could easily see this as a romantic comedy with one of the hot thirty something Irish actors.

Colin and Charlotte marry for convenience – he needs a green card, she needs her inheritance.   For the next ten years, he lives in NY and she lives in San Fran.  Then he asks for a divorce and they discover a clause her brother put in the prenup that requires they live under the same roof for three months.

Before they ever even kiss they’re in love.   Yep, these two thirty something professionals fall in love without ever kissing.   It’s like Charlotte never ever watched Sex and the City and didn’t learn anything at all from her namesake.

On the bright side, for anyone wanting a “clean” romance, this is it!  No sex.  Nada.  My 12 year old could read this.  Not that she’s into thirty somethings falling in love.  If she gets a chance to read something off the required reading book list, it’s gonna be a junior high or high school romance.  But, the point is, she COULD read this.   Which also means if you’re looking for a romance to read while on a flight sitting beside your kid, this is a great one to pick.  No need to snap “don’t read over my shoulder.”

I really did love this book.  I really did.  But I would have loved to see a little of what was going on from Colin’s side.  I mean, he’s engaged to a woman he’s dated for 18 months.  Really longer, because I think his thirty something fiance laid out the marriage ultimatum after 18 months together.  Then he had to get off his duff and research how to end his fake marriage.  And, I’m gonna guess the L word was exchanged.  She doesn’t seem to be the nicest, but you know, the man she wants to have children with has a hottie living with him in order to end the marriage he claims was fake, so you kind of have to cut her some slack.   That clock ticking thing is real, people.

So, how far into the two months of living with Charlotte and falling in love with her was he still having sex with his fiance?   This point kind of bugs me.  He’s fighting for his relationship with Rebecca well into the two months of living with Charlotte.  Won’t even so much as kiss Charlotte.   There’s no way to be sure about the sex, but it does seem he ends his engagement a few weeks (at most) before proposing (for realz) to a woman he’s never even kissed.   That’s one little thing that makes me scratch my head.   But, you don’t have to think too much about that.  The whole engagement to another woman is kind of more undercurrent to the story.

I’m sure if they make this into a movie, the screenwriters will make Rebecca horrid and who knows, maybe she convinced Colin to agree to marry her for some reason other than love.  I’d say to advance his career in the law firm, but he owns the law firm.  No worries though.  Hollywood will sell it.

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Book Recommendations XXX Hot

The Perfect Formation by KB Alan

Perfect Formation Book ReviewPerfect Formation Book Review and Recommendation

Taryn, Richard and Caleb sizzle in this book that takes the traditional relationship and flips it off the mountain.   I first downloaded this book on a BookBub deal whim.   MMF can be sexy.  I was expecting a tale of sex with a little plot on the edges.

The relationship has depth.  The characters are realistic.   We meet the characters families for goodness sake.  Like, this isn’t just a drunken night or a sex club kind of fantasy exploration.   Or, as some books do, a sexual relationship only.   Nope, these guys fall in love.

It’s the good kind of MMF, meaning the men are bisexual.   It’s always a little off to me when the men don’t touch each other at all.   The chemistry between Richard and Caleb works even without Taryn in the room.

Perfect Formation is a part of a series, but each book is a true stand alone.   KB Alan rocks the sex scenes.   And reminds us that Love Is Love Is Love stands for all kinds of relationships.

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