Browsing Category

Series

Book Recommendations Series

The Deception by Nikki Sloane

The Deception Book Review

The Deception delivers a gut-wrenching, page-turning final installation in the Filthy Rich Americans series by Nikki Sloane finishes out a twisted, complicated chess game between one powerful man, his son and daughter-in-law.

Rarely has an antagonist filled me with disgust and hate to the degree Macalister did in the first two books in this series.  Minotaur? Zeus?  Monster?  I went with monster.  Sick, twisted, depraved monster.

In The Deception, he plays the role of a falling God. Visions of infallibility and self-grandeur become his downfall. And, in the end, we see flashes of the man before he became a God. The man who loved the mother of his children. The man who was human before death sliced his heart.

In the first two books, 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.

In this final book, my frustration with her almost forced me to put the book down I at times. Frustration rose not only from going against Macalister with no good reason to believe she could beat him, but in her insistence on keeping her husband in the dark.  It’s not until the bitter end that we see how well she has played the game.

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.

And, I have to say, I like that in the end, the relationship is still strained. We don’t flip a page and all is forgiven. Because, really, he’s done horrible things for most of Royce’s life.  I think if at the end he and his Dad were BFF’s, I’d have to throw the book (er, Kindle) at the wall.

The Best

The best thing about the The Deception, for me, is this is the book where we really see Royce and Marist not only fall in love, but prove their love.  The Deception continues the fight against the all powerful ruthless heartless Gods. But, the love story takes center stage.

Nikki Sloane delivers in this series as master storyteller.  Yes, it’s twisted and demented.  But I love the modernized twist on the stories of old, the original religions and fables.

The Upshot

Book Review

Book Recommendations Series

If You Dare by Shantel Tessier

If You DareDark, tangled, mesmerizing romantic suspense. A modern day twist on Bret Easton Ellis’s “Less Than Zero”, “If You Dare” gives new meaning to the phrase ‘the ties that bind’.

The whole tale reminds us that the evils of a big city can also run rampant in a small town, especially when rich high school kids with uninvolved parents are let loose in Rovers and Beemers. “If You Dare”, the third and final book in the Dare series from Shantel Tessier, unmasks the secrets of this dark and sordid romantic suspense.

The Dare Series

“I Dare You,” the first book in the Dare series, introduces the Great White Sharks, a wealthy version of a dangerous powerful gang.  All are swim team members. All are wealthy. All are lethal.  The herd of eight dwindles to five.

The dark romance between Austin and Cole fills the first two books in the Dare series.   Dark mysteries unfold as the high school kids unleash their own brand of revenge on the evils in their town.

In “If You Dare,” the high school kids are now in college, in a new Texas town they don’t own.  And someone from their past has decided to change the rules of the game.

At the core of this book, another dark, twisted romance unfolds. However,suspense leads the herd in this tale of sharks.

Through a bountiful number of flashbacks we remember the sordid details of the past. The lies are so rampant, the flashbacks help.   I suspect the abundance of flashbacks means someone could read “If You Dare” and understand the depth of the story and be completely mesmerized and drawn in without reading the first two books.  However, I wouldn’t recommend it.

In order to fully understand the depravity of Cole and Austin’s relationship, I would strongly recommend reading “I Dare You” first.  “I Promise”, the second book, told from Cole’s POV, offers tantalizing insight into Cole’s tenebrious mind.   If you’re not up for the deep dive, you can skip it.  However, “I Dare You” is a must read prior to reading “If You Dare.”

THE UPSHOT

Book Review

 

 

 

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!

The Upshot

Book Review

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.

THE UPSHOT

Book Review

 

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.

The Upshot

Book Recommendations Fave Authors Series

Wrong by Jana Aston

Wrong series Book ReviewWrong Series Book Review and Recommendation

Jana Aston hit it out of the ballpark with this one, her first book by the way.  Who does that?  Her first book!   I love this whole series, but Wrong.  I’ve read it several times – and that’s just got to be Wrong.

Luke and Sophie have a 16 year age difference.   He’s a gynecologist.  He’s gorgeous.  When they meet, she’s an undergrad serving him coffee.  At the Grind Me coffee shop no less.   The chemistry ricochets.  Then, when she goes to the student health clinic, he’s her gyno.

It may sound cliche or silly or whatever.  But I can promise you if you read this, you’ll LOVE it.  It’s funny.  It’s sexy.  Like really sexy sex scenes.  And the characters are well-developed.   When I read Plan B and Luke makes an appearance, I squealed.  And I read Wrong months ago.   I even love her epilogue – because it’s just so true to the character and the book and it makes me happy.

Right Book ReviewRight, the second book in the Wrong series, shares the story of Sophie’s barista friend Everly.  Everly, by the way, keeps you laughing in Wrong.  She’s borderline hysterical.  Not like as in insane, but as in laugh out loud funny.

Everly has crushed on Finn, her older brother’s friend, since she was six years old.   She’s been bound and determined he’s her one.  So determined than when he becomes a professor at Penn, that’s the only college she applies to.   She hounds him so diligently it’s pretty clear the only reason he doesn’t call the cops is she’s a family friend.

Then she meets Finn’s older brother, Sawyer.   And, for the record, I find Sawyer to be so much more than Finn.   I can’t say more without giving away some plot twists in this book, but holy smokes.   Sawyer’s hot.  I’d choose Luke over Sawyer as my book boyfriend, but only because of Luke’s fingers.

This book is another one that’s worthy of reading twice.  Funny and yummy and makes you happy.

Fling Book ReviewFling, a short novella, shares the story of Gabe, Sawyer’s business partner, and Sandra.   Sandra is Sawyer’s assistant who befriends Everly.   Sandra is much more like Sophie, but the three ladies become close friends.

Fling includes many nods to Sixteen Candles, with men leaning on car doors ala Jake Ryan.  So right there, it’s got a lot going for it.

It’s a funny, quick and satisfying read.   The only downside is it’s so short.  You’ll wish you had more to read of their story.

 

 

 

Trust Book ReviewTrust, the last book in the Wrong series, features Boyd, Sophie’s long lost brother from the first book, Wrong.   Chloe is Everly’s roommate.

In earlier books, there are references to Chloe’s thing for law enforcement and crime shows.  And, Boyd’s an FBI agent.  So, Everly’s not the only one to have a feeling Boyd and Chloe should meet.

The thing is, Chloe has serious anxiety issues.  The kind that at times pull your heart strings.  Here’s where you fall in love with Boyd.  He sees her for the amazing woman she is, overlooking horrid jokes that would make most normal folks stop the conversation and go the opposite direction.    Boyd plays along, developing a relationship with Chloe without her even realizing what he’s doing.

Boyd sees the beauty within Chloe.  In a way he rescues her and it’s swoon worthy.  You still get all the Jana Aston laughs, but there’s a more serious topic at hand too.

 

The Upshot

 

 

Book Recommendations Series

Plan B by Jana Aston

Plan B by Jana Aston Book Review & Recommendation

Fun, light-hearted rom com like only Jana Aston can deliver.  You’ll be laughing your way through this one, thoroughly entertained, and just like a scoop of ice cream, you’ll be all done way too fast and craving another scoop.

Heads up – this one does start off with one looong soliloquy from Daisy.   First 10% of the book folks.  I checked the Kindle counter.  So, if you find yourself wishing Daisy would wrap it up, just flip through.  The story really starts at Chapter 4.

Daisy, a character doppelganger for Everly from the Wrong series, finds herself in a bit of a predicament after a one night stand.   A one night stand to a gorgeous billionaire who it turns out is a little hard to reach.   When she does reach him, Kyle makes plans of his own.

Oh, and Kyle is Luke’s cousin.   Luke, America’s one (and most likely only) HOT gynecologist.  If you didn’t read Wrong, you must.  You really, really must.  Not because that at all matters when reading Plan B, but because it’s SO GOOD.   In Plan B, you get to see him a little bit.   We don’t get to see Sophie, but we hear she’s doing well after her third bambino.  It’s a shame Sophie and Daisy don’t meet since Daisy is her BFF’s character doppelganger, but I like to imagine Sophie warmed to Daisy immediately and took her new neighbor relative under her wing.

Plan B follows Sure Thing in the Best Laid Plans series.   Sure Thing tells the tale of Violet pulling a twin swap so Daisy can go find her baby daddy and not get fired from her job as a tour guide.   Violet is the good twin, Daisy is the handful.   Both stories are rom com at its finest, and it doesn’t really matter which one you read first.

Little Factoid:  Aston mentions Cornelius, NC.  Only relevant because yours truly currently resides there.   Always fun to see the name of your nothing suburban town in print.   See if you can find it!

THE UPSHOT

 

Book Recommendations Fave Authors Series

A Stone In the Sea Review

Unforgettable, rock star steamy suspense.  A Stone in the Sea by AL Jackson kicks off the Bleeding Stars Series about a rock band named Sunder.   A Stone in the Sea and Drowning to Breathe, the first two books in the series, released in 2015.  At this point, it’s an oldie, but Sebastian and Shea stayed with me and I just love the whole damn series.

Large parts of the series takes place in Tybee Island, Georgia and some in Los Angeles, California.  The roots of the story belong to Nashville, Tennessee.

Single Mom Shea rocks smoldering chemistry with Sebastian “Baz”.   They fall in love slowly and as they do, the story evolves into a bit of a page turning mystery and suspense.   It’s a dual POV duet, which I personally love.

A Stone in the Sea ends with a big cliffhanger, so plan to continue reading Drowning to Breathe.   The second book continues their story.   More surprises, more page turning suspense and the characters both evolve and grow.   You get to watch these two battle past demons, fall into each other, and transition into more mature, adult versions of themselves post rock star fame.

The remaining four books then cover the stories of each of the bandmates.  So, like any good series, you still get to run into Sebastian and Shea.   By the end of the series, all sorts of secrets and trials from the past are revealed and worked through.  Any of these later four books could be read as standalones, but the stories do build on each other, so I’d recommend reading in order.

Bleeding Stars Series Order

A Stone in the Sea Book ReviewA Stone in the Sea Book ReviewWhere Lightning Strikes Bleeding Stars SeriesWait Bleeding Stars SeriesStay Bleeding Stars SeriesStand Bleeding Stars Series

The Upshot

Book Recommendations Series

Book Boyfriend Series by Claire Kingsley

What a great premise for a romance book!  The book boyfriend.  Because don’t all romance readers have ideal book boyfriends?

In this one, he’s a romance writer with a pen name.  She’s a blogger, with a pen name.  Their alter egos are friends.   Then they meet in a bookstore.   Of course, they use their real names when they meet.  And start dating.

Love the premise.  Mia, the heroine, is the clutzy, loveable type.  Alex, as a romance writer, clearly has some things going for him.  Not to mention all the prerequisites to be hero – six pack, lean, gorgeous.

It’s a fun romantic comedy.   Best thing about this series is you get to know Alex’s family better in the next two books… and you still get to spend time with Alex and Mia.

 

Something about this one – either the name or the cover – didn’t draw me.  I read this one last.  Definitely a case of first impression leading me astray.

Weston’s a boob enhancing plastic surgeon.  Comes across like such a dick.   But he has his reasons.  And getting to know Weston and watching him fall in love is A LOT of fun.

Alex’s sister Kendra deserves a halo.  She’s there for everyone.  I imagine if she were a real person, that she’s such a good person, she probably wouldn’t be my friend.  Regardless, she’s perfect for Weston.   The kind of good friend he’s probably needed his whole life.

It’s another fun romantic comedy.   And, if you read the books in order, you still get to hang with Weston and Kendra in the next book!  Cool little factoid, at end of book 3, there’s a bonus chapter all about Weston and Kendra.   Fun, fun, fun.

 

Maybe I was just jonesing for a hot single dad story, but I skipped book 2 to read hot single dad next.  You meet Caleb (ever so briefly) in book boyfriend, but I knew at first sight he’d make a good book.

He’s a resident with a cutie pie little girl.  His wife died when his daughter was maybe 2 years old.  His wife’s parents (who btw are kind of despicable) send their other daughter to nanny for him.  She’s 23 and this departure is aimed at controlling her life – and making it known they don’t approve of his parenting skills/nanny hiring skills.   Want to punch ’em, right?

Well, Linnea grows up and evolves in this book.   And, when she comes down the escalator (he hadn’t seen her in like 6 or 8 years), it’s love at first sight.

Now, the sister thing – that’s tricky.  But, trust, Claire Kingsley handles it well and you will be rooting for them.

 

THE UPSHOT

 

Book Recommendations Series

Forge Trilogy by Meghan March

Page turning, can’t put it down kind of trilogy!  I read all three books in one day.

As a professional poker player, India knows how to play her opponents.  She’s a strong, memorable woman you’ll root for right from the start.   Jericho’s your typical hot, built, brilliant billionaire Jason Mamoa look-alike gunning for revenge.

Almost non-stop action for all three books.  International, risky, high stake poker games, combined with Russians, loads of security guards, and lots of plot twists to keep the pages turning.

Deal with the Devil introduces the two and you get to watch them fall for each other.   Ends with a cliffhanger that will have you immediately buying Luck of the Devil.  It’s worth noting that the magic doesn’t happen until late in this book.   But that’s okay because the next two books pack some heat and while it’s a trilogy, it’s really kind of like one book.

Luck kicks off with good Jericho history, then picks up from the cliff.  At one point, Creighton, a billionaire from a prior series, schools Jericho on relationships.  He figures it out. Then, boom: massive cliff.  Heart of the Devil starts with more background.  You get the picture.  If you want the story, you read all three books.  These are not standalones.  There is a free chapter at the end of Book 3, Heart of the Devil, if you sign up for Meghan March’s newsletter.  This is the first I’ve read from Meghan March, but I happily signed up to learn about her new releases.

If you like romantic suspense, you’ll love this trilogy.

THE UPSHOT