SCOTUS (A Powerplay Novel) by Selena Laurence

SCOTUS (A Powerplay Novel) by Selena Laurence

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5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of SCOTUS by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

If you’re looking for a romance you can really sink your teeth into, look no further than Selena Laurence’s SCOTUS. This Powerplay novel is a standalone political romance that truly packs a punch, dealing with some serious current issues like racism and political scandals and featuring an interracial couple. It’s an emotional second-chance romance that will keep you turning the pages right up to the end.

Teague Roberts has had his eye on becoming a Supreme Court Justice since he was a little kid growing up in a neighborhood filled with gangs and violence. All his life he’s been trying to get out of the shadow of his upbringing, but he’ll never really be able to forget where he’s from. Just as he’s on the cusp of getting everything he’s ever wanted, a blast from his past shows up and threatens to ruin it all.

Deanna Forbes was once engaged to Teague, but now she’s assigned to report on him as the president’s Supreme Court nominee. Her boss wants her to find a scandal, but Teague appears squeaky clean on the outside. She’s the only person who knows his darkest secret and could ruin his entire career. Deanna already has sins of the past to atone for. Despite having never stopped loving Teague, she’ll never be able to forgive herself for what she did to him twelve years ago.

The way the author handled the racial issues in this book was both heartbreaking and brilliant. The reader gets both perspectives, with Deanna having been raised by parents who wouldn’t accept a black man for their son-in-law and Teague struggling to overcome every racial roadblock thrown in front of him.

Teague’s character was so complex I couldn’t help but love him right from the start. On the outside, he was a successful attorney wearing power suits and working eighty hours a week. On the inside, he was still the kid who grew up in a rough neighborhood and was used to defending himself, sometimes for no other reason than the color of his skin. No power suit would change the perception of some people, and throughout the story Teague had to accept this and find ways to overcome it.

Deanna was intriguing on her own as well. It wasn’t long after letting go of Teague the first time that she realized it was the mistake of a lifetime. She spent the next twelve years trying to make up for it any way she could. And once Teague was back in her life, she was going to do whatever she could to right her past wrongs.

The emotion in this book was off the charts, and it ran the gamut of heartfelt to heartbreaking and everything in between. I was so emotionally connected to these characters that I hurt for them and could feel every bit of their pain. Even a secondary character brought me to tears several times.

I have read quite a few books by Ms. Laurence and truly enjoy her writing, but this one is her absolute best. The present-day issues and emotional journey will stay with me for a long time to come.

You can find more of my reviews of Ms. Laurence’s books under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Crossing the Barrier by Martine Lewis

Crossing the Barrier by Martine Lewis

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3 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Crossing the Barrier by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Lily Morgan and Malakai Thomas couldn’t be more different as high school students. Lily is a clarinetist in the band, and Malakai is the star wide receiver of the football team. Their worlds don’t fit together. Yet when Malakai bumps into Lily and puts her in the hospital with a head injury, the two can’t get each other out of their minds. Lily has the ability to feel everyone’s emotions around her, and her ability to shield out this talent is lost after her injury. The growing attraction between these coming of age students is tested by the collision of the differences between their social circles, and Lily and Malakai must learn to navigate these potholes and fight to stay together.

Crossing the Barrier is a well-written coming of age story with great lessons for young adult readers. It provides an intense look at social stigmas and diversity. I loved the addition of Malakai’s racial mixture, that it wasn’t one hundred percent apparent but it did play a role in the story. The characters were relatively well-developed, and the attraction was set at a decent pace.

The story moved a little too slowly for me and contained a lot of cliché tropes: neither character having the guts to admit their feelings, getting interrupted when trying to talk about feelings, deciding something for the other character. Perhaps a young adult will relate better to these issues, but as an adult who enjoys reading Young Adult novels, this one just didn’t hit home for me. Some plot points were too over the top to be believable, and although I can set aside certain beliefs for fiction, the extremities of this story made me lose interest at times.

The paranormal aspect was minimal within the story, which made its inclusion somewhat awkward. Lily was able to feel the emotions of those around her, giving her somewhat of a truth barometer. After her collision with Malakai, she lost the ability to shield herself from people’s emotions, resulting in her being overwrought with emotions when in public. But this wasn’t tied to the plot too deeply until the end of the story, mostly as a setup for the next book.

Overall, the book just missed having any type of wow factor for me. The writing was good and it was edited well, which is something that is sorely lacking in many novels these days so that was a plus. It just didn’t have enough holding it together for it to make a positive impression.

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Happy reading!

Rach

El Corazón Sabe: The Heart Knows by R.L. Merrill

El Corazón Sabe: The Heart Knows by R.L. Merrill

3 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of El Corazón Sabe by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

English teacher Leah Roberts grew up in the barrio, so she’s no stranger to gangs and violence. But when she’s caught in the middle of gunfire and seriously wounded, she becomes a shell of the woman she once was. Starting her life over in Iowa with her best friend is the perfect solution. Leah accepts a teaching position at a new school where she doesn’t exactly fit in, and on her first day a goofy science teacher literally bumps his way into her life. She doesn’t think Donovan could be her type, and they both have demons to overcome, but perhaps Leah has finally found her place in this world so far away from everything she’s ever known.

El Corazón Sabe: The Heart Knows is book one in a planned trilogy, but it can be read as a standalone book. This book focuses on the background of both main characters and their budding romance while they each overcome their issues. Although there was instant attraction, the pace of the romance felt natural with both characters taking their time to get to know the other before entering a serious relationship. I appreciated the contrast between cultures and races and also how Leah had to adapt to life in small town Iowa.

Unfortunately, much of the story fell flat for me. The characters were one-dimensional. Leah went from a successful, outgoing teacher to the bottom of a bottle and a dark closet, and then pretty quickly picked herself back up and went back to where she started. Although she had some lingering issues, that part of the plot didn’t feel very well fleshed out. Donovan was either happy and goofy or sad and guilty about his wife who passed away with nothing else to round out his characterization.

The writing style left some things to be desired as well. The story moved a little too slowly for my taste, and many scenes felt like bits of dialogue with a lot of telling instead of action. There were some inconsistencies, and the plot could have used a little more focus outside the blossoming relationship.

The story has a good base, but just didn’t hold my attention as much as I would have liked.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Renewed (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 2) by Harper Miller – Review and Blog Tour

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Review:

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of Renewed in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

After finding out her husband has been cheating on her, twenty-eight-year-old Tanya is done with him, and with love. But she’s curious about what led him astray. She creates a profile on the kinky website he’s been visiting, and while she’s there, a guy named Kenji finds and befriends her. Even though she’s not looking to make any kinky connections, Tanya finds herself giving in and meeting Kenji when they both happen to be at Heathrow airport at the same time.

The connection Tanya feels to Kenji has her exploring her kinky side in an airport bathroom and even trying out his fetish. But now she has to decide if she’s willing to continue exploring, or if she’s happier keeping her heart safe.

Renewed is another short story that is part of the Kinky Connect Chronicles by Harper Miller. It’s short and to the point, continuing the theme of strangers meeting on a kinky website. I enjoyed the fact that Tanya wasn’t actually looking to make a connection on the website, and at first she and Kenji were only friends. What she really needed was someone to open up to, and Kenji allowed her to do that. This led to their relationship being based on something more than a fetish. But at the same time, it also allowed Tanya to open up in other ways, including exploring Kenji’s foot fetish and exhibitionism.

I have to say that the foot fetish didn’t exactly turn me on, but the author was able to turn up the heat by showing how much the characters enjoyed it. The exhibitionism, on the other hand, was hot all on its own.

I would have liked to know a little more about what Kenji was doing on the website that led him to Tanya, but I understand not everything can be covered in such a short story. For what it did accomplish, Renewed is enjoyable and hot. It’s a quick read that explores the kinkier side of life. I look forward to more stories in this series.

My review of Ironic, the first story in The Kinky Connect Chronicles, can be found by selecting Harper Miller from the Author Spotlight tab.

Happy reading!

Rach

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Renewed Cover

Book Title: Renewed (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 2)
Author: Harper Miller
Genre: Erotic Romance/Erotica and Interracial/Multicultural Romance
Release Date: June 22, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Book Blurb

I was hurt. I was heartbroken. I felt abandoned and emotionally drained.

Sometimes heartache can open new doors.

Of course, names have been changed to protect all parties involved, but this is my story.

*Disclaimer* This is a novelette. Not a short story, novella, or novel. Content is intended for a mature audience, 18+.

Renewed is the second installment in The Kinky Connect Chronicles. The Kinky Connect Chronicles are short erotic stories/novelettes all wrapped up in neat little bows. These stories are standalones. No cliffhangers in the lot!

excerpt

© Harper Miller 2015

brwngrltrvler: I’m not in NYC at the moment. I’m overseas, for work.

JapKenDoll: Nice! Your passport is getting a workout. That’s right, you did say it was late where you are. Where’d your travels take you?

brwngrltrvler: Why are you asking? You plan on flying all the way from New York, Superman? I’m in London.

There’s a long pause.

JapKenDoll: Good thing I just got my cape back from the dry cleaners. 🙂 Tanya, I kid you not, I’m in Paris for work. It’s Fashion Week, which is a pretty big deal in my industry. I realize this is going to sound crazy, and you’ll probably say no, but I’d like to meet you. I fly out of De Gaulle with a layover at Heathrow for about an hour tomorrow. We can grab a cup of coffee as friends.

Well, that explains him checking into a hotel. Friends. Hmm, friends. Well, Kenji said he was transparent, but he doesn’t want to be just friends; I am sure of it. We were chatting via a kink-centric website. This is where people went for hookups. I’m sure he wanted something, something I most likely couldn’t give him.

brwngrltrvler: That’s a bad idea, Kenji.

JapKenDoll: Better to meet in London than New York, right? Afterward, you go off in your direction, I go in mine, and we never have to see each other again. Humor me. Have coffee with a man you’ll never see again. 🙂

I know it’s a bad idea, everything in my being is screaming it’s a bad idea. I’m emotional, I’m raw, I’m . . . stupid.

brwngrltrvler: What time?

Yes, incredibly stupid.

Teasers

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Meet the Author

Harper Miller is a thirty-something native New Yorker. She’s traveled the world and lived in a variety of places but always finds her way back to the Big Apple.

A lackluster love life leaves time to explore new interests, for Harper it is writing. The Sweetest Taboo: An Unconventional Romance is her debut novel. In her mind the perfect Alpha male possesses intellect, humor, and a kinky streak that rivals the size of California.

When she isn’t writing, Harper utilizes her graduate degree in the field of medical research. She enjoys fitness-related activities, drinking copious amounts of wine, and going on bad dates.

She loves hearing from readers. Feel free to reach out!

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Black Rainbow by J.J. McAvoy

Black Rainbow by J.J. McAvoy

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4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an Uncorrected Galley of Black Rainbow through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

With a childhood like Thea Cunning had, it’s no wonder she doesn’t have real relationships or let anyone into her life. She’s set on one thing: becoming the best lawyer she can be to prove her father’s innocence and get him out of prison. When she meets sexy musician Levi Black in a bar, their agreement to have one week of great sex and then go their separate ways seems perfect.

Levi Black focuses on his career and not much else since he found his ex-wife in bed with his former business partner. He’s the top criminal attorney in the state, and he’s also a professor at Harvard Law. When his erotic week with Thea ends, he finds her sitting in his class the next morning. He wants to pursue a relationship with her, but Thea doesn’t make it easy since she hides her past. When she finally opens up to him, Levi has a secret of his own he needs to keep. The truth always comes out though, and they both will need to set aside their attraction and their differences to work together to free an innocent man.

Black Rainbow is a new adult romance that had me riveted for the second half of the book. Once we learned more about Thea’s relationship with her mother and what happened to her father, the pace picked up and had me intrigued. But the first part of the book dragged a bit. It switched back and forth between the week Thea and Levi spent together and the beginning of their relationship as student and teacher. While it was good to see how they got together and learned some things about each other, it felt a little overdone with all of the sex scenes. I would have enjoyed it much more if we got one or two glimpses at their wild sex life and then moved on, focusing most of that information on their relationship outside of the bedroom.

Part two of the story did get things moving, and I was glad I stuck with it. It focused more on the actual plot of the story: Thea and Levi’s relationship as student and teacher, and Thea’s determination to prove her father’s innocence. Although she didn’t like some of the things she had to do to get what she wanted, Thea actually listened to Levi’s advice about using whatever she had available to her. She made allies in her class and continued to prove herself as the top student. She was a very strong, independent character, and I enjoyed watching her grow even further.

Levi was also strong and intelligent, and I loved that he was willing to put his career on the line for what he thought was right even if it might not win Thea back. He didn’t turn into a lovesick puppy only focused on getting the girl. He kept his wits about him, but he never gave up on their relationship.

I wish there had been a little more discussion of the student/teacher relationship toward the end. At one point there was a threat of one of the characters exposing them, but once they exposed themselves there were seemingly no repercussions. It seemed like the forbidden nature of their relationship was dropped from the plot.

The copy of Black Rainbow I was provided was an Uncorrected Galley. There were quite a few mistakes in it, but I did not take those into consideration when rating this story. Hopefully they will be cleaned up prior to publication.

Overall, the story was a good read, and I would likely read more by this author. Black Rainbow is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and will be published on May 15, 2015.

Happy reading!

Rach

Vengeful in Love (Billionaires in Love Book 1) by Nadia Lee

Vengeful in Love (Billionaires in Love Book 1) by Nadia Lee

Vengeful in Love Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Natalie Hall has never really felt like part of her family. She was adopted as a baby, and her mother makes no secret of the fact that she prefers her child by blood, so Natalie just tries to stay out of the way. But Natalie has made a good living for herself, and she’s stunned when her company’s CEO takes a personal interest in her.

CEO Alex Damon has a chip on his shoulder thanks to having his own family ripped apart when he was a boy. He’s out for revenge, and he doesn’t care who he has to take down to get there. He takes an interest in Natalie due to her good looks, her brain, and also her family’s connection to his enemy. When his romance with Natalie truly blooms, he’ll need to decide if he believes she’s innocent in her family’s dealings or if she’s just another spy sent to ruin all he’s worked for.

Vengeful in Love is an intriguing tale with a strong heroine. Despite an initial attraction, Natalie doesn’t immediately fall all over herself to get into Alex’s bed. If anything, she’s resistant to the idea of any type of relationship with someone she works with. It’s a refreshing change from the multitude of stories where the female constantly drools all over the alpha male. Natalie has strong morals and is not easily swayed from them—not even when her Godmother and best male friend try to bribe her for help in saving their company.

One thing I didn’t particularly like about this story was how Alex never seemed to suspect anything of Natalie. He had plenty of reason to suspect her of being a spy for her family, but he maintained her innocence even when faced with evidence to the contrary. But then suddenly one day he believes it. I didn’t really buy the change of heart.

Overall, the story was well written and an enjoyable read. I would read more by this author.

Happy reading!

Rach

Ironic (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 1) by Harper Miller

Ironic (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 1) by Harper Miller

Ironic Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Mimi has been in a bit of a dry spell, and her sexual appetite just isn’t happy about that. She creates a profile on a kinky website and meets sexy, dominant Aden. Aden is older and knows exactly what he’s looking for in an intimate encounter. After a steamy video chat, Mimi and Aden agree to meet up the following night for one night of mind-blowing kink. But one night is all Mimi offers. She doesn’t do do-overs.

Ironic is a steamy short story, so be sure to read it alone or have your special someone nearby. It’s a very quick read that will leave you panting for more. I loved that both characters were confident and not at all interested in hiding what they were after. They found each other on a kinky website, so why be shy? Aden definitely has a dominant personality that comes through in the way he interacts with Mimi. Mimi, whose profile lists her as submissive, was a bit more forward than I expected when speaking to someone she wanted to dominate her, although she made no secret of the fact that she wouldn’t mind a little punishment.

The only drawback of this story is that it’s too short to really get into a lot of kink. It’s more of a “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” story. But you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for some heat! I enjoyed this short and would definitely read more from Harper Miller.

Happy reading!

Rach

Deeper (The Deeper Chronicles) by Allyn Lesley

Deeper (The Deeper Chronicles) by Allyn Lesley

Deeper Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was gifted an ARC of Deeper in exchange for an honest review.*

Avianna Linton has come to New York City for a fresh start as an elementary school teacher, looking to live her life with no complications. But hanging out with her new friend Sophie adds complications—namely, Noah Adams. Noah is a powerful man who doesn’t take no for an answer, and he’s decided he wants Avi. The attraction is mutual, but Avi pushes him away, until she can’t resist him any longer.

Avi keeps her past a secret, and Noah is not very forthcoming about his business. Their worlds collide in several ways, drawing them together and then pushing them apart. Avi will have to decide whether her love for Noah is strong enough to overlook what he does for a living or if she needs to walk away.

Deeper certainly lives up to its name with its multi-leveled suspense. The story includes several plot lines that all come together in the end but keep you guessing for a while. It is well written with a very strong alpha male character and quite a bit of intrigue.

Noah is the kind of character you love to hate, which makes me love him more. And Avi standing up to him is something he’s not used to, which makes me love her more. She’s strong at times and needy at others, but as her past is slowly revealed you understand why she’s closed herself off the way she has.

This is a great debut from Allyn Lesley, and I look forward to reading the second installment.

Happy reading!

Rach