Salvaged (Saints of Denver, #4) by Jay Crownover

I’m starting this review off by letting readers know that this is my first book I’ve read in the Saints of Denver series. Salvaged is book 4 and even though these characters had backstories in the previous books I had no problem following along with their current love story.

Wheeler has been dealt a crap hand. His fiancee has dumped him and she’s carrying his child. To find out he’ll be a dad and not be together with the mom isn’t how he saw his future. He was ready to be the family guy into a bombshell was dropped on him. Poppy comes from an equally crappy situation. Her now dead husband had kidnapped her and tortured her before taking his own life. She’s now trying to piece her life together after so much trauma. Both, Wheeler & Poppy, are hurting and lonely. Slowly and cautiously they begin to form a friendship over caring for a puppy. This homeless puppy has found his forever between these two who decide to share custody and take turns raising it. ”I was supposed to have my eyes locked on my future and doing whatever I could to salvage it.”

Watching these two salvage their lives which had been put through both an emotional and physical ringer was a beautiful process to witness. You couldn’t help but cheer these two on as they took the necessary steps to becoming a healthy functioning couple. Salvaged is the fourth book in the Saints of Denver series. While it’s part of an overall series it can be read as a standalone.

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Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Find in catalogDating You / Hating You is my first paperback read for the year. There’s something about holding a book that makes it feel extra special. And the pretty cover was the icing on the cake.

“Simply put, Evelyn Abbey is my former almost-girlfriend-turned-archnemesis-turned-tentative-ally whom I would now very much like to permanently seduce.” If I had to pick one sentence from the book to sum it up that one would be it. Carter and Evie (or as Carter likes to call her, Evil) were an amazing couple when they were together and fun to watch when they “battled” for the same position at work. These two were set up at a costume party by well-meaning friends. You know the saying about how all people in relationships want their single friends in a relationship too so they can do “couples” things together. This is one of those situations. Their mutual friends’ plan is working UNTIL Carter and Evie’s companies merge and now they’re vying for the same position. All bets are off and things turn into one big circus. “And it hit me. I hate it there. I love what I do – I love you – but I hate P&D. It’s like trying to work in the middle of a dodgeball game.”

Gah, the things out of Carter’s mouth could make me melt. Not to say, there weren’t times when I was thinking what are you doing, Carter? But then Carter would open his mouth and say something sweet and I’d be back on his team. Dating You / Hating You is standalone contemporary romance set in the workplace. Fans of the amazing writing duo, Christina Lauren, are in for an entertaining read with this story. Enjoy this laugh out loud book. MUST READ

Soul’s Fire (Northwomen Sagas, #3) by Susan Fanetti

SOUL’S FIRE is a story that won’t let you go. I’ve been thinking about it non-stop. Shortly after I finished I quickly googled Vikings the TV show on the History channel. I’ve never seen it but I did spend some time watching some clips on YouTube. Now, I’m wishing I could binge watch the show.

At the amount of feels I’m having since I finished Soul’s Fire I might transport myself back into the Viking Age and become a Shieldmaiden. Actually, that’s not true. Soul’s Fire had some pretty brutal and savage scenes. I know I’m not cut from the same cloth as a shieldmaiden to handle that kind of treatment.

One driving force in the beginning of Soul’s Fire is revenge. A loved one is wrongly killed and a war is waged to avenge that death. The king has come up with a savage plan to right a wrong against the Vikings. Astrid is stolen and made to pay the price for what her people did to the king’s family. Astrid is one strong shieldmaiden because what she endured is beyond comprehension. ” Did love always change a person so completely? Or had she been changed already, in the black place, and simply loved the man who’d saved her from it?” The king’s second son, Leofric, was not behind the treatment of the prisoner. He takes it upon himself to save her from that hell and use her for the good of the kingdom. His plan is to have her learn their ways and language and then have her give them inside info on how the Vikings world worked. What he didn’t expect while caring for her was to fall in love with her.

Soul’s Fire is set during the Viking Age. It’s the third book in Northwomen Sagas and the main characters in the previous books play a role in Soul’s Fire. To grasp the overall arc of this series it’s recommended you read them in sequential order.

The Queen and the Cure (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles, #2) by Amy Harmon

Every once in awhile a book comes along that knocks you off your feet and I found that with The Queen and the Cure. It’s an absolutely brilliant story between two conflicted souls.

“It isn’t about me. It’s about responsibility. The Gifts we are given are not given for our benefit but for the benefit of mankind.” Kjell just wants to simply be a captain in his brother’s army. Yet, his gift pushes him to help others even when he’d rather not. Sasha has the ability to intensify a gift. She never waivers in wanting to help others even those who have wronged her. “I fell in love with you in pieces. Layer by layer, day by day, inch by inch.” Their love story was one filled with longing, heartache and a deeper connection. Each trial they faced strengthened their bond and created an intense undeniable attachment.

I was 100% shipping this couple. Even though it’s been a week since I’ve read this story I’m still suffering from a book hangover. My heart is still with Sasha & Kjell. I loved this book.

The Queen and the Cure can be read as a standalone but is interconnected with The Bird and the Sword. Both books are part of the series for The Bird and the Sword Chronicles . These books are a fantasy lovers dream. A romance filled journey that transports you to a different world; one where the gifted (spinners, tellers, seers, changers & healer) live among ordinary people.

Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle

Before I Ever Met You is a beautiful Hollywood-esque romance. In my mind, I was picturing a Lauren Bacall – Humphrey Bogart Hollywood romance. A May to December, love story to remember, had Bacall & Bogart lived in our day and age. “That’s not reality. Love just makes everything else in life easier to bare. It’s like having an army on your side. But it doesn’t make love easier. Most people have to fight for it, they fight to keep it. Love is a war and half the time you’re battling your own f***ing self.” ”…this is us” – Will and Jackie! A love story where their attraction skirts the boundaries of being a forbidden romance.

Will is 16 years older than Jackie, along with being her boss, her dad’s business partner, and she’s known him since she was a teenager. Even though it had those elements among other things working against them the overall feel of this story was low on angst and focused more on how to make their relationship work for all parties involved. I really loved these two together. I loved Will more than Jackie and that might be because he was so swoon-worthy. The readers were treated to dual POVs and that really helped the reader to get inside the hero/heroine heads and figure out what they were thinking and feeling. Before I Ever Met You is a standalone romance set in Canada. If you enjoy low angst with a swoon-worthy older male then this book is for you.

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan

The opening of this book was beyond funny. It’s bathroom humor, literally!

The football team has arrived at the photographer studio where they think they’re getting photographed by a guy. When they knock on the door and no one arrives right away to answer the door, the guys assume the photographer is in the bathroom because of the delayed response. They’re beyond surprised when the door is opened by a female. Starting a book off with an awkward moment that leads to the reader laughing out loud is my type of book. The scenario created by these fun-loving football players has them in an awkward position because they assumed wrong about the photographer. From the girls perspective, about this scenario, that is your worst nightmare to have a group of guys thinking you’re in the bathroom doing number 2. From the guys perspective, they just screwed up big time because they just told a stranger through a closed door to ”nip it off” thinking it was a guy and it turned out to be a gal. Definitely, not the best way to impress a female you’ll be working closely with over the next day or so.

Chess is a ferociously independent woman who is accomplished in her own right as a photographer and business owner. Her bluntness mixed with her sarcasm keeps Finn on his toes. Finn comes off as the stereotypical quarterback but as you peel back his layers you’ll see he’s a good guy with a soft heart. He’s swoon-worthiness who will make your heart melt. Chess and Finn are polar opposites in the attraction department. Chess goes more for the tatted guys and Finn goes more for the model types. But there’s was something beneath their first impressions that drew them to each other. At the core of their relationship is a friendship. A friendship that is coated with friendly flirtiness. They both are dancing around in their attraction to each other because it feels safer to pretend they’re only friends than to explore their feelings. I love that just like Gray’s mom did in the book “The Friend Zone”, Finn’s mom offers her wisdom to her son: ”Just remember, Finnegan. Love with your heart, not your head. Think about things too much and it all turns to s***.”

The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel by Vi Keeland

SIGN ME up to interview Brody Easton!!

The man dropped his towel when sports reporter, Delilah, interviewed him in the locker room. The dropping of his towel to cause her to feel uncomfortable is just the grown up version of playground tactics by little boys who pull the girl’s pigtails when they like them. The banter back and forth between these two was fun to read. Delilah made it clear she wasn’t going to fall for his player ways. Even though this was more of a fun read, there was some struggle for both the characters to let go of their past. To help bring closure for one of the characters past we got a 3rd point of view. No worries, it doesn’t lead to a love triangle, but more of a conclusion to the involvement of that character with one of our main characters.

STANDALONE

Twist (Brazen Bulls MC, #2) by Susan Fanetti

Susan Fanetti’s motorcycle books capture the essence of belonging to something bigger than yourself. Being a part of club life equates to being in a family that binds these bikers together. “I got your back.” Those aren’t just meaningless words spoken among the members of Brazen Bulls but something they live and die by.

TWIST is more than merely a title of this story it’s both a physical and a mental theme that runs throughout the story. Being twisted up inside your own head because of loss and loneliness, and twisted up because a tornado has wreaked havoc on your life leads to trying to find outlets for the emptiness that rules your life. Gunner & Leah are two souls searching to fill the void left in their life with something that will make them feel whole again. Each has their own struggles that they’ve kept hidden from the world. To take that leap of faith and believe that the other person will be there to catch you is monumental. To be freed of your demons and move forward is not an overnight adventure. Their journey starts out with heartache and overtime progresses to one of inner peace. The ability to find contentment within their situation is a beautiful process to watch these two go through. Leah is 19 years old and living at home with her dad. She’s the Preacher’s Daughter. “The Good Girl.” It’s a lot of pressure for her to live up to those high standards put on her by her father and his congregation. Gunner is 28 years old and is wild. He searches out physical pain to let out his inner turmoil. He’s on a short leash with the Bulls because he’s gotten them tangled up in business they could have avoided had he known another way to control his inner beast. TWIST has a scene in the beginning that gave me pause. I love how certain things in books can be one person’s thrill and another person’s holy moly. Once you read the scene you’ll know what I’m referring to. 🙂 The overall arc that flows through Brazen Bulls series is one I love. At its core is being part of a “family” where everyone belongs. In good times and bad, the club supports each other. You can read this series without having read any of the other MC series Ms. Fanetti has written, so far. This series is set back, in time, before her other series … in 90’s. LOVED THIS BOOK

Twist (Dive Bar #2) by Kylie Scott

Find in catalogMs. Scott has a knack for creating fun opening scenes. I always look forward to seeing what she’ll come up with and this story didn’t disappoint.

“Our relationship had so far sat entirely at the platonic level of cyber-messaging.” Alex and Joe met through an online dating site and started corresponding through emails for about six months. Alex took a chance a flew out to surprise her email-pal for his birthday. Now, on a side note -over 20 years ago I did something somewhat similar – except I didn’t go without my person being aware I was flying across the country. SURPRISE! Alex not only surprised everyone she got a surprise herself. The opening scene had some laugh out loud moments. ”Joe is smart, funny, loyal, sweet, hardworking, kind, caring, and generally amazing in all the ways.” Joe embodied the elements of a strong male character who was also a gentleman. At one point in the story, there was an incident that happened which made Joe question if he even deserved to be loved or not. The tension between the characters during that time was palpable. The frustration from both of them was like an Eeyore cloud over their relationship. Luckily, with romances, readers know the warm and fuzzy feelings will return. “Nell was going through a messy divorce from another friend of ours, Pat. Her and my brother were a drunken accident.” I really liked seeing the Nell, Pat and Eric’s situation play out in this book. Their story starts in DIRTY and even if you didn’t read book one you can read this one without being lost. Their situation gets explained in TWIST to catch everyone up. I love that Ms. Scott always offers originality in her stories. The meet-cutes in her books are some of my favorite parts because they set up the story for an entertaining ride. TWIST is set in Coeur D’alene, Idaho. It’s set in the same universe as Dive. The next book in the Dive Bar series is scheduled to be released at the beginning of November.

Heart’s Ease (Northwomen Sagas, #2) by Susan Fanetti

“Loss and gain. Dark and light. Pain and joy. Such was life. It was the way of things. The world kept its balance.”
Wow, Heart’s Ease really was an emotional read. The depths these characters endured made me glad I didn’t live back then. The opening scene where the village is raided and the women are being treated as casualties of war was a brutal representation to what it must have been like during that time period.
Heart’s Ease has so much loss and hardships balanced by the love and trust among Olga and Leif. The beauty of their relationship eased the harshness of their situation. Both lost loved ones and yet they were able to find an inner strength to continue on.

I really enjoyed this book even though I know nothing about Vikings. Some of their practices were beyond comprehension for me and I’m glad they aren’t still performed today.

Heart’s Ease is set during the Viking Age. It’s the second book in Northwomen Sagas and the main characters in book 1 play a big role in Heart’s Ease. To grasp the overall arc of this series it’s recommended you read them in sequential order.