Review: Off the Grid by Monica McCarty

Off the Grid by Monica McCarty
Series: The Lost Platoon #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 3rd 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A team of Navy SEALs go on a mission and disappear without a trace–they are The Lost Platoon.

Investigative reporter Brittany Blake may have stumbled upon the story of a lifetime in her search for her missing brother. When he seemingly disappears overnight, she refuses to accept the Navy’s less-than-satisfying explanation. She begins her own investigation, which leads her to top-secret SEAL teams, covert ops, and a possible cover up…

John Donovan is having trouble biding his time, waiting for his Commanding Officer to figure out who set up their platoon. John’s best friend and BUD/S partner, Brandon Blake, was one of the many lives tragically lost in the attack against his team. When Brandon’s sister, Brittany, tracks John down, looking for answers, he realizes that she may be their best bet–or bait–for finding out who is targeting SEAL Team Nine.

The Lost Platoon series is the kind of romantic suspense that I LIVE for. I am utterly addicted to the action, the steam, and the chemistry between the main characters. I put off reading Off the Grid until the third book released so I could binge them back to back, and boy am I glad I made this decision. I was in romantic suspense heaven continuing this fantastic series. Off the Grid is the middle child of the series, though it doesn’t have the middle book syndrome. There is so much that happens, both in terms of the romance(s) and overall plot arc, so if you enjoyed Going Dark, you’re definitely going to want to read this follow-up!

Brittany Blake is an investigative reporter who knows something has happened to her missing brother. The U.S. military gave excuses for the missing men in SEAL Team Nine, but Brittany is determined to uncover the truth. The first step to doing so? Connecting with her brother’s best friend and fellow SEAL, John Donovan… the man who broke her heart years ago.

John Donovan and the rest of the surviving SEAL Team Nine men are off the grid. They can’t let either the U.S. or Russia know that they are the sole survivors of a Russian attack, as they were never supposed to be on Russian soil. But their secrecy is in jeopardy when John’s dead best friend’s sister starts nosing her way to the truth. John is tasked with distracting and eventually stopping Brittany from her investigation. But he can’t help the connection that he’s always felt for her, that flares up just as strongly now as it did five years ago.

She laughed, totally impervious to any suggestiveness. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Five years ago she used to blush when he said things like that to her.

I enjoyed Brittany and John’s characters, though at times they did seem immature. John is known as the funny guy in his team, and I loved the light-heartedness he brought to the book. He’s also a bit of a player, and I wanted Brittany to make him work just a bit harder to win her over, but I can’t blame the girl for falling so easily into his arms. A six foot plus, 200+ pound alpha-male that is allll muscle? I wouldn’t say no either.

He almost didn’t recognize himself. Brittany had turned him into some kind of less evolved, possessive, jealous version of John Donovan.

In addition to John and Brittany, we also get more of Kate and Colt’s story that we initially learned about in Going Dark. I’ll admit, a big part of why I wanted to continue the series was to get Kate and Colt’s (hopefully) happy ending, and in Off the Grid, we definitely see them heading in the HEA direction, though it’s not quite there yet. As far as second chance romance goes, this one is spectacular. All the angst and all the heartache!

Off the Grid is a fantastic installment in the Lost Platoon series, but trust me, it only gets better from here. The suspense is well done – it kept me guessing who did what. Brittany and John’s relationship starts off fast in bed, but the slower development of feelings is worth the read. As far as military romances/romantic suspenses go, this one is SO good.


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: The Lost Platoon series

  

#1 ~ Going Dark: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Off the Grid: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Out of Time: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads


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ARC Review: Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward

Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 7th 2019
Links: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward comes an unforgettable story of passion and vengeance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

When Ahmare’s brother is abducted, there is nothing she won’t do to get him back safely. She is unprepared, however, for the lengths she will have to go to save his life. Paired with a dangerous but enticing prisoner, she embarks on an odyssey into another world.

Duran, betrayed by his father, imprisoned in a dungeon for decades, has survived only because of his thirst for vengeance. He has been biding his time to escape and is shocked to find an unlikely and temporary freedom in the form of a determined young female.

Battling against deadly forces and facing unforeseen peril, the pair are in a race to save Ahmare’s brother. As time runs out, and the unthinkable looms, even true love may not be enough to carry them through.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is one of those must-read PNR series that everyone knows, reads, and loves, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like this world of vampires and alpha-males, both of which I can never get tired of if J.R. Ward writes it. Some of my favorite bookish heroes have come from this series (RHAGE!) and for that I will forever be grateful to the Warden.

In Prisoner of Night, we get a little break from the BDB boys and are introduced to two new main characters: Duran, whose father sold him into imprisonment for twenty years, and Ahmare, who will risk anything to save her brother’s life. These two have one common enemy, Chalen, who is Duran’s tormentor and holds Ahmare’s brother hostage. They must band together in order to free themselves of Chalen, even while having their own agendas. There’s an immediate connection between them, but they try to ignore it to reach their end goal.

Ahmare kind of made him want to stick around.
Even though that was crazy talk.

While I can’t say that I loved this novella, it was a nice addition to the BDB world. It doesn’t add anything to the main storyline, but we do get to discover new characters that maybe we’ll see in the future again. And not only do we get Ahmare and Duran’s romance, we get a bonus love story in this novella too, though I wish both were fleshed out just a bit more. Now, I’m dying for the next actual BDB book, The Savior, which is Murhder’s book! I can’t wait to see what J.R. Ward has in store for us in his book!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Black Dagger Brotherhood series

    
    
    
   

#1 ~ Dark Lover: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Lover Eternal: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Lover Awakened: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Lover Revealed: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Lover Unbound: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Lover Enshrined: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Lover Avenged: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#8 ~ Lover Mine: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#9 ~ Lover Unleashed: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#10 ~ Lover Reborn: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#11 ~ Lover at Last: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#12 ~ The King: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#13 ~ The Shadows: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#14 ~ The Beast: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#15 ~ The Chosen: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#15.5 ~ Dearest Ivie: EbookGoodreads
#16 ~ The Thief: EbookHardcover • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#16.5 ~ Prisoner of Night: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#17 ~ The Savior: EbookHardcoverAudibleGoodreads (April 2, 2019)

Don’t miss the spinoff series.

Reading Order: Black Dagger Legacy series

  

#1 ~ Blood Kiss: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Blood Vow: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Blood Fury: My Review • Ebook • HardcoverAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Blood Truth: EbookGoodreads (Aug. 13, 2019)


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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: January 7th 2019
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From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist…

They say your first kiss should be earned.

Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.

They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.

Mine were broken before we left church.

They say your heart only beats for one man.

Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.

I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.

Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.

They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.

I, Francesca Rossi, found myself erasing and rewriting mine until the very last chapter.

One kiss.
Two men.
Three lives.
Entwined together.

And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.

Buy Links:
Amazon US • Amazon UKAmazon CAAmazon AU
PaperbackAudible

review button

The Kiss Thief is my first read of 2019 and it’s already going on my favorites list for the year! TKT is deliciously hot, intense, and angsty, which is exactly what I expect from L.J. Shen. She blew me away with this arranged marriage romance, which a filthy, crude older hero and a younger heroine who finds independence and empowerment within herself. The story reminded me a bit of Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (one of my all time favorite romances) in terms of the forced marriage and the hero’s pride, but it’s different from it as well. There’s a bit of mafia, politics, and even gardening in this fantastic read, which I highly recommend everyone try. TKT had me hooked and I never wanted it to let me go.

I sucked in a breath, realizing for the first time what we were.
A story of a Nemesis and a Villain with no chance at a happy ending.
Where the prince doesn’t save the princess.
He tortures her.
And the beauty doesn’t sleep.
She’s stuck.
In a nightmare.

Nineteen-year-old Francesca Rossi is the beloved daughter of a powerful mafia man of The Outfit, and she’s always known how her future would be spelled out: to marry Angelo Bandini, the love of her life and heir to another powerful mafia family. But the future that she’s always thought was set in stone is turned upside down when her father arranges her instead to marry Senator Wolfe Keaton, a powerful political man who holds all the cards. Francesca refuses to make things easy for her fiancé, as she knows Angelo is the one meant for her… even when Wolfe is the one who awakens her mind and body.

Wolfe Keaton was a kiss thief, but it wasn’t only a kiss that he stole. He stole my heart, too. Ripped it from my chest and put it in his pocket.

Wolfe has an agenda: to take down The Outfit, starting with Francesca’s father. He’s determined to exact his revenge, and that includes taking Francesca as his wife and collateral damage. He expects a good, subservient girl of a wife, but instead gets a woman who grows and learns to stand up for herself and doesn’t take his shit lying down. Wolfe is cruel and ruthless at times, but it’s in these moments we get to see Francesca shine with her strength and independence. And it’s obvious that no one brings him to his knees like Francesca.

“It is you that I love. It is you whom I want. It is you whom makes living a spectacular thing I want to experience, rather than participate in reluctantly, every day.”

I always say I hate the asshole heroes, but man, there is just something about L.J. Shen’s heroes that I cannot resist. Maybe it’s their passion. Maybe it’s their growing obsession for their heroines. It most definitely has to do with the epic groveling Leigh makes her heroes do to win the heroines’ hearts. I adored Francesca, and while it took me a bit to warm up to Wolfe (when I say he’s a jerk, I mean he’s a JERK), I eventually fell in love with him as well. I was addicted to their romance, their push and pull, their passion. If you’re worried about the love triangle aspect, you don’t need to. It is very clear who the hero is (if my review hasn’t already said it). And if you love angst, age gaps, and arranged marriages, you definitely need TKT in your life.


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Now here’s an excerpt from The Kiss Thief! ❤

excerpt button

“Are you sure you’re on my card?” I turned to the man with a polite yet distant smile. I was still disoriented from the exchange with Angelo when the stranger pulled me against his hard body and pressed a possessive hand lower than socially acceptable on my back, a second from groping my butt.

“Answer me,” I hissed.

“My bid on your card was the highest,” he replied dryly.

“The bids are undisclosed. You don’t know how much other people have paid,” I kept my lips pursed to keep myself from yelling.

“I know it’s nowhere near the realm of what this dance is worth.”

Un-freaking-believable.

We began to waltz around the room as other couples were not only spinning and mingling but also stealing envious glances at us. Naked, raw ogles that told me that whomever the blonde he’d come to the masquerade with was, she wasn’t his wife. And that I might have been all the rage in The Outfit, but the rude man was in high demand, too.

I was stiff and cold in his arms, but he didn’t seem to notice—or mind. He knew how to waltz better than most men, but he was technical, and lacked warmth and Angelo’s playfulness.

“Nemesis.” He took me by surprise, his rapacious gaze stripping me bare. “Distributing glee and dealing misery. Seems at odds with the submissive girl who entertained Bishop and his horsey wife at the table.”

I choked on my own saliva. Did he just call the governor’s wife horsey? And me submissive? I looked away, ignoring the addictive scent of his cologne, and the way his marble body felt against mine.

“Nemesis is my spirit animal. She was the one to lure Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection and died of vanity. Pride is a terrible illness.” I flashed him a taunting smirk.

“Some of us could use catching it.” He bared his straight white teeth.

“Arrogance is a disease. Compassion is the cure. Most gods didn’t like Nemesis, but that’s because she had a backbone.”

“Do you?” He arched a dark eyebrow.

“Do I…?” I blinked, the courteous grin on my face crumpling. He was even ruder when we were alone.

“Have a backbone,” he provided. He stared at me so boldly and intimately, it felt like he breathed fire into my soul. I wanted to step out of his touch and jump into a pool full of ice.

“Of course, I do,” I responded, my spine stiffening. “What’s with the manners? Were you raised by wild coyotes?”

“Give me an example,” he said, ignoring my quip. I was beginning to draw away from him, but he jerked me back into his arms. The glitzy ballroom distorted into a backdrop, and even though I was starting to notice that the man behind the demi-mask was unusually beautiful, the ugliness of his behavior was the only thing that stood out.

I am a warrior and a lady…and a sane person who can deal with this horrid man.

“I really like Angelo Bandini.” I dropped my voice, slicing my gaze from his eyes and toward the table where Angelo’s family had been seated. My father was sitting a few seats away, staring at us coldly, surrounded by Made Men who chatted away.

“And see, in my family, we have a tradition dating back ten generations. Prior to her wedding, a Rossi bride is to open a wooden chest—carved and made by a witch who lived in my ancestors’ Italian village—and read three notes written to her by the last Rossi girl to marry. It’s kind of a good luck charm mixed with a talisman and a bit of fortunetelling. I stole the chest tonight and opened one of the notes, all so I could rush fate. It said that tonight I was going to be kissed by the love of my life, and well…” I drew my lower lip into my mouth and sucked it, peering under my eyelashes at Angelo’s empty seat. The man stared at me stoically, as though I was a foreign film he couldn’t understand. “I’m going to kiss him tonight.”

“That’s your backbone?”

“When I have an ambition, I go for it.”

A conceited frown crinkled his mask, as if to say I was a complete and utter moron. I looked him straight in the eye. My father taught me that the best way to deal with men like him was to confront, not run. Because, this man? He’d chase.

about the author button

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • InstragramGoodreads


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Review: Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s after discovering her Maiden Lane series. Not every book was a hit, but there were enough that it felt bittersweet when the series came to an end. When she announced she’d be releasing a new series though, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Not the Duke’s Darling is the first in the Greycourt series, setting the stage for a new cast of characters. While I enjoyed the characters, I had a hard time connecting with the story and couldn’t fully love it as much as I hoped to.

The foundation of Freya and Christopher’s story starts fifteen years earlier, after a tragic event that tears apart friends and families. Christopher and his best friend, Freya’s brother Ran, become estranged for the next decade and a half, leaving him on one side and the de Morays on the other. Fast forward to the present, and Christopher is back from India to run his dukedom and Freya is a Wise Woman disguised as a chaperone. As a member of the secret order of Wise Women, Freya is not your typical woman. She’s fierce, with an intelligent mind and exceptional fighting skills. When they meet again for the first time in years, Christopher doesn’t recognize her, but Freya vows revenge on the man who wronged her brother.

Christopher and Freya have an explosive relationship. Their chemistry is off the charts, and not just because she wants revenge on him. Even though Christopher doesn’t recognize Freya at first, that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Her wit and sharp tongue leave him desperate to be around her. There was a bit of a reversal in roles with these two, with the hero being all in with the heroine, and the heroine being more on the reluctant side, which I enjoyed. Freya’s prickliness gave her character depth, and I couldn’t help but be entertained as Christopher tore down her walls.

“Don’t change. Don’t ever change. I like your prickliness, your scowls, the way you argue with me so fiercely. I want a lioness, not a lamb.”

What didn’t work so well with me were the various subplots that the author tried to tie all together. It felt messy, trying to juggle the Wise Women order, Freya’s mission to save a duchess, Christopher’s late wife, his time in India, someone targeting Freya, the tragedy that happened years ago between three best friends, and even the POV of the next book’s heroine, whose story is being set up in this book. When there is so much going on, it’s hard to make everything as fully fleshed out as possible, which is mainly what made me hold back from enjoying the story.

Not the Duke’s Darling has its issues, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to continue with the series. I’m intrigued enough with the hero and heroine of the next book to want to pick it up, and hopefully it balances plotlines better.


lacey


Reading Order: Greycourt series

 

#1 ~ Not the Duke’s Darling: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ When a Rogue Meets His Match: PaperbackGoodreads (July 30, 2019)


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Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesbys #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 20th 2018
Links: Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

She was in the wrong place…

Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed…

He found her at the wrong time…

Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her.

Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?

When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?

I recently went on a Julia Quinn binge when I was craving a new-to-me historical romance series to get lost in, and the Bridgertons series was exactly what I was looking for. It’s full of humor and heart, so of course I was excited to read about the Bridgertons prequel series, the Rokesbys! The Other Miss Bridgerton is the first in this new series that I’ve read, but I will be remedying that soon because I adored Andrew and Poppy’s story. It’s a tale of kidnapping, high seas, pirates (who prefer the name privateers), and secret identities – how could I not enjoy it?

Poppy Bridgerton is ahead of her time. She’s daring, independent, and adventurous… but that all leads her to trouble when she’s found in a supposedly abandoned cave and kidnapped so she won’t tell anyone the secrets that lie in that unfortunate cave. Captain Andrew James Rokesby is in charge of hiding and delivering those secrets, but imagine his surprise when his crew leaves an aristocratic woman, a Bridgerton of all people, in his bed on the ship. He knows he’s in trouble, but he’s keeping her on board anyway as they set sail for Portugal. Neither expect to enjoy their talks, their banter… or even to start falling for one another. But can a relationship really be possible when they reach land?

Poppy is as sassy a heroine as you can get. There’s absolutely nothing she can do on the ship, since the crew doesn’t want a woman on board because of superstition, so all she can use to fight with is her words. She’s intelligent and witty (my favorite kind of heroine), and much to her surprise, Andrew can give as good as he gets from her. They have a wonderful chemistry on board, thanks to the close proximity, and I loved that they made the kidnapping a bit light-hearted. This is more along the lines of a slow burn romance, which I appreciated. I couldn’t get enough of these two characters, their lovely banter, and the way they unwittingly start to fall in love. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more at the end. It seemed to move a bit too fast and conveniently. Other than that, The Other Miss Bridgerton was a delight and pure fun to read. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the Rokesbys soon!


lacey


Reading Order: Rokesbys series

  

#1 ~ Because of Miss Bridgerton: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Other Miss Bridgerton: Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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