Early Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 16th 2018
Links: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

I had been dying to get my hands on Simeon’s book ever since he was introduced in Illegal Contact (one of my FAVORITE reads of 2017). Santino Hassell did an incredible job with the first Barons novel, so of course I needed more of these football players in my life! Down by Contact has everything you can expect in an M/M sports romance from Santino – authentic characters, incendiary chemistry, and steam that will burn up the pages as you read. But there are also deeper parts to the story, like the struggle with one’s sexuality and homophobia, that Santino handles in an honest, heartfelt way. If you loved Illegal Contact, you’ll want to get your hands on this amazing follow-up!

As the Barons’ quarterback, Simeon Boudreaux is charming, adorable, and loved by all – except one. When Simeon comes out as gay to support his teammate, there’s one person who can’t help but taunt and incite him: former teammate and now rival, Adrián Bravo. To say these two don’t like each other would be an understatement – they are constantly at each other’s throats, both on the field and on social media. When a brawl goes too far, Simeon and Adrián are forced to work together at a football camp for kids. The proximity forces them to get to know one another better, become friends and possibly more. But can Adrián accept his newfound sexuality and feelings for Simeon?

It took me a while to warm up to Adrián – he is a dick, to say the least, and the way he verbally attacks Simeon can very easily be labeled as homophobic. His confusion and frustration about his attraction towards Simeon causes him to act this way, though it doesn’t excuse it. We get to experience both his and Simeon’s struggles as an openly gay professional football player, which Santino handles flawlessly. Adrián’s personal growth is a highlight of the story, as he recognizes the mistakes he’s make and wrongs he tries to make right.

As far as love to hate and hate to love romances go, you can’t get better than Simeon and Adrián’s relationship. Their hostility, their witty and sarcastic banter, and then their growing friendship and love, everything served to make Down by Contact an incredible read. You don’t need to read Illegal Contact in order to start Down by Contact, but I’d highly recommend it anyway, because it is an incredible book. These are top-notch M/M romances for me, and I can only hope that we can get more of this series!


lacey


Reading Order: The Barons series

 

#1 ~ Illegal Contact: My Review • EbookAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Down by Contact: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads (Jan. 16, 2018)


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Review Tour: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost

The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost
Series: Broken Destiny #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 28th 2017
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You can run from your destiny, but you can’t hide…

Ivy thought that she and Adrian had conquered their fates. Yet with thousands of innocents still trapped in the demon realms, she’s determined to locate the final hallowed weapon and harness its unparalleled power to free them. But the last relic nearly put Ivy in the grave—there’s probably no coming back from this one.

Adrian’s dark lineage has made him the most powerful of his kind, yet even his incredible abilities might not be enough now. Instead, the treacherous fate he has fought so hard to escape might be the only way he can save Ivy. Their undeniable bond has been tested before, but never with so much on the line. Now fate will come head-to-head against true love, and nothing they’ve endured can prepare Ivy and Adrian for the unthinkable choices they’ll face…

Don’t miss the earth-shattering conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Broken Destiny series!

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunes • Kobo

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At long last, the final Broken Destiny book is here!! It’s been a long time coming since the first book, and Ivy and Adrian have been through some tough times throughout the series. It all finally comes to a close in The Brightest Embers, with Ivy needing to find the third and last hallowed weapon to save humanity. It has some excitement, action, humor, steam… if you’re a fan of the series, you definitely need to see how it all ends!

Ivy knows that when she finds the spearhead that will save humans from demons, she won’t survive wielding it. So should she continue this journey that is so much bigger than her, at the risk of hurting her loved ones, especially Adrian, by dying for the cause? It’s not an easy decision to make, but no matter what she does, she knows she has the support of Adrian, her sister, and her friends.

“I love you, Adrian,” I told him between searing kisses. “You’re my only destiny now.”

I’ve enjoyed Ivy and Adrian’s slow-growing romance throughout the series, and how much they’ve come to love and support one another. They have a fantastic chemistry between them that hasn’t died since the moment they met. But while the romance was great, the actual action part felt a little lacking compared to the two previous books. There’s a lot of hesitance and doubt in Ivy in this book, which is totally understandable (is she going to die for nothing?), but this did add to the wishy-washy feeling of the book. And the ending wasn’t quite what I expected – it wraps things up, but a little too abruptly for my taste. I would’ve loved to see an epilogue or at least one more chapter to see a glimpse into Ivy and Adrian’s future! My favorite part about this book, though? Brutus, our dear resident pet/gargoyle. I love this gargoyle to pieces, and he definitely added some much needed humor to this heavy series.

While The Brightest Embers isn’t my favorite Broken Destiny book, it’s still worth a read if you like the series. And if you’re curious about new adult paranormal romance books, this is definitely a series to check out! I’m hoping Jeaniene Frost will write some more NA PNR books in the future, mainly because there needs to be more books in this genre!


lacey

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

Reading Order: Broken Destiny series

  

#1 ~ The Beautiful Ashes: My ReviewEbook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ The Sweetest Burn: My Review • Ebook • Hardcover • Paperback• Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ The Brightest Embers: Ebook • Hardcover • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads

about the author button

Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince series, the Broken Destiny series, and the upcoming Night Rebel series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to twenty different countries. Jeaniene lives in Florida with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she rarely cooks and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cook books frighten her.

For information on Jeaniene’s books, book trailers, deleted scenes, creature mythology, and more, please visit: www.jeanienefrost.com

Website • Amazon Page • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads


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ARC Review + Excerpt: Follow by Tessa Bailey

Follow by Tessa Bailey
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 30th 2017
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

He wants her soul. Too bad she already sold it.

Family is everything to gambling den darling, Teresa Valentini. Blood comes first, especially before men. So when her brother lands himself in hot water, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save him. And showing up topless in her unwitting savior’s motel room is turning out to be the furthest thing from a hardship…

Will Caruso is the bad boy of New York’s financial scene…and he just found out the very thing that drives his success is a damn lie. Now, he’s exchanged his high-stress life for the open road, no one but his Great Dane…and half a million Instagram followers to keep him company. When a mysterious beauty arrives, her secrecy prods his suspicions, even while she tempts his lust to the breaking point.

Teresa met Will under false pretenses, but the bond consuming them is real. They’re strong enough to overcome a little betrayal…aren’t they?

**FOLLOW is a mega hot, contemporary, first person standalone**

You know those Instagrams of gorgeous men who document their road trips with their dogs? Well, imagine a romance story for one of those men, and you have the wonder that is Follow. Of course, only Tessa Bailey could write about a hero who Instagrams his road trip with his dying dog and make it as fun and sexy and intense as this book is. If you know me, then you know I adore anything and everything Tessa writes – she has yet to disappoint, because I enjoyed Follow SO much. It gave off a vibe that reminded me a bit of her earlier works, like the Line of Duty series (which I LOVE). If you love dirty-talking alpha heroes and the heroines who knock them off their feet, then I highly recommend Follow (and every other Tessa Bailey book)!

“I might take you to fancy hotels, baby. Might walk you through those elegant lobbies and demand you be treated like a queen.” He drops forward, bending down to lick a path between my breasts, up and down. Again and again, before lifting his head. “But I will always be the man who fucks you nasty on the floor once we’re upstairs, with your thong twisted around your dripping cunt. We clear?”

Very much the Wall Street man, Will Caruso’s life was turned upside down when he discovered the truth about his father… and how he was lied to his whole life. Now, as a last wish for his beloved, dying Great Dane, he sets out on a road trip with Southpaw across the U.S., commemorating their journey on Instagram (and getting a TON of followers). What he doesn’t expect to see at one of his stops is a gorgeous woman who makes his heart stop and riles up his newly possessive instincts. Teresa Valentini is an enigma of a woman, but she’s a woman he has to have.

Teresa is mine. My bones know it. My head. Even the heart I thought was too damaged and scabbed over to be touched knows she belongs with me.
The hard part is being patient while she figures it out.

Teresa’s baby brother has landed himself into trouble with the one and only mob boss of New York, so she does what any good older sister would do and try to bargain for his safety. She’s tasked with getting the mob boss’s son back to New York in any way possible, including false pretenses. But the mob boss’s son, Will, is a man who loves his dog, can dirty talk like a mofo, and knows what he wants out of life – i.e., her – and is willing to do anything to have it. She can’t stop herself from falling head over heels for him, but can they have a real relationship when everything between them is based off a lie?

Follow is a fantastically sexy romance I devoured in a few short hours. Tessa Bailey is the kind of author I drop everything to read, because she never lets me down! This newest release is chock-full of the dirty talk she is known for – Will’s dirty talk is scorching. But besides the fiery chemistry, I really did enjoy the characters and story – it’s intense, exciting, and had me on the edge of my seat. If you’ve ever wanted a romance about a gorgeous guy who Instagrams about his cross-country adventures with his dog, you need Follow 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 Follow! ❤

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“Here we are.”

My face heats over being caught even imagining such things. We’re at my door and I have no recollection of entering the motel. Come on, Teresa. Stop letting this guy get to you so bad. “Right.” I fish for the key card in my pocket, but cease all movement when Will brushes his fingertips down my arm, then trails them back up. Slow. And all the while, he invades my space, eliminating inches at such a leisurely pace that I’m panting by the time our mouths are a breath apart.

“What are you going to do when I close this door behind you, Teresa?” He grazes my bottom lip with his teeth, making me gasp. “You going to get undressed in front of the air conditioner, thinking it might cool you down after teasing my cock for over an hour in the bar? It won’t. I give you five minutes before you’re face down in bed, riding your own fingers.”

My knees threaten to buckle. “That’s my business.”

“Make it mine.”

Mayday. Mayday. “Will—”

He stops my admonishment with a drugging kiss, his tongue stroking in and out of my mouth. His hands grip my elbows, lifting me up on my toes in desperate degrees, meshing our bodies, our lips, until I’m moaning, letting him have rough intercourse with my mouth. Just when I’m on the verge of giving in and begging him to take me up against the door, he steps back, eyes glittering, wiping away the moisture on his mouth with a wrist swipe. “I’ll be out on the balcony. If you’re going to finger yourself in my honor, I want to listen.”


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Blog Tour + Early Review, Top 5 List, Excerpt & Giveaway: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Desire, the final Maiden Lane book by Elizabeth Hoyt, is releasing tomorrow!
Check out my review, a Top 5 list, plus a fantastic giveaway below!

Top 5 Perks of Being a Duke

  1. Dukes outrank everyone else in the British aristocracy except royalty. Dukes (and actually other ranked aristocrats) can wear coronets (basically a crown without jewels) at specific occasions.
  2. Everyone calls you “Your Grace.”
  3. Lots and lots of money and land, including multiple castles and manors.
  4. Boatloads of titles. Dukes usually have several smaller titles as well.
  5. A duke does what a duke wants.

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #12 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 17th 2017
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A LADY OF LIGHT
Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and-nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS
Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER…AND DESIRE
Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involes herself in his life—and bed. Soon he’s drawn to both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N • iBooks • Google Play • Kobo • IndieBound

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It’s always bittersweet for a series to end. To be honest, I hadn’t realized Duke of Desire was the final Maiden Lane novel until halfway through the book! Thankfully, I haven’t actually read every Maiden Lane book, so it’s not quite over for me yet, but for those who’ve caught up, it’s an exciting, action-packed finale to an incredible historical romance series.

When Iris Jordan attends the Duke of Kyle’s wedding to the love of his life, she has no idea that on her way home she’d be assaulted and kidnapped by the evil Lords of Chaos, who think mistakenly think she’s the Duke of Kyle’s bride. She’s about to be raped by them when one of the Lords saves her and takes her away… not that she knows he’s trying to save her. He’s just as masked – and naked – as the rest of them, so when she has the chance to save herself, she takes it – by shooting him. Oops?

Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, runs into a complication while on his revenge against the Lords of Chaos. He very nearly dies for the woman he’s trying to save, but luckily he survives and marries her to further protect her from the Lords. It’s a marriage of convenience, to say the least. But Iris is determined to make this marriage a real one, in bed and out of it. But Raphael has a dark, painful past that he doesn’t want Iris tainted with. Can Iris break down his walls and offer him the love and light that he very much wants to take?

I enjoyed Raphael and Iris’s story, though I do wish there could’ve been more romance. Duke of Desire felt more about Raphael’s quest to destroy the Lords of Chaos, and not enough on the love story. I admired these two characters, Iris for never giving up on her husband and Raphael for learning to overcome his past. Theirs is a sweet and slow romance – I only wish we could’ve gotten just as much romance as there was action. Still, the Lords drama will have you hooked and anxious to see how it all ends!

Though Duke of Desire is technically the final full-length novel in the Maiden Lane series, we still have two more novellas that will release before the year is up. I’m excited to see what Elizabeth Hoyt has in store for us, both Maiden Lane and non-Maiden Lane related!

4 hearts
lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from Duke of Desire! ❤

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Desperately she flung herself at the opposite seat and tugged it up. Thrust her hand in.

A pistol.

She cocked it, desperately praying that it was loaded.

She turned and aimed it at the door to the carriage just as the door swung open.

The Wolf loomed in the doorway—still nude—a lantern in one hand. She saw the eyes behind the mask flick to the pistol she held between her bound hands. He turned his head and said something in an incomprehensible language to someone outside.

Iris felt her breath sawing in and out of her chest.

He climbed into the carriage and closed the door, completely ignoring her and the pistol pointed at him. The Wolf hung the lantern on a hook and sat on the seat across from her.

Finally he glanced at her. “Put that down.”

His voice was calm. Quiet.

With just a hint of menace.

She backed into the opposite corner, as far away from him as possible, holding the pistol up. Level with his chest. Her heart was pounding so hard it nearly deafened her. “No.”

The carriage jolted into motion, making her stumble before she caught herself.

“T-tell them to stop the carriage,” she said, stuttering with terror despite her resolve. “Let me go now.”

“So that they can rape you to death out there?” He tilted his head to indicate the Lords. “No.”

“At the next village, then.”

“I think not.”

He reached for her and she knew she had no choice.

She shot him.

The blast blew him into the seat and threw her hands up and back, the pistol narrowly missing her nose.

Iris scrambled to her feet. The bullet was gone, but she could still use the pistol as a bludgeon.

The Wolf was sprawled across the seat, blood streaming from a gaping hole in his right shoulder. His mask had been knocked askew on his face.

She reached forward and snatched it off.

And then gasped.

The face that was revealed had once been as beautiful as an angel’s but was now horribly mutilated. A livid red scar ran from just below his hairline on the right side of his face, bisecting the eyebrow, somehow missing the eye itself but gouging a furrow into the lean cheek and catching the edge of his upper lip, making it twist. The scar ended in a missing divot of flesh in the line of the man’s severe jaw. He had inky black hair and, though they were closed now, Iris knew he had emotionless crystal-gray eyes.

She knew because she recognized him.

He was Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, and when she’d danced with him—once—three months ago at a ball, she’d thought he’d looked like Hades.

God of the underworld.

God of the dead.

She had no reason to change her opinion now.

Then he gasped, those frozen crystal eyes opened, and he glared at her. “You idiot woman. I’m trying to save you.”

Reading Order: Maiden Lane series

  
   
   
  

#1 ~ Wicked Intentions: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Notorious Pleasures: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Scandalous Desires: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Thief of Shadows: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Lord of Darkness: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Duke of Midnight: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Darling Beast: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#8 ~ Dearest Rogue: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#9 ~ Sweetest Scoundrel: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#10 ~ Duke of Sin: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#10.5 ~ Once Upon a Moonlit Night: My Review • Ebook • AudibleGoodreads
#11 ~ Duke of Pleasure: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#12 ~ Duke of Desire: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads (Oct. 17, 2017)
#12.5 ~ Once Upon a Maiden Lane: Ebook • Goodreads (Nov. 14, 2017)
#12.6 ~ Once Upon a Christmas Eve: EbookGoodreads (Dec. 5, 2017)

about the author button

Elizabeth HoytElizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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Release Day Review: The Emperor of Evening Stars by Laura Thalassa

The Emperor of Evening Stars by Laura Thalassa
Series: The Bargainer #2.5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 15th 2017
Links: EbookGoodreads

In the beginning, there was darkness.
Before he met Callie, before he became the Bargainer, there was Desmond Flynn, the bastard son of a scribe. A boy born to a weak mother, cursed with little magic, and destined to marry a slave.

But fate had something else in mind.

Till darkness dies.
From the barren caves of Arestys to the palace of Somnia to the streets of earth, this is how Desmond Flynn, a fairy who began with nothing, became the Emperor of Evening Stars.

***This is a roughly 200 page novella told from Desmond Flynn’s perspective.***

“Love costs even more than power, even more than revenge or hate.”

Laura Thalassa has given me exactly what I didn’t know I needed in the Bargainer series. I have loved Callie and Desmond and their story from the very first page, but after reading The Emperor of Evening Stars, I’ve come to love them even more – Des especially. This novella (which is a pretty decent length) is told entirely in Des’s POV, from his very beginnings in the Caverns of Arestys, to his rise in becoming the King of Night, and finally, his love story with his soulmate. If you’re a fan of the series, this companion novella is a must read.

I loved everything about this novella. We learn about Des’s past, which is heartbreaking, and about his quest for revenge against his father. But what I was really dying for was the moment Des would meet Callie, his soulmate and love of his life. When he first learns that his soulmate is human – mortal – he is appalled and not too keen on her. But after experiencing loss after loss, he realizes that he’ll do anything to find the woman who will stand by him and love him. So he does.

I swear to the Undying Gods that once I’m able to, I will scour the earth for me soulmate. I’ll put my past behind me and focus on the future. And when I find her—if I find her—I won’t waste time fearing what others will think. I’ll cherish her, respect her, love her.
For all the days of her mortal life, I’ll claim her as mine.

Getting Des’s POV about his first meeting with Callie, how he fell in love with her, how he withstood being without her, was perfect. If you didn’t love him in the first two books, you will definitely fall head over heels in love with him in his novella. He has been such an enigmatic character throughout the series in Callie’s POV, but we get so much insight in how he thinks and feels. The wait for the third and final Bargainer has gotten just the tiniest bit easier thanks to this novella. And I’m hoping we get a few more chapters in Des’s POV in Dark Harmony!

Can’t she tell that she brings me to my knees? Morning, evening, and night, she’s always right there in every beat of my heart. That sweet voice of hers sings through my veins. It calls to me across worlds. Everything she is, is mine, and everything I am is hers. Always.


lacey

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


Reading Order: The Bargainer series

  

#1 ~ Rhapsodic: My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ A Strange Hymn: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ The Emperor of Evening Stars: EbookGoodreads


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