Review: The One That Got Away by Karina Halle

The One That Got Away by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: September 20th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Ruby Turner was never meant to be mine.

When I first met her she was a fresh, young American sports journalist trying to find her footing in a new life abroad. She was the one interviewing me for an article, yet I wanted to know more about her. She captivated me.

But she went home with Marco that night.
My agent.
My brother.

And I did what I could to pretend I was fine with it. After all, I’m Luciano Ribeiro. As the captain of Real Madrid, and Portugal’s National Team, it’s my job to be cool, calm, and collected, not easily rattled.

Only what I felt for Ruby over time, shook me to my very core. It made me do things I never imagined I would do.
It started with a stolen kiss in the middle of the night.
It led to a passionate tryst.
It created a burden of guilt that I had to carry, as Ruby came in and out of my life until she left for good, leaving her mark on me.

Now, seven years later, she’s back.
She was the one that got away.
I don’t think I’ll let her go this time.
But I might not have a choice.
Because my heart still belongs to her.
And her heart might belong to my brother.

I’ve been wanting a book for Luciano since he was first introduced in The Forbidden Man. We knew he’d loved and lost, and now we finally get his second chance romance in The One That Got Away. And even though he’s a spinoff character, this book still holds perfectly fine as a standalone, so if you’re in the mood for an angsty, second chance, soccer romance, you’ll want to give Luciano and Ruby’s book a try!

Seven years ago, Ruby and Luciano first met when Ruby arrived in Europe to create a new life for herself, starting with interviewing soccer players for her fledgling blog. With her luck, she gets five minutes with rising star Luciano Ribeiro, and they feel a connection from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, Ruby has already accepted a date with Luciano’s brother/agent Marco right before their meeting. So Luciano steps aside, even though he knows that Ruby should be with him, and their angsty, years-long romance begins.

Going into this, I expected a second chance romance that starts during the present day. So I was surprised when we start the book seven years ago and when our main characters first meet and fall in (forbidden) love. This did change up the dynamics for me and made it feel less like a second chance romance and more like any normal romance, albeit still a little forbidden and soccer related. Ruby is an interesting heroine – she begins the book doing something I would never have the guts to do, which is leave everything and everyone behind to start a new life in a completely different country. For that, I admired her, but I do have to say I grew frustrated with her reasons for not being with Luciano. I was hurting for these two but also wanted them to get over themselves and get back together.

It’s very much an up and down kind of emotional roller coaster with The One That Got Away. I COULD NOT put this book down – I finished it in a day, needing to know how the romance finally works out. If you love romances with a ton of push and pull, you’ll enjoy Ruby and Luciano. And if you loved some of Karina Halle’s past romance like Love, in English and The Forbidden Man, we get some lovely cameos with our favorite couples!


lacey


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Review: One Hot Italian Summer by Karina Halle

One Hot Italian Summer by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: July 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

An author finds inspiration in Tuscany in the form of a hot Italian single dad…
This summer is going to be a scorcher.

A writer who’s blocked–I’m a total cliche.

Lucky for me, my agent has a cure that’s an even bigger stereotype–a month at her villa in Tuscany, with nothing to do but find my muse.

When he walks right in the front door, adorable son in tow, it feels like fate has finally done for me what it does for every other cliche’d girl I’ve seen in the movies. Except that he’s completely off-limits. In this case, business and pleasure can never mix.

Because Claudio is my agent’s ex.

Still, he’s smart, charming, and wickedly sexy, plus a great father to Vanni. He’s fast becoming the cure to all my writing woes. And it’s clear he wants me as much as I want him.

As the hot Italian summer wears on, it becomes harder and harder to resist. Succumbing to the heat even just one time could ruin my career.

Or he could be exactly what I need.

Holy. SWOOOON!!! One Hot Italian Summer was pure romance heaven and I loved it! Karina Halle has been killing it with her recent releases and this latest one is now a new favorite of mine. You will 100% get swept off your feet and wish you were in Italy once you read Grace and Claudio’s romance. It’s feel-good, steamy, and so sweet, I couldn’t help but adore every moment I read it.

Grace used to be one half of an author duo, but after the death of her writing partner, she’s feeling adrift and experiencing writer’s block. Her new agent offers a solution: Grace will take a much needed vacation from Scotland and stay in her agent’s villa in the Italian countryside. It’s perfect… until she finds herself naked (so she can take a dip in the pool) in front of a gorgeous stranger and his son. Turns out, Claudio and Vanni are Grace’s agent’s ex-husband and son, and all three of them will be staying in the Tuscany villa together for the time being.

Grace and Claudio have SO much tension between them from the get-go. You can clearly tell how much they want each other but are trying so hard not to act on their lust and chemistry, not just because of Vanni but also his mother. But there’s nothing more romantic than spending time together in the Italian countryside, where the sun is shining, the food is decadent, and the hero is a hunk, a sculptor (there’s a pottery scene a la Ghost), and can speak to you (dirty) in Italian. These two fall and they fall hard. It’s actually Claudio that dives in headfirst regarding the romance, and I loved that so much. He knows Grace is The One for him and will do anything to make her fall in love with him.

This book is the definition of the heart-eyes emoji. Grace is a lovely, relatable heroine, Claudio is swoony and sweet, even Vanni is hilarious and adorable! Karina Halle always writes such incredible romances that take place around the world, and this time she had me wishing I could live in Tuscany… and fall in love with a gorgeous Italian single dad. If you’re looking for the perfect summer romance, look no further than One Hot Italian Summer.


lacey


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Review: Lovewrecked by Karina Halle

Lovewrecked by Karina Halle
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 25th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

What happens when you take a grumpy yet oh-so sexy groomsman, add a cheerful maid-of-honor that gets under his skin, and strand them on a deserted island together? Lovewrecked is the sexiest, funniest, sweetest romantic comedy of the year, from the NYT bestselling author of The Pact and A Nordic King

Daisy Lewis is experiencing a relentless string of bad luck.

Fortunately, Daisy has her sister’s destination wedding coming up. A week of sand, sea, and sun in the South Pacific as the maid-of-honor is exactly what Daisy needs to forget her upturned life and focus on the positive.

That is until Daisy meets the best man.

If you take tall, dark, and handsome, and add a dash of rugged, a pinch of brooding, and a whole lot of sexy, you’ve got Tai Wakefield. Unfortunately he’s also a major grump, total alpha, and seemingly out to antagonize Daisy at every turn.

As if being part of the wedding party with Tai wasn’t bad enough, Daisy’s bad luck soon resurfaces when she ends up on a cramped sailboat with Tai and the newlyweds.

Which then shipwrecks on a deserted island near Fiji.

Okay, so they aren’t completely alone. There’s an oddball research scientist who has been isolated for far too long, they have rundown bungalows as shelter, stores of water and canned food, plus a feral goat named Wilson.

It’s Lost…without the smoke monster.

But with rescue weeks away, Tai and Daisy realize the only way they’re going to get through this mess is to stop fighting and start working together.

And with their guards down, they get closer.

A lot closer.

Soon, Daisy realizes that the only thing worse than being stuck on a deserted island, is being stuck on a deserted island with a man she hates to love and loves to hate.

A man that can break her heart.

If you ever wanted to read a rom-com about getting shipwrecked and stuck on a deserted island, and NOT have to worry about anyone dying on that deserted island, Lovewrecked is your book! This was a hilarious, low angst/drama, entertaining romance that I highly recommend.

I’ll admit, if you ever show me a romance with the grumpy hero + sunshine heroine trope, I will read it 99% of the time. This trope just always gets to me! I love the dynamic and Karina Halle writes it wonderfully in Tai and Daisy’s relationship. They get off on the wrong foot from the very second Daisy lands in New Zealand and it only gets better when they get themselves into trouble (along with Daisy’s sister and her new husband) by getting shipwrecked on their way to Fiji and forced on an island together.

I had a grin on my face pretty much the entire time I read Lovewrecked. Daisy and Tai are so funny and charming together, and once the romance picked up, I was swooning! There were times when I genuinely laughed out land over the craziness everyone gets up to while stranded on the island (like a certain someone using some poisonous leaves when there’s no toilet paper around). This book was truly a blast to read and I already can’t wait for another rom-com from Karina Halle!


lacey


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Release Day Review: Dirty Souls by Karina Halle

Dirty Souls by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 20th 2017
Links: EbookGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes DIRTY SOULS the much-anticipated, nail-biting CONCLUSION to the sexy and thrilling Black Hearts…”

Violet McQueen has always been a sensitive soul. Troubled and misunderstood, she never realized her place in the world, nor her true potential…until she met Vicente Bernal.

From birth, Vicente Bernal has always known his place in the world – he’s been groomed to be a ruthless king. Yet for a man whose soul has become morally bankrupt, it’s only through Violet he’s realizing the worth of someone’s heart.

But at what cost?

With a deadly game set in motion taking them from the stark deserts of California to the steamy jungles of Mexico, Violet and Vicente’s forbidden relationship will be put to the test. Boundaries will be pushed, lines will be crossed and souls will get very, very dirty.

Because how do you choose between blood and love when both might get you killed?

After the slightly disappointing first book in the Sins Duet, I was hoping that Dirty Souls would make up for what I didn’t feel in Black Hearts by actually making me grow invested in Vicente and Violet’s star-crossed romance. It didn’t, BUT I will say it was a hell of a conclusion to the McQueens’ and Bernals’ story. It’s nonstop action and insanely hot, filthy sex. It’s a no-holds-barred kind of read, which I admired. If you loved Black Hearts, you will most likely love Dirty Souls just as much!

I need to figure out how to keep this forever. Her, me, the open desert. I don’t fucking need anything else. I may be young but I know enough that sometimes you don’t need the world. You just need that one person to rule the world with.

Violet and Vicente are on the run from their parents. Violet has found out that her whole life and family has been a lie, and Vicente is trying to protect her from the people who want to harm her – his father and his men. But try as they might to make their world just the two of them, reality comes crashing down and both are taken by Javier to Mexico. Can Vicente and Violet’s love withstand the test of time, or will Javier succeed in breaking the both of them?

I love her with my dark and dangerous heart. I love her with my wicked and dirty soul.
I love her enough to raze the world around me to the very ground, just so we can be together.

I enjoyed Vicente and Violet’s characters more in this sequel, mainly because they didn’t feel as naive as they did in the first book. I loved the way they were around each other, but I have to admit I started skimming the sex scenes when I was deeper in the story because, even though they were hot, they started to feel like filler. Still, Karina Halle knows how to write erotic scenes filled with chemistry, but I just grew a little tired of them when there seemed to be too many scenes of them.

We get a lot more of Ellie and Javier’s POVs in this book. I liked the contrast between them and their children, the fact that their children are what they could have been if it weren’t for the lies. But then the book felt like it was focused too much on the parents’ past and story rather than Violet and Vicente’s, which was what I really wanted. That’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t love this series more, because I really wanted more of the main characters rather than their parents. But it was still nice to see beloved characters again, even if one of them (*cough* Javier) become a little unlikable.

The Sins Duet might not be a favorite of mine from Karina Halle, but it’s a dark, gritty read that had me on the edge of my seat. It was a crazy, intense ride, and while I didn’t love it, I’m still glad to have read it. If you love the author, you should definitely check this series out – especially if you love the Artists Trilogy or Dirty Angels series!


lacey

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


Reading Order: Sins Duet series

 

#1 ~ Black Hearts: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Souls: EbookGoodreads

The Sins Duet is a standalone spinoff series of The Artists Trilogy and the Dirty Angels series. Here are the reading orders for both series (which you don’t need to read before starting Black Hearts).

Reading Order: The Artists Trilogy

   

#0.5 ~ On Every Street: EbookAudible • Goodreads
#1 ~ Sins & Needles: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Shooting Scars: My Review •  EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Bold Tricks: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Dirty Angels series

Dirty Angels by Karina Halle Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle Dirty Promises by Karina Halle

#1 ~ Dirty Angels: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Deeds: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Dirty Promises: EbookPaperback • Goodreads


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Review: Black Hearts by Karina Halle

Black Hearts by Karina Halle
Series: Sins Duet #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 19th 2017
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

I wasn’t supposed to know about her. I never should have found her. And I sure as hell shouldn’t have taken her…

From a New York Times bestselling author comes a BRAND NEW smoldering romantic suspense that will get your pulse racing, your thighs clenching and the pages turning.

For Vicente Bernal, truth is all he’s known. The son of an infamous drug lord, Vicente was born to help run the family business, which means he’s been raised on a throne of sordid pasts and dirty laundry, violence and pride. But when Vicente stumbles across someone he’s not supposed to know about – a woman from his father’s checkered past – he sets out to California to find her behind his father’s back.

What Vicente doesn’t expect to find in San Francisco is Violet McQueen, the woman’s twenty-year old daughter. Beautiful and edgy with a vulnerability he can’t resist, Violet tempts Vicente from afar and though he promised himself he’d stay away from her, curiosity and lust are powerful forces. Besides, Vicente has always gotten everything he wants – why shouldn’t he have Violet too?

Soon his wants turn into a sexual obsession, one that sweeps Violet into his games as they fall madly, deeply in love with each other, the type of first love that can drive a person mad.

In a world of hot sex, raw love and damaging lies, these forbidden and star-crossed lovers are going to have to fight tooth and nail for their happy ending.

Our families would die before they ever let us be together.

I was SO excited when I heard that Karina Halle would be writing this series. I was a huge fan of the Artists Trilogy when it first came out, and though I still haven’t read the Dirty Angels series, it’s been on my tbr because of none other than Javier! Now we finally get Ellie and Camden’s, and Javier and Luisa’s children’s story. This is a star-crossed lovers romance like no other. Violet McQueen’s mother and Vicente Bernal’s father were lovers turned enemies, and now their children get the chance at a love that could have been.

Vicente Bernal has known his drug lord father to be the ruthless, dangerous, insane, almost-cruel man he’s been all his life. But when he finds letters written by his father from a time when he was actually sane and possibly with a heart, he’s determined to find the woman who brought out the man Javier Bernal used to be – Ellie Watt, now Ellie McQueen. When he arrives in America with a fake identity, Vicente isn’t sure of the path that will get him to Ellie, but when her daughter, Violet, appears in front of him, it seems as if fate was deciding which path he should take.

“You’re everything I’ve ever needed,” he says through a lustful groan. He bites his lip, the corded muscles of his neck straining. “I was famished, starved, for you. For this.”

Violet McQueen doesn’t know why, but she’s always felt like her family was just a little bit… off. Her parents are hiding something, and when she finds out about a grandfather who was supposed to be dead her whole life had died only recently, she sets out to uncover the lies told by her parents. Along the way she meets the gorgeous, mysterious Vicente – the passion and lust between them is fierce, and it isn’t long before she finds herself falling and trusting him. But what will happen when she finds out that another person she loves has been lying to her?

“You’re mine, Violet,” I murmur roughly against her mouth, my fingers pressing into her cheekbones. “I don’t care how that sounds, but it’s all truth. You belong to me.”

I had high expectations for Black Hearts, but it fell a little flatter than I expected. I never connected with either of the main characters – Violet was too naive and trusting and Vicente felt wishy washy and immature. I never really BELIEVED in the love that grew between them. It seemed like one minute they were in lust and the next minute they were in love. I get that they were in moments of action so it would be hard for them to have any down time, but I would’ve liked to see the romance bloom more genuinely. I actually started disliking the parents too, which was a disappointment because I loved them in their own books. Much of the book was just a little too boring and aggravating, and I just couldn’t find it in myself to care that much about all the problems going on in the book. However, these feelings could entirely be just me, so if you were a fan of either of the original series, please don’t let this review stop you from giving Black hearts and the Sins Duet a try! Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did!


lacey

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


Reading Order: Sins Duet series

 

#1 ~ Black Hearts: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Souls: My Review • EbookGoodreads

The Sins Duet is a standalone spinoff series of The Artists Trilogy and the Dirty Angels series. Here are the reading orders for both series (which you don’t need to read before starting Black Hearts).

Reading Order: The Artists Trilogy

   

#0.5 ~ On Every Street: EbookAudible • Goodreads
#1 ~ Sins & Needles: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Shooting Scars: My Review •  EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Bold Tricks: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

Reading Order: Dirty Angels series

Dirty Angels by Karina Halle Dirty Deeds by Karina Halle Dirty Promises by Karina Halle

#1 ~ Dirty Angels: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Dirty Deeds: EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#3 ~ Dirty Promises: EbookPaperback • Goodreads


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