SEMPRE Forever By J.M. Darhower

teardropsOnly 15% into this book and I found myself sobbing, having to put the book down and walk out of the room.  Emotionally charged doesn’t even begin to describe this story.  

Sempre Forever

SEMPRE forever

By J.M. Darhower

★★★★★

The Definition of Freedom: 1. The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial. 2. Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. 3. The power to determine action without restraint. 4. Political or national independence. 5. Personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery”
– Dictionary.com

Born into slavery Haven Antonelli has never known anything other than horror and pain.  Living on a desert ranch with her mother, taking care of her “Master” and his family, unsure if she’ll live another day hard work, abuse and fear are part of her everyday life.  At seventeen she has seen a world that most can’t even imagine and the last thing she ever expects to find is hope.

Carmine DeMarco is Mafia royalty.  While overcoming a tragic past that almost tore his family apart Carmine struggles to find someone to understand him and continues to let his pain and anger fuel his actions.  He knows his future will most likely be in following in his father’s footsteps when he turns 18, moving back to Chicago to join “La Famiglia”.

But then she happened. The girl who had never been able to call her life her own taught a boy who had the world at his fingertips exactly what it meant to live. He wasn’t alone anymore.” 

Haven and Carmine may have grew up under vastly different circumstances, both yearning to break free,  but now a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide.  Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.  While falling in love with each other may be easy a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them.

Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price—especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?

HummingbirdFlight_xlarge

Wow this book rally surprised me, I wasn’t prepared for it to throw me on the emotional rollercoaster I found myself on while reading it.  While a story of love there is so much more here.

Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be denied. It’s beautiful and messy,
cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is
irrevocably changed.”

Sempre is a complex story that in my opinion has the right balance of  “Character Emotional Development” plotlines or “Dramatic Action” plotlines. It isn’t a feel good romance or a fluffy mobster story.  This book is dark and at times disturbing.  There were characters in the book that I had a very hard time liking and finding redeeming qualities in, even when the motivation for their actions became clearer.

Carmine and Haven are both heartbreaking characters and I found myself questioning whether or not I would have been able to survive in their world.  Haven has a strength and a way of looking at life that I admired.  Carmine is willing to risk it all for Haven and in the end he does without hesitation.

“Ti amo, mia bella ragazza. Per sempre.”
“Sempre?” she asked.
Cracking a smile, he brushed his pointer finger softly across her lips. “Always and forever.”

 With such a complicated group of characters I felt an authenticity to the story that I appreciated.  While sad and upsetting this is still a must read.  If you love books with a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, if you loved The Godfather or Boardwalk Empire this is a story I am sure you will enjoy. Fair warning though, it is a longer book, over 500 pages so be prepared to spend some time on it.

Hummingbird

 

To find out more about Author J.M. Darhower:  www.jmdarhower.com  

 

Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully

By Penelope Douglas

★★★★

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all.

We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.

So I left.

I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.

But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down.

bossmustang

I am not sure how I feel about this book.  I have to be honest, I truly enjoyed reading it, it evoked so many different emotions from me I couldn’t put it down.  However I feel like I should not have found it as enjoyable as I did simply for the fact that the love story in this book is essentially between a bully and his victim.

This isn’t just a matter of miscommunication and misunderstandings between the two characters.  This isn’t the story of boy who simply teases  a girl and then they fall in love.  This is the story of a guy who comes home from spending the summer with his estranged father a completely different person.  His best friend, the girl next door has no clue why he now hates her.  They no longer spend time together or talk and if they do it’s him being a jerk to her.  Rumors are started at school, boys treat her like trash and most of the girls whisper behind her back.  She is the victim of pranks and public ridicule and has hardly any friends.

What makes it even worse is the fact that not only is he tormenting her but also his best friend Madoc, who doesn’t even know why he does it.  There are many times that Madoc goes above and beyond simple teasing and pranks and skirts into sexual harassment.  The upside of it is when Madoc does cross that line she seems to grow a backbone and makes it clear it’s not acceptable (between a broken nose and a good swift kick to his manhood) she at least is not a complete pushover.

Tate finally standing up for herself makes her feel as if she is turning into a bully herself, I am sorry but I totally disagreed with her.  I was glad she stood up for herself, even when it got a little physical because frankly it needed to be done.  People needed to see she was not some weak, pitiful, lesser individual.  I actually thought there were times when she should have been even tougher and not backed down.

As for finding out the reasons behind the bullying I am not sure that it was enough to justify or excuse it in my book.  I couldn’t really understand where Jared was coming from in that regard but it didn’t necessarily take away from the book.  I still found myself completely immersed in it and I am definitely anxious to read the next one and see it from Jared’s POV.  I think it will give me a better idea of why Jared chose to Bully Tate in the way he did.  After reading the first chapter on the authors Goodreads page I am anxious for the next book.

bossmustang

 

To find out more about author Penelope Douglas check out her Facebook page here.

 

To purchase a copy of Bully at: ➸ Amazon

 

Parting Shot by Mary Calmes

As a huge fan of Mary Calmes and her Matter of Time series I was ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to check out her new book Parting Shot.  Parting Shot tells the story of Duncan Stiel and Aaron Sutter and I have to be honest, I loved it!  I’ll admit I wasn’t ready to let go of Sam and Jory when the final book was over but Duncan and Aaron had me just as invested and I ate their story up.

Parting Shot

 

Parting Shot

By Mary Calmes

★★★★1/2

Life has never been easy for Duncan Stiel. His childhood was the stuff of nightmares, and his day job as an undercover police officer forces him to hide his true self and occasionally lands him in the hospital. So when he finally meets the perfect man, it comes as no surprise that everything falls apart around him. What Duncan doesn’t expect is that the hardest hurdle to get over before he can make a life with Aaron Sutter is the one inside himself.

Everyone thinks Aaron has it all—looks, money, fame, and success beyond measure. Everyone, that is, except Aaron. At the end of the day, the cameras stop flashing, friends go back to their own lives, company business is handled, and Aaron is always alone. The moment he meets Duncan Stiel, Aaron knows he’ll do anything to hold onto the larger-than-life detective. But when he realizes money won’t buy him the ultimate happiness, Aaron needs to find the strength to give Duncan something much more important—his heart.

What was it that I liked so much about this story?  First it’s the fact that Ms. Calmes has a great voice, she has the ability to suck a reader in from the very first page and keep you going straight through til the end.  It isn’t the first time I have found myself devouring one of her books in one sitting.  I love the combination of a hot steamy romance along with a good plot.  This isn’t just about sex, there is actually a story going on with a couple of twists and turns and a lot of laughs.

We only got brief glimpses of Duncan in earlier books (Acrobat and But For You) but now we get to see who he really is and what makes him tick.  From the little we learned of him in Acrobat I couldn’t stand him, in But For You I was intrigued but in Parting Shot I really liked him.  I wish we could actually have seen more interaction with him and Sam Kage but I was just happy that Sam made a brief appearance in the book.

We’ve seen a bit of Aaron Sutter throughout the Matter of Time books and I have never cared for him.  Even in But For You when he was being somewhat redeemable I didn’t feel any connection towards him.  Parting Shot completely changed my opinion of him.  I fell in love with Aaron and definitely found myself understanding him better.

Duncan and Aaron make a great pair and I loved seeing them together, they balanced each other nicely.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more from Duncan and Aaron in the future and I am very interested in seeing where they go from here.  If you are a fan of the Matter of Time series you definitely need to check out this book.

I love Mary Calmes and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Tie

For more about author Mary Calmes check out her website  here.

To purchase a copy of Parting Shot at: | ➸Amazon  |➸Barnes and Noble |➸Dreamspinner Press

Dare You To (Pushing The Limits #2)

Dare You To
By Kate McGarry
★★★★

It all started with a dare!

When I got the opportunity to read this book I was super excited.  Pushing the Limits, the first book in this series was one of my favorite books in 2012.  I loved not only the story but the characters as well and I was very anxious to see more of them.  Dare You  To which is Beth’s story did not disappoint me.  Just like the first one it was intense and emotional and completely engrossing.  I stayed up all night to read it.

Ryan Stone

 On the outside Ryan Stone is perfect.  Smart, hot and a baseball superstar.  He has the perfect family and the entire town looks up to them. On the inside Ryan is feeling anything but perfect, his family is falling apart and he can’t let anyone see.
Beth Risk
 

Beth Risk has spent most of her young life taking care of her drunk mother and feeling guilty for her father abandoning them.  After her mother’s boyfriend almost kills Beth she goes to live with her Aunt yet she still can’t stop taking care of her mother, if she didn’t who would?  Unfortunately one night dragging her mom out of a local bar she runs into trouble and her only help is from her Uncle she hasn’t seen since she was little.

Moving to a small town to live with an uncle who all but abandoned her, his wife who makes it no secret she doesn’t want her there and leaving behind Isiah her best friend, Beth is determined she will find a way back home and to her mom.  To make matters worse no she has come face to face with the Jock that attempted to get her phone number at Taco Bell, a guy she wants nothing to do with, Ryan is too perfect for her.Beth made Ryan lose a dare, Ryan never loses.   Now she is going to be going to the same school as him and maybe he can win the dare after all.  All he has to do is convince Beth to give him the time of day and her phone number.  If only Beth could stop hating him.  There’s something about Beth he can’t help liking, she’s real and says what she thinks, something he’s not use to.

What started as a dare becomes a lot more when Ryan realizes that he may actually really like Beth and wants something more with her, now he just has to get her to see him as more that just a cocky Jock.   Knocking down Beth’s walls isn’t going to be easy, she has way to much baggage and is determined not to stick around.  But the more time Beth and Ryan spend together the more they realize that they bring out the best in each other.

goodbye

To me this is a book about being free to be yourself and essentially being allowed to be a kid, having your whole life ahead of you with endless possibilities. It’s about discovering what you want and having the courage to go after it no matter what others tell you.  This is a story about trust, about strength and about love.

This is one of those stories where I find myself thinking about it even after I’m done reading it.  Days later and I found myself thinking about how I would like to know what happened to them later on in their lives.  I always know a great book when it sits with me long after I have put it down.  Now I am anxiously awaiting for the third book, Isiah’s story, I hope we also get a look  at how Beth is doing and of course Noah and Echo from Pushing The Limits.

* Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with this ARC for honest review.

Woo Hoo It’s Here! Walking Disaster

Walking Disaster

Walking Disaster
By Jamie McGuire
★★★★★

“Our story might have been typical: Bad boy falls for good girl, but Abby was no princess. She was hiding something.”

If you have read Beautiful Disaster (If not I highly recommend it to get the full understanding of the story) then you know how they met, how they became friends and how they fell in love.  Abby told us all but now it’s time for Travis to tell us.  It’s his story now…

Travis Maddox is not only the quintessential Bad boy, he’s practically a legend. He’s slept with half of the female population at Eastern.  He rides a Harley and fights in underground arenas for money.  Everything about him screams heartbreak.

Abby Abernathy is all Good girl on the outside, fresh out of Kansas.  But Travis can tell from the minute he sees her in her cardigan and pearls that this girl is a lot more underneath it all.  She has an attitude and she’s a lot tougher than most would think.

Unlike most girls that meet Travis she has absolutely no desire to sleep with him.  What first is seen as a challenge by Travis quickly becomes a lot more.  Travis needs Abby to stick around, he’s never wanted to be friends with a girl before but with Abby he finally sees how important it is for her to be in his life. The more time he spends with her the more he falls for her.

“I decided a long time ago I would feed on the vultures until a dove came along.  A pigeon.  The kind of soul that didn’t impede on anyone; just walked around worrying about it’s own business, trying to get through life without pulling everyone else down with its own needs and selfish habits.  Brave.  A communicator.  Intelligent.  Beautiful.  Soft-spoken.  A creature that mates for life.  Unattainable until she has reason to trust you.” – Travis

Abby however can’t let herself think of Travis as more than a friend.  She has come to Eastern to get away from her old life.  She wants nothing to do with the one guy that reminds her too much of her past.  But no matter how hard Abby tries to keep things in the “just friends” category between her and Travis she can’t deny the pull she feels towards him.  

“…The fighting, the gambling, the drinking…it’s what I left behind.  When I’m around you it’s all right there for me in an irresistible, tattooed package.  I didn’t move hundreds of miles away to live it all over again.” -Abby

Travis can’t stop trying to get closer to Abby even if he knows she’s too good for  him.  No matter how hard he tries he can’t live without her, she makes him a better person.  No one can understand it but everyone can see the changes since Abby has come into Travis’s life.  If only Travis could prove to Abby that they belong together.

First they will have to get past his reputation and then they will have to face Abby’s past.

“When we first met, something inside both of us had changed, and whatever that was, it made us need each other.  For reasons unknown to me, I was his exception, and as much as i had tried to fight my feelings, he was mine.” -Abby (From Beautiful Disaster)


I am going to be honest, I thinks I did a 5 minute happy dance when I received a copy of this book.

I haven’t been this anxious to read a book in I have no idea how long so it completely made my day.  As a huge fan of the first one I was almost desperate to get my hands on this one and I was not at all disappointed.

Getting inside the mind of Travis Maddox was a great way to really get an understanding for the story.  There have been a lot of people out there that have questioned whether or not this book was an example of glorifying a destructive relationship. Although I never looked at it that way I have to admit that I could see why certain people may have thought that way.  This story is not all hearts and roses, the characters are not without faults and their relationship had been volatile and tumultuous from the get go.  However with this look into Travis a lot more of the reasons for his behavior are explained and we are able to see that he is slowly yet steadily changing, maturing and learning as they go along.

This book is a great followup to Beautiful Disaster.  Each book essentially tells us the same story however in each unique voice we get something new and exciting.  I am a huge fan of Jamie McGuire and Beautiful Disaster has been one of my favorite books, now Walking Disaster has been placed on that list as well.

Jamie McGuire is an excellent author with a great voice. This is the type of book you can read over and over and never grow tired of. I’ve read beautiful Disaster at least a dozen times and am always able to get something different out of it and I am confident that it will be the same with Walking Disaster.

*This ARC was provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Walking Disaster

Purchase Book Here

Atria Books

448 pages

ISBN 9781476712987

 April 2013

To find out more about this author visit her website: www.jamiemcguire.com

Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I Love This Book!

A lot of people are comparing Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster to Fifty Shades of Grey, the New Adult version. If that is what you are looking for I have to warn you the only things this book has in common with Fifty Shades is the unobtainable “Bad Boy” who falls hard for the “Good Girl”. Now this is not a new story, Good Girl/Bad Boy fall in love but it is a great story.

Abby Abernathy just wants a different life now that she’s not in Kansas anymore. In college she can start over without anyone knowing about her past, her father and Vegas. She’s a good girl and she wants a good guy.

Then Abby tags along with her best friend America and America’s boyfriend Shepley to an underground fight and comes face to face with the campus bad boy, Travis Maddox. He is everything she plans to avoid. He’s cocky, dangerous and a womanizer. The last thing she’s going to do is sleep with him.

Travis Maddox has never had a problem getting women, they throw themselves at him. When he meets Abby she turns his world upside down. For the first time in his life a woman doesn’t want anything to do with him and he can’t seem to stay away from her. Travis is determined to be friends with Abby, he has to be near her. Quickly the two form a friendship that has everyone talking.

When a bet between Abby and Travis leads Abby to living with Travis and his cousin Shepley they become even closer. Abby realizes there is a whole different side to Travis Maddox and Travis realizes Abby is the most important thing in his life. Too bad Abby only wants to be friends.


Original Comments on Goodreads 12/21/2011
Jaymie’s review Read Dec 21, 11 · edit
5 of 5 stars
bookshelves: ya, steamy-romance, love-bad-bad-boys, all-genre-favs
I own a copy, read count: 3

I know that this book should make me mad because Abby and Travis’ relationship is as the character Kara states a “disaster”. It’s really not all that healthy, the back and forth, the aggression etc… but the truth is I loved this book. I have read it a couple of times and it is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine.

Sex? ✓ Alcohol? ✓ Fighting? ✓ Gambling? ✓ A Smokin Hot Bad Boy? ✓✓✓
It’s College!

I am a fan of Jamie McGuire books!

 

 

Lush (Delicious #3)

As always Lauren Dane has made me wish it was possible to jump into the pages of her books and live in the world of her characters.  As soon as I saw Lush I knew I had to have it.  The opportunity to catch a glimpse of those wonderful and sexy Browns and their friends is something I just can not pass up.  Of course Lush is not actually part of the Brown Siblings series but a part of the spin-off series Delicious but it still shares the irresistible galaxy.  We have a great set of characters that we were introduced to in Never Enough (Brown Siblings #4) as well as our wonderful core characters from The Brown Siblings books.


Lush (Delicious #3)
By Lauren Dane
★★★★☆

Mary Whaley has her hands full running a successful catering company and overseeing her supper club. She has everything she ever wanted—or so she thought. When she meets ridiculously hot and very dirty rock star Damien Hurley at her friend’s engagement party, the attraction she feels is overpowering—and she isn’t about to deny herself.

Damien is used to a hard and fast life. He and two of his brothers started a band when they were fresh out of high school—then they hit the big time and stayed there. He’s also a legendary madman on the stage and in the bedroom. But when he meets Mary, something clicks, and the bad boy starts thinking he may have finally found something good.

What begins as a series of fleeting trysts soon gets much more complicated. Damien can’t figure out why Mary doesn’t want more from him. And before long, it’s Damien who wants more from Mary. But it turns out Mary is no stranger to celebrity news, and he’s got a very big job ahead of him: proving that he’s worth more than a one-night stand…


 

Lush is the perfect blend of Hot and Sweet!  It started off as the typical sexy story the author is so great at creating and then blended smoothly into a sweet romance.  Of course what is not to love about a “Bad Boy Rocker” who meets his match in a  independent woman who not only knows who to make him hot in the bedroom but also in the kitchen?  What’s the old saying, “The way to a mans heart is through his stomach”?   

I loved Mary but I have to admit it was Damien that I could not get enough of.   I actually found myself a little jealous of Mary, of course I’m jealous of most of the women in these stories.

All in all the combination of food and music, a sexy drummer and a sweet caterer is a definite winner in my opinion.

*ARC provided by NetGalley for honest review

The Brown Siblings