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PJV Quickie: 2015 has been a kind year for me reading-wise; I’ve really been lucky in the selection of books I’ve read so far and have stumbled upon some really excellent reads. The Deal is sitting high on that list – I didn’t want to put it down and when I finished reading I sat there with a goofy grin on my face, replaying the story in my head.
Hannah Wells is a Fine Arts major at Briar University. She’s shy and quiet; she has friends but doesn’t really go out or date – her focus is on school and work and the showcase she’s performing in as part of her major. When a hockey jock from her Philosophical Ethics (PhilEth) class starts bugging her to tutor him, she steadfastedly tells him she doesn’t have any extra time. Even though that’s true, it hasn’t stopped her from developing a crush on Justin Kohl, a football player who’s in her PhilEth class, but he doesn’t know she exists. It’s been a while since she’s had these kinds of feelings, though, and she’d kind of like for him to know she DOES exist – she could probably make some time for that.
Garrett Graham plays hockey at Briar University and signed up for a PhilEth class because it’s a notoriously easy course. The professor died right before the term started and the new professor is a hard-case who’s failing most of the class. Garrett needs to keep his grades up to play hockey and when he notices that she got an “A” on the exam, he decides he needs Hannah to tutor him. She’s immune to his charm and popularity, though, until he stumbles onto the fact that she’s got a crush on a football player in their class. Garrett’s solution: Hannah will tutor him in exchange for Garrett’s help getting Justin to notice her.
As they spend time together studying for the class, they start to realize that there might actually be a friendship growing between them, and maybe, something more…
(Trigger warning: There are some references to rape and domestic abuse that take place off-page)
I loved everything about this book, it was funny and sweet and sad and wonderful. How do I love The Deal? Let me count the ways:
- Swoony, smart-ass hockey player hero (I adore hockey-themed romance)
- A smart heroine who has a talent for music (instead of the hero!)
- New Adult (if you normally hate NA, don’t let that deter you here)
- Frenemies to Lovers (yesssss!)
- Angsty but not over-the-top (I love me some angst, but not when it’s ridiculous)
- Sigh-worthy ending (oh yes, I sighed)
When was the last time you got lost in a book? The Deal is the kind of book where you just fall in right from the first page and the next time you look up hours have passed. It’s a book full of sweet sighs and bursts of laughter and a little bit of sadness, and when you close the book, you realize you’ve momentarily forgotten where you are. The phrase “lost in a book” was coined for books exactly like The Deal: you are so deep into the story that it takes you a minute to find your way back to reality.
Ms. Kennedy’s writing is excellent and she writes the relationship to slowly grow and change through the story; it has a natural feel with some surprises (and good and bad). I was in from page one. Reading along as Hannah and Garrett’s relationship grows and changes is like having a secret that no one else knows, and the anticipation of waiting for everyone else to be in on that secret is palpable. These two are so right for each other and the overall flow of the story is slow and sweet.
It’s not all about Hannah and Garrett’s relationship, they’ve got other stuff going on independent of each other and their characters are distinct from one another. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it does. As far as the secondary characters, there are so many characters that I want to get their own stories! I love that “Wellsy” (he calls her “Wellsy” and it’s so adorable!) has a good support system; she has her fine arts crew that she hangs around with and he has his teammates, and they blend pretty well.
Before you think this book is all happiness and sunshine, there are some tough topics the author tackles – Hannah was raped as a teenager (not a spoiler as you learn this very early in), and there is also some domestic abuse happening in the story.
I should close this review with a warning: I haven’t been able to get into a book since I finished The Deal. I’m ruined!!!
First off, I’m going to recommend The Deal to anyone who reads Romance; it’s that good. If you liked The Hook-Up by Kristen Callihan, or Allison Parr’s New York Leopards series, you’ll like this.
If you missed your chance during our Flash Giveaway earlier this week, you might be in luck because Ms. Kennedy’s publicist has generously offered another e-copy of The Deal by Elle Kennedy for giveaway. Enter via rafflecopter below:
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At parajunkee.com we accept books in exchange for a review, we also use affiliate links for Amazon.
PJV Quickie: If you’ve been looking for that ‘Next Great Series’ and you want shapeshifters and vampires and a kick-ass heroine, look no further: J. C. Daniels’ Colbana Files is just what the book-doctor ordered, and Edged Blade is a fabulous installment to this ongoing series.
Kit Colbana is a half-human, half-aneira (kind of Amazonian) private investigator (and occasionally assassin-for-hire). Her BFF Justin (a witch) has come to her with concerns about missing witches. As their investigation intensifies, they realize it’s not just witches but other non-humans as well. Of course the mystery is bigger than they thought, and while Kit is willing to risk it all to save her friends, Damon is less enthusiastic about risking losing her again. To solve this case, she’s going to work with the vampires, and then things get even more complicated when one of missing is Damon’s ex-girlfriend, who disappeared while she was on her way to see Damon…
For those who don’t know, J. C. Daniels is actually Shiloh Walker. I did not know that when I picked up Book 1, Blade Song. I started reading J. C. Daniels’ Colbana Files in December 2014 (I’m late to the party, I know!), and I fell in love with this series. Other reviewers have noted a similarity to Kate Daniels, and while there are some similarities, the Colbana Files stand on their own merit. I devoured the first three books, back-to-back, in less than a week. And after the ending in Book 3, I had to get my hands on book 4, had to. I was not disappointed. There is a big underlying story arc is happening over a few books, so while there is a conclusion to the main part of the story, Kit’s still working on a much bigger end-game. So Edged Blade kind of felt like a ‘bridge’ book, but with essential plot, if that makes sense. The last page left me re-reading the last line, thinking “oh snap!”
J. C. Daniels writes great action, but she really writes the emotions of her characters really well, and that’s what keeps bringing me back. Kit’s still damaged from previous books, and parts of Edged Blade are painful to read, but there’s a hope, and a refusal to give up, that I really love about these books. The romance is not the main focus of this series, but it is an important part of Kit’s character growth; not that she needs a man to love her, but that because of her respect for him, she sees the good things in herself that he sees (if that makes sense). Note: if you’re in this series for the romance, you won’t be disappointed. Just sayin’…
I also love that Kit is loyal to her friends, and they are loyal to her. Her witchy bff Justin, and Damon’s nephew Doyle are two of my favorite characters and I’m hoping that as the series progresses we’ll be seeing much, much more from them.
I really think that fans of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series will enjoy J. C. Daniels’ Colbana Files. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series, I would not recommend starting with Edged Blade – start from Book 1, Blade Song, because this series is that good.
PJV Quickie: Wow! I took a chance on His Witness (I don’t normally start with the 4th book in a series) and was not disappointed. His Witness starts off strong and grabs your attention immediately. I had a few issues that I’ll discuss below, but I spent most of the book fascinated with the characters, especially the Hero’s mafia life.
All Melanie Ronaldo wanted was to go to college and have a normal life like her friends. Instead, she’s running her father’s club and working with the mafia. Her father’s restaurant business was failing and he made some bad decisions, now they can’t get out because the mafia uses the club. She hates when the guys come in and store their drugs and money.
Tommy O’Sullivan is a half-Irish, half-Italian mobster. He was taken in by Jack, the mafia boss, when he was younger, and he found that being the mob’s butcher (in more ways than one) helps with his anger issues. He’s taken with Melanie, the girl who runs one of the clubs – she’s got a sassy mouth and doesn’t take shit from anyone. And she’s sexy as hell. Unfortunately, he can’t convince her to go out with him.
When Melanie is trapped into being the government’s star witness against the mafia, Jack needs her to recant her testimony. Tommy knows this is his chance to grab her…and keep her.
I am a sucker for mob romance, kidnapping stories, and BDSM stories, so of course I hit the “one click” button. I have to tell you the story jumps right in on page one – Tommy is doing what he does best, which is killing people for the mob. He’s the best at what he does and he takes pleasure in making people suffer before they die. I have to be honest, Tommy fascinated me: he’s sick and twisted and vulnerable and volatile and is a pretty complex character. Melanie is a good match for him: fiesty and furious but an overall nice person. I liked the way their story progressed…up until the kidnapping.
Once the kidnapping occurred, I feel like the story lost some of it’s complexity and attention to detail. Tommy wants to break her and make her dependent on him, and we get glimpses of that but the story skips over a lot of the details and lets the reader fill in the blanks themselves – the blurb says “day by day” but I feel like we only got a few days here and there. The good thing about His Witness is that I was so into the story that I did fill in the blanks and went with it, but I did feel like it weakened the story.
I don’t know anything about mob life or the RICO act or how the FBI handles their undercover cases, so I can’t vouch for any accuracy or non-accuracy in the story. I found it to be interesting and couldn’t stop reading to find out what was going to happen next.
I’m always leery of reading a new-to-me self published author because usually the grammar and editing is bad, but that’s not the case with His Witness. I think there were 2 or 3 spots where I had to re-read a sentence but other than that, grammar and spelling were not an issue.
This is book 4 in the series but can be read as a stand-alone; I didn’t read the first three and I don’t feel like I’d missed any back story. Now that I’ve read His Witness, however, I am going to go back and read the first three books in the series.
If you read and enjoyed Kresley Cole’s The Professional, or Jill Myles and Jen Frederick’s Last Hit series, I’d recommend giving His Witness a try. For 99¢ it’s definitely worth the read. Also, I never watched the show Dexter, but from what I heard about it, I think His Witness might appeal to fans of the show.
Beth Flynn, Ilona Andrews, Penny Reid, Shay Savage, Tracey Garvis Graves
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Paranormal, Romance
I try to review one book a week here at Parajunkee’s View, but in between I read whenever I can. Here are a few of the highlights over the last few months, with just a “PJV Quickie” to tempt you. I may not have rated them all 5 stars on GoodReads, but the stories stayed with me long after I read them, and that’s the kind of book I love to read.
(links through book covers are amazon affiliate links)
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) December 2, 2013/NYLA
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.
And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
PJV Quickie: I really, really enjoyed this. I listened to the audiobook, so there were a few spots I missed, but I’ll definitely buy the ebook. (This is why I usually only listen to books that I’ve already read, sometimes you have to pay attention to the road while driving, not the audiobook you’re listening to.) Not a romance but enough of a possibility in the future to make me happy, and the narrator was terrific. 5 stars.
Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn (Nine Minutes #1) July 23, 2014/Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
On May 15, 1975, fifteen-year-old Ginny Lemon is abducted from a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale by a member of one of the most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs in South Florida.
From that moment on, her life is forever changed. She gets a new name, a new identity and a new life in the midst of the gang’s base on the edge of the Florida Everglades—a frightening, rough and violent world much like the swamps themselves, where everyone has an alias and loyalty is tantamount to survival.
And at the center of it all is the gang’s leader, Grizz: massive, ruggedly handsome, terrifying and somehow, when it comes to Ginny, tender. She becomes his obsession and the one true love of his life.
So begins a tale of emotional obsession and manipulation, of a young woman ripped from everything she knows and forced to lean on the one person who provides attention, affection and care: her captor. Precocious and intelligent, but still very much a teenager, Ginny struggles to adapt to her existence, initially fighting and then coming to terms with her captivity.
Will she be rescued? Will she escape? Will she get out alive—or get out at all? Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, filled with mystery, romance and unexpected turns, Nine Minutes takes readers into the world of one motorcycle gang and inside the heart of a young girl, whose abduction brought about its fall.
PJV Quickie: I was looking for a good MC romance when I saw Dear Author tweet about this book. She reviewed it this weekend. Although I wouldn’t say this was a romance, I also couldn’t put it down. There were some problems, but overall an absolutely riveting story. Dark and totally fucked up, but I couldn’t turn away and will be reading the second book when it comes out! 4 stars.
Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #4) August 28, 2014/Caped Publishing
There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, reclusive mountain man, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.
This is a full-length novel, can be read as a standalone, and is the fourth book in the ‘Knitting in the City’ series.
PJV Quickie: Absolutely fabulous – a really great story that made me laugh and made me cry (chap 19/20 – have a tissue handy). Excellent writing; I think this may be my favorite book in the series. It’s got a different feel than the previous books but is just as good and my can’t-put-it-down meter is off the charts. If you’re not reading this series, why not? Fans of Alice Clayton should give it a read. 5 stars.
Transcendence by Shay Savage February 13, 2014/Shay Savage, LLC
It’s said that women and men are from two different planets when it comes to communication, but how can they overcome the obstacles of prehistoric times when one of them simply doesn’t have the ability to comprehend language?
Ehd’s a caveman living on his own in a harsh wilderness. He’s strong and intelligent, but completely alone. When he finds a beautiful young woman in his pit trap, it’s obvious to him that she is meant to be his mate. He doesn’t know where she came from; she’s wearing some pretty odd clothing, and she makes a lot of noises with her mouth that give him a headache. Still, he’s determined to fulfill his purpose in life – provide for her, protect her, and put a baby in her.
Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or exactly how she got there. She’s confused and distressed by her predicament, and there’s a caveman hauling her back to his cavehome. She’s not at all interested in Ehd’s primitive advances, and she just can’t seem to get him to listen. No matter what she tries, getting her point across to this primitive, but beautiful, man is a constant – and often hilarious – struggle.
With only each other for company, they must rely on one another to fight the dangers of the wild and prepare for the winter months. As they struggle to coexist, theirs becomes a love story that transcends language and time.
PJV Quickie: Jill Myles makes me wish for all the strange books, so this was on my wishlist and when it went on sale for $.99 I snagged it. I’m so glad I did! This was quite different from anything I’ve read. I didn’t realize the entire story was told in the caveman’s POV. There were some spots I rolled my eyes (ie “that’s convenient”) but so many other spots made me laugh. I did enjoy it, and the end made it worth the read, especially when I thought about the story knowing what I knew at the end. My co-worker ended up reading it the same weekend and we spent that whole Monday walking past each other’s office saying “Ehd luffsBeh” and “ksszz”. 4 stars.
Uncharted by Tracey Garvis Graves (On the Island #1.5) July 2, 2013/Dutton Adult
Tracey Garvis Graves – and Anna and T.J. – return in this companion novella to the New York Times bestseller On the Island.
When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.
Calia Reed wasn’t part of Owen’s plans. The beautiful British girl – on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James – made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn’t know anything about the life he left behind.
But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.
And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.’s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.
PJV Quickie: I started listening to an old favorite last week, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (read my straight-talking review here), and ended up reading the rest of the book when I was away from my audible. I was looking over my wishlist and realized I’d never read the companion novella, Uncharted, so I bought it and tore through it in a day. We get to see how Anna and T.J are doing in the future, and we learn about Bones, the mysterious skeleton on the island, and another character I won’t mention because spoilers. If you read and enjoyed On the Island, I highly recommend this companion novella.
What books have you read recently that knocked your socks off?
Anything you want to recommend?
Living in a mansion with three hot dudes could be any girl’s dream…it’s just not Kira Wilson's. Not when Alex Dumont is one of them.
Other girls know him as A1pha, a beautiful, arrogant pro gamer and newly minted billionaire. Kira knows him as an ex crush and a major pain in the butt. But he’s also an old friend and gaming buddy, and when she needs to hide from her abusive ex, she knows that Alex and his roommates Ethan and Ollie (her former gaming teammates) are the right friends to depend on.
Despite the rocky history between them, Kira knows Alex is right when he states that no one can protect her better than he can. Kira's just not sure that physical safety is worth the danger the grudge-holding, haunted, and utterly delicious pro gamer poses to her heart.
But with her ex hot on her trail, and Alex looking at her in a way that’s hard to resist, she'd better figure it out soon.
PJV Quickie: If you are looking for a quick new adult story with a little bit of romance and a little bit of mystery this could be the one for you.
Review: Play Me by Blue Ashcroft is the first in an episodic novella series and is just under 100 pages. It follows a group of characters that are gamers. Kira, the main character, reunites with her friends after running away from an abusive boyfriend. This book was a really quick read. I enjoyed that the characters were gamers which isn’t something I can personally identify with, but there wasn’t a lot of specifics where games are concerned. Ethan and Ollie were definitely my favorite characters and I don’t think there was enough of them in the story. I liked the small romance between Kira and Alex, but there wasn’t that much in the story.
My problem with this book is the pacing and lack of story development. I get that this is meant to be an episodic series where a new book comes out every few weeks, but I feel like the books need to be more complete and resolute. Not much happened and when the story did pick up it ended. I feel like that was a pacing issue with it only being 90 pages. Also the characters mentioned a lot of events and people that didn’t get explained or touched upon enough.
Overall I found this to be a fun read. I would really like to see where these characters go. I recommend this book if you are looking for a quick NA contemporary read.
She’s been looking for the perfect man. She found two.
When Rachel Riley sacrificed a life in Eden to protect the O’Kanes, she earned her place in the powerful Sector Four gang. But the former crime princess is tired of being everyone’s sweet little sister . It’s time for her to get wild, to embrace her fantasies as only an O’Kane can—with a delicious exiled soldier and the gang’s wickedly sinful tattoo artist.
Lorenzo Cruz is a warrior, taught by his commanding officers in Eden that involvement equals distraction. Emotion is a liability, and desire a sin. In Sector Four, he finds decadence, shameless sex—and his own dark urges. No battle strategy prepared him for how Rachel makes his heart race…or the way his rival for her affections sets his blood on fire.
...and a sinner.
Ace Santana has a dirty reputation and a mind to match, especially where his new lovers are concerned. He’s eager to help Cruz embrace his dominant side, and to explore the lines between pleasure and pain with Rachel. But corrupting them quickly becomes an obsession, a need he can’t deny—and a love he never imagined.
Three hearts on the line means a hundred ways their ménage a trois could go wrong. After all, even O’Kanes do forever two-by-two. One of them could be the missing piece that makes them all whole…or a temporary diversion destined for a broken heart.
PJV Quickie: I’m a huge Kit Rocha fan and when I got the opportunity to review the latest book in their Jealousy series, I jumped on it! Beyond Jealousy is a sex-fueled tale that takes us back to the O’Kanes and Sector 4, where life is hard but can be very, very good, and love can be found if you’re willing to fight for it. Although not my favorite in the series, Beyond Jealousy ended with a bang that ultimately left me satisfied and ready for more O’Kane action.
Rachel Riley was raised in Eden, always doing the right thing, which included working for her father’s illegal brewing company. When things went bad, she took the fall and was exiled from Eden. Rachel’s father had contacts with Dallas O’Kane, the leader of Sector 4, and he arranged for Riley to go there.
Lorenzo Cruz has been programmed to be one of Eden’s elite soldiers since he was a small boy. Being exiled to Sector 4, he still has contacts within Eden and is loyal to the O’Kanes. He can get all his wildest urges fulfilled in Eden, but his feelings for Rachel are new and he doesn’t know how to deal with them. Nor does he know what to do about his feelings for Ace, who’s tied to Rachel in a complicated knot that none of them seems to know how to unravel.
Ace Santana is Sector 4’s tattoo guy, and a dirty, dirty boy. After a cage fight with Cruz that ended with erotic undertones, he’s having a sort-of-relationship with Cruz, but he still has complicated feelings for Rachel and wants her too. He knows the three of them could be good, at least until they’re done with him… because with a past like his, no one would want him for keeps.
When it’s discovered that bootleggers are passing off poor-quality hooch as quality O’Kane liquor, the hunt is on to discover who the culprit is. It’s a dangerous business, and before it’s over, people will get hurt.
I love the world Kit Rocha has created in their Beyond series. Sector 4 is a dark, dreary place full of outlaws, but they’ve managed to carve something of a sanctuary for themselves where pleasure is plentiful and consentual, in other words: HOT! That being said, I have mixed feelings about Beyond Jealousy; for me, the first half was kind of slow but the second half flew by.
I liked Rachel, Ace and Cruz in previous books and have been looking forward to their story; I wasn’t expecting Cruz to be the ‘Alpha’ of the trio and that was a pleasant surprise. All of which makes my next statement seem a little strange: the reason the first half of the book was slow for me was that there was just too much sex. It kind of went on and on; it was hot and sexy, but didn’t do much to advance the plot.
Now, don’t get me wrong – No one writes hot, dirty, sensual sex scenes like Kit Rocha. I liked the sex, especially the angry shower sex scene between Cruz and Ace, and the ‘tattoo sex’ between the trio. And once the bootlegging plot did move along I was fascinated. I’ve said in previous reviews of this series that I wish we could see more of the O’Kane world and feel that way again about Beyond Jealousy. Seeing the tentative relationship between Sector 4 and Eden, and how each faction takes what they need from the other is fascinating to me. I found myself wondering things like, how do they get hot showers? And wondering about the chemicals fed to the general population that are mentioned in the story.
Of course there was conflict that made a HEA seem unobtainable, and I thought it was well-done: the self-destructive actions from one character was both realistic and heartbreaking. There was also some drama near the end that had me holding my breath and wondering about the repercussions of certain promises that were made.
I’m giving the first half of the book 3 stars, and the second half 5 stars, averaging 4 stars. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Beyond Addiction.
I think fans of dystopian romance or erotic romance will love this; there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Beyond Jealousy':
- Flesh by Kylie Scott
- Driven by Eve Silver
- After the Crux by Dani Worth
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Kit Rocha is actually two people—Bree & Donna, best friends who are living the dream. They get paid to work in their pajamas, talk on the phone, and write down all the stories they used to make up in their heads.
Beyond Shame was their first dystopian erotic romance. They also write paranormal romance as Moira Rogers. You can find them on the web at the following places:
Stalk the authors here:
Moira Rogers: http://www.moirarogers.com/