Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Maybe by Amber L. Johnson

Series: Standalone
Release Date: Feb 12, 2015
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Genre: New Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★

Letting go is hard. Admitting you need each other is harder.

Emily Portman loves her job. A writer for Breakout! Magazine, she shadows and showcases up-and-coming bands. When her next assignment takes her to Austin, Texas, she can’t wait to add the city to her map of places she’s visited. Places she’s left without looking back. Her plan is to keep moving on, and the last thing she needs is a man holding her back. She’s not going down that road again.

Tyler Macy is stuck in a rut. Despite his exceptional talent as a musician, he has chosen to take a back seat with his music and let others grab the limelight. Wounded and mistrustful, he doesn’t appreciate his friends’ efforts to bring him back to center stage. Emily comes onto the scene and sees his full potential, but he fights to stay in the shadows, shutting her out before she can add to the scars another woman gave him.

For Tyler to find his music again, he needs to accept the help that Emily and their friends offer. When he discovers that his muse lies underneath Emily’s skin, it is still not enough to keep her from walking away. Neither will admit what they really want until it is too late.

Emily is once again thrown in Tyler’s path when she is assigned to join them on tour. Despite the pain in his past, Tyler sees that she is worth it, even if she’s stolen both his heart and peace of mind. In order for them to be together, they both must discover whether the music and their passion are enough to overcome the obstacles that separate them.

Maybe finding love is worth the risk.

Typically, I go into a book with some sort of expectation.  Maybe was a departure from that. I had none. I had heard about Johnson's Puddle Jumping, but knew nothing really about it or Johnson herself.  While the synopsis gives a good idea of the story, I didn't know if it would be gritty, soul bearing or light.

I was pleasantly surprised by where Maybe took me and the emotions it brought.

Emily has a pretty bad ass job.  She's a scout for a music magazine. Traveling the country, meeting bands, writing them up and then watching as maybe their careers take off.  It's a get in, get the job done, get out kind of gig that works for Emily. No strings, not ties that bind, no chance of getting hurt. Again.

Tyler's life is music.  It's everything he is and everything he has is wrapped up in it.  The things outside of his music have hurt him in ways he does not know how to heal from.  But past hurts are bleeding into his musical life as well, he's lost his inspiration, holing up in the dark places of his mind blocks him from creating anything new. He needs a muse but not the heartbreak that comes along with one.

The connection between Tyler and Emily was something I kind of adored. It felt true, nothing really seemed forced or contrived.  Same goes for how that connection progressed and how it ultimately fell apart.  Emily doesn't make fleeting, life altering, decisions based off of a connection she feels with someone she has just barely met.  She sticks to her bigger life plan.  She sees the situation for what it is, a man scared to commit, scared to take a leap of faith, scared to try for love for fear of losing everything even if never trying means losing it anyway.

Emily understands it because ultimately, she feels somewhat the same.

But sometimes, what is meant to be, will be. Life has a way a of placing you in the path of your destiny no matter how much you fight it. That rings true for Tyler and Emily and when they find each other again the connection they felt before is still there, still strong, still sexy as hell.

Speaking of part of Maybe I really enjoyed was that for a New Adult title, it's not erotic or gratuitous.  The sex is hot but it's there to further the story, it has purpose.  

Johnson does a great job of balancing the fun and light moments with the darker, sorrowful ones.  There were times where I smiled and times where I was truly sad for the turns Emily and Tyler's lives had taken.  Maybe is  not a rip your heart out and stomp on it type story, but it's definitely a story that will make you feel. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reveal: Clear by Jessica Park

Title: CLEAR: A Death Trippers Novel
Age: NA
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Jessica Park
Cover Designer: The Cover Lure
Release date: February 17, 2015

Stella Ford’s grasp on reality is already loose, and it’s about to come undone.

When the college junior flees Chicago and leaves her toxic family behind, she heads for coastal Maine to find the one person who brought her peace years ago: Sam Bishop. But the Sam she once knew now has painful secrets.  

Stella is determined to heal them both. Healing, however, is a challenge when the walls of her everyday existence collapse. And when Sam’s best friend is his worst enemy.

When the line between life and death blurs.

When an end is just a beginning.

When lust and rage rule.

Yet during extraordinary chaos, there can be extraordinary love, even if that love comes with a twist.

Welcome to death tripping.

A thriller, a paranormal, and a passionate romance, CLEAR crosses genres and breaks boundaries.

Jessica is the author of LEFT DROWNING, the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (and the companion piece FLAT-OUT MATT), and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at and on Facebook at and Twitter @JessicaPark24

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

Series: New York Leopards #3
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She'd always considered it destiny that they'd end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she'd ever felt before, and it's nothing she'll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York's premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she's felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar's decided to move on, Abe's realized she's the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who's been holding her back all these years.

Sadly, I had a couple of issues with Imaginary Lines.  I very much enjoy the world of the New York Leopards and Abe has been an compelling character in the previous titles. However, my adoration for him was not enough of a beacon to shine through the dark spots.

Tamar and Abe grew up together, best friends with very close families.  Their mothers always envisioned they'd grow up, fall in love and marry.  Tamar always hoped for the same.  Her love for Abe was not returned though, instead heartbreak is what he handed her and for four years they avoided each other.

Now their worlds are thrown back together by careers and Abe is ready to dive into a relationship with Tamar, but the idea of another broken heart delivered by the man that ever held it, is scary enough to keep Abe at arms length.

That was the aspect of Imaginary Lines I really connected with. Friends to lovers is an idea I often gravitate too, it's an idea I love...I think love should start with friendship.  And Abe...well, he would be an easy friend to love.

The adult Abraham is a pretty genuine guy.  He's easy going but with his own small insecurities. He's sweet but still strong. He's a 'guy's guy' that ladies love.  Abe has few faults.

Tamar is an easy character to understand. Having your dreams pinned on someone only to have them all crushed, would easily make you apprehensive if he eventually gave you the attention you had always hoped for.  Her desire to be with Abe and her fear of it were both easily felt.  Tamar, despite her insecurities, has a strength about her.  She's willing to fight for her beliefs and for those she cares about and that helped me like her more.

So...that's the good stuff.  But there were small things that kept throwing me off.  Keeping in mind that I was reading an advance review copy, perhaps some of those things were cleaned up before final publication.

My biggest issue is this:  Abe and Tamar are both Jewish, yet many times throughout the story they say God.  As an example, after they kiss at one point, Abe says something along the lines of  'Oh God, Tamar'.  Now, I don't know many Jews - but I know they don't say or even spell the name God. Right? That's what I was always taught anyway.  I would let it slide if they seemed to be non-practicing Jews, but that isn't really the case.

Again, maybe that was cleaned up before publication, but it really should have never been there in the first place.

Another issue I had was my constant questioning of everything that had to do with the relationship between the team and the reporters.  It just never felt fully believable to me.  Which caused me to pause multiple times and try google searching if that was really how shit worked.  It's very difficult to lose yourself in a story if you are constantly fact checking.

Well, that's my story... I think maybe it's time for me to let this series go.  As much as I love a hot football player, I just need more authenticity in the story.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rag Time with Uncle Neal and Jeff #4: On Every Street by Karina Halle

**Rag Time with Uncle Neal and Jeff is a monthly feature where two drunk dudes read mommy porn. All for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!**

Welcome to Rag Time with Uncle Neal and Jeff!  This is what happens at Ali's house when boys are left unattended, with beer and smut.  This first video was sent to us as a gift one night when we were out of town. They were tipsy and Ali had a paperback laying there, curiosity got the better of them.

It was so well received that the boys have agreed to continue the hijinx by reading an excerpt (of Black Heart Reviews choosing) every month.  Got a particular excerpt you'd like to see them read? Let us know! ;)

When young con artist Ellie Watt decides to call herself Eden White and go after the drug lord who ruined her as a child, she never expects to fall for one of his henchmen. But Javier Bernal is no ordinary man. Subtly dangerous and overwhelmingly seductive, Eden finds herself passionately in love with Javier, the very person she's set-up to betray. With her body and heart in a heated battle against her deep need for revenge, no one will walk away from this con a winner.

Takes place six years before Sins & Needles. It can be read before or after Sins & Needles and may also be read as a standalone.

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and rock music journalist and a NEW YORK TIMES  & USA TODAY bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Experiment in Terror and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920's farmhouse on a bucolic island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails, and devours a lot of books.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: Landslide by Jenn Cooksey

Series: Standalone
Release Date: January 27, 2014
Publisher: Jenn Cooksey
Genre: New Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★

For Erica and Cole, the bond of friendship was forged in childhood.

Now, torn and broken by grief, that bond will become paramount as two friends look to one another for comfort, strength, and hope in the aftermath of loss. On a journey taken both together and alone, Erica and Cole search for healing and life born anew. Although when mistakes, secrets and betrayal are revealed, the two must each learn to accept that even saints and some angels are human and people aren’t always who they appear to be.

But in the age old struggle to forget and forgive, realization dawns. And with it, so does the understanding that sometimes, the sturdiest foundation for the future lies buried in the dust of the past. Because, for some people…

…love is friendship caught on fire.

I am a big fan of Cooksey's Grab Your Pole series and while Landslide is a departure from GYP into more mature subject matter, it still holds Cooksey's signature writing style with a depth of emotions and a hint of humor.

Landslide pretty quickly throws you in the deep end of despair, but this isn't really a tale of tragedy.  Landslide is a story of true love and how it spans years, even if you aren't fully aware of it.  It's a tale of how people come in and out of your life and how the smallest of events can have just as strong of an effect on your future as a large event.

Cole was a very unexpected character, for me.  I liked him from the very start, the way he guarded his thoughts was something that grabbed my attention immediately.  He's, mostly, a very selfless guy but that isn't how he comes across to most and learning his reasoning for being that way kept me turning the pages.

I can't say that I had that same instant attraction to Erica.  It really took time for her to develop, but I think that's because she never really knew who she was. You are able to see that more as the story goes along.  She isn't always very honest with herself, she easily sets thoughts aside that might disrupt her carefully balanced life. Until she's forced to really examine it all.

Being honest with themselves is only part of the problem these two have, being honest with each other is a much bigger one.  But there are reasons for withholding the truth, and some of those reasons are incredibly heart breaking.

I did have somewhat of a lost in translation moment in this read.  There was a point where the strong connection I had been feeling, faded. There were a lot of details that needed to placed just so, but I think I was ready for everything to combust or converge. I was ready for the big feels.  However, after a couple of chapters, it picked right back up and perhaps even grew.  

Cooksey writes a story that is equal parts happy and sad.  There are moments of heart warming togetherness mixed in with complete soul wrenching heartache.  It's the combination of those two things that makes this such a solid New Adult debut for Cooksey.

If this seems like a vague review, it's because it is a vague review.  Landslide isn't the easiest book to talk about without giving away some key details. Which I really don't want to do.  So, I'll leave you with the this:  Landslide is an incredibly endearing story of loss, love, friendship, duty and growth.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reveal + Giveaway + Playlist/ Prologue: Without Me by Chelle Bliss

Without Me Ebook nook

Series: Men of Inked
Author: Chelle Bliss
Book Number: 5 - Final Book in the Series
Character: Anthony Gallo
Genre: Erotica, Erotic Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: Late March/Early April 2015

I’d led a selfish existence. I liked who I was. Hell, I loved myself. Women threw themselves at me and I took what they offered without remorse. I promised them nothing. I sank my teeth into life, holding on to the bitch like my very existence depended on it. Time passed. Women came and went. The second I let my guard down and released the hold I had on life… What was my award for such carelessness? A love so spectacular and heart wrenching that it threw me for a loop. When I was in too deep to escape, my greatest fears became reality. This is my story. My downfall. My salvation.

Without Me Playlist

★★Click here to read the Prologue★★

USA Today bestselling author Chelle Bliss crafts stories about real-life scenarios with fantasy Alpha males. Her writing includes humor as well as steamy sex.
Website | Facebook | Twitter
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Cover information: Photo by Eric Battershell Photography Cover Model - Thomas Yarborough Training Cover Design - MGBookCovers

Saturday, January 17, 2015

the DNF journal: The Rose Master by Valentina Cano

Release Date: June 2014
Publisher: Reuts
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Copy provided for honest review

The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that's hardly the most upsetting news. She's being dismissed from the home she's served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she's never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There's something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them--some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn't prepared for. The creature is very real, and she's the only one who can help him stop it. 

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she's grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

Harumph.  I'm pretty sad about this one.

The Rose Master is a bit of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, placing Anne is a mansion owned by a mysterious master.

What I enjoyed of the 37% that I read was the creep factor. Birds dropping dead, invisible hands trying to drown you, animal scratches at your bedroom door at night.  All of those things really worked for me.

What didn't was the characters. I just didn't care. About any of them. Even Anne, who seemed a little hot and cold. And I get that she's a maid but I can only read so many chapters about her cleaning the house before I'm ready to snooze. I don't like cleaning in real life, I sure as hell don't want to read ten straight chapters of it.

It's not badly written, what I read of it anyway.  It has potential to be something I could really love, if it had more developed and interesting characters. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: Thicker Than Blood by Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Riley

Series: Standalone
Release Date: January 12, 2014
Publisher: Madeline Sheehan & Claire C. Riley
Genre: Adult, Post-Apocolyptic 
Source: From Author for Review
Rating: ★★★★

A true friendship never dies.

Leisel and Evelyn lost everything. Husbands. Families. Friends. Lives that made sense. All they had left was each other, and a friendship that could withstand anything…

Even an apocalypse.

Until one fateful night, the marginal safety they’d come to rely on comes to a vicious and brutal end. With the help of Alex & Jami, both unlikely allies, Leisel and Evelyn are able to escape their shattered sanctuary only to find themselves face-to-face with a much altered, much crueler life where they have to find the way—and the will—to stay alive in a world they no longer recognize.

Traveling across a broken and infection-ridden country; the road-weary group are pitted against endless violence, improbable circumstances, and the ultimate loss.

Everything comes at a price—especially safety, the cost of which could very well strip them of the one thing they’ve tried so hard to cling to: their humanity.

Yet along with all the trials they’re forced to endure, there’s also hope in the form of love. Having loved Leisel from afar, Alex attempts to put the pieces of her fractured heart back together.

But in such a savage world, is there room for love?

In a place of nightmares-made-reality, where the living should be feared far more than the dead, an unbreakable friendship and a love amongst all odds can mean the difference between life and death.

There are friends…

And then there are Leisel and Evelyn.

*Spoiler Free Review*

"Always together, Eve. Always."
What happens when you mix Thelma & Louise with The Walking Dead? You get the masterful piece of work written by Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Riley. Set in a world that's been ravaged by disease and death, Sheehan and Riley breathe life and humanity into this tale about friendship, love, hope, and survival. THICKER THAN BLOOD isn't just about the walking dead or the apocalypse, it's about the determination of two friends, who vow to fight for survival, no matter what, and at what cost. I'm not a huge reader of post apocalyptic zombie fiction, so for me to like this book as much as did is a pretty big deal.

We were together, and as long as we had each other, I knew we would be okay.

Sheehan and Riley totally slayed me with their first collaboration. There were times while I was reading this book that I felt like I had just been running as hard as the characters in this book. With my heart beating profusely, and my blood pumping through my veins at gushing speeds, Sheehan and Riley had me feeling every bit of terror while I imagined living in this world. Their vivid writing placed me right in the thick of this harsh world, and it was easy to imagine the abandoned and empty world they had created. It was like Sheehan and Riley plucked me right out of my comfortable home and dropped me right in the middle of the Walking Dead set. Their take on zombies was scary and horrific enough, but not too gory to where a non-zombie fiction reader would be totally turned off. But the scariest characters in this book weren't the infected, but the humans. Humanity has been lost and the survivors of this new world are savages. They will hunt, steal or kill anything and everything they come across in order to survive. They were the ones I was most scared of and the ones that could inflict the most pain. Sheehan and Riley's depiction of society in this new world was utterly scary and made me think that I would not survive one hour in this world. 

...what good is surviving an apocalypse without the battle scars to prove it...

In between all the zombie horror was a story about friendship that made this book so much more. While the threat of the infected, and other humans was what got your blood pumping, the personal journeys that Evelyn and Leisel took is what kept me so wrapped up in the book. The bond between these two characters is stronger than any friendship that I have ever seen, and thicker than any blood relationship that I have read about. Evelyn and Leisel's friendship was able to survive all the hurdles they had been through and they walked hand-in-hand through their new nightmarish lives. I'm finding it really hard to describe just how strong their bond is. It's something that you have to witness yourself. Eve and Lei brought a different dynamic to their relationship that both soothed and uplifted them. While they each filled a different role at the beginning, they somehow switch places as the story moves along. Their role reversal shows just how humanity or the lack of it, and their harsh environment makes a big impact on how you move forward. But even with their struggles, and up and downs, the bond that they share, and their dedication they had to each other was so unreal and beautiful.

I did love him in the sense that he held a place in my heart, one that was solely and irrevocably his and his alone. It might have been a different type of love than what I felt for Thomas or the way I loved Evelyn, but it was love nonetheless.

There's also a nice bit of romance thrown in between Leisel and Alex, which provided a nice little break in between all the desolate times. Alex is a character that you meet early on, and is one person that helps Evelyn and Leisel leave the cruel life they were living in. Even though he leads them through another hellish world, Alex was the ray of hope that these two women needed at the time of their lives. Alex made a huge impression on me and he's definitely one of my favorite characters. By the end of this book, your heart will be bleeding for Alex. He's one character that I won't forget for a long time. What I liked most about it was that Sheehan and Rilye didn let this romance over-shadow the rest of the book. The moments between Lei and Alex were poignant and showed me that even when you're walking through hell, it's still possible to find a connection with someone you totally unexpected. Through all of the horror and terror, Sheehan and Riley were able to demonstrate that nice and tender moments could happen even when you're stuck in hell. 

I refused to let her go, even for a second. When she stumbled, I stumbled; when she fell, I fell. We were in this together; she was all I had left.

The story of Leisel and Evelyn's friendship will have you biting your nails while you wait and see what happens next; and have you crying at times when you feel grave danger or sheer terror of what it's like living in a post-apocalyptic world. Sheehan and Riley balanced the human story with zombie horror perfectly, and they had me spellbound with their compelling story-telling. THICKER THAN BLOOD isn't an easy story that you can quickly breeze through. Evelyn and Liesel's journey keep a tight grip on you as you watch them maneuver their way around a world that has been ravaged by death, disease, and the new evils - both dead and live - that walk their new world. Sheehan and Riley had me totally absorbed in this world, and they made you feel every bit of fear, anxiety, and horror of Evelyn and Leisel's lives, from beginning to the bittersweet end. 

We should have learned by now that nothing was ever easy in this world. Yet, like children, we remained forever hopeful, optimistic that just once something would go right for us.

I was already a huge fan of Madeline Sheehan prior to reading this book, but after seeing what she can do in this genre, my love for her has grown exponentially. I'm also glad to have discovered Claire C. Riley. With this book being the first book of Riley's that I have ever read, I am definitely looking forward to reading her other work. Even if you're not a fan of zombie/apocalyptic/dystopian/horror stories, THICKER THAN BLOOD is definitely one book worth checking out. Eve and Lei's friendship more than makes up for the lack of a heavy romance because in a way their relationship played out as it's own love story. Sheehan and Riley writing duo has definitely made a huge impression on me, and I cannot wait to see what they have to offer us in the future. 

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon Paperback | B&N 
Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords  |  Goodreads

Fantastical realm dweller Madeline Sheehan is the USA Today bestselling author of the Holy Trinity Trilogy and Undeniable Series. 

A Social Distortion enthusiast, lover of mud and anything deemed socially inappropriate, Madeline was homegrown in Buffalo, New York, where she can be found engaging in food fights and video game marathons with her husband and son.

Connect with Madeline
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Claire C Riley’s work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult-classics while still feeling fresh and cutting-edge. She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy.

She lives in the United Kingdom with her three young daughters, husband and one scruffy dog!

Connect with Claire
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review + Giveaway: One To Leave by Tia Louise

Series: One to Hold #5
Release Date: December 29, 2014
Publisher: TLM Productions
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★

Some demons can't be shaken off.
Some wounds won't heal.

Until a pair of hazel eyes knocks you on your ass, and you realize it's time to stop running.

Stuart. I am #TeamStuart.  This man, my goodness.

Stuart is a man who knows exactly who he is and what he wants.  Unfortunately, his body won't allow him to be and do what he wants.  A military injury has his world in a tailspin and he's fighting his way to make it right.  When he does get his mind and body right, he's gone.  Back to the world he knows.  The world of being a Marine, in the thick of the fighting.  Earning his honor bound place in the world.  It's who he is, all he's ever wanted.

Until Mariska.  The free spirit young woman who feels an immediate connection with this rough and tumble man and follows him to the middle of nowhere on a whim.

These two could not be more different.  Stuart is hard, controlling, demanding. Especially in the bedroom (which I LOVED).  Mariska is a bit hippie, completely caring and easy going.  Together they balance each other so well.  Stuart prompts her to attempt some control over parts of her life and take some big risks in others while she pushes him to look beyond his life long plan, to see that there is more to life then being a soldier.

But giving up your hopes and dreams isn't easy.  For Stuart it is damn near impossible and it leaves Mariska with few options.

I really appreciated the hard lines that Louise wrote into this story.  Mariska is young but knows Stuart is her future and she was willing to make some tricky decisions in the attempt to make him see it.  She wasn't a simpering heroine clinging to an impossible situation.  Stuart has his share as well.  He really fights his feelings for Mariska, which is sad, but so very real.

One To Leave is a great compliment to the One To Hold series.  Probably my favorite of them all.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: Kick by Carmen Jenner

Series: Savage Saints MC #1
Release Date: January 26, 2015
Publisher: Carmen Jenner
Genre: Dark Romance / Thriller
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★

When I was ten, my father indoctrinated me into the family.

A brotherhood who would fight, protect, and give their lives for one another. A club whose ties ran thicker than blood, murkier than the dirt and grime that tainted my soul. Stronger than the bonds that connected me to my own family.

A band of brothers, where loyalty was kept and paid in a currency of blood.

When I was twenty-seven, I betrayed that brotherhood.

I’ve spent every day since running, avoiding paying back that debt.

My name is Daniel Johnson. I have betrayed everyone I ever loved.

And I’ll betray her too.

This is my story—if you’re screwed up enough to want to read it.

Warning: Kick contains graphic violence, profanity, drug use, and explicit sexual situations of a taboo nature. Intended for an 18+ audience only. Not intended for pussies.

Kick is not a love story.

Kick is not an erotic story.

Kick is a not a story of redemption.

Kick is a story of survival.

Kick is a fucked up ride through a dark underbelly filled with violence, murder, monsters, drugs and rape.

And I enjoyed every moment of it. What does that make me?

In need of some sort of therapy, I'm sure.

Jenner gives clear warning that Kick is 'not intended for pussies', it's a warning that should be heeded.  It's not an easy read.  She didn't shy away from writing graphic, horrific scenes.

If you go into Kick looking for a bad boy turns good type story, you're in the wrong frame of mind for this one.  It's not that story.

Sometimes life hands people nothing but shit and they have to learn to survive in it, to maybe come out of it not whole and not broken, but irreparably fractured.  That's what this story is.  For Kick and for Indie.

Kick has known little but violence and hard times growing up an MC brat.  He's a selfish fucker and gives shit as good as he takes it.  Little penetrates his hardened exterior.  The people who get a glimpse inside him inevitably find themselves fucked over by him.  He's got a temper and it's easily lit up.  He likes to deliver trouble, control and pain.

Two times in his life he's been placed in a situation of seeing pain delivered by someone else.  Both situations set off him off.  Not because he really felt sympathy for the victim, but because he wants their pain and suffering for his own.  That's the kind of guy Kick is.  He knows it's fucked up, he just doesn't really care.  He gets off on the tears, the blood, the fight.

Kick doesn't want to hold and cherish your heart. He wants to rip it from you, wrap it in barbed wire and lick up the blood every time it swells just a fraction in size.

Indie didn't grow up in violence. Indifference maybe, but not violence.  That didn't stop her from finding herself in hell though.  Now she has the chance to walk out of it, but who will she be in the end?  Surviving is one thing, becoming a monster in turn is something else.

I liked the journey these two took, both together and separately.  It's not so much a story of growth as just acceptance and I'm okay with that because I don't know how you come out of situations like these as a better person.  I think you come out of them with an understanding that it's maybe not so fucked up to have that dark soul and finding someone else who not only understands the darkness but embraces their maybe the purest kind of acceptance. And maybe, when you're fucked up that's better than love.

Again, I'll say this isn't a love story.  It's not an easy read. I felt like I should be running to the bathroom to vomit, not getting excited about what the next page held. But hey, I'm fucked up.  If you are too, you might like this one.
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