Affinity for Pain (Newborn City: Book 1) by R.E. Johnson

Publisher: IngramSpark

Date of Publication: October 21st, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance. Dark Fantasy

Series: Newborn City

Affinity for Pain—Book 1

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Keri Lake’s
Nightshade, Affinity for Pain is a dark paranormal romance that is steamy,
action-packed, and full of emotional intrigue.

Hope Turner is the ideal human-hunting assassin, and she is damn good at her job. A daughter of the Chakal, a race of hybrid demons lacking physical sensation and
emotion, Hope was always brutally efficient in her work. She never struggled with a case, that is, until she was assigned to take down Ciaran O-Connor – a stubborn,
strong-willed bodyguard with a dark past and severe PTSD.

He also happens to be her soulmate.

When the omaeriku – an inescapable soulmate bond – takes hold of her, Hope is hit with a wave of emotion and physical sensation for the first time in her life. Finding herself unable to kill Ciaran and ending up on her former boss’s hit list, Hope and Ciaran must escape into hiding. Immediately, the chemistry between Hope and Ciaran is electric. However, they must try to direct their focus on finding a way to take down Marcus Dentry, their newfound common enemy, who was both Hope’s former boss and Ciaran’s former captor and torturer.

However, as they spend more time together and succumb to their physical desire for each other, the newfound emotion and pain brought forth by the soulmate bond begin to overwhelm Hope. Can Hope learn to handle her sudden emotions, both the good and the bad, before it drives her away from the only person who can make her feel? And can Hope and Ciaran track down Marcus and exact their revenge before he gets to them first?

Inspired by the works of authors like Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, Affinity for
Pain is a great next read for smut-lovers seeking a romance that includes action,
intimate vulnerability, and electric chemistry. Click “Add to Cart!” today!


First Line:

“And now I’m late. Ugh. This guy better die quick.”

Affinity for Pain by R.E. Johnson

One of my guilty pleasures is reading books that contain a lot of smut and have the tropes of fated mates. Yes, I am one of those people who read those werewolf smut snippets on Facebook (come on, you know you did it!!). So, when I read the blurb for this book, I was immediately intrigued. Not because it has werewolves (spoiler, it doesn’t) but because it was the same kind of book, except it has demons. So, how could I say no? Well, this book was a lot darker than those snippets. Not that I didn’t enjoy it (I did), but this book might not be the right fit for most people.

Now, saying that, I am going to put the trigger warning up front. I am not easily shocked (by anything in life). But the triggers in this book shocked me. Some things discussed in the book took me by surprise, and some (to be frank), disgusted me. So, here are the trigger warnings, and there might be a spoiler or two in there (sorry!!) This book contains cursing (a lot of foul language), explicit sex that includes kink (some BSDM, praise, and first time), torture (graphic), sexual assault (on a male), discussion of past trauma related to male sexual assault and captivity, kidnapping, combat, gun fights, mentions of suicide, and pregnancy. If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading the book. As I said, I am not easily shocked, but this book shocked me. I took the trigger warnings directly from the author’s website.

Affinity for Pain is the first book in the Newborn City series. Because it is the first book in the series, you don’t need to read another book to catch up on what’s happening. There is a website (see the paragraph above) where you can see trigger warnings, the book synopsis, a glossary, and the characters. I found it very helpful as a reference while writing this review.

Affinity for Pain had a dark but exciting plotline. Set in the fictional city of Newborn City in New York, this fast-paced book is centered around Hope Turner, a Chakal demon assassin, and Ciaran O’Connor, an ex-underground fighter who escaped the demons who kidnapped and tortured him. Hope has been hired to assassinate Ciarian. She is chosen because she always gets the job done. But once Hope sees Ciaran, she realizes she has bonded to him, which is called an omaeriku. With her race, it is a cherished bond, but she doesn’t want it. Unfortunately for her, it has happened, and she can’t kill Ciaran. As the bond intensifies and Hope experiences pain for the first time, she becomes overwhelmed. She channels everything into finding Marcus, her ex-boss and Ciaran’s ex-captor. Will they find Marcus? Will they be able to defeat him? Will the bond stay intact?

The author created complex characters for this book. There were so many layers; I feel she didn’t even show everything and kept some layers under wrap for the next book.

  • Hope—I liked her. A bit of background here, she is a Chakal demon. Hope is a successful assassin because she lacks pain and wants to keep it that way. The females of her race cannot feel pain until they meet their soul mate. But once she sees and realizes that Ciaran is her soulmate, she goes back and forth if she wants to be with him. The best way to get rid of the bond is to kill him. But she didn’t; instead, she forced herself to embrace the one thing she didn’t want. I was a little confused by that but hey, her fictional life. I will say that she was loyal, and once she decided to trust someone, she had their back. Overall, she was a solid character.
  • Ciaran—Holy crap, where do I begin with this guy. He was kidnapped and forced to fight in an underground gladiator arena against other demons. He was also Marcus’s special pet (use your imagination, shudder). He was instrumental in escaping and burning the club where he was being kept captive. And because of that, he has severe PTSD and intimacy issues. My heart broke for him. When he came to New York, he was full of wonder and wanted to see the world. Instead, well read above. He was a lethal killer. His time in the ring made sure of that. I wanted to ship him back to Ireland, get him into therapy, and let him heal.
  • Marcus—He was one of the evilest characters I have ever read. Yes, I know he was a demon, but he took evil to a new level. The things he did to Ciaran were unspeakable. I was left shaking after certain events in the book because I wanted to hurt him.

The secondary characters in Affinity for Pain were just as well written as the main ones. But, the author left a lot to the imagination. Dimitri is who I am talking about. I couldn’t figure out his deal except that he was loyal to Ciaran. Even the type of demon Dimitri was wasn’t talked about. All I knew was that he was from Russia, a demon with extraordinary power (he used that twice), and that was it. It made me want more!!!

Affinity for Pain is a very dark paranormal romance. It fit very well in the paranormal category. I loved the backstory of how the author introduced the demons to the world. It was fascinating, and I can’t wait to see what other kinds of demons are out there. As for the romance angle, I was a little iffy on that. It was an Instalove situation (fated mate bond). I am not a fan of Instalove. But in this case, it worked. I also felt that there was no work to the romance. It jumped from the bond to sex, sex, and more sex.

The storyline with Hope, Ciaran, and their bond was interesting. I liked how the author explained how the Chakal demons society worked. It was interesting to see a male-dominated society with its own Gods and rules. The only thing I disagreed with was forced breeding. But the author didn’t spend much time on that. I did like how Hope and Ciaran worked together. She was also good for his PTSD and wasn’t judgemental when he finally told her about what happened to him while kidnapped.

The storyline with Ciaran, Marcus, Ciaran’s kidnapping, and his ultimate journey for revenge was heartbreaking. I will warn you; it does get graphic. Marcus does some awful things to Ciaran, and the author doesn’t sugarcoat it.

The end of Affinity for Pain was interesting. I say interesting because of what happened and how everything was resolved or not resolved. I will not get into it, but I look forward to seeing what book 2 brings with Hope and Ciaran. I also hope that Dimitri and Reddina are featured more. I want to know more about him and her.

I would recommend Affinity for Pain to anyone over 21. There is graphic violence, graphic language, and graphic sexual situations. Also, see the trigger warnings at the beginning of the review.

I want to thank R.E. Johnson and Novel Cause for allowing me to read and review Affinity for Pain. All opinions stated in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading Affinity for Pain, you will enjoy reading these books:

A Guide to Being Just Friends (Jansen Brothers: Book 3) by Sophie Sullivan

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: January 17th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Adult, Fiction, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Audiobook, Adult Fiction, Clean Romance

Series: Jansen Brothers

Ten Rules for Faking It—Book 1

How to Love Your Neighbor—Book 2 (review here)

A Guide to Being Just Friends—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A playful and emotional romantic comedy from the author of Ten Rules for Faking It

Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?


First Line:

Salad paid the bills. At least, it was supposed to.

A Guid to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan

I’ll admit this; I didn’t read the blurb when I accepted the invite from St. Martin’s Press. I saw the title and the cover (in the widget email they sent) and made my decision from that. To be clear, I rarely accept books based on the title and/or cover. So, I was a little hesitant when I saw it next on my reading schedule. But, once I realized what series this book was a part of, I was excited to read it.

A Guide to Being Just Friends is the 3rd (and final) book in the Jansen Brothers series. While readers can read this as a standalone, I recommend reading the first two books before picking this one up. I recommend this so you, as a reader, can understand some of the relationships discussed in this book.

There are some trigger warnings that I want to warn you about in this book. Hailey (the main character) is fresh out of an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. In one scene, her ex tries (and stress tries) to verbally abuse and manhandle her, but Wes stops it. Wes’s parents are divorced, and Hailey’s family is dysfunctional (her parents love each other and ignore her). If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

A Guide to Being Just Friends is a medium to fast-paced book that takes place entirely in San Verde, California. The pacing of the book fluctuates during it.

As mentioned above, A Guide to Being Just Friends is Wes and Hailey’s love story. Hailey has just opened a restaurant that only serves salad (By the Cup) and is focused only on getting it off the ground and making money. She has no room for a relationship or wants one after what her ex-boyfriend has done to her. Wes couldn’t agree more with her. He is still dealing with the wounds of his parent’s divorce and has been on several not-so-great first dates. All he wants is companionship. So meeting Hailey and developing feelings for her was not part of his master plan (the same goes for Hailey). While being in a relationship is not in the cards for either of them, they will settle for being just friends. But their feelings grow, and being just friends is starting to sound not so great. Will Hailey and Wes wake up and see that the person they want the most is standing in front of them? Or will they forever be just friends?

I like going into a book and knowing at least one of the characters. For me (and I don’t know about you), it made connecting with the other main characters easier. I also liked seeing a different side of that character than what was portrayed in other books.

  • Hailey: I liked her. She was super focused on getting her business off the ground and wouldn’t let anything or anyone distract her. She was also one of the sweetest people in the book and didn’t deserve the treatment she got from her parents, ex-boyfriend, and Ana. I also liked that she overcame all the self-doubt and self-esteem issues that her ex gave her. Of course, since this is a romance, I wanted to shake her when it came to Wes. But I understood why she was holding herself back.
  • Wes—I was talking about him in the above paragraph. I liked seeing little glimpses of him in the previous two books. I did have a view of him from what I read. So it was nice for that view to be expanded and for how he acted explained. Wes had a lot on his plate, a lot of pressure from his father and Ana (the CEO of a company he’s trying to buy). Plus, he had awful luck on the relationship front. The blind dates the author showed were horrible. I did like his character growth, though. By the end of the book, he wasn’t afraid to do what was right for him (and yes, that involved Ana and her meddling ways!!)

The secondary characters were interesting. They should be since they were all previous characters in the other two books. A couple of new characters were introduced (Hailey’s cousin and her group of friends), and I hope the author decides to create another series in this world. I would love to see some of those people get their HEAs!!

A Guide to Being Just Friends fits perfectly into the romance genre. I liked that this romance took months to ignite and just as long to get off the ground. I love those types of romances. They seem more genuine, and (because I am a weirdo) I can picture them lasting in real life.

There is sex in A Guide to Being Just Friends. But it isn’t graphic. The author sets the mood, starts the sexual encounter, and ends the chapter. The next chapter is the following day with a satisfied hero and heroine. I am a fan of smut and graphic sex scenes, but sometimes it is nice to let my imagination do what it does best. And it did its best in this book. Also, there were only a couple of sex scenes.

The main storyline is Wes and Hailey’s romance. As I said, the author made this into a slow-burn romance, and I liked it. She also made it as realistic as possible. Hailey and Wes went through what I considered the usual ebb and flow until everything exploded. There was only one thing that I disagreed with: Ana. She was a vindictive, nasty person. What she did to Hailey (and let’s not forget what she tried to do) was pretty low.

Several secondary storylines enriched the main storyline. The secondary storyline that stands out to me the most was the landlord raising the rent on the apartments and shops where Hailey had her business. I loved how the author kept me wondering what would happen there and then melded it into the main storyline. It was perfect!!

The end of A Guide to Being Just Friends made me an emotional mess. I cried during the big reveal scene. I was mad because of what Hailey assumed was happening between Ana and Wes. I was happy because that assumption wasn’t true. And the epilogue. It was freaking perfect!!! I couldn’t have asked for a better epilogue than that.

I would recommend A Guide to Being Just Friends to anyone over 21. There is language, mild violence, and very mild sex scenes. Also, see my content warning above.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Sophie Sullivan for allowing me to read and review A Guide to Being Just Friends. All opinions stated in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading A Guide to Being Just Friends, then you will enjoy reading these books:

A Body Washes Ashore (Spectrum Series: Book 3) by Bradley Pay

Publisher: Bradley Pay

Date of publication: October 30th, 2022

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Romance

Series: Spectrum Series

The Killings Begin—Book 1 (review here)

Death in a Dark Alley—Book 2 (review here)

A Body Washes Ashore—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A Body Washes Ashore is the heart-racing sequel to The Killings Begin and Death in a Dark Alley that you’ve been waiting for. Bradley Pay’s signature blend of contemporary romance and psychological suspense will sweep you off your feet and into the thick of mortal danger. Tour Europe with Tracey’s new friend, Remy Martin, as she risks everything for the rush of true love.

Tracey’s new group of friends seems perfect. For as long as he could remember, he felt like an outsider, struggling to make connections, and living as an unknown serial killer certainly didn’t help. Now he and his new wife have discovered a circle of friends that begins to fill his need for close relationships. He’s one step closer to living a “normal” life despite the persistent cold-case investigators who refuse to ignore his murderous past in the US.

Remy Martin, a renowned professor of art history and one of Tracey’s new friends, also bears scars on her damaged heart. She has vowed to only sleep with married men to protect herself from heartbreak. However, the stakes rise when she breaks her biggest rule and takes things too far. But how can she resist? She never meant to fall in love or hurt anyone. Just like Tracey, though, she can’t erase her past. She must deal with the consequences of her affair, whatever the cost.

Don’t miss this landmark installation in the Spectrum Series saga, complete with the complex characters you love and a new romance you’ll never forget.


First Line:

Edgar pushed his new rimless glasses up on his nose.

A Body Washes Ashore by Bradley Pay

I know I have previously mentioned that I don’t read enough mysteries. Well, after I had made that statement, I went on a mystery reading binge. I didn’t plan it like that; it just happened that the following three books on my reading schedule were mysteries. Go figure. A Body Washes Ashore was the second book in that three books stretch. I am glad that I read it. Not only did I get to travel to different countries, but I got to know the main characters better. Plus, the authors introduced a couple of fantastic new characters.

A Body Washes Ashore is the third book in the Spectrum Series. While you could read this as a standalone book, I recommend reading the first two books in the series. That way, you can get a better feel for the main characters and why they do the things they do in this book.

A Body Washes Ashore is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Italy, with travels to Hungary, France, Austria, Slovenia, Germany, and the Raleigh area of North Carolina.

The storyline for A Body Washes Ashore is a combination of continuing the main storyline in The Killings Begin and a brand new storyline. In the main storyline, Tracy tries to suppress his serial killer mentality. He is married and starting a life with Charlotte in Italy. But that is easier said than done. He starts to become comfortable with killing and starts to leave clues, such as his DNA. But, the police are still hot on his heels, gathering evidence and figuring out that he is killing in Europe instead of the States.

As I said above, the other storyline involved almost everyone from the previous books but centered on Lee, Fong, and Remy, a new character. Remy is an art professor who meets Lee and Fong on a Spectrum cruise (as well as Gia, Sasha, and Tracy). With an instant connection to the group, Remy has finally found friends who accept her and her unconventional lifestyle. But friendships are tested when Remy breaks the number one rule she has always abided by. What happened to strain the friendship? Can Remy make amends? Will Tracy make more mistakes?

I was expecting some of the characters in A Body Washes Ashore to be stale and start to stagnate. But I was pleasantly surprised. The characters that I thought would grow stale didn’t. They expanded beyond what I thought they would be. It made the book so much better for me to read.

  • Remy—I wasn’t sure what I thought about her at first. I did like that she was honest and upfront about her lifestyle. I also liked that she had rules. But I knew they were going to be broken. The author didn’t exactly hide that. But, as the book went on, I began to like her. She fought hard and went to therapy to distance herself from that person. When everything exploded, I wasn’t surprised by people’s reactions. Frannie’s was the worst, but I expected it with her being so young (in her 20s). I did not expect what happened to her or who the person was that did it. Talk about a surprise.
  • Tracy—I liked the arc the author took with him. I was hoping it was a redemption arc and he would stop killing for good. But it didn’t. I did like that; he psychoanalyzed himself at one point in the book and realized what was triggering him. His friendship with Gia, Remy, Frannie, Lee, Fong, Sal, and Sasha was terrific, and I didn’t blame him for being angry when everything fell apart. But still, it didn’t excuse what happened next. I was so disappointed in him.

A Body Washes Ashore fit perfectly into the mystery genre. While I knew who the killer was, it was fun to watch the police and reporters in Raleigh try to piece everything together. As I said above, Tracy got sloppy in the last half of the book, and I can’t wait to see if the police will piece everything together.

The storyline with Tracy, the killings, the group of friends, and his wife was interesting. I liked seeing Tracy on an even keel for most of the book. I liked even more that he felt comfortable enough to tell Charlotte about the sexual abuse that occurred when he was younger. I believe that alone could let go of some of his anger towards his mother (but not enough for him to stop killing her lookalikes). He was himself with his friends. But when he started killing again, I was horrified by who he killed and how close he was to being caught. If Frannie weren’t deaf, she would have caught him.

The storyline with Remy, Lee, and Fong broke my heart reading it. I was disappointed by how this storyline turned out. Through the first two books, Lee and Fong were a power couple, and I wasn’t expecting things to go sideways with them. But the author did show that their relationship wasn’t as good as it was presented. I wish that Remy hadn’t been caught up in it. I also hated seeing Lee break the way she did. It was painful to read and even more painful when Fong realized how much he had messed up. But you know what, he didn’t even seem that sorry. His conversations with Sasha and his obsession with Remy highlighted that. This is a storyline that I am going to watch because I have a feeling it will be huge in the next book.

There are trigger warnings in A Body Washes Ashore. They would be cheating, alcohol, murder, and a person being told of a partner’s past sexual abuse (it was not graphic). If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of A Body Washes Ashore was interesting. The author did not wrap up any of the storylines. Instead, they were left wide open. But I was able to see the police closing in on Tracy. I can’t wait to see what the next (and last) book will bring!!!

I recommend A Body Washes Ashore to anyone over 21. There is language, moderate sexual situations, and violence. Also, see my trigger warnings.

I want to thank Bradley Pay for allowing me to read and review A Body Washes Ashore. All opinions stated in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading A Body Washes Ashore, you will enjoy reading these books:

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde: Book 1) by Heather Fawcett

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: January 10th, 2023

Series: Emily Wilde

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries—Book 1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adult, Historical Fiction, Fairies, Fae, Fiction, Historical, Paranormal, Magical Realism, Fantasy Romance

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.


First Line:

Shadow is not at all happy with me. He lies by the fire while the chill wind rattles the door, tail inert, staring up at me from beneath that shaggy forelock of his with the sort of accusatory resignation peculiar to dogs, as if to say: Of all the stupid adventures you’ve dragged me on, this will surely be the death of us.

Emily Wilde’s Encycolpaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

When I got the email inviting me to read/review this book, I was immediately taken by two things. The first was the cover. Now, covers don’t usually get my attention or play into why I want to read a book. Mainly because I read using my Kindle Scribed. But this one caught my attention because of how simple it was. The other thing that grabbed my attention was the blurb. A female professor studying Faeries in an alternative Norway in the 1880s? That is when I decided that I wanted, no needed, to read this book. And I am glad that I did because it was a good read.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries takes place in the late 1800s in an alternative world where women could hold jobs and have the same rights as men at that time. 95% of the book is set in the fictional country of Ljosland. Now, I was curious, and I googled the country. It turns out that Ljosland is a village in Norway. The village is made up (I googled that too). I liked that the author created a whole country similar to Norway but simultaneously different.

The plotline for Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is an interesting one. In this alternative world, fairies are real. Emily Wilde is an expert on Faeries and is writing an encyclopedia of fairie lore, which will be the first of its kind. She is almost finished and is traveling to Ljosland to study the most elusive and feared Faery of that area, the Hidden Ones. A loner by nature, Emily struggles to make connections in the village. Connections that she needs if she is going to finish her encyclopedia. Help, or a hindrance if she had her say, comes from Wendell Bambleby. Wendell is her rival in the world of Faery lore. But there is something about him that Emily can’t put her finger on. As the winter rages on and her studies continue, Emily learns that Wendell is more than he seems. And when The Hidden Ones start taking children and creating mischief, Emily takes it upon herself to help. That sets off a series of events that forces Emily to reevaluate everything she knows about Faeries, herself, and Wendell. What does Emily learn? What does she find out about Wendell? Will she finish her encyclopedia?

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the first book in the Emily Wilde series. Usually, I would put in here if you need to read the other books in the series first or not. Well, since it’s the first book, it doesn’t apply.

The pacing of Emily Wilde (I am shortening the title for this review. Plus Encyclopaedia keeps getting autocorrected) is slow for the first 70% of the book. And when I mean slow, it was snail or turtle slow. There was a point in the book where I debated DNF’ing it. It was that slow. But, once certain things happened (I can’t say because of spoilers), the book picked up speed.

The characters of Emily Wilde were interesting and diverse. I liked that the author chose this alternative world to be LGBTQ-friendly (a lesbian couple is featured prominently in the middle and last half of the book). I enjoyed it. It was refreshing for the period it was in (as was Emily, 30 and unmarried).

  • Emily—She was an odd duck right from the beginning. She had zero people skills and managed to tick off not only her host but the unofficial chief of the village. Her only companion was an elderly dog named Shadow. She was able to win over a couple of the Fairy. One was a sprite who lived in a tree, and the other was a changeling who just wanted to go home to his mother. I did feel bad because she did try. I wasn’t prepared for what she did 70% through the book. I am not going to go into it much, except that it went against everything she had warned the villagers about during the first few days of her stay. But, in a way, it did make sense because she got the last bit of information she needed for her encyclopedia.
  • Wendell—Ok, so I figured him out from the beginning. I don’t know how Emily didn’t figure it out sooner. All the signs were there. I can’t get more into what I am talking about because of the spoilers. But it is something huge. One thing I can talk about is Wendell’s feelings for Emily. Even I could see that he loved her. He followed her to that snowy land and helped her with her research. And then, he stayed and helped her out when things went sideways. Wendell made me laugh because he did things to annoy Emily deliberately. Like adding entries into her journal or just being a pain in the butt. But he did have an alternative reason for being there. One that made me sad.

Emily Wilde fits perfectly into the fantasy genre. The author spun a world where Faeries were real and were studied. There were points in the book where I wished that it was true. But then I would read about the more dangerous Faery and say, “Nope, glad they’re fictional.

There was a slight, very slight, sliver of romance in Emily Wilde. It was so small that I almost missed it. But, towards the end, it became more apparent.

The storyline with Emily, Wendell, and the research into her encyclopedia was interesting. I couldn’t believe the different kinds of Fairies that Emily had encountered on her research journies. I wondered how much of the folklore was true and how much the author made up. Usually, I google this stuff, but I didn’t want to go down a rabbit hole, so I didn’t. The Faeries that Emily met in the north were as cold-blooded as the weather. There was a point towards the end of the book (after the rescue mission) when I worried for Emily. There was a neat twist in the plotline that happened after the tree scene. I did laugh a little at Emily’s dismay (what did she think was going to happen!!), but my laughter did turn to concern for her. Everything did work out in the end.

The end of Emily Wilde was interesting. I was slightly put off by how it ended until I remembered it was a series. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and those annoy me. But it did its job and made me want to read book 2. I pray that it isn’t as slow as this one was. I couldn’t do that again.

I recommend Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, no language, and no sex.

I want to thank Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, and Heather Fawcett for allowing me to read and review Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. All opinions stated in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Shadowed Visions (The Guardians: Book 6) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: December 16th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Paranormal

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2 (review here)

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Shadowed Spirits—Book 4 (review here)

Shadowed Intent—Book 5 (review here)

Shadowed Visions—Book 6

Purchase Links—Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Silver Wade has never been one to back down from a fight. Facing off against an organization imprisoning those with psychic abilities has become the biggest challenge of her life. The fact she’s also a shapeshifter would make her a unique specimen in their collection.

New to the world of spies and terrorism, she and her sister cross paths with three teens fighting to stay ahead of skilled assassins, intent on their demise.

Dacien McGreggor is well known among his peers for his calm demeanor in times of stress. When ex-detective Silver Wade crosses his path, his worldview is challenged.

Each member of the team is paired with another according to their psychic ability. Dacien and Silver must set aside their differences and work together in order to survive.


First Line:

Never had evil penetrated Colin’s skin, flowing through his pores as if the barrier of his flesh were instead a sieve.

Shadowed Visions by Reily Garrett

I was beyond excited when the author approached me to read/review Shadowed Visions. Why was I so excited? Well, Dacian was getting his HEA. I had waited for six books to see who his love interest was going to be, and it was in book five that the author gave a hint. It was a given that I would accept the invitation to this book. I have become invested in the storyline and characters. I also want to see what wild ride the author would take me on in this book.

Shadowed Visions is book six in The Guardians series. While you don’t need to read the first five books in the series, I highly recommend that you do. There is so much background in each book that missing one could mean missing something important. Side note: I didn’t read book three and needed clarification about what was happening for a good part of book four. So, read the previous books.

Shadowed Visions is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Florida. Where in Florida, you ask? The Everglades. The author pained a perfect picture of just how deadly The Everglades was. One of the secondary characters, Colin (who has a fantastic ability), was attacked by a panther and left for dead. The other location that Shadowed Visions take place in is Connecticut. There are also talks about visiting the other group in Pennsylvania, but the author did not take us there.

Shadowed Visions is Dacian and Silver’s story. The fight against the organization that hunts down talented individuals and captures them is still intense. Silver, who is the last of Kiera’s siblings to be found, is a panther shifter who is an adrenaline junkier. She never backs down from a challenge. Nikolai has paired her with Dacian, who can control energy. They are tasked with finding the organization’s last American stronghold, kidnapping talented people, and experimenting on them. When looking for a group of teenagers lost in The Everglades, Silver contacts a large group of panther shifters. It is then that the last part of a prophecy is realized. Can Silver bring the shifters and the psychics together? Or will she choose a side? And what about her new relationship with Dacian? Can it survive the upheavals going on around them?

As with the last five books, Shadowed Visions characters were wonderfully written. Even the secondary character had a depth to them that I was surprised to find out. It made for a more fleshed-out and exciting book.

  • Silver—I didn’t get a chance to get to know her in the last book (Wade’s book). What I saw of her, I liked. She was headstrong, loyal to a fault, an adrenaline junkie, and independent. She was still a little wary of the family she found, but that was understandable. For years, it was just her and Wade. When the panther shifters showed up, I thought she would leave to stay with them. I wasn’t surprised by what she chose, though. I also loved her interactions with Dacian.
  • Dacian—I was so excited that Sparky was getting his match. I paired them up in book five and couldn’t wait to see what adventure they would lead me on. I do wish that the author had revealed more about his background. But that didn’t cut into my enjoyment of reading his story. 

Shadowed Visions fit perfectly in the romantic suspense genre. The romance was a little low-key, but with what was going on in the book, I agreed with it. And the suspense angle was terrific too!! Those two genres are among my favorites to read.

The storyline with Silver, the prophecy, the shifters, and the psychics was interesting. I figured out what would happen around the middle of the book (when Gabe allowed Dacian and others into the compound). But it was still fun reading up to it. Of course, there was a neat twist at the end, where the author revealed something HUGE. Huge as in, certain someone showed up. And the way this person did it was epic. It explained something that had bugged me since book 1. And now I know how the next romance is going to be!!

The storyline with Silver, Dacian, and their romance was sweet. Like I said above, the romance was a little low-key, but with everything happening, I didn’t expect it to be a big showy thing. It wouldn’t have made sense.

The storyline with Roth, the organization, the kidnappings, and the family were not what I expected. I got a significant insight into why Roth was the way he was (spoiler: it was unfortunate) and why he was going to the lengths to destroy his sister and her family. I loved seeing where the organization was holding the kidnapped people, finally being brought down. But then someone said, in America, and it made me wonder, were there other facilities around the world? Would the teams have to travel to release those people? Food for thought there.

I had questions about some secondary storylines that were seemingly left open. The main one was about Colin’s brother and Mary. I was trying to figure out if Silver and Dacian had found him. I know they found his girlfriend’s body, but with how his storyline ended, I figured he wasn’t found. I sure hope that he shows up in the next book. His ability to hold his breath for hours could be a game-changer for the group. The one with Mary seemed to have ended, but she’ll be back. People like her don’t go away quietly.

The end of Shadowed Visions left me very excited. As I said above, a twist in one of the storylines revealed someone I hoped the author would announce. With Roth being back in the picture, I think the next book will be the climax of the series. But I also have a slight, niggling feeling that what happened to Roth in the past wasn’t what it seemed. Maybe someone is showing up unexpectedly? I know this; I can’t wait to read the next book!!

I recommend Shadowed Visions to anyone over 21. There is no sex, but there is language and violence.

I want to thank Reily Garrett for allowing me to read and review Shadowed Visions. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading Shadowed Visions, you will enjoy reading these books:

The Rom-Com Agenda by Jayne Denker

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: January 10th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Adult Fiction, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A Most Anticipated Romance by PopSugar!

Vibrantly funny, endearingly sweet, and a love letter to all things rom com, Jayne Denker’s The Rom Com Agenda is a story of two people finding love right when they least expect it.

You know how the story’s supposed to go…but love makes its own plans.

STEP 1: Find yourself
Leah Keegan is used to being alone, especially after taking care of her sick foster mother for the past year. But now there’s nothing keeping her in the sweet town of Willow Cove. It’s time to move on. Again.

STEP 2: Win back the one who got away
Eli Masterson thought he and Victoria were meant to be together until she decided to jet off to Rome for a year. Eli is determined to win her back. But how?

STEP 3: Become a romantic hero
Changing Eli’s physical appearance is easy, but to turn Eli into the sophisticated-yet-vulnerable ideal man, his girl pals force him to watch classic rom-coms. And take notes.

STEP 4: Fall in love?
Inadvertently drawn into the makeover scheme, Leah ends up being Eli’s guide through the wild world of meet-cutes and grand gestures. Even though she believes Eli doesn’t need to change a thing about himself. Even though she just might be falling for Eli . . . and Eli falling for her.

“The perfect swoony, slow burn, sentimental romantic comedy that we all deserve .” –New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay


First Line:

Leah Keegan was positive she was not meant to be a superhero.

The Rom-Com Agenda by Jayne Denker

Even though I like (and love) other genres, romance is the backbone of my reading experience. I was hooked when I started reading Harlequin book of the month romances in middle school. I also love rom-com. If I am in a bad mood or feeling blah, I can turn on Netflix and find many of them. So, when I got the invite to review from the publisher, I didn’t hesitate to accept it. But I was disappointed with The Rom-Com Agenda. Not that I didn’t like it (I did). The story fell short of my expectations.

The Rom-Com Agenda is a medium-paced book set in upstate New York. Leah had returned to Willow Creek to care for her sick foster mother. Now that her foster mother passed, Leah is at a loss for what to do. She holds multiple jobs, trying to make ends meet, when she overheard a disastrous proposal and break-up. Leah meets that man, Eli, when his sister and her friends are determined to give him a makeover and goes into the shop where Leah works. Leah is welcomed into the group by everyone (including Eli) and learns that Eli is determined to win back his girlfriend. That is when the Rom-Com agenda is formed. Eli must watch every rom-com movie the girls recommend to him to become a swoon-worthy man. They hope that he will learn something from them. Leah volunteers to watch them with him, and a connection is formed. Leah starts to fall for Eli, but she knows she is on limited time. Her foster mother’s son is coming back to town to sell the house, and Leah won’t have a place to stay. So, falling in love is the last thing on her agenda. Will Eli learn anything from the movies? Will Leah have to leave Willow Creek? And most importantly, will Leah and Eli admit their feelings for each other?

I loved the secondary characters and Leah in The Rom-Com Agenda. They were fleshed out, and I did form an attachment to them. The main characters were tough to like. Well, not Leah. She was sweet and reserved. It was Eli, and I’ll explain it in his section below. Let’s say that desperate is never good and comes off poorly.

  • Leah—She was a sweetheart. I wanted to scoop her up and shield her from the bad things in the world. I also couldn’t believe how reserved she was. I get why. I’m not going to get into her backstory, but it was excruciating and affected how she thought other people saw her. She decided to help Eli because she was a kind person and knew he was hurting. I loved seeing her character grow and understand her self-worth.
  • Eli—I couldn’t stand him. He is the reason why I rated this book three stars. He came across as desperate. What he did to Victoria (his ex) was not cool. They had only been dating for maybe two months when she went to Rome for a year. What did Eli do? He proposed marriage and then refused to accept the break-up. I was like, “what the heck, dude?” When his sister and friends decide to make him over (to help him get over her), he obsesses over her. I couldn’t even with him. I wanted to smack him and say, “Helloo, Leah, idiot.” This went on for almost the whole book.

The Rom-Com Agenda did fit into the romance genre, but it was slow-burn. The author went for a more relaxed, natural feel for the romance. While I did appreciate it, I sometimes wished it moved a little faster. But, overall, it was a good fit for the book.

The storylines in The Rom-Com Agenda felt a little meh to me. I was not too fond of that pseudo-love triangle in which the author tried to put Eli, Leah, and Victoria. As I mentioned above, it came across as forced and super creepy on Eli’s end. I did like the storyline where Eli’s friends tried to help him out of his depression, but I did find it odd that they wanted him to watch rom-com instead of him diving back into the world of dating. As for the storyline with Eli and Leah, I did like that one. It was sweet to watch them fall in love (even if Eli didn’t admit it to himself and kept obsessing over freaking Victoria).

There were a couple of trigger warnings in The Rom-Com Agenda. They were the death of a loved one by cancer, mental illness, foster care, and caregiver burnout. If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of The Rom-Com Agenda was your typical HEA. I liked that Eli and Leah got their HEA. I would love to see more books in this world. There are several characters that I would like to see more of.

I recommend The Rom-Com Agenda to anyone over 21. There is mild violence, mild language, and very mild sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings above.


If you enjoyed reading The Rom-Com Agenda, then you will enjoy reading these books:

A Wicked Game (Ruthless Rivals: Book 3) by Kate Bateman

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: December 27th, 2022

Series: Ruthless Rivals

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction, Adult, Regency, Fiction, Military Fiction, Military Romance, Regency Romance

A Reckless Match—Book 1 (review here)

A Daring Pursuit—Book 2 (review here)

A Wicked Game—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

If there’s one thing impossible for a Davies to resist, it’s a challenge from a Montgomery. . .

A teasing bet.

Shipwrecked and imprisoned thanks to an incorrect map, Captain Morgan Davies has returned to London to exact sweet revenge on the cartographer responsible for his suffering. He’s also vowed to claim the winner’s prize―three kisses―in the bet he made with his long-time nemesis, the prickly, smart-mouthed Harriet Montgomery. His incarceration has clarified his feelings for her, but convincing the infuriating woman he wants to marry her is going to be his greatest challenge yet. When Harriet’s revealed to be the very mapmaker he seeks, Morgan decides to combine revenge and seduction into one delightful package. . .

A dangerous enemy.

Harriet’s always wanted witty scoundrel Morgan, and now he’s back; as handsome and as taunting as ever. She has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s failing eyesight and a rival mapmaker copying her work to play wicked games with a dastardly Davies―however tempting he might be. But when a threat from Morgan’s past puts them both in danger, Harry discovers that she and Morgan might not be enemies at all . . .


First Line:

As he strode along Whitehall, Morgan repressed the urge to whistle a jaunty sea shanty.

A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman

I was excited when I was invited to review A Wicked Game. I had reviewed the previous two books in the series and wanted to read Morgan’s story. So, I did an odd sort of happy dance in my living room (I was dodging two kittens, two one years old and a six-year-old cat who were very curious about Mom going “Oh yeah, oh yeah” and fist-pumping). I was justified in my excitement about this book. It was the best book in the series.

A Wicked Game is the love story between Morgan Davies and Harriet Montgomery. Morgan is a Welsh naval captain who had been captured by the French for years before being freed. Harriet is Morgan’s childhood friend/nemesis. She is also the cartographer who drew the map that led to Morgan’s imprisonment. Now that Morgan is free, he is determined to win Harriet over. But that is easier said than done. Harriet is an independent woman who cares for her blind father and doesn’t trust Morgan. Add the Frenchman who captured and tortured Morgan, has eluded capture, and has been seen in London….looking for the cartographer who drew the map and Morgan. Will Morgan confess his feelings for Harriet? Will Harriet learn to trust Morgan and her feelings? Will the Frenchman find Harriet and Morgan?

I had gotten a glimpse into Harriet and Morgan’s characters in the previous two books. From what I saw, I liked them and couldn’t wait to see if they would end up together.

  • Morgan—-I don’t even know where to begin with him. As I mentioned above, I loved him in the previous two books and was looking forward to his story. It didn’t disappoint. I loved that Morgan was open about how he felt about Harriet. Even in the scenes at the ball (where he secured his three kisses), he knew he loved her. But the time spent in captivity brought those feelings more into focus. He was rare for a romance hero; he admitted his feelings pretty early on in the book and then spent the rest of the book trying to convince Harriet his feelings were genuine. That alone made this book so great to read.
  • Harriet—I liked Harriet, but there were times when I wanted to shake her. Like the night when Morgan promised her three kisses. I couldn’t believe that she thought he was joking. Harriet grew up with him. She should have known that he wasn’t playing with her. I liked that the author went in a different direction with her. Instead of making her part of the ton, she was a regular Miss who worked as a cartographer for the British government. It was an exciting change of pace from the usual Regency romances I read, and I loved it.

Several notable secondary characters added extra depth to the book. I loved seeing the characters from the previous books make appearances.

I am obsessed with Regency romance and can’t read enough of them. A Wicked Game fits perfectly into the historical romance genre. So it is a bonus when a book written in that genre is as well-written as this one was.

The storyline with Morgan, Harriet, and their love story was well written. I was 100% on team Morgan and loved that he was so much in touch with his feelings. He was willing to do anything to show Harriet that his feelings were genuine.

The storyline with Harriet, the copycat, her working for the government, and the Frenchman was riveting. The author did a fantastic job of showing how Harriet did her job, mainly how she drew the maps that would end up in the enemies’ hands. The author also showed that while she successfully ran her business, it was a male-dominated society, and she had to hide behind a male identity. That led to her issues with the rival printer, and in turn, that led to the Frenchman.

This wouldn’t be a good review if I didn’t mention the sex. There are a lot of sex and sexual situations in A Wicked Game. When Morgan started collecting his three kisses, he didn’t say what type. That first sexual situation was out of this world. The other sexual situations and sexual acts were either just as good or better than that first scene. I kept thinking, “Dang, Harriet, he’s a keeper.

The end of A Wicked Game kept me on edge. The author kept me guessing what would happen with Harriet and Morgan (even though I knew they would end up together). She wrapped up all the storylines in a way that satisfied me as a reader. I hope she will write more books in this world.

I would recommend A Wicked Game to anyone over 21. There are sex, sexual situations, mild violence, and no language.


The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: July 19th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Audiobook, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult, Adult Fiction, Humor, Realistic Humor

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | Indigo | Apple Books | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.


First Line:

My mother’s dying wish was for me to take a vacation.

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

I was over the moon when I got the publisher’s invitation to review The Bodyguard. I love Katherine Center’s books. So, I didn’t even think about it when I accepted the invitation. But life happens, and I put The Bodyguard on the back burner as I dealt with some significant issues that I had going on. I am glad I finally got to read this book because it was amazing!!

Hannah is an Executive Protection Agent (aka a bodyguard) and is good at what she does. People underestimate her because she is small and blends into the background. Jack is a movie star who has been in seclusion since his brother was killed in a car accident a few years earlier. Hannah is assigned to Jack when he returns home to help out his family when his mother is diagnosed with cancer. His stalker, a middle-aged corgi breeder who knits sweaters, has found out he is home and has made some demands of him. But Jack doesn’t want a bodyguard, and his family doesn’t know about the stalker. So Jack makes a deal with Hannah; she needs to pretend to be his girlfriend, and his family cannot find out that he has a stalker. Hannah agrees but isn’t prepared for how comfortable she is with his family and Jack. The more time she spends with Jack, the more she likes him. What will happen when the stalker threat is gone? Will Hannah and Jack figure out that they are meant for each other? Or will their time at the ranch become a memory?

The Bodyguard is a medium to fast-paced book that is set in and around the city of Houston. The pacing of this book was perfect. It didn’t go so fast that I had issues following the plotline, and it also slowed down enough to process certain scenes. I also loved that the author set it in and around Houston. Houston has been a place I have wanted to visit (and is on my USA bucket list).

The main characters made this book with their witty dialogue and interchanges. There were characters that I would have loved to meet (if in real life).

  • Hannah—The Bodyguard didn’t start so well for her. Her mother died, and her coworker/boyfriend dumped her on the night of the funeral. Then, she finds out that her best friend/coworker has been sleeping with him. I wondered how she didn’t snap (because I would have). I felt awful for her. Hannah was tough but sweet. I loved how she got starstruck when she first met Jack. She reacted to how I pictured a regular person would act when meeting someone famous. I also loved her vulnerable side. She was hurting from everything that happened and didn’t have a chance to process it. Overall, she was just a nice person. Of course, she was tough and proved it towards the end of the book. Oh, and I get how insecure she was with Jack. She had a tough upbringing (her mom chose abusive men over her daughter). She didn’t know if she could trust him or not.
  • Jack—He took a little more time to get to know in this book. Not that I didn’t like him, but he wasn’t very open with personal things (Hannah was an open book). Like his brother’s death. From his reactions, I knew that something wasn’t right about it. And it took until almost halfway through for the truth to come out. I also liked that the author didn’t have Jack living a hunky-dory life after his brother died. He had issues (mainly PTSD and anxiety). The author handled his issues delicately and allowed them to be worked on throughout the book (notice I didn’t say worked out). I did think that his being super casual about the corgi stalker wasn’t cool. He did realize how deranged she was once Hannah got threatened.

The secondary characters brought depth and extra life to the book. I loved everyone in this book. Well, not everyone. I thought that Jack’s older brother was a d-tickle for how he treated Jack (he assumed something, and it came back to bite him). Hannah’s ex-boyfriend/coworker and her ex-best friend/coworker were awful. I couldn’t believe what they both said to her (each separately and each different thing). It stung me as a reader.

The Bodyguard fits perfectly into the romance genre. Jack and Hannah had a slow-burn romance forced by their proximity. While I knew what Hannah was feeling (the author told the book from her POV), I couldn’t understand what Jack was feeling. One scene at the end, where Jack told Hannah to get lost after inviting her to his house for a date, broke my heart. But I am glad that Hannah had second thoughts about what he said because if she didn’t, things would have ended differently.

The storyline with Hannah, her coworkers, and the fallout from her breakup was hilarious and sad. What upset me was not what her ex said to her (and it was a dick thing to say) but what her supposed best friend said. I liked how everything worked out in the end and how her ex ended up with no one (teaches him to be a jerk!!).

The storyline with Hannah, her coworkers, and the fallout from her breakup was hilarious and sad. What upset me was not what her ex said to her (and it was a dick thing to say) but what her supposed best friend said. I liked how everything worked out in the end and how her ex ended up with no one (teaches him to be a jerk!!).

The end of The Bodyguard had me almost in tears. The author wrapped up each storyline and did it in such a way that it made me smile. But I almost had a heart attack when Hannah and Jack’s storyline was wrapped up. What Hannah said made me go, “What the heck” for a minute before I read the following line. That was so not funny.

I would recommend The Bodyguard to anyone over 21. There is mild language, violence, and mild sexual situations.


If you enjoyed reading The Bodyguard, you will enjoy reading these books:

The Catch by Jenna Miles

Publisher: Hibernia Press

Date of publication: November 2nd, 2015

Genre: Romance

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible

Goodreads Synopsis:

Poignant and powerful, The Catch is a contemporary second-chance romance that effortlessly captures the nostalgia of young love and relatably reflects the trials that come with family, motherhood, and responsibility.

Julia Dunphy’s husband just left her for the second time, her thirteen-year-old won’t stop swearing in public, and to top it all off, her four-year-old just asked to buy condoms. Needless to say, this isn’t how she’d expected her life to pan out.

Then, Julia’s new work in an aquarium shop washes up old memories of a whale-watching business she once imagined – and of William Quinn, the man she imagined it with. William walked into her life with striking blue eyes and constant surprises. Before she knew it, she was head-over-heels in love. However, the realities of life eventually pulled them apart. When Julia and William’s paths cross again, despite their baggage, an undeniable spark remains.

When she learns that William has made a success of their ideas, she wonders if it’s too late to finally make a success of their relationship. But Julia has already blown her first two chances at happiness with William, so a third one seems like wishful thinking. Then she uses her prowess as a paralegal to save William’s business, and when he shows up to thank her, she dares to wonder – is another chance with him possible, after all?


First Line:

The fog was as much a native of this neighborhood as Julia was.

The Catch by Jenna Miles

Romance novels have been my favorite go-to genre for years. I love reading the different tropes and seeing people get their happy endings. So, when I got the offer to review The Catch, it was a no-brainer. I immediately accepted. I am glad that I did because this was a great read.

The Catch had a pretty straightforward storyline. Julia has moved back to the San Fransisco neighborhood she grew up in to raise her young son and teenage daughter. She hopes to reopen her late uncle’s aquarium business. As Julia settles in, she starts thinking about her lost love, Will, and their relationship over the years. Reconnecting isn’t easy because she broke Will’s heart five years earlier. But a chance comes when she uses her paralegal skills to help Will’s family with a legal case. But Julia is hiding more secrets from Will. What secrets is she hiding? Will they finally be together? Or will that secret tear them apart for good?

The Catch is a medium-paced book that takes place in San Fransisco. I liked the pacing because it did allow me to process everything that happened with Julia (there was a lot). I also loved the location. San Fransisco is a relatively unknown city for me (other than watching Full House and Fuller House), so reading about it was amazing!!

I am going to be very blunt here. I couldn’t stand Julia for most of the book. I will get more in-depth in the bulleted section of this, but she did leave a bad taste in my mouth until the last part of the book.

  • Julia—As I mentioned above, I couldn’t stand her. She came across as selfish and made choices that made me scratch my head and ask, “Why?”. She somewhat redeemed herself in the 2012 timeline when she took on Will’s mother’s insurance issue and resolved it.
  • Will—I felt for him for 90% of the book. His breakdown when Julia broke up with him was a little unwarranted, but we’ve all been in those types of relationships. I also didn’t blame him for how he acted in 2012. What Julia did to him in 2006 was awful, and he wasn’t wrong for acting as he did when he saw Julia again.
  • Paige—I felt for her, but I wish the author had disclosed her mental health diagnosis sooner in the book. It would have changed how I saw her. Because honestly, she came across as a brat in the 2012 parts of the book. The author explained and showed what Paige was like before her diagnosis (in 2006) and how her father’s sudden disappearance and reappearance triggered it. She did become more likable in the second half of the 2012 timeline. Her reaction to Julia’s secret was not what I expected, and I was so mad at her paternal grandmother!!

The secondary characters carried the book and added more depth to it. I hope the author will write a book set in this universe again. There are several characters that I would like to get their own stories.

The Catch fits perfectly into the romance category. I loved reading about Julia and Will’s very rocky and messy relationship. The trope that The Catch fit into was second-chance love (well, in this case, third chance). But I also feel that it fits into the reunion trope.

The storyline with Julia, Will, and their love story was well written. How many people here have had relationships that ended and restarted years later (raises hand)? It was raw and wasn’t pretty, but it was real. I wouldn’t say I liked that Julia did a number on Will (in 1993 and 2006). Also, I wouldn’t say I liked the secret that she had. Talk about a doozy, and in a way, it wasn’t fair to Will. Also, I want to add that this storyline jumps from 1993 to 2006 to 2012. I had no issue following it. The author labeled each chapter with what year it was.

There are trigger warnings in The Catch. Death of a family member, AIDS (mentioned), bigotry (talked about, not shown), underage drinking, parent abandonment, spouse abandonment, cheating, racism (derogatory names used to describe Hispanic people), abortion (talked about), drug use (talked about), drug overdose (talked about and briefly shown the aftermath), and mental illness are shown in the book. If any of these trigger you (and a couple did trigger me), I recommend not reading this book.

The end of The Catch was your typical HEA. The author wrapped up all the storylines in a way that mostly satisfied me. I say mostly because I wasn’t thrilled with how the secret secondary storyline ended. I understand why, but so frustrating. All I have to say is that Will is too forgiving.

I would recommend The Catch to anyone over 21. There is language, nongraphic sexual situations, and mild violence. Also, see my trigger warnings.

I would like to thank the author, Jenna Miles, for allowing me to read and review The Catch. All opinions in this review are 100% mine.

Spies Never Lose (Banana Girls: Book 3) by M. Taylor Christensen

Publisher: Zoom Press

Date of publication: November 10th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Spy

Series: Banana Girls

Spies Never Quit—Book 1 (review here)

Spies Never Swoon—Book 2 (review here)

Spies Never Lose—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hannah’s new husband is going to drive her absolutely crazy.

Never having been married before, Hannah McCarthy doesn’t know if what she’s feeling is normal. Even though she has to pretend to be madly in love with her fake husband, she really just wants to wring his neck. But her annoyance and frustration would all be worth it if it means putting a stop to the illegal international adoptions they’ve discovered.

Can Hannah and her fellow agent set aside their differences and work together to track down the mastermind of the adoption operation? And, perhaps more importantly, is Hannah willing to let her incredibly condescending yet aggravatingly adorable pretend-husband actually get his way?

If you enjoy kick-butt spy-girls and enemies-to-lovers, you’ll love Spies Never Lose. This stand-alone novel is the third book in the Banana Girls series. As always, the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.


First Line:

A loud bang shattered the stillness of the scrubby Georgia woods.

Spies Never Lose by M. Taylor Christensen

I was super excited when I got the invite to review Spies Never Lose. I had read the previous two books and enjoyed them. So, I jumped on the invite. I am glad that I did because this book was fantastic.

Spies Never Lose has a fast-paced and exciting plotline. Hannah has been assigned to work with one of the most infuriating men she has ever met, Special Agent Jason Briggs from Homeland Security. Their job is to infiltrate an international adoption agency suspected of kidnapping children from their families in China and adopting them into families in the United States. Hannah and Jason are posing as social media influencers looking to adopt. The closer they get to exposing the agency, the more dangerous it gets. The only thing is Hannah can’t stand Jason, and it isn’t easy for her to pretend to like him. Can Hannah and Jason put aside their differences and work together? Or will they fail their mission?

Spies Never Lose is the third book in the Banana Girls series. While the readers can read it as a standalone, I recommend reading the first two books before reading this one. That way, you can get the background on why the Banana Girls were formed, who the other team members are, and the relationships the previous two girls found themselves in.

Spies Never Lose is a fast-paced book that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding areas.

I like characters that grab me from the get-go. I get a better connection with them if they do that. Thankfully, both Hannah and Jason were able to do that.

  • Hannah—-I was thrilled that Hannah finally got her book. My opinion of her has been rocky because of how she acted in the first two books. She was a jerk, and I was praying that she wasn’t written that way in this one. Well, she wasn’t. All those jerky traits were toned down and morphed into qualities that complimented her. I loved it. I also liked how single-minded she was in her hate of Jason. I knew it would turn to love at some point, and when it did, I loved how Hannah showed it.
  • Jason—I did not like him at first. He came across as a cocky, misogynistic man who told Hannah she was privileged to work with him. But, as the book went on, the author revealed a man who cared deeply about his case and Hannah. I also loved his explanation about why he came off the way he did. By the end of the book, I was 100% team, Jason.

The former characters from the previous books did make appearances in this book. The author, though, kept them in the background. Other notable characters (the two influencer families and the adoption coordinator) added extra depth and character to the book.

Spies Never Lose has a hybrid of genres. It is a combination of young adult, suspense, mystery, thriller, and a little bit of romance. As with his other books, the author was able to meld all of those genres together in a way that caught and kept my attention.

There was one major storyline in Spies Never Lose. It was Hannah and Jason infiltrating and taking down the international adoption ring. It was slow-moving at first (with all the talk of influencers and an adoption camp), but the pace did pick up. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was behind the buying of the children.

There were secondary storylines, and they complemented the main one very well. I loved the storyline with the influencer families that Jason and Hannah had to make friends with. I was dying laughing. Mainly because the representation shown was 100% what I imagined those people would be like.

The end of Spies Never Lose was standard. I was surprised by who was behind the adoptions. I also liked the HEA for Jason and Hannah.

Three Reasons You Should Read Spies Never Lose:

  • Great storyline
  • Readers can read it as a standalone
  • Great melding of genres

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Read Spies Never Lose:

  • Jason at the beginning of the book. I wanted to strangle him.
  • The influencers. As much as they amused me, I didn’t like them.
  • The kids are being stolen from their families and adopted.

I would recommend Spies Never Lose to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and no sex (some kissing scenes).