[766]: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

Book Review

The writing duo of Christina Lauren hardly disappoints. Apart from Dating You/Dating Me, that is, which I had a tough time getting into because of the characters. Also, Autoboyography which was so good up until that one moment when the broken hearted boy did something so stupid that I can’t even. Sigh. Anyway, they continue to write entertaining romance novels that are funny and sexy. They are also so proficient in witty banters between characters. I guess that’s one of the advantages of being a duo.

In The Unhoneymooners, we meet Olive. A self-proclaimed unlucky soul who can’t catch a break. Unlike her sister who manages to win every single contests she enters. As luck would have it, she wins her entire wedding – including the honeymoon. But throughout her unlucky streak, Olive never once did she feel envious of her twin sister’s lucky draw in life. Their relationship is a loving, supportive one. They have each other’s backs no matter what and will do just about anything for each other.

It is unfortunate that she can’t warm up to her sister’s fiancé and especially to his brother, Ethan. Things has always been contentious since almost to the day they met. For some inexplicable reason, they just grate on each other’s nerves. So when the entire wedding party and guests came down with the worst case of food poisoning, Olive’s luck either turned for the better or worse – depending on who you asked.

Ethan and Olive spends the next week in beautiful, balmy Maui trying not to kill each other and staying out of each other’s way. Unfortunately, fate has another plan. Day by day, their relationship grows from cantankerous to something else entirely. And with every change in the dynamics of their relationship, comes the revelations of the real reason why they can’t stand each other.

I really enjoyed this one. Christina Lauren are authors whose works I repeatedly go back to when I’m in need of an escape. I’ll never tire of them, I don’t think. The Unhoneymooners became just one of their works that I’ll read and reread.

There are a lot to love about Ethan and Olive. The banters, the antics they pull on each other, the way they love each other’s siblings to a fault; and the way they sometimes forget that they hate each other. Olive, despite being plagued with unholy luck, was one of those people who accepts things for what and how they are. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t take steps to somehow change the status quo. In fact, she’ll do just about anything to finally gain employment even as far as to coerce Ethan into faking a marriage. Ethan, on the other hand, also has something to gain by agreeing: to prove to his ex-girlfriend that he’s moved on. (Sidenote: having a free holiday in Maui only to have it spoilt it by seeing your ex with their current flame staying is not my idea of a good time.) Long story short, mishaps ensue. But amongst the comedy of errors was a realization that they were actually good together. And theirs could work if they could only get past all the hang-ups of their past encounters.

The one thing they have in common was how much they love their siblings and to what end they’ll do to protect them. But it’s that instinct that might be detrimental to their pursuing a relationship.

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[762]: The Mister by E.L. James

The Mister by E.L James | April 16th, 2019

Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Le sigh.

I’m glad I didn’t buy a copy, to be honest. I borrowed the audio from my library. I didn’t have any expectations when I added it on my TBR. But I certainly didn’t expect to be bored out of my wits. Full disclosure, I got up to chapter 19 before I quit. Yes, I gave it the benefit of the doubt before I realize the novel would not improve, nor would the story go faster than the molasses-in-winter pace it had going on.

I don’t think it’s a big secret that my guilty pleasure is reading about billionaires and the virgins they attract into their lairs. Based on Ms. James’ earlier successful novels, she knows a thing or two about this trope. I think that’s why I had a hard time saying no, to be perfectly honest. However, this was a snoozefest. And the characters lack, well, characterizations – personalities, if I may.

I think she really tried, though. In this book, we have a photographer, Earl, DJ, and model to replace Christian Grey. His name is Maxim Trevelyan. So instead of a billionaire extraordinaire, our hero is someone that she tried to add some depth. Unfortunately, no amount of versatility could save our poor Maxim. He, like, Christian Grey only thinks about the woman in his periphery. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at this point in my reading life, I just can’t be bothered. I need something more in my hero.

Let’s talk about our virgin. Oh man, she could’ve saved this travesty. She’s an Albanian who was a victim of human trafficking. But then her story got convoluted with the addition of an abusive fiancé. I wish she’d picked one character plotline and went with it. I mean, did she run away from the fiance? Or did she run away for a better life? It would’ve been interesting to see her plight as someone who got away from those who attempted to sell her. As it was, that point of her characterization was not fully explored.

As a reader, it’s frustrating when an author can’t find a way to remove themselves from the shadow of their previously successful novel. When Ms. James was a fanfiction writer, I was one of her legion of fans who thought she was the bees’ knees and looked forward to reading best selling novels she’d write. This is just her second endeavour, if you think about it. Here’s hoping she’ll get better at it. 🙂

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[3] Romance Reads Round Up: The VIP Series by Kristen Callihan

 


Idol
by Kristen Callihan
Published: June 7th, 2016
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Kristen Callihan’s VIP series is about the Kill John band. Rockstars and sex gods, who has recently suffered the heartbreak of a failed suicide by one of its members.

Second only to the the suicidal member, Killian James is probably more affected by this setback. After all, Jax Blackwood is the other half of what makes Kill John the band. As well, he considers him as his brother. So when he didn’t see the abyss that Jax was slowly falling into, he blames himself. Guilt-ridden and uninspired to face the world, he plunged into a pool of alcoholism and found himself in a wreck on Liberty Bell’s front yard.

Although their meeting got off to a rocky start, Libby and Killian found a kindred spirit in each other. Libby was also on the run from the world having just lost her parents. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in months prior to Killian crashing into her isolation. In the end, they’d both realize that they are exactly with whom they needed. Libby, to inspire the music back into Killian’s life, and Killian to bring Libby back into the world of the living.


Managed
by Kristen Callihan
Published: November 14th, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Gabriel Scott is perhaps my favourite character in this series. As the title insinuates, he is the manager for the band.

His friendship/brotherhood with Kill John started out when they were kids at a boarding school in England. They took him under their wings and as years go by, their friendship only strenghtened to a brotherhood. He, too was especially affected by Jax’s failed suicide. It was an eye-opener to the fast life that being around Kill John slowly devolved into. Since then, he’s become even more staid, stuffy, and short of being a hermit.

The romance between Gabriel and Sophie is also my favourite so far. I don’t know how many more books are coming but it’s safe to say these two win my vote. Bonus: Sophie’s mom is half Filipino so a girl after my own heart. Anyway, Gabriel is a very regimented, disciplined, and serious man. So meeting a whirlwind like Sophie Darling threw him for a loop. I love the way Sophie took him out of his comfort zone at all times. They were a mixture of mercurial and coquettish fun that really worked as far as character chemistry goes.

Sophie has a dark history relating to the band, however. So working for them might just be a bit more complicated that she anticipated.


Fall
by Kristen Callihan
Published: October 23rd, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Ahhh, Jax Blackwood. Laid-back on the outside, a mess of angst on the inside. Is it weird to associate him with Jasper Cullen? I don’t know, but that’s who I saw in my head as I was reading his story.

Anyway, our Jax Blackwood is still recovering from his failed suicide. And while his facade screams “well-adjusted rockstar”, he has scars from his inability to cope with living the celebrity life. In fact, he’s still vulnerable that even Killian James and the rest of the band walk on eggshells around him.

But then he meets Stella. A sunshine in his otherwise gloomy existence. Everybody loves her, everyone’s drawn to her goodness and light. But Stella is hiding a vulnerability that she rarely shows the world. If he’s lucky, he might get a glimpse. Or he might even help her. But darkness has a way of dimming whatever sliver of light the weak have found. Unfortunately, Jax and Stella are not exempt from the shadows that lurk in their own psyches.

I love these two as well. Heck, I love all the couples so far from this series. It just so happens that I love Scottie and Sophie more. Kristen Callihan knows how to pair them well, with stories that will leave you sighing from beginning to the end. I can’t wait to read more about the rest of the crew, and that includes finally seeing Brenna and Rye in the bedroom so they can take their aggression out on each other. If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*

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[754]: Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

Dirty Exes, Liars Inc. Book 1
by Rachel Van Dyken


The first book to Ms. Van Dyken’s new series features the story of revenge and finding love when you least expect it. This is about Blaire, a woman spurned by love one too many times. Her first love was Jesse, a man who, at the time, was on the verge of greatness in professional football.  He made the choice to walk away from Blaire all those years ago. It took her a while, but she got over the hurt. Though, seeing him again brought the sting of her first love heartbreak.

Her second stint at love hurt her pride more than anything when she found her ex-husband in flagrante delicto with her best friend, no less. And on that same fateful night, she met her now business partner. Isla knows all too well about getting spurned. After all, she found out that her boyfriend was sleeping with her sister on the same day.  The kinship instantly turned to a partnership otherwise known as Liars, Inc.

The job is hardly glamorous by any stretch of imagination. Setting traps for lying, cheating boyfriends and husbands is not a walk in the park. They do whatever they can to help the female population rid themselves of men with wandering eyes and sleazy hands. Including, but not limited to, putting up with demanding clients with spouses who may or may not be dirt bags after all.

Such is the case for Blaire’s former love, Jesse.

Hired by his soon-to-be ex-wife, Blaire has the unfortunate task of trying to find evidence of his alleged cheating. But she didn’t account for meeting Jesse’s best friend, player extraordinaire, Colin. He offers more than help in finding all the dirty deets in Jesse’s life. He’s a complication she didn’t account for. He’s good looking, cunning, as he is playful in life and in business. Basically, trouble with a capital T. More than anything, Blaire hopes to deal with her feelings with Jesse once and for all.  But she gets more than what she bargains for. Now, she’s caught between two men demanding more than she’s willing to give.

A love triangle that didn’t drive me crazy: this is how it’s done, y’all. You’ll never read about Blaire waffling back and forth between two men. Ms. Van Dyken let the story play out, without annoying us with Blaire’s incessant listing of the pros and cons with being either man. The effect is an enjoyable, romantic story that had me grinning and not at all thinking about whose bed should Blaire end up.

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[2] Romance Reads Round Up

Hot Asset
by Lauren Layne
4 out of 5 Stars


Ian Bradley is your quintessential hedge fund manager prowling Wall Street. Successfull, good looking, wealthy.  For a time, it seems like everything is going right in his world.

Until it wasn’t.

Lara McKenzie has a lot to prove. A daughter of FBI agents,  she knows the climb to the top will be steeper considering her parents’ reputation. So she will do anything to get a guilty ruling with her latest case. Unfortunately, Ian Bradley is just as determined for her to lose.

With great chemistry and smart repartee, Hot Asset proved to be such a fun and quick read. Lauren Layne’s latest series is clever, sexy, and at times, funny. The perfect recipe for a romance to fawn over.

I did experience some mild irritation when I learned why he was being investigated to begin with. I mean, besides the fact that he was allegedly inside trading, the real reason was a little flimsy at best.

Regardless, I’m chomping at the bit to follow this series. It sure has been a while since I’ve been obssessed with one.

Hard Sell
by Lauren Layne
4 out of 5 Stars


The Wolf of Wall Street is about to see his career go down in flames. It seems that all his hard partying life is about to catch up to him. Seen at a party where drugs and other acts of debaucharey are being performed, his clients and his bosses are none too happy.

If he has any hopes of saving his career and his reputation, he would need a miracle in the hands of the greatest PR person that ever lived.

Enter Sabrina Cross. A PR genius, Sabrina will have to pull all the stops in order to help Matt. Including signing up to become his pretend girlfriend.

Fortunately for Matt Cannon, they share a past. She’s the girl he knew he had zero chance of impressing no matter what he does. But that doesn’t stop him from trying any chance he gets. And because of their past, the pretending part only gets even more complicated. Feelings get in the way and hard choices will have to be made.

Once again, Ms. Layne nailed it with this follow up book. Matt and Sabrina sizzle with organic chemistry. These two light up a room with every look, and every smile they throw at each other. Oh, and the banters! She’s so good at this. It makes me wonder why I haven’t been reading a lot of her work.

Sabrina and Matt had a lot of growing up to do – well, more on Matt’s end. He knew the fast life needed to end if he ever wanted to keep the name he’s made for himself. Sabrina, on the other hand, only needed to wake up and realize what’s been in front of her face all along. Her background wasn’t the easiest life, but she sure crawled out of the pit in which she grew up.

Over all, this series is really proving to be an obsession I could easily get behind. With very little drama to speak of, you can only look forward to good times ahead.

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[685]: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

27189194 One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Stand Alone | Adult Contemporary Romance
Washington Square Press | Paperback, 327 pp.
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.


With incredible trepidation, I finally succumbed to the peer pressure and took this book off my TBR shelf. I was a little wary of the story, to be honest. Going in, I knew that a love triangle was in the offing. Most of you who has recommended this book probably tried to placate us in some way. That the irritation we will feel for that unfortunate relationship dynamic will be temporary, albeit heightened. Well, I’m glad y’all talked me into reading this. If you’ve ever seen someone in tears while vacuuming, then you can imagine the state I was in while listening to the audio book. I cried when one of her loves disappeared. I cried when her other love gave her the freedom to choose. It was very emotional, with a love triangle that I didn’t think I could stomach let alone appreciate.

I get it now. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with incredible introspective into relationships. And this after only reading one book. It wasn’t just about the delicate relationships between three people who found themselves in a precarious situation. One that could spell heartbreak for a lot of people involved. She also wrote about a family with realistic dynamics. Readers will see the ever changing kinship between sisters; one that started out as fragile as sibling relationships go but would eventually strengthened with the passing of time. In this book, family is everything. Emma’s family was there to help her pick up the pieces when her husband disappeared; and they were there when her fiance decided to give her time and space.

As for the dreaded love triangle, I say hike up your skirts and just dive into it. It will hurt for a bit but the ending will be nothing short of a joyous reward.

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Morsels [18]: The Protector and Trust

27860802 The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Forever | September 6th, 2016
Paperback, 384 pp.
Source: Bought
Adult Fiction | Romance | Suspense
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


This is one of those many occasions when I let the cover duped me into thinking I’m in for a great read. Bodyguard romances come once in a blue moon that when I see one, I’m instantly chomping at he bits to read it.

Unfortunately, The Protector was a disappointing read. The plot was a slog and the romance was lacklustre. Aside from the attractiveness of the two characters, there wasn’t much there – no chemistry to speak of or any personality developments to make it worth my while. The writing was passable, if a little plebian. It tried so hard to create a sexual tension but I saw through the frail attempt.

When you’re able to judge a book midway through and know that there’s nothing else it could offer, you know the pretty cover led you astray again. Don’t get me wrong, I finished it cover to cover and gave it fair chance but when you can’t even pretend to care about the characters in the slightest bit, you know you’re beating a dead horse.

Don’t expect too much.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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Goodreads Summary
Trust by Jana Aston
Series: Wrong, #3 | Kindle Edition
Self Published | November 8th, 3016
Source: Bought
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars


I have read the first two books from this series and skipped the litte novella in between. I will probably read that at some point, but I found this book while browsing through Amazon a couple of days ago and couldn’t resist. Wrong series is a lot of fun. It’s a funny, no-holds barred sexy read. I was looking forward to reading Chloe’s story because she’s one of those awkward women I love reading about. The idea that we might kindred spirits occur to me in more ways than one.

Anyway, this is her story and how she kept finding herself in awkward, humorous situations in the most unintentional way. She’s ridiculous sometimes which makes her all the more adorable! She has a thing for federal agents in suits. Enter Boyd Gallagher, Sophie’s half brother. In as much as the book above left me feeling cold, Trust by Jana Aston left me hot and bothered. Chloe and Boyd has a natural chemistry that’s very convincing.

My only complaint is that for a full lenght novel, this sure feels very short. Regardless, this was a solid romance meant to whisk you away from the miseries of your day.

 

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[647]: Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

23314731 Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers, #1
Caped Publishing | July 21st, 2015
Adult Fiction | Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate, and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore, she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?


I know, I know. I’m reading this series out of order. But the beauty of  The Winston Brothers is that the order doesn’t matter. Just read them lest you’ll miss out on this breed of bearded hotness. Also, have I mentioned how much I hate facial hair? Like, I make my husband shave as soon as I feel the prickles of his stubble. But for some reason, I can’t get enough of bearded men in my fictional world. Weird, huh?

This is the first book to The Winston Brothers series. It’s the story of  Duane, the other half of the twins in the family. While Beau can charm the habit off a nun, Duane, on the other hand, can exact the same results but with him being all broody and surly. Jessica James has been in love with Beau all her life. But in a case of mistaken identity, she found herself sexually molesting the wrong brother. To her horror, she’d mistaken Duane for Beau. She’d hated Duane for as long as she’s been in love with Beau. But after the shock wore off, Duane and Jessica acknowledged that there was something there no matter how firmly resolved Jess was to denying it.

What Jess doesn’t know was that Duane has been in love her from afar. He thought it was time for him to man up. But when he did, Jess was skittish at best for reasons other than that she in want with the wrong brother. See, Jess has grand plans of getting out of their Tennesse town and seeing the world. That’s why she doesn’t get involved in relationships. She doesn’t want to be tied down. So they make a deal. One year then they cut ties. Just like that. Snorts. As if that agreement ever works in the history of relationships. The world has other plans. Jessica slowly falls in love with Duane. Or maybe she’s always been. Maybe her resentment all these years belies the fact that she was obsessing over Beau because he was the safe one. They have other problems, though. Duane got himself tangled with the Skulls, the motorcycle club his dad was the president of years ago. Thanks to Jethro, he might have no choice but to break up with Jessica just to keep her safe. Other than the fact that the Skulls have threatened everyone that he loves, Duane also refused to be the reason for the death of Jessica’s dream.

You know, the plot may sound simple and something that’s been recycled into something else, but Penny has a way of giving life to her stories and characters that make them fresh to the readers’ eyes once again. Her novels have an immersive quality to it that’s a number one requirement in romance novels.  What I enjoy best about these novels is the family dynamics between siblings. They all have each other’s backs no matter what. I especially love Cletus and the way he watches out for all his siblings. He’s hilarious and slightly obsessed with his sausage (don’t ask). This series is so much fun. If you haven’t read any of Ms. Reid’s books, then you’re missing out on fantastic stories you’d want to keep going back to when you’re in need of a feel-good, laugh-out-loud reads. Highly recommended!

 

 

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[645]: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

23337863 Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers, #2
Self Published | May 31st, 2016
Adult Romance | Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?


In this second installment of the Winston Brothers series, we find Jethro Winston about to get tangled with America’s Sweetheart, Sienna Diaz. An A-lister Hollywood actress who made a name for herself by being funny. She’s also one of those actresses who didn’t fit the starlet mold. She’s not skinny by Hollywood’s standards and what’s more, she’s Latina. She won an Oscar for best actress. She’s the It Girl of the moment and a brilliant writer in her own right. But Jethro has no clue who she was. So instantly, Sierra saw the novelty of meeting someone who has no preconceived notions about dating a celebrity. Besides the fact that the oldest Winston can match her flirtatious banter any day, Jethro is    a changed man who has seen the error of his bad boy ways. 

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[632]: Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon

27876307 LOVESWEPT | May 24th, 2016
E-Arc via Net Galley
Suspense | Romance | M/M
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Fisher and Zach are CIA agents in a secret relationship. But that’s not all they’re hiding. Neither of them disclosed their true occupations to each other. So when Zach got kidnapped by an organization supplying arms to terror cells, Fisher had no choice but to give in to their demands and surrender himself to rescue Zach. What Fisher doesn’t know, however, is that Zach was neck-deep in a case that he himself has been working on for months.

I feel like I should insert an ominous soundtrack right here. Actually, I would have to insert them in random spots throughout the story because it was certainly that suspenseful. This book was so much fun. It had enough humor to cut through the tension. And the relationship drama between Fisher and Zach was oh, so addictive. At times, I wanted to slap Fisher because he refused to see what was in front of him. All he kept focusing on was that Zach lied (as much as he did, mind you!). He was so stubborn.

There was no doubt how much Zach loves Fisher, though. He was ready to sacrifice himself just to save Fisher. These two has chemistry in spades, and even though they frustrated me on many occasions, I rooted for them. Oh, man. The sex scenes were hot. Lol. Nothing like the threat of death to amp up the intensity in the bedroom.

But this book is not only all about sex and romance. After all, they are CIA agents who were up against some very dangerous criminals. The torture sessions were a bit hard to take. It was suspense all the time, so it left very little room for boredom. Ms. Dimon melded romance and suspense well. A one-sitting type of read, honest.

 

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