Book Review: Dirty Reckless Love by Lexi Ryan

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Dirty, Reckless Love by Lexi Ryan
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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I’m in love with a man who tried to kill me. At least that’s what they tell me . . .

Six weeks ago, paramedics found me unconscious in my own home. Beaten. Bruised. Hardly breathing. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember the last three years or anything about my life in Jackson Harbor. They tell me my fiancé, Colton McKinley, is on the run for what he did to me. They tell me I’m safer if I stay away.

I don’t care if my memories ever come back. I want nothing to do with those missing years . . . until a sexy stranger with angry eyes shows up on my doorstep and demands I stop ignoring him.

Levi Jackson is my fiancé’s best friend, but seeing him sparks something inside me. As the truth unravels in my mind, I know they’re wrong about Colton. My own secrets are far more dangerous than the man I was engaged to.

I return to Jackson Harbor to search for answers and find myself running from a faceless boogeyman and seeking refuge in Levi’s arms. And in his bed.

I can’t deny my feelings for Levi. But as the pile of lies between us grows, I realize that sometimes the truth can’t set us free. It may be the very thing that could destroy us.

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Excerpt:

The man searches my face. “That’s why you won’t come home. You’re afraid of Colton.”

“I don’t want anything to do with that life.”

He exhales heavily and rolls his shoulders back, as if he’s trying to shake off a ghost. “That’s not fair to the rest of us. To everyone who loves you, everyone who was sick with worry when they put you into that coma. Not. Fucking. Fair.”

I shrug. “Maybe losing a child and almost dying has made me a little selfish.”

His gaze drifts down to my stomach, and I cover it with my hand without thinking. “I’m sorry about the baby.”

I nod, tears springing to my eyes. “Me too.” So sorry.

“I understand if you want to live here now, but don’t cut us out. We all lost something that night.”

“Did you?”

He narrows his eyes. “You think I didn’t care? That this was all some game to me, and losing you was nothing?”

I wrap my arms around my chest, as if the pressure might weaken this force pulling me toward him by the solar plexus, this inexplicable need to be closer and let him wrap me in his arms. “Losing me? When was I ever yours to lose?”

He jerks his gaze away from me, slides off his stool, and downs the rest of his beer. “Thanks. I guess that clears up where we stand after everything.”

I open my mouth to apologize but swallow the words and meet his steady gaze.

Then he backs away and grabs his bags off the bar. He pulls an envelope from his pocket and hands it to me. “I was going to leave this for you with the barista next door, but I guess I can save myself the trouble.”

“What is it?” I ask, staring at the crisp black calligraphy that reads Ellie Courdrey.

“An invitation to Ava and Jake’s wedding. Despite what you seem to think of me, I’m not fucking my future sister-in-law.”

“Their wedding?”

He nods. “They thought about canceling after everything, but . . .” He stares at me for a long beat. “They decided to put love first.”

That feels like a jab. At me? At them? I don’t know. “I don’t want to go back there.”

“Maybe it’s not always about what you want.” He shrugs as if it’s no different to him either way, but I can tell by the tension in his shoulders that it matters a lot.

He steps forward—too close—and I let him, closing my eyes at his scent. Then a flash.

He’s over me. The weight of him presses into my hips, his calloused hands holding my face, his fingers in my hair. “You’re sure?”

I nod. Slide my hands down his back and lift my hips. “Yes. Please.”

He searches my eyes. “No regrets.”

I hold on to the memory of this man, wanting to examine it, to figure out what it means, but I’m too distracted by his closeness in this moment. He’s big. Strong. Warm.

He lowers his mouth to my ear. “I never stopped loving you. Even when you told me to. Even when you chose him.” And then he walks away.

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MY REVIEW

I couldn’t wait to see where Lexi was going to take Levi and Ellie. In the first two book of the series, we learn that Levi and Ellie are best friends and Levi is in love with Ellie but Ellie is in love with his best friend. Of course, it all gets complicated when Ellie is found left for dead and can’t remember anything from her past. Ellie is told her fiancee did it but she doesn’t know what to think.

Levi is the first person she feels like she knows and she gravitates toward him. It bounces from Levi to Ellie’s POV while Ellie tries to remember and the characters try to solve the mystery. I can’t say too much without giving the plot away but I really enjoy the boys of Jackson Harbor. You don’t need to read the first two to enjoy Ellie and Levi’s story but I would pick them up anyway!

Meet Lexi:

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Lexi Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of emotional romance that sizzles. Lexi is the 2018 winner of the Romance Writers of America® RITA® award for Best Long Contemporary Romance. She considers herself the luckiest girl around to make a living through storytelling. She loves spending time with her crazy kids, weightlifting, ice cream, swoony heroes, and vodka martinis.

Lexi lives in Indiana with her husband, two children, and a spoiled dog. You can find her at her website: www.lexiryan.com

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Book Review: Respect by Jay Crownover

 

 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jay Crownover, comes the next title in her The Breaking Point romantic suspense series, RESPECT. Don’t miss the amazing tour below, and order your copy today!

 

 

About RESPECT:

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who called a corrupt kingdom home sweet home.

Protected and sheltered from the worst the world had to offer, she fell in love with the crumbling city that burned and blazed around her. Every dirty corner, every scary shadow, found a place within her heart. So did a man who was violent and dangerous, just like the streets she claimed as her own.

He was all business and brutality, except when it came to her. With her, he was calm, caring, and heartbreakingly patient.

He warned her over and over that he wasn’t the man for her, but she refused to listen. She never expected either the streets or their enforcer to hurt her, since she’d given her heart so completely to both.

She should have known the streets in the Point were always going to be savage, and so was the man committed to keeping control of them in the hands of criminals and bloody kingpins.

Blindsided by a betrayal which cut so deeply she was sure the wounds would never heal, the princess fled the home she loved and the man who broke her heart. Throwing away her rusted, twisted crown was supposed to help her forget. All it did was make her long for everything she left behind. She told herself she would never go back, but in this tormented kingdom, family is everything. Eventually, she has no choice but to return.

While she was gone, the people who loved her worked hard to make the city safe, and the man who destroyed her sank deeper into the darkness. Going back shouldn’t feel like surrender… but it does. As this pretty princess hovers on the edge of the unknown, the past attacks with a vengeance. It’s a good reminder that puppy love eventually grows up and turns into something with sharp teeth and one hell of a bite.

She never asked for the keys to the kingdom. She’d much rather go out and build her own.

 

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MY REVIEW

Booker and Karsen’s story has been a long time in the making.  The problem with these two is when they meet, Karsen is off limits.  Underage and under the protection of one of the most ruthless men in The Point, her soon-to-be brother in law Race.  Although Booker is a bodyguard for Race, he knows his advances would never be welcome.  These two have been dancing around each other for years and when Booker deliberately hurts Karsen, she leaves and doesn’t look back.

Years later, these two collide again and Karsen is determined to let her feelings for Booker go but Booker has other intentions.  I enjoyed watching these two take what they want and not holding back.  The beauty of The Point and the characters that Jay Crownover created is you get raw emotion and no holds bar interactions that seem real.  Karsen holds no punches when she fights for what she wants and she truly grew into the “Princess of the Point”.  I hate to the see the end of The Point but this was a fantastic way to end the series.

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About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.

 

 

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Book Review: Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino

 

From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably-decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

 

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, and Wish You Were Here. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.

 

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EXCERPT

WE SAT AT the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels.

“That’s different for you.”

I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?”

He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?”

I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me.

The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream.

I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.

“Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled.

“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back.

The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?”

“Briel? What kind of question is that?”

“Just answer me.”

“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?”

“You always have a choice.”

He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.”

I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.”

“Like hell it was.”

“When do you leave?”

“In two days.”

“WHAT?!”

He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. “Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.”

I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach.

“First Milo, now you?”

“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.”

“Fuck you, Gavin!”

“Fuck you, Penny!”

He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from.

Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death.

I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. “We’re not done talking, you coward!”

He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled.

He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me.

So smug. What a dick.

“You look ridiculous standing there. Get out of the way!”

I walked toward his window and noticed that his demeanor had completely softened. There was even humor in his expression. He wanted me to block him, and he knew I would.

“Can’t you have a proper fight without running away?”

“You were lecturing me, yet again. I have a mother, thank you. You have a child you can order around . . . and a husband you can control. I don’t need your shit, okay? Don’t you realize that I’m freaking out, too? I’m going through the hardest time of my life, and you’re making this all about you.”

“You’ve been going through the hardest time of your life for the whole fourteen years I’ve known you.”

“And as my friend, do you think you’re helping my situation right now?” he spat back, his mood shifting once again. “Don’t even. Don’t you dare act like I haven’t been a good friend to you. You’ve put me in the most awkward situations, you’ve bolted on me, you’ve stopped speaking to me for weeks at a time, but still . . . I make myself available to you. I’ve been here for you, always. And now you’re moving thousands of miles away when I need you most?”

He shook his head slowly. “That’s right, Penny. You have been here. You’ve been right by my side, lecturing me, rolling your eyes at me, pressuring me to get serious about Briel, all so I could go and fuck up my life even more while you sit in your nice house, with your KitchenAid mixer, your Oracle espresso machine, and your fucking yellow Lab.”

“Don’t talk about Buckley that way! He’s a good dog. And you love our espresso machine.”

Gavin’s lips turned up at the corners. “You’re so messed up, Penny. You definitely have a chemical imbalance.”

I pointed to my chest, shocked. “Me? Look who’s talking? Please, pull into a parking space. I don’t want to stand here anymore, making a spectacle of myself. Some parent from Milo’s school is probably watching this whole thing. There’ll be whispers at the next PTA meeting. Is that what

you want for me?”

“Don’t pretend like you go to PTA meetings. And look around; everyone’s gone. It’s just us.”

He was right. The parking lot had cleared out. Gavin was sitting in his idling car while I was standing outside his window like a moron.

“I resent you for saying I pushed Briel on you. And yes, for your information, I do go to PTA meetings.”

You encouraged me to go out with her, then you needled me about it until I finally did.”

“You were horribly depressed! I thought you were gonna jump off a bridge. I told you to go out with her and to have some fun. She’s a nice girl. I didn’t say turn your life upside down, pack up, and run away with a foreigner! You’re thirty-six-years old, Gavin. I think it’s time you grew up.” I shook my head. “God, I can’t believe you.”

He jerked his head back and squinted. “Great band but not totally PC to call someone a foreigner, Penny.” His voice was low.

“Are you going to become a French citizen now, too? You better brush up on your French.”

“Everyone speaks English there.”

“No, they don’t! People always say that, but you’ll see. They might be able to communicate to a degree, but it’s not conversational English.”

Why am I still standing here, screaming about French people?

I needed to tie this conversation up in a pretty little bow. I needed closure. I couldn’t say good-bye to my best friend without it. He was leaving, going to France to chase a girlfriend

I knew he didn’t love. I was losing him. And it was my fault. We couldn’t leave each other angry.

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Try not to make me feel worse about my situation, though I know that’s hard for you.” “Your situation? It’s always your situation. What about my situation?” He just stared at me. He was hurting; I could tell. But I was hurting, too. “Listen—”

“What?”

“Don’t interrupt me.” I cleared my throat. “Gavin . . . it’s just . . . I’m going to fucking miss you, okay? I’m having a hard time right now, and life is about to get a whole lot harder the second you leave.” I started to cry.

He hated it when I cried, but he didn’t ask me, “Why are you crying?” He never had to ask. He took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it forcefully in a burst of frustration. A second later his car stalled. He put it in gear, got out, and swooped me up in a bear hug. “Penny, Penny, Penny . . . my crazy girl,” he said as he rubbed my back. I was wiping my snot-covered nose on his black T-shirt and he didn’t care one bit.

He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.”

He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.”

“Why?” I said, fully bawling against his shoulder. He brushed a strand of my hair, damp with tears, behind my ear. “I have to go, and so do you. You need to be with your family now.”

I felt the lump in my throat growing. “You don’t have to constantly remind me that I have a family. I love my family. But you’re a part of it, too, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fucking crying in the parking lot in front of Bank of America.”

He pulled away and we stood there, two feet apart, staring at each other, as if we were committing each other to memory. Allowing one another to really look at and take the other person in, stripped down to our bones, without scrutiny.

“Is this it?” I asked.

“This is it, P.”

I shook my head, leaned up on my toes, and wrapped my arms around him. We hugged again for a long time before he got into his car. I tried to hold on to the feeling of having him in my arms, or maybe I was trying to hold on to the feeling of being held in his.

He started the engine as I stood there, waiting for him to leave.

“We’ll talk on the phone or email or something, okay?”

“Okay,” I told him.

He swallowed nervously. Looking up at me from the car window, he said, “I wish it were you, Penny.”

That was my bow. He knew I needed it, good or bad—no matter what feelings it shook loose from our long and complicated history together.

 

MY REVIEW

Gavin and Penny meet in college while participating in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?”  With these two, the answer is a resounding yes.  After a blind kiss, these two became inseparable and you can tell that there is something brewing but never quite surfaces.  All through college, these two could never get together and their friendship seemed to stand between them.

Blast forward 14 years and Penny and Gavin are still best friends. Renee tells their story from past to present and we get both of their POVs.  Their timing never seems to work out and it drove me insane….in a good way.  It was a love-hate relationship with each page of this book.  All I can say is if you love angst, pick this up.  I flew through the book hoping and waiting to see what would happen between these two and Renee’s writing is always superb.

 

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

 

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