Friday, September 4, 2015

Blitz Review & Giveaway ~ Under My Skin ~ J. Kenner


Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for J. Kenner's Under My Skin, the third and final installment in the Stark International Trilogy. My stop includes all the details on the book, my review, and a giveaway. Enjoy!

Under My Skin (Stark International Trilogy, #3)Under My Skin by J Kenner
Stark International Trilogy #3
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4 Bookworms
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Synopsis
He's the only man I've ever loved, and the one man I can't bear to lose.

Jackson Steele is my light in this world. Charismatic, bold, and always in control, he knows what he wants and how to get it--and absolutely nothing stands in his way. His hold on me is magnetic, his claim on me complete, his kiss my ultimate escape.

We both harbor dark secrets that could tear our lives apart. Though we've tried to bury our pasts, there are certain people who won't let us forget. But the closer danger comes, the brighter the fire between us burns--our ecstasy consuming and soothing us both.

There's no telling what lies ahead, but I know that Jackson never gives in without a fight. I'd do anything he wants to keep him safe, give him anything he needs. And now that we're in deep, nothing can make me run.

Under My Skin is intended for mature audiences.


Other books in the series
Say My Name (Stark International #1)
On My Knees (Stark International #2)




Keeping me guessing about certain things until the end, Under My Skin was an exciting and fulfilling conclusion to Sylvia and Jackson's story.

Sylvia and Jackson have endured quite a bit both personally as well as professionally. Under My Skin sees them still battling - against the saboteurs trying to thwart the resort project, and the legal system as Jackson seems the prime suspect in a murder investigation. On top of all that, both Sylvia and Jackson must decide once and for all that together they're stronger and their love can weather any storm.

I liked how Kenner maintained the tension in both the business element and the murder investigation. I did think the murder mystery element resolved a little too neatly, although I was still unsure as to whodunit. The saboteur reveal was a little hazy - I'd suspected a part of it, but not all. Jeremiah Stark's appearance makes me curious as to whether we'll see more of him. Actually, I'm hoping to see more of him as I'd like to get inside his head. I'd also not complain if we got more of all the secondary characters.

As for Jackson and Sylvia, I was happy with where they ended up. They had me worried at times - especially Sylvia - as she seemed to often forget her own inner strength. But she dug deep and steeled her spine when it counted.

When you wrap up all the elements - including that ending - Under My Skin was a satisfying conclusion.









J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres. Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, "chicklit" suspense, urban fantasy, Victorian-era thrillers (coming soon), and paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner, has been consistently in development in Hollywood since prior to publication. Most recently, it has been optioned by Warner Brothers Television for development as series on the SW Network with Alloy Entertainment producing. JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a "flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations" and by RT Bookclub for having "cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for him." A three time finalist for Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 in her Stark Trilogy). Her books have sold well over a million copies and are published in over twenty countries. In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.


Dark World Books


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review ~ On My Knees ~ J Kenner #COYER, #ShelfLove

On My Knees (Stark International Trilogy, #2)On My Knees by J Kenner
Stark International Trilogy #2
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Source: Purchased paperback
Rating: 4 Bookworms

Goodreads

Synopsis
I never thought I'd lose control, but his desire took me right to the edge.

Powerful, ambitious, and devastatingly sexy, Jackson Steele was unlike any other man I'd ever known. He went after what he wanted with his whole mind, body, and soul--and I was the woman in his sights. One touch and I surrendered, one night together and I was undone.

Jackson and I had secrets, dark pieces of our pass that threaten to swallow us both. We couldn't outrun our demons, or the people trying to tear us apart. But in our passion we found salvation, and in each other's arms we found release.

I was scared to trust Jackson fully, to finally let go. Yet no matter the dangers that lay ahead, I knew I was his--and now that we've laid claim, there's no more holding back.



On My Knees is a nice bridge between the first installment and what promises to be an exciting conclusion to Sylvia and Jackson's story.

Sylvia and Jackson are still finding their way as a couple. That outside forces, as well as secrets they're holding onto make that a challenge. Then there are the clues dropped as to the identity of the saboteur - the person trying to prevent the resort that Sylvia and Jackson are building together for Stark International, from getting off the ground. It all made for an exciting read.

Sylvia seems to waffle about their relationship at times - not sure of her own strength. This irritated me and I was glad she eventually seemed to realize that things weren't going to always be smooth sailing for them but that she is strong enough to weather it.

I'm happy that their secrets are out in the open now. It was upsetting that circumstances made this happen rather than them just coming clean but it made their foundation stronger, I think. I wasn't surprised by Jackson's secret - at least part of it. But then Kenner is keeping me in the dark about so much else.

This is an erotic romance, so there is, of course, lots of steam. One thing I like is that Kenner conveys how Sylvia's giving of herself and her trust to Jackson really does help her overcome parts of her past.

Kenner does well with incorporating a strong supporting cast. They add depth to the story and to Sylvia and Jackson as well. A lot happens and there's much more to come as the story wraps up. I'm thrilled I have the conclusion already lined up.



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rock Chick Rendezvous 2015

This last weekend, the incomparable Kristen Ashley hosted a Rock Chick fan weekend...Rock Chick Rendezvous ~ in Denver! I, being the Rock Chick that I am, of course attended. My pal, Robyn, with whom I've been buddy reading KA, couldn't attend, living in Washington and all. But I did drag my friend, Denise, along, who is also a Rock Chick. (because she reads everything I suggest ;) 

RCR was 3 days' worth of events - held in locations mentioned in KA's series - but I wasn't able to attend them all. Things began on Thursday evening with dinner and drinks at The Hornet restaurant. This is Indy's bar of choice and I was sad I had to miss out. Friday began with lunch at Beau Jo's, where they serve mountain pies. Delish! Denise and I met all the Rock Chicks there, had lunch, and received our instructions for the scavenger hunt. This was the most fun - finding locations where the Rock Chicks hangout. I found places I'd never been close to and it was great meeting other fans and, well, fangirling. :) Saturday was the last day and it included a signing at The Tattered Cover Bookstore as well as a party at The Hotel Monaco. Denise and I attended the signing but skipped the party. Maybe next time...

KA is the coolest gal! She's very approachable and showed up in different locations along the scavenger hunt route, where we hung out and chatted. She told us things about when she lived in Denver, reminisced over Rock Chick scenes in these locations, and discussed her philosophy on book covers. She's a "fan of loving yourself" and doesn't want to "perpetuate society's image of perfect." She said "perfection is exactly how you come." Needless to say that my girl/author crush on KA is HUGE at this point!!!

Okay, okay...enough talk. Here are the pics:



At Cheesman Park, where Hank and Roxie got hitched!

Liks Ice Cream, a favorite stop of Indy and Ally's.

Mutiny ~ Fortnum's is based on this bookstore/internet cafe.

Stella and The Blue Moon Gypsies played at a location just like Herman's Hideaway.

The Hot Bunch hung out many mornings here at Dozens!

Me and KA at the signing.

If y'all haven't read Kristen Ashley yet, what are you waiting for?? You don't have to lose a Super Bowl bet to get started! ;)


Monday, August 31, 2015

#ShelfLove Review ~ Selling Scarlett ~ Ella James

Selling Scarlett (Love Inc., #1)Selling Scarlett by Ella James
Love, Inc #1
Release Date: April 13, 2013
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Goodreads

Synopsis
Elizabeth DeVille doesn't belong at a party like this--one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.

Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.

When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter's den of vices, she's a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn't have, and she's come up with a foolproof way to get it.

Follow Elizabeth--code-named Scarlett--to the lush Nevada brothel where she'll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that's not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil's mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.

***Recommended for Readers 17+ due to sexuality and mature language.***




I'm a fan of Ella James, having read and enjoyed several of her fairytale retellings and a YA PNR. And all those previous reads always gave me a little something unexpected. Why, then, did I think Selling Scarlett would be any different? Who knows? But Selling Scarlett was much more than what I was expecting.

Elizabeth DeVille is a young woman, who despite being an heiress, has had anything but a pampered life. Thank goodness she has good friends. So good, in fact, that she'd do anything for them. So when one of her very best friends needs help, Elizabeth decides to cash in the one card she's been hanging on to - her V-card.

Hunter West has so many demons, it's amazing the man can function. He does everything with determination though, so when he becomes embroiled in a scandal, he does his damnedest to figure out who's really pulling the strings - not only to protect his neck but to protect Elizabeth's as well.

Hunter and Libby, as he refers to Elizabeth, first met when she was only 16. Libby has had a prolific crush on him since then and Hunter, though he is loathe to admit it, was affected by her as well.

All three of these elements combined with a cast I'm quite eager for more of, created a compelling story of love, lust, greed, and maybe a touch of crazy. The mystery and suspense was the more I hadn't been expecting and it made what could have been a good but ordinary story an extraordinary one. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 bookworm read is the ending. I thought it was a little too neat and quick. But if you're looking for something a little different in an NA read, Selling Scarlett will fit the bill. I'm anxious to start Taming Cross, the second book in this series.




When Life's Kicking Your Butt, How About a Theme Song ~ August


Once again, my pal, Robyn, over @robgirlbooks, has us creating a soundtrack for our lives. This challenge is all about sharing the music you listen to when you need motivation, or to celebrate, or when you're happy or sad, or when you're cleaning, etc. Sounds fun, yeah? Here's how it works... Robyn gives us a theme every month and we post songs that fulfill that theme as it applies to us. Then at the end of the year, we'll have a playlist!

The playlist for 2014 can be found here (youtube link) if you're interested. I enjoyed sharing my family's musical tastes with y'all and I enjoyed being introduced to some new music. I'm looking forward to doing it again for 2015!


***

I've been a bad girl! I haven't done a theme song all summer long. So it's fitting that, August's theme is "It Takes an Entire Album". I know I'm coming in just under the wire but better late than never, right?!?


Here are our choices:


My Pick
My pick is Ed Sheeran's album entitled X. And my song is One. My reasons...well, I think Ed Sheeran's voice is sexy and I love anything he sings. I've been listening to him while getting in the 'mood' to write. ;)





Sky's Pick
Sky says her pick is Instant Crush from the album Random Access Memories...she really likes this song and she's gotten into Daft Punk recently.




Berk's Pick
Berk's choice is the soundtrack for the musical 13. It isn't one of the musicals when we were in NYC, but it's a favorite this month. The song she picked is Any Minute... 




Jax's Pick
Jax really likes Finding Nirvana, so his album pick is Not Even Once and his song pick is Closer. 





Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Bookish Resolutions Challenge Update ~ August

Bookish Resolution Challenge


Laura @Trips Down Imagination Lane and Michelle @Because Reading are the lovely hosts of this challenge. You can click the button above for all the details.

***

My 2015 Bookish Resolutions are:

  • Improve my Netgalley Rating (started at 15.2%)
  • Listen to one audio book per quarter.
  • Write more discussion posts and/or create some fun features for my blog.

***

Not to toot my own horn but I'm continuing to make progress on all my resolutions for this challenge and I'm feeling good! I finished two audio books last month and have started another. And I've continued with my discussion/feature posts. Also, I read a few books for Netgalley. I haven't posted my reviews yet but once I do, my rating will once again raise a tad. :) 


The audio book portion of my resolutions challenge is FINISHED! But in August, I finished In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks as well as Seven Years by Dannika Dark. I'm currently listening to Exquisite Trouble by Ann Mayburn. I'm not enjoying it all that much (the male narrator's voice is irritating) but I hate to not finish it.  

As for discussion posts/fun features, I continued posting my monthly Travel by the Book post as well as my Beyond the Books posts. And I've also continued my Brandee's Bookish Babble posts.

While I did read a few books in August, which I received from Netgalley, I haven't posted my reviews yet. So I'll share the change in my rating next month. :) 


I'm *still* feeling good about my accomplishments with this challenge. We'll see how I fare in the coming months. How did y'all do in August?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review ~ Collide ~ Riley Hart

Collide (Blackcreek, #1)Collide by Riley Hart
Blackcreek #1
Release Date: November 17, 2013
Genre: Adult, M/M Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4 Bookworms

Synopsis
At ten years old, Noah Jameson and Cooper Bradshaw collided mid-air when they dove for the same football. For three years, they were inseparable...until one day when Noah and his parents disappeared in the middle of the night.

Noah and Cooper never knew what happened to each other. Now, seventeen years later, after finding his boyfriend in bed with another man, Noah returns to Blackcreek looking for a fresh start. And damned if he doesn't find his old friend grew up to be sexy as sin. Coop can't believe Noah--the only person he trusted with the guilt over his parents' death--is back. And gay... Or that Cooper himself suddenly wants another man in his bed for the first time.

There's no denying the attraction and emotion between them, but can they overcome the ghosts of their pasts to have a future together?

This title contains two strong, sexy men, and a passionate friendship that transforms into a sizzling hot romance.



Cooper Bradshaw and Noah Jameson met an an pivotal time in their lives. Through shared experiences and traumas, they forged a special friendship that really stood the test of time. After a seventeen year separation, they picked up right where they left off.

Cooper is kind of a horndog. He never does relationships but has had his fair share of women. He's a guy who feels thing on an extra-emotional level and works as a fireman as a way to redeem himself for something that he had no control over. He was raised by his aunt and uncle and they, his uncle especially, raised him with certain expectations about what a strong man is.

Noah wouldn't fit those expectations. After leaving Blackcreek unexpectedly when he was young, he's back in the only place he ever felt at home. He's back to mend his life and hopefully find Cooper.

I think my favorite thing, that Hart did so well, is conveying this tight bond between two men. The friendship and feelings shared between Noah and Cooper was a special thing. Only with one another did they find patience, understanding and acceptance...a feeling of belonging. This was important when they were young and even more so as adults as they find their feelings morphing into something decidedly more.

By the time Noah returns to Blackcreek, he knew he was gay. Cooper, on the other hand, is confused as he's never experienced feelings, attraction, or lust towards another man. Only Noah. And it was fascinating to watch as they each navigated this new territory. On top of that, Coop fears his family's reaction and that of those he works with. Seeing their relationship grow to the point where Cooper decides what they have together is more important than what people think was a powerful thing. A beautiful thing. These two guys are brave and beautiful in their love for one another.

I know the next book in the series deals with a different couple - whom I'm eager to watch - but I hope to see more of Noah and Cooper as they go against small-town ideas in a fight to love who they want to love and be accepted for it.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

That's What HE Said #36 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #15



That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

My pick this week for That's What He Said is from:

On My Knees by J Kenner
  Jackson Steele is a man of few words but when he does speak, you'll forgive him his conciseness. 


***
"If I need you?" he repeats as he strides to me, all force and power and intent. "Christ, Sylvia, don't you know by now that I always need you?"

*

"You need me. Where else would I be?"

*

"I love you, Syl. I love you, and I fucked up, and I will do whatever it takes for you to forgive me."



*~*~*~*~*~*


You know it's going to be a serious conversation...

He takes my hand and leads me below deck to the small galley. I sit at the table, and he comes to join me, bringing a bottle of win, two glasses, and a box of Chips Ahoy cookies. He takes one, then holds out the box to me. I don't really need it, but I take it anyway, then take a tiny bite as Jackson leans back in his chair and starts to speak.