Saturday, July 30, 2016

Defying Gravity by Kendra C. Highley


Zoey Miller lives for her holidays in Aspen. Her time up on the mountain with the Madison brothers, Parker and Luke, is everything. But for the first time, it’s not enough. This time, she’s determined to win one of the brothers’ hearts.

But the brother she has in mind is a renowned player, with hordes of snow-bunnies following him around Snowmass resort. And the other…well, he’s her best friend and knows she deserves better. Namely him. And he’s going to win her heart.


Disclaimer: This book contains enough sexual tension to melt snow, the hottest near-kiss in the history of near-kisses, and a sexy snowboarder determined to win the heart of the girl he loves.

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Jordan☆☆☆
This is book #2 in the Finding Perfect series, but you don't have to read book #1, this may be read as a stand-alone book.

Zoey Miller loves spending her holidays in Aspen with the Madison Brothers, Parker and Luke. Her time up on the mountain with Parker and Luke are the moments she lives for. In Aspen she can be the real Zoey and not the "Class President Barbie" that everyone back in Texas seems to think she is.

Parker and Zoey have been best friends for years, but Parker, who's in love with Zoey, is hoping to be more than just friends. Unfortunately, Zoey's got her mind set on winning the heart of Luke Madison, Parker's older brother, who also happens to be a renowned player.

Anybody else feel like taking a trip to Aspen, Colorado after reading this? I think I might need to try my hand at snowboarding again! I've never been to Aspen, but I am totally ready for a visit this winter after reading this book. I was totally into all the shredding and the fact that the Madison brothers were such amazing snowboarders. I don't snowboard, which means I didn't know any of the boarding terminology, but Highley did an excellent job painting the picture for me. Although, after spending the past few days sweltering in my non-air-conditioned apartment in NYC, I was totally ready to fall in love with this snow story, but I think I mostly just fell in love with Parker. I liked the book, it was a nice quick read, but I guess after reading book one, I was expecting Zoey to be a little less of a burst into tears kind of gal. Nevertheless, other than all the crying I still really liked Zoey's character. I found her to be very down-to-earth and relatable for a girl that has a vacation home in Aspen. Furthermore, I adored Parker, but who wouldn't? Total babe. Luke, the player, on the other hand, not so much, but he seemed to have some nice redeeming qualities. In fact, I would be intrigued to read about the kind of girl that could win his heart.

Honestly, after reading Finding Perfect I was quite charmed by Ben and Paige's story and I was looking forward to reading about Paige's best friend, Zoey. However, I just didn’t enjoy reading about Zoey the same way I did reading about Paige. In fact, after reading the blurb for book two I thought this one would be a winner for me, but it just didn’t appeal to me the same way the first book did. However, Highley does a phenomenal job at creating some swoon worthy male characters and I look forward to seeing what she is up to next! On that note, I would give Defying Gravity a 3.5 star rating if I could. For fans of Kasie West and Susane Colasanti, this is great YA book to add to your TBR pile!


Erica☆☆☆
4 stars for young adults.
2 stars from me personally.
3 stars total.

I need to preface this review by stating I've enjoyed this author in the past, five-starring the previous book, and the majority of Entangled: Crush Publishing's titles have been a hit with me. The female narrator rubbed me the wrong way, completely derailing any enjoyment I could find from the nearly 200-page novel. This is the review from an adult perspective of a young adult novel. So please take my review with a grain of salt, but I had to get it off my chest.

I had looked forward to this novel, but the narrator sounded different, written in a different voice than her chapter at the last of the previous book, and her actions with Paige and Ben. Zoey was previously written as being seen as a shallow high school 'it' girl, who everyone wanted to be or get with. Paige spent the majority of her novel voicing how no one saw Zoey for who she truly was, and I felt Parker did the same during this novel. But no matter what light Paige and Parker showed Zoey, being 'inside' Zoey's head negated everything the author was trying to 'tell' the reader.

For me, Zoey truly was as vapid as her classmates felt her to be – boy-crazy, shallow, and her behavior contradicted how she acted in the first book.

Being an adult, I had a hard time empathizing and relating to Zoey – I couldn’t respect her at all (it was at the start through mid-book, and even near the ending). Zoey’s crush on Luke made her look vapid, even if it’s how teenage girls behave/act/react. Zoey wasn't 'that girl'. The book was to show she wasn’t like that, yet she was written exactly as that, with Parker ‘trying’ to show Zoey's true nature. But the reader can only trust Zoey’s narration, as she is speaking and thinking, not as a side character but the narrator herself.

Zoey = Paige's best friend. Zoey = 'I'm not that type of girl' but she truly is, no matter how many times she thinks it, her behavior has her acting that way when she was above it all in the previous book.

Parker and Luke = younger and older brother, with Parker, Paige's other best friend, who happens to be in love with her, and Luke, the older, college guy who is just a pretty face who treats his brother like crap.

Zoey and Luke were the male and female equivalents of one another. But I could forgive it in Luke because 1) he wasn't the narrator, and 2) call a spade a spade – he never pretended to be anything but a player. Zoey lied to herself about who she was, with everyone doing the same.

I was looking forward to reading the Zoey who helped Ben and Paige, the girl with high standards who didn’t date high school boys because they were immature and only saw her looks and popularity, not the real Zoey. She was rational and kind, not me. me. me. and blind. In this book, Paige and Ben make a reappearance, and Ben asks Zoey if Luke meets her 'high standards'. But, with how Luke was written, for Zoey to like Luke means she has absolutely NO standards or self-esteem/respect/worth.

Girls who fall for guys like Luke need validation from a guy, instead of knowing their true worth, and are preyed upon by the Lukes of the world, until they mature. Zoey deserved more than to be portrayed as thus. She was written the opposite in the previous book, and upset how her friends saw her that way. Like the girl who took Zoey's seat at the restaurant – any girl with an ounce of self-respect would have left Luke.

Guys are not worth fighting over. They don't choose you – you choose them. If they don't want you back, walk away, because he's not the right guy for you. Stealing a guy from another girl means he's not worth it, for any girl. He's no prize. Zoey didn't want to be seen as a prize, yet she treated Luke as one.

All women deserve more, and it’s our job as women to teach the youngest of our gender the signs. The false smile and a bite of attention is not flattery – it’s disrespect.

This is where the adult reader comes into play. Luke isn't a bad guy, IF he ever grows up. Boys like Luke only exist because of girls like Zoey, so I couldn’t respect her character, even with the small emotional evolution, because girls who know who they are don't fall for Lukes. I would have LOVED Zoey if, from word-one, she thought Luke was a joke, treated him as a friend/brother, and told him to grow up.

If Luke gets a book, I can guarantee his girl won't be a hanger-on-er, so why write Zoey like that? No one respects that type of person (character). I can't respect Parker for even liking a girl who wanted his brother. Gross.

Luke’s charm is like currency – if girls didn’t buy the falsity he’s selling, he won’t be a commodity anymore and I wish parents, mothers, authors would show this. Because that type of guy is created by the same foolish people they ‘hurt’, and they grow up into men who hurt many.

The women are the problem – we create the monster by feeding into it.

Writing Zoey as saying she isn’t that type of girl, yet having her behave so… quote: “yesterday she had flirted with him shamelessly... … like the groupies she despised… she’d done her hair and makeup both yesterday & this morning, in hopes he’d notice.” “Oh, my God. She was finally alone with Luke. Maybe she should have done more to her hair.”

If I had a daughter and she thought like that (which is my problem with the book itself). You can’t get more shallow than that, the very shallow her BFF (Paige) promised Zoey wasn’t in the previous book.

To quote Parker: "Sad" Zoey's behavior was 'sad'. As in, it's too bad a woman will debase herself in such as manner.

To want someone to like you on your looks instead of who you are is the very definition of shallow, exactly who you’d get in return. As an adult, I feel this perpetuates the cycle with the young adult reader, how only your looks matter. Then there is the manipulative, game-playing of using the best guy friend to trap his brother with jealousy, when said friend is in love with you.... and you love him too, and his brother, but only because he's a hot chick-magnet.

The author can write every character in the series to be Zoey's biggest fans, but when her inner monologue reads as such, there is nothing you can do to make me believe it. “Is this how guys back home felt when they tried to talk to her? If so, she could develop some sympathy for them.” “She needed to fight fire with fire. She’d ask Parker to go on that sleigh ride and they’d have a blast, and tell Luke he missed all the fun.”

But Zoey's NOT 'that girl'.

In the previous book, Zoey didn’t like how people judged her on her looks, money, and popularity, never wanting to get to know the ‘real’ her (which the reader never sees via Zoey, only the other character's narration) but she is doing the same to Luke, wanting him on looks and charm alone, wanting him to pick her over other girls, as if that is the value of her worth.

To be quite honest, my dislike on how Zoey was written was making me close to DNFing an angsty, love-triangle book I’d generally enjoy, when I was absolutely engrossed with the previous book. It all just felt forced (the entire storyline. Zoey, who everyone wants to be with, didn't think Parker wanted her? But wants Luke too for an ego-boost). I can’t empathize with a girl who is crying about absolutely nothing like it’s the end of the world. Zoey literally had no problems whatsoever, no personality, so her being upset about every little thing is beyond shallow in reaction. She would literally burst out bawling throughout the novel.

The author can ‘tell’ me Zoey is down-to-earth all through the book via the other characters, but Zoey ever wanting Luke romantically counters that, because her falling for his fake charm proves she’s attracted to bright and shiny, and nothing of real value, exactly who her classmates think her to be. I understand the triangle premise demands this, and teenagers fall prey to this daily, but just once I’d like to see a girl who thinks with her brain and heart, not with her eyes and status. And I thought that was the Zoey I was going to get – not as advertised.

While, no doubt, young adults would eat this book up, I wouldn't allow my imaginary teenage daughter to read it. The first book, yes. This book? No. I wouldn't risk my daughter modeling herself after Zoey.

All of the issues are due to miscommunication and silly, childish, beneath their age group mentality, 18-20 year-olds. Parker deserved a more mature friend in Zoey, but if they were such good friends, he should have at least told her what Luke was playing. (Would you allow your BFF to be lied to, played, and bet upon, even if it's by your brother? Actually, especially if it's by your brother, someone she trusts? NFW, and if you do, you're a crappy friend. Why not say Luke was with a bunch of girls when he said he was with the guys? SMH) No matter the outcome, I wasn’t pleased, because it involved Zoey, who needed to grow up in more ways than one, whether friendship or relationship, because Parker was blind and Zoey thought herself different than she behaved/acted/reacted – the ultimate of unreliable narrators.

I will read the next in the series and more by this author. But this installment of the series was most definitely not for me.

Young adult age-range: 13+.


Also Available in the Finding Perfect Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check our Finding Perfect post.



Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.

Connect with Kendra

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http://www.entangledpublishing.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Defying Gravity (Finding Perfect #2) by Kendra C. Highley to read and review.

Tempted to Touch by Remmy Duchene


Luck, happenstance, whatever you call it… Love finds a way.

Clark James works hard. And though he's not wealthy and he sometimes struggles to pay the bills, he is happy. Though many see being gay as a burden, Clark knows it’s who he is and moves on. He has dreams to set in motion. When he helps an elderly woman who fainted in the street, Tae Won Kim walks into Clark’s life.

When Tae Won Kim finds out about the man who saved his mother, Tae knows he must reward him. But the infuriating Clark James refuses to take anything from him. The more he pushes, the more he sees Clark as a man he could really bring into his life. Clark is kind, sexy, loving but hellbent on keeping Tae at arm’s length.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of spanking.

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Pride Publishing



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Veronica☆☆☆
Clark and Tae meet at a hospital when Clark helps Tae's elderly mother after she has a fall in the street. Their meeting is brief and doesn't go particularly well. I found their responses in the aftermath of their first meeting to be disproportionately strong. The way they were thinking about each other you would think they knew each other better or at least for longer.

With a gentle push from Tae's mother, a courtship of sorts begins and the story settles into a more comfortable rhythm. Tempted to Touch is easy romantic reading and I enjoyed it.


Erica☆☆☆
Remmy Duchene is a new-to-me author, and I found the writing style to be fluid and easy to read. Clark James works at a diner, and on an eventful day, his life changes. An older woman falls and breaks her hip, causing bystanders to take pics and videos instead of helping the woman. (I found it hard to believe how they all knew who the woman was, but didn't jump in to help her because of who she was – to get the notoriety and monetary reward Clark refused. Also, while the majority are asshats, I highly doubt out of a crowd of 20 or so, that no one would help.) Out rushes Clark to the rescue.

I enjoyed the addition of Rae to the storyline, Tae's mother, and how easily she bonded with Clark. Clark's narration was pleasant to read, and Tae's was different in the way he was more emotionally closed off.

The story itself, I found a bit difficult to swallow. How did Tae know where to find Clark, other than at the diner? How did Tae come to find Clark at the batting cages? The set up was great, Clark meeting Tae via Rae's accident, and the woman trying to push them together.

Tae hanging up out of fear to rush to the hospital was a knee-jerk reaction, but Clark's snubbing him at the hospital in retaliation seemed to be catty and contradictory to the man the reader was getting to know. While waiting to make restitution as a thank you, Tae immediately moved toward romance with Clark, which was bizarre. (I could understand an ailing mother going that direction.) But romance and lust are not the same thing, and Tae immediately went there, before Clark or the reader was ready.

Rae was talking of forever/son-in-law before Clark ever met Tae, without knowing if he was gay or not, or married/in a relationship, when she had shared no more than 20 words with the young man. He could have been a bad person who helped because most people help elderly when they are in need. It takes a true sociopath not to (like the 20+ bystanders).

The manufactured love/hate tension felt forced, as did the romance and attraction, that is what kept me from thoroughly enjoying the novella.

I give mad props to the author for writing a culturally diverse cast of characters, and the way the Korean was used in dialogue, with either the next line of dialogue or inner monologue translating it into English. I do wish it wasn't italicized, as Rae and Tae were speaking the words, no different than the English words that were spoken.

Highly recommend to MM romance fans who don't mind insta-love, don't want a complicated plot and a ton of angst, and are looking for a few hours of romantic, warm and fuzzy escapism.



Multi-published Remmy Duchene was born in St. Anns, Jamaica and moved to Canada at a young age. When not working or writing, Remmy loves dabbling in photography, travelling and spending time with friends and family.

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https://www.pride-publishing.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Tempted to Touch by Remmy Duchene to read and review.

A Forced Silence by Cate Ashwood Audiobook Review


For paramedic Adam Carson, his world is lights and sirens and saving lives. Pressures at work keep him firmly in the closet, and life is too busy to contend with the complications that come with dating and relationships. When a familiar face from his past turns up where he least expects it, Adam starts to question whether or not there is room in his life for those complications.

The last person forensic pathologist Sam McKenna expects to see at pub night is Adam, the guy who made his life hell in high school. The attraction is instant, but Adam isn't gay and Sam has no interest in pursuing him. Still, the leftover animosity from their teenage years isn't enough to extinguish the lust growing between them. After both are called to the scene of a horrific murder, Adam admits he’s not as straight as he led Sam to believe and they seek comfort and distraction in each other's arms. One night becomes many as the murder investigation intensifies, but when Adam is faced with losing Sam, he is forced to make a choice: to break his silence, or to give up everything for the job he loves.

Length: 5 hrs, 47 mins
Narrator: Scott R. Smith

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Amazon Audiobook  ~  Audible  ~  Dreamspinner Press



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆
A Forced Silence was an enjoyable m/m romance with an unexpected twist or two of added suspense. As I am new to writing reviews for audiobooks, I apologize in advance if I use the word read instead of listened to and hope that you’ll forgive me for it. To begin, I found Mr. Smith’s voice to be pleasant to listen to and felt he did a nice job of giving voice to the various characters in such a way that I was almost never confused as to who was speaking at the time. In fact, my main source of confusion had to do with the fact that Adam called Sam by a nickname, Dex, so when Sam/Dex was referred to as Sam by other characters, I would stumble over who Sam was, but this only happened a few times over the course of the book.

As for the story, I enjoyed watching the relationship between Adam and Dex play out. I found Dex’s character to be quite fascinating because not only was he able to let go of the verbal abuse that Adam had inflicted upon him in high school, but he also had an unusual acceptance regarding Adam’s need to keep their relationship a secret. Understandably, very few out gay men are willing to engage in a relationship that they can tell no one about. It leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth, feeling as though they are the other person’s dirty little secret. But rather than Dex feeling as though Adam was using him and/or ashamed to be seen with him, he understood and accepted the professional reasons Adam gave for not wanting anyone to know he was gay. Truth be told, I found Adam’s reasoning to be sound, especially as we got to know his partner better over the course of the book. For me, this was one of those rare occasions where keeping the characters’ relationship a secret made sense logically and the partner’s stated understanding and acceptance of it felt true – and this made the way in which the truth comes out absolutely fabulous!

I really liked Adam and Dex. Both men were dedicated and passionate about their respective careers and because of their occupations, they understood the demands and scheduling issues of one another’s jobs. Learning that Dex didn’t typically get involved with murder investigations made his intense commitment to seeing justice obtained for the victim even more interesting than the forensic thread already was for me. At the same time, Adam’s passion for being a paramedic and looking out for the health and welfare of future patients by addressing his trainee’s wholly unprofessional manner was admirable. I, for one, would have gladly held Dustin down while Adam delivered the beating he deserved after the incident at the murder scene. The hostage situation made for an intense scene (which the narrator did a great job of conveying) and I actually appreciated that the storyline backed up a bit from one chapter to the next in order to give us Adam’s perspective on the incident. But that ending, oh that ending, left my wanting the next book immediately. I cannot wait to see what Ashwood has planned for the series.



I'm Cate! I live on the ocean in British Columbia, Canada with my husband, Christopher, my brand new little boy, Hudson, and my two kitties, Parker and Gracie. I'm happiest when spending time with my family, reading, or writing. Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot-pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after. Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, her brand new little boy, and her two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.

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https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free audiobook copy of A Forced Silence (Zero Hour #1) by Cate Ashwood, Narrated by Scott R. Smith to listen to and review.

Code Yellow by Susan Laine


Two years have passed since that long, dark, night of despair and near death when English-lit geek Yancy Bell met dancing jock Curt Donovan. Now a couple living in New York, they appear happy and well suited to one another.

But appearances can be deceptive.

Yancy feels Curt is growing distant, and they barely see each other. At Juilliard, Curt has bonded with a new friend, Greg. Yancy fears his relationship with Curt is coming to a head. Meanwhile,Curt harbors a secret that could spell the end of Yancy’s love for him.

Yet neither man dares to confront his fears—or the other.

Will their fate be a code yellow or a golden opportunity?

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Book 3
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Dreamspinner Press



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Ruthie☆☆☆
The third in the series, and I think you would need to read the previous two to get the full story. I will assume you have in my review.

These two men met under the most difficult of circumstances, and through all their story it sits like a shadow. That element is definitely really well done, as I don't believe it would ever quite go away. It therefore makes Yancy's behaviour completely understandable, and the outcome even better than might have been expected. On that score I think the book does really well. I do, however, have a struggle sometimes with the language, which can get very flowery. Whilst Yancy may be a Lit major, he would not necessarily in times of stress use so many synonyms, when actually repeating of a word would be more powerful. It is a small thing, but at times distracted me from the story. I find some things to be slightly inconsistent too, which again are minor, but can just change the flow as I consider whether that fits with the previous chapter. The one thing that has really vanished is Yancy's toilet problem...even in some very stressful moments he seems to be fine.

I shall start book four with interest, as the main issue there would seem to be his, not Curt's for a change.


Also Available in the Heroes at Heart Series

Book 1
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Dreamspinner Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Yellowbelly Hero post.


Book 2
Buy Links

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Dreamspinner Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Yellow Streak post.


Book 4
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Dreamspinner Press



SUSAN LAINE, an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBTQ erotic romance and a Finnish native, was raised by the best mother in the world, who told her daughter time and again that she could be whatever she wanted to be. The spark for serious writing and publishing kindled when Susan discovered the gay erotic romance genre. One of her books, Monsters Under the Bed, won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Paranormal Romance.

Anthropology is Susan’s formal education, but she has set her long-term sights on becoming a full-time writer. Susan enjoys hanging out with her sister, two nieces, and friends in movie theaters, bookstores, and parks. Her favorite pastimes include pop music, action flicks, chocolate, and doing the dishes, while a few of her dislikes are sweating hot summer days, tobacco smoke, and purposeful prejudice.

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https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Code Yellow (Heroes at Heart #3) by Susan Laine to read and review.

Perfect Surrender by Mia London


She denied herself. Lied to herself. And she was miserable.

Lauren Knight had the best plan. She and her brother had inherited an estate worth millions from an aunt who’d lived in Paris. She’d go to Paris for four weeks to settle the estate. How lucky can one girl be? In her absence, her brother would take over for her and manage the spa. Just one minor detail--he’d need to act gay. Since it was only for four weeks, she figured it would all be a cake-walk. Until she met Andre.

As Andre Beauchamp snapped a few pictures from the top of the Eiffel Tower, he had no idea he would become the savior to a scared, albeit, lovely American woman. He was inexplicably drawn to Lauren, and despite her very short stay in Paris, he found himself falling for her.

One week in Paris and Lauren already wished she could stay longer. She loved spending time with Andre, but when her world came crashing down around her, so had no choice. She had to return to the States, and leave Andre behind. Forever.

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Jacki☆☆☆
I found this book to be interesting because it was a bit different from the usual romance plot. Lauren having to go to France gave it a nice twist. I do enjoy Colton and Lauren's relationship in both books so far. I was entertained by Lauren and Andre's romance. They were sweet and sexy together, but it was very heavy insta-love for me. I thought there was more emotional depth when Lauren dealt with her grief than there was between Lauren and Andre, so it was a little hard to feel like it was balanced. Overall, it was a nice, easy, and quick read for me.


Also Available in the Perfect Series

Book 1
Buy Links

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For reviews & more info, check out our Perfect Seduction post.



Mia London loves to write.

After reading fiction for years, she decided it was finally time to put those images and scenes floating around in her head down on paper.

She is a huge fan of romance, highly optimistic, and wildly faithful to the HEA (happily ever after). Her goal is to create a fantasy you will enjoy with characters you could love.

She lives in Texas with her attentive, loving, super-model husband, and perfectly behaved, brilliant children. Her produce never wilts, there are no weeds in her flowerbeds and chocolate is her favorite food group.

Connect with Mia

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Perfect Surrender (Perfect #2) by Mia London to read and review.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Night Screams by Devon McCormack


Running naked through the woods, Cal flees the sadistic man who abducted and tortured him. When he stumbles upon a convenience store, he breaks in to steal food. A young store clerk, Jake, confronts him, and they get into a fight that ends with Cal being knocked unconscious. He wakes in the home of Jake’s Uncle Gary, the owner of the convenience store. Realizing Cal needs help, Gary tries to communicate with him, but despite Cal’s efforts, he can’t bring himself to speak. Instead, he writes down his experiences. Horrified by the perverse cruelty Cal endured, Gary takes him to the police, who track down his tormentor.

Abandoned by his parents before his abduction, Cal doesn’t have anywhere to go, so Gary and his wife eagerly welcome him into their home. He feels fortunate to be with such caring people—something he’s never had before. Despite their help, he still can’t find his voice, and he wonders if he ever will. And Jake certainly isn’t making things any easier. It’s clear he doesn’t want Cal to be part of their family. But the more Cal gets to know him, the more he realizes Jake might be the very person who can heal the deep wounds left by his horrifying past.

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Harmony Ink



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Shannan☆☆☆☆
After Cal got caught kissing another boy, his parents kicked him out of the house. Cal thought he was putting himself into a safe situation until he woke up chained to a wall in the dark. When he finally is able to escape his abductor, he is starving and naked. He tries to steal some food but is caught. Instead of being taken to the police, he's taken to the owner’s home. He's traumatized, scared, and unable to speak. Gary and Luce provide him with more love than he's ever known. His attraction to Jake, Gary, and Luce's nephew, is unexpected given the way Jake treats Cal.

I enjoyed the base of the story. I would have like to see more from the abduction and Cal's healing. It seemed glossed over, but otherwise it was a quick enjoyable read.


Erica☆☆☆
3.5 Stars.

I need to start this review by stating how I read like an editor, not the average reader. I pick up things I wish I didn't, so read my review knowing it's with a clinical bent.

Devon McCormack is a new-to-me author, and I found the writing style to be a steady flow, engaging and easy to read, with likable characters, but the overall story to be emotionally manipulative.

The opening hooked me from word one, written in an inventive manner that truly engaged the reader, and I thought for sure I'd be handing out an automatic 5 stars. Based on the majority of the content, it was a 5-star read, but I felt the emotional side wasn't fully explored or executed properly.

Without going into great detail over the events, as I don't wish to spoil the read – plus, thankfully the author didn't go into detail either as this was a 17-year-old – some major things happen to the narrator, Cal, but the aftermath isn't truly explored, only popping into the story when it benefits the current scene. Inconsistent.

The Night Screams was an emotional book, but with so many different types of tragedies coming at the reader, it desensitized me to all emotional aspects. Abduction. Escape. Physical violence. Abandonment. Love-hate. Teenage angst and jealousy. Gay Bashing with violence. Religion used against homosexuals. Cancer. Strokes. Heart attacks. Crime. Deaths. Coming out in a small town. Within only 200 pages.

If only a handful of these tropes had been fully explored, I would have been a basket case while reading, truly experiencing all the tumultuous emotions Cal's character would have been showing. But with so much happening on every page, without the characters showing the emotional impact, it just felt like the author was using emotional extortion. I can't hand out 5 stars because of brutal content unless I feel it was executed to maximum impact.

Show me – don't tell me. Make me bleed for the character, not ask what's next.

The characters just moved on, without any aftercare from one event to the next, and I was just waiting for what else could possibly occur, and not out of mystery or anticipation. Maybe Armageddon.

Sometimes less is more. Give the reader time to 'feel' what the character is feeling before slapping them in the face with yet another tragic event. Yes, a character needs to earn that happily ever after, but it just starts to feel manipulative on the author's part after 10 or more tragedies.

I've noticed this trend lately in books, where the author emotionally tortures the characters. Several this week alone. Tossing a bunch of tragedies into a hat and picking 10 to 15 of them doesn't make a poignant read – fully exploring a singular event with a major impact in the aftermath does. Build the character.

I feel so awful saying that – truly I do, as I did enjoy the story and the characters. But maybe this was the book that broke the camel's back for me, and I'm judging too harshly. I never got to 'know' Cal, not really, because it was just one thing after the other, leaving me to play catch-up. As for the romance aspects, I never felt I understood Jake's moods, and wondered if the book would have felt more complete with a dual-narrative with Cal and Jake.

Recommended to adults, as I feel they would appreciate the book better than the intended audience who is the age group of the narrator.

Young adult age-range: 16+ due to content. Younger based on the reader's maturity level. Features abduction, sexual content (fade-to-black), and profanity.



Devon McCormack spends most of his time hiding in his lair, adventuring in paranormal worlds with his island of misfit characters. A good ole Southern boy, McCormack grew up in the Georgian suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting whole worlds where he can live out whatever fantasy he chooses.

A gay man himself, McCormack focuses on gay male characters, adding to the immense body of literature that chooses to represent and advocate gay men's presence in media. His body of work ranges from erotica to young adult, so readers should check the synopses of his books before purchasing so that they know what they're getting into.

Connect with Devon

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https://www.harmonyinkpress.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Night Screams by Devon McCormack to read and review.

Always My Girl by Samantha Chase


The Shaughnessy Brother you've been waiting for!

Sometimes the love that's closest to you is the hardest to see.

Quinn Shaughnessy's two older brothers have found their true loves...but Quinn's not about to join that parade. Nope, as he tells his best friend Anna, there's a lot more to life than getting tied down to one person. He's positive tomboy Anna will be on his side – except she's inexplicably developing other interests – even dating! Suddenly Quinn is seeing Anna in a very different light.

Quinn has been Anna's buddy since they were both five years old. She can tell him anything – except the one big secret she's been hiding for years – that she's fallen in love with him. Now Anna is determined to make a life for herself that doesn't include pining for Quinn. Falling in love with your best friend? Easy. Telling them how you really feel? Impossible.

Book #3 in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Chase's dazzling new series.


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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Veronica☆☆☆☆
Anna has been in love with her best friend and neighbour, Quinn Shaughnessy, since they were kids. Everyone has always known it – except Quinn. The first scene where Quinn actually starts to take notice that Anna is a beautiful, sexy woman had me chuckling.

Usually very confident, I loved seeing Quinn so clueless. His changing relationship with Anna has him feeling insecure. Comments from his family and friends hit close to home. Quinn's insecurity was often amusing, but at times it made my heart hurt.

Anna is tired of being the tomboy and wants to be seen as a woman, so she has made changes in her life. I like that she goes after what she wants even though making the change is difficult. Anna is a very patient and understanding woman. I'm not sure I could have dealt with Quinn the way she does. I really admired her.

Always My Girl is a great friends-to-lovers romance. There is very little smooth sailing for this couple. Getting what they want takes a lot of work, but Quinn and Anna prove that hard work pays off.


Also Available in The Shaughnessy Brothers Series

Book 1
Buy Links

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B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Made for Us Blog Tour.


Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Love Walks In Blog Tour.




Samantha Chase, a creative writing teacher, released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Since then, she has published seventeen more titles and has become a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She lives with her husband of twenty-four years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Connect with Samantha

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Google+  ~  Blog  ~  tsū


http://www.sourcebooks.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Always My Girl (The Shaughnessy Brothers #3) by Samantha Chase to read and review.

Deductions by Lyn Gala


Darren is proud of his work on the FBI’s magical Talent unit. However, his own lack of magic means he can never be with Supervisory Special Agent and Shaman Kavon Boucher. The shamanic magic poses a real danger to any mundane who gets too close, so Darren tries to hide his attraction and keep a professional relationship at work. That resolve begins to crumble when a new man sets his sights on Kavon and Darren can’t control his resentment.

Now they have a brutal new case of a suspect targeting magical adepts. Darren tries to keep focused on that crime, but when he starts to show signs of his own magic, he hopes that maybe he can not only be a more effective part of the team but also a real partner to Kavon. He might have a second chance at love if only Kavon can learn to trust his new and unpredictable magic that has changed the rules of the magical game.

Add to Goodreads


Book 1
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Loose Id



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆☆
As a fan of Gala’s sci-fi romances, I was beyond excited for the chance to review Deductions. I queued it up on my Kindle this morning to read while I was waking up slowly on a Sunday morning, taking a bit of time to myself to enjoy an author who, after only two books, had secured a top spot in my go-to authors for sci-fi romances. My plan was to read a few chapters, get up and work on the blog posts for the week, and then end the day reading as much of the rest of the novel that I could before sleep claimed me. HAHAHAHA!!! That is so not what happened. Five hours and 200 plus pages later, I’ve finished devouring Deductions and want Derivation NOW!

In the world of Aberrant Magic, there is a small proportion of society who are natural born magic users – shamans, spell casters, crystal users, and more. An even smaller portion of those are called adepts – persons who possess lower levels of magic, but who can serve as an anchor for shamans when they walk in the spirit world. People without powers are referred to as mundanes and most readers won’t be the least bit surprised that a good amount of mundanes fear or hate magic users. Because of this and because of his staunch commitment to justice for all individuals, Darren works well as the sole mundane on the FBI’s Talent unit. He has no prejudices against his teammates; in fact, his attraction to his supervisor is more of a threat to his spot on the team as shamans and humans are incompatible. While Darren has worked hard over the years to keep his feelings for Boucher to himself, the addition of a new adept working closely with the shaman and enjoying it far too much, is proving to be a more difficult pill for Darren to swallow. That the adept seems to be targeting him with his magic fuels Darren’s frustration with the matter, especially as no one believes him. But when a “prank” goes wrong and Darren exhibits previously undetected magical abilities, his status goes from mundane to unknown in a matter of hours, and as more is revealed about his abilities, it becomes obvious that the “rules” don’t apply to him. As Darren is thrust into a new way of life, a new political landscape, and a second chance with the man he’s been pining for, his untapped powers may be the key to solving the case they’re currently working and discovering who’s behind the kidnapping and murder of adepts.

The fact that I got sucked into Deductions and didn’t come up for air until I finished the book five hours later, is a pretty strong indicator of just how much I loved the story. Gala has created a fascinating world and, because most of the book is told from Darren’s point of view, the reader learns the secrets of the magic world at the same time he does. Even though he’s been on the FBI’s Talent team, there are things his status as a mundane kept him from learning. This allowed the author to engage in world building gradually over the course of the novel and prevented an information dump at the beginning of the book. That the book begins during a magical shoot-out that requires the various team members to use their unique abilities serves as a great way to introduce the reader to the different aspects of their world, as well as the team dynamics. The parts of the book that are told from Boucher’s perspective not only reveal that Darren’s feelings aren’t unrequited, but also go a long way in helping the reader to understand just how impressive Darren’s abilities are. One of the things I liked is that Boucher didn’t waste time telling Darren that he shouldn’t have been able to do certain tasks. I get that he was often stunned by what Darren accomplished – and rightfully so based on his and Les’s reactions – but because Darren didn’t know what he shouldn’t be capable of doing, it seemed to make his acceptance of Bennu practically seamless, thereby enabling him to do things that were outside of Boucher’s realm of abilities, much less a newbie like Darren. The emotional connection between Darren and Boucher was an interesting mix of relief and regret that worked well with their circumstances as Darren was relieved that he finally had a real chance with the Boucher, and Boucher was both relieved that Darren was within the realm of possibility, yet regretful of the loss that represented. As for their case, well that’s one of the reasons why I cannot wait to get my hands on Derivation – to learn exactly how organized the murderer(s) may be, as well as to see how things will continue to progress between Darren and Boucher.



Lyn Gala started writing in the back of her science notebook in third grade and hasn't stopped since. Westerns starring men with shady pasts gave way to science fiction with questionable protagonists, which eventually became any story with a morally ambiguous character. Even the purest heroes have pain and loss and darkness in their hearts, and that’s where she likes to find her stories. Her characters seek to better themselves and find the happy (or happier) ending.

When she isn't writing, Lyn Gala teaches history in a small town in New Mexico. Her favorite spot to write is a flat rock under a wide tree on the edge of the open desert where her dog can terrorize local wildlife. Writing in a wide range of genres, she often gravitates back to adventure and BDSM, stories about men in search of true love and a way to bring some criminal to justice…unless they happen to be the criminals.

Connect with Lyn

Facebook  ~  Google+  ~  Blog  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


http://www.loose-id.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Deductions (Aberrant Magic #1) by Lyn Gala to read and review.