Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Heartwood by J.H. Croix Blog Tour

She needs a fresh start. He wants a second chance…  Heartwood by J.H. Croix

She needs a fresh start. He wants a second chance…

My new job as a chef in a small town was supposed to be my ticket to peace and quiet. I didn’t expect to run into the former hockey star who gave me the hottest nights of my life. And, oops, he’s sort-of my new boss. So much for keeping my past where it belongs.

Ty still thinks I’m the fun party girl. He has no idea how much things have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed: the spark between us. It’s hotter than the blowtorch I use on my crème brûlée.

I’m already keeping secrets, so what’s one more? Our tryst is forbidden, it’s fun, and it gets complicated as fast as you can say “check, please.” I didn’t expect to have a future with Ty. And I definitely didn’t expect to have a baby with him.

Some falls are harder than others. But it depends on who’s there to catch you...

Heartwood is a stand-alone novel set in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North.

Welcome to Speakeasy, where the beer is handcrafted, the patrons wear flannel, and the romance is steamier than the gourmet kitchen out back. The Speakeasy Taproom books are standalone romances set in small-town Vermont. Jump in anywhere!

Don’t miss our reviews of the rest of the Speakeasy Taproom series!
For book one, Touchstone, click HERE.


Add to Goodreads


Heartwood by J.H. Croix

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Apple Books  ~  B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  Kobo
Audiobook (US)  ~  Paperback (US)




Belle’s wide brown eyes held mine, and I wanted to lean over and kiss the freckles on her cheeks. Uncertainty flickered in her gaze, but it passed quickly. She surprised me by lifting her hand and smoothing a fingertip over one of my eyebrows. Her lips curled in a small smile as her hand fell to rest on my chest. “It was messy,” she explained.

“My eyebrow?”

She nodded, blinking as her cheeks went a little pink.

“Well, thank you then,” I offered somberly.

She bit her lip and laughed. I took the moment to let my eyes absorb the sight of her. With her flushed skin, her bright eyes, and her swollen lips, she was disarmingly delectable. Hell, I could’ve gone another round right then. I hadn’t been living as a monk, but I also hadn’t exactly found much time of late for women, much less women who got to me the way Belle did.

If I was being honest with myself, no woman got to me like Belle. She was singular in her ability to set me on fire. We were just that good together. It was easy and fucking hot.

Just then, I noticed she was still wearing her skirt. I chuckled, and she asked, “What’s so funny?”

“We never got your skirt off.”

She grinned, and a sly look entered her eyes. “Maybe not, but at least I got my panties and boots off.”

I laughed, and she traced circles on my chest with a fingertip. I lifted a palm, needing to touch her. I smoothed it over the sweet curve of her shoulder, my eyes landing on the tattoo at the top of her shoulder blade. With her angled toward me, it was just visible. “This is new.” It was a heart, drawn as if carved into wood, the lines of the grain etched in varying subtle shades of brown and gold. “It’s beautiful,” I added.

“How do you know it’s new?” Her big brown eyes lifted to mine, a saucy hint contained there.

“Because I would remember if you had it before. I didn’t forget anything about you.” The moment I said that, my heart gave a tricky kick. Belle had this way of sliding right through my defenses. I revealed perhaps too much with that comment.

She blinked as a wash of pink bloomed on her cheeks. She swallowed, her lashes sweeping down again. “I didn’t have it before. My father’s a woodcarver in his spare time. I always loved watching him on the weekends when I was little.” Her lashes lifted again, vulnerability flickering in her gaze for a flash. “It’s to represent heartwood. That’s the densest and strongest part of the tree.”

I absorbed that as I traced the edges of the heart with my fingertip. “It’s beautiful,” I repeated.

Quiet spun out between us. She dipped her head, nipping lightly on my shoulder. I shifted closer and laid another kiss on her, for no other reason than that I loved kissing Belle. She had a sassy tongue, and she never hesitated to throw herself into kisses.

When I drew back, she asked, “Is this when I find a way to gracefully depart?”

“Hell, no. I’ve got you for the whole night.”

Her throaty laugh rang out, and I pulled her on top of me, kissing her again because I wanted her, and I wanted to dive into her fire. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to think too hard about just how fiercely I wanted her to stay.



“I know what you need, sweetheart.”     Jesus. When he talked like that, all bossy and clear that he knew just what I needed, I trembled all over.



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the second book in the new series based in Sarina Bowen's True North world. I loved Sam and Phoebe's story, and was delighted to review this one too. A very different story, although Belle is working in Phoebe's kitchen at the Speakeasy and Ty is the manager there.

Ty and Belle have a spectacular past as regularly exceptional hook-ups whilst at college. Now, by a strange twist of fate, they find themselves working in the same building. Ty is closed off from thoughts of romance, thanks to being brought up by two people who really should no longer be together. He cannot deny that he’s never forgotten Belle, or how good they were together.

Belle, as we learn right at the beginning of the story, dropped out of college after a manic episode and the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She is on medication and has found that working as a chef really suits her better than studying law. Ty doesn't know what happened to her, and now seeing him again has brought back memories of her frenetic college days.

It is very moving watching these two tiptoe around the clear chemistry between them, but they are so cautious of committing to more than they think they can offer. It is thanks to their friends and their natures that they can finally see that they do have the chance at a future, a great future. It is rather wonderful seeing how the gang gather round and support them as they fall in love and find a way to make it work.

Another great installment in the series.



The man knew how to make me fly. He handled me with a deft mix of bossy and tender, taking turns being commanding and filthy, and gentle and sensual.


Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author J.H. CROIX lives in a small town in the historical farmlands of Maine with her husband and two spoiled dogs. Croix writes steamy contemporary romance with sassy women and rugged alpha men who aren't afraid to show some emotion. Her love for quirky small-towns and the characters that inhabit them shines through in her writing. Take a walk on the wild side of romance with her bestselling novels!

Connect with J.H.

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Facebook Group: Croix's Crew



If I was being honest with myself, no woman got to me like Belle. She was singular in her ability to set me on fire. We were just that good together.


Hosted by

Heart Eyes Press

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Heartwood (Speakeasy Taproom #2) by J.H. Croix to read and review for this tour.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

You Loved Me Once by Corinne Michaels Release Blitz

You Loved Me Once by Corinne Michaels

From New York Times bestselling author Corinne Michaels comes a heartbreakingly beautiful standalone story about letting love in.

I’m losing myself trying to save everyone else...

As a doctor, I walk a dangerously delicate balance of being compassionate but not overly invested. The same is true in my personal life—love is a luxury I can’t afford.

It isn’t until Dr. Westin Grant breaks down all my walls and offers me a future, I find myself wondering if I’m brave enough to risk my heart.

When who I was and who I’ve tried to become collide during my clinical trial, the fate of one patient changes everything.

In a single moment, everything I’ve worked for is jeopardized. My integrity, my career, and even my relationship with Westin.

He loved me once, I just hope he can love me always…


Add to Goodreads


You Loved Me Once by Corinne Michaels

Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Apple Books  ~  B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  Kobo
Audiobook (US)  ~  Paperback (US)




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I started reading Corinne Michaels about seven months ago and she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. As with all of her stories, this one will grip you, pull at your heartstrings, have you crying, and in the end, smiling. She has a way with words that no other author, that I have found, can put them together to make the amazingly perfect stories that she makes.

Serenity is a doctor who wants to save all of her patients. While in medical school, she tried to save her mother but couldn't, so she has vowed to help those she could with the same disease her mother died with. When a part of her past shows up for the clinical trial she is conducting, she wonders if she can keep her past from colliding with her present. When she makes a decision after a patient dies, it could impact her career and her future with Dr. Westin Grant.

Westin is the man who loves her now, they are perfect together. When he finds out what she has done, will he report her? Can he overlook what was done to save a patient? Will he believe her when she says nothing is going on with any other man? Can they get back to working on the happily ever after?

I didn't even read the blurb on this one, I knew I wanted to read it. Any of her books that come through the review group are an automatic yes for me. It's funny to me when I found this author and I have loved everything I have read or listened to so far. So pick this one up and fall in love with Ren and Wes, I hope you love it too. And if you have not read author Corinne Michaels before, I hope you love her too.



Author Bio

CORINNE MICHAELS is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romance novels. Her stories are chock full of emotion, humor, and unrelenting love, and she enjoys putting her characters through intense heartbreak before finding a way to heal them through their struggles.

Corinne is a former Navy wife and happily married to the man of her dreams. She began her writing career after spending months away from her husband while he was deployed—reading and writing were her escapes from the loneliness. Corinne now lives in Virginia with her husband and is the emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun-loving mom of two beautiful children.

Connect with Corinne

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Facebook Group: Corinne Michaels Books



I won’t break again, even if everything crumbles around me.


Hosted by

Valentine PR & Literary Management

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of You Loved Me Once by Corinne Michaels to read and review for this tour.

Angel's Promise by Aleatha Romig Release Blitz

Angel's Promise by Aleatha Romig Available Now.

Everett Ramses came into my life like a hurricane on a dark New Orleans night. With a deep voice and penetrating gaze, his mere presence tingled my nerves and twisted my insides much like the city’s legendary stories of spirits and ghosts.

As the ruler of New Orleans, Everett Ramses lives life hard and takes what he wants without apology.

He wants me to be his queen.

I am not an unwilling capture or a damsel in distress.

No, I, Emma North, willingly fell for the man who proclaims himself the devil.

Do I follow through on the promise I made to Rett, or do I listen to my own instincts and run before it’s too late?

The future of New Orleans is now in my hands.

Have you been Aleatha'd?

From New York Times bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a new romantic suspense duet set in the dark and mysterious world of New Orleans. This full-length novel is the conclusion of the Devil’s Duet that begins with the prequel Fate’s Demand, continues in Devil’s Deal, and concludes in Angel’s Promise.

Don’t miss our reviews of the rest of the Devil's Duet!
For book one, Devil’s Deal, click HERE.


Add to Goodreads


Angel's Promise by Aleatha Romig

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Apple Books  ~  B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  Kobo
Audiobook (US)  ~  Paperback (US)




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the conclusion of Rett and Emma's story. At the end of Devil's Deal, we were left wondering what was going to happen. I never thought what happened in Angel's Promise was going to happen. Emma thought she had lost everyone in her family and didn't know who to trust, now she was trying to put the pieces together. Trying to trust the man she married and make a life with him as his queen.

As things take a turn, Emma learns things we as readers never thought about. She will learn to trust her instincts and that will make her stronger as a person.

This story is filled with mystery, ghosts, spirits that surround New Orleans, and will have you so engrossed in this story that you will not want to put it down. So jump in with both feet, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride that is Devil's Duet. It is worth the ride.

Book two in the Devil's Duet was just as good as, if not better than, the first!

Of course the first book ended with a cliffhanger, but it was done well and I found myself thinking about it while waiting for this conclusion. I really appreciate how quickly the series was tied up... no six-month wait times.

I also need to mention the difficulty I have reviewing books by Aleatha Romig. The suspense is woven into every single angle, anything and everything has a purpose, and I don't want to ruin the story by spoiling the fun!

What I will say is that Rett and Emma have a rough road to travel, so get ready for the ride!

When secrets come into the light, the dead rise, and ghosts lead the way, you know you're in for a memorable story.

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F romance

This is the conclusion to this duet. We left off with Emma wondering what the heck was going on. She thought she had lost everyone she cared about years ago. Now, Emma is thrust into a world where she's going to have to figure out quick, who she can trust.

Rett is still trying to protect Emma, but now his job becomes harder as more truths are revealed. Rett knows that people want to take over his city – want to take his kingdom from him – but he's determined to rule with Emma.

As the spirits make their will known, Rett, Emma, and everyone else will have to decide where they align. Is it with the spirits? Or against them?

You'll love the conclusion of this duet. While I will admit that it was somewhat jumbled at times, for me, I enjoyed watching everything unfold.



Author Bio

ALEATHA ROMIG is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Together with her high-school sweetheart and husband of over thirty years, they've raised three children. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns or her new lighter side, she likes to spend her time with her family and friends. Her pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

Connect with Aleatha

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads
Facebook Group: Aleatha Romig's Readers


Hosted by

Wildfire Marketing Solutions

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Angel's Promise (Devil's Duet #2) by Aleatha Romig to read and review for this tour.

Touchstone by Karen Stivali Release Blitz

Sam doesn't think love is in the cards. The cards disagree.

Sam doesn't think love is in the cards. The cards disagree.

When Phoebe Stevens' life implodes in a spectacularly public fashion, she's desperate to escape Manhattan. So the offer of a job setting up a new Vermont gastropub couldn’t come at a better time. Driving a U-Haul on winding mountain roads is Phoebe's personal version of hell. But when the caretaker of her guesthouse answers the door tousled, shirtless, and baking cinnamon rolls, her first impression of Vermont dramatically improves.

Sam Trembley believes everyone gets one true love, but he’s already blown his chance. He's spent five years avoiding relationships. Now he’s back in Colebury where sunrise tarot draws and moonlit hikes soothe his soul. But why do the tarot cards keep showing him this nonsense about soulmates? Could it have anything to do with the jaded city girl on his doorstep?

Playing tour guide is fun, but taste-testing her culinary creations as she shimmies her luscious hips around his kitchen is downright irresistible. Soon their chemistry burns hotter than the pub's wood-fired oven.

Has fate brought them together for a summer of love... or a lifetime of happiness?

Touchstone contains craving-inducing menu planning, a sassy white witch grandma, seismic sexy times, and tarot cards on a mission to prove soulmates are real.

Touchstone is a stand-alone novel set in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North.

Welcome to Speakeasy, where the beer is handcrafted, the patrons wear flannel, and the romance is steamier than the gourmet kitchen out back. The Speakeasy Taproom books are standalone romances set in small-town Vermont. Jump in anywhere!


Add to Goodreads


Touchstone by Karen Stivali

Book 1
Buy Links

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Apple Books  ~  B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  Kobo
Audiobook (US)  ~  Paperback (US)




I’d changed into a black tunic swing dress and capri leggings, and a gust of air flared the skirt Marilyn Monroe-style the second I stepped outside.

“Hey.” Sam’s grin was like a beacon luring me toward him. “Did you get a chance to rest from your drive?”

“Nah, but I did get in a shower. Those rainforest showerheads were amazing.”

“Glad you enjoyed them.”

Was it bad that I was hoping I’d just made him picture me naked? What was wrong with me? I was never this flirty, and not just because I’d been in a relationship the past half-decade. I just… wasn’t. “So whatcha cookin’?”

“We’ve got some jerk pork, some cilantro-lime chicken breasts, and some asparagus. There’s potato salad inside and some fiddleheads.”

“Ooh, fiddleheads. I’ve actually never had them. I thought they were only around in early spring.”

Sam shook his head, deftly turning over pork chops with his tongs. “Not up here. All depends on the winter and when the snow melts. This is a little later than usual for them to be around, but we had snow until May this year so…”

May? Is that typical?”

He laughed. “The only thing typical about New England weather is that you can never tell what to expect.”

“I can’t imagine having snow until mid-spring. I’m used to Manhattan where a few inches slows everything to a crawl. But I do love when it snows at night. Empty New York City snow-covered streets are a thing of beauty.”

“That does sound nice. Did you grow up in the city?” Sam flipped the asparagus and lowered the lid on the grill.

“Yep. Lived there pretty much my whole life. I spent most summers at the beach, with a good friend. And I did an internship one summer during culinary school, in Boston. That’s where I met Audrey.”

“Right. Audrey. Is that how you wound up with the Speakeasy gig?”

“Yup. I needed a job and her family needed someone willing to get the gastropub up and running.”

“Sounds like divine timing.”

I shrugged and stared at my feet. Flashes of the scene that had led to me needing a job bombarded my brain. “Something like that.”

“You want a beer? Or I have soda, juice, wine…”

“Beer sounds great. Thanks.”

Sam jogged back to the house, hair bouncing. I tried to decide if he looked better coming or going. Which made me wonder what he looked like coming.

Phoebe, stop it. You’re here to do a job and make a plan for your fucked-up life, not to fuck it up more with… complications.

I forced myself to take a deep breath and focus on my surroundings. I hadn’t really looked around when we were moving all my shit into the cottage. The space between the main house and the guesthouse was no ordinary, run-of-the-mill back yard. It was surrounded on all sides by hundred-foot trees—a mix of evergreens and probably oaks, based on the acorn remnants I’d seen on the driveway. There were elaborate flower beds all around the house and a rock garden with enormous sparkling rocks—pink, gray, some sort of marble, maybe? I assumed that was a perk of owning a rock shop. And frog statues. Were they… doing yoga?

Sam appeared and handed me a chilled, bright-yellow can. The cheerful label said Sip of Sunshine IPA. “Your official welcome to Vermont.” He clinked my can with his, and we both drank.

It tasted bright and hoppy and instantly refreshed me. “I take it your aunt likes frogs?”

Sam opened the grill and plated the asparagus. “Actually, I’m to blame for the yoga frogs.” He gave the asparagus a quick squeeze of lemon and then set the plate on the wooden picnic table alongside the grill.

“Oh really?” I sipped some more, hoping to quell the fire or whatever it was that tingled through me every time Sam spoke.

“Legend has it that when I was three or four my grandmother took me to the Christmas bazaar at the all-season market, and I saw one of those frogs…” He scanned the yard. “That one, there, in the lotus pose. And decided I had to get Aunt Iris that frog for Christmas.”

“That’s adorable.”

“I was a cute kid. There’s photographic proof in some of the old photos in the house. But apparently Iris made such a huge fuss about how much she loved the frog, I got it in my head she needed another one every year. And now it’s just tradition. Every Christmas I get her some sort of frog. She took most of them with her when she moved into my grandmother’s house. There are salt and pepper shakers, creamers and sugar bowls, a teapot, bookends, a nightlight…”

“Wow. That’s dedication.”

He chuckled. “I’ve been traveling the last few years, and no matter where I was, I bought frogs wherever I saw them. I’m stocked up for a few Christmases now.”

I ran my hand over my beer can, tracing the logo. “It’s great how close you are to them. I’ve never had anything like that. Not with family at least. I’m closer to my best friend’s family than my own, but I don’t even see them much anymore.”

“I get it. Growing up, my best friend spent most of his time at my house. His parents were getting a divorce and my grandmother all but adopted him for a few years while that played out.”

“Does he still live in town?”

“Nope. He moved to Maine a few years ago. You’d probably like him—he runs a small bakery and makes crazy-good desserts.”

“Nice. Too bad he’s not closer. I’d hire him.”

Sam stuck an instant-read thermometer into one of the pork chops. “I’ll let him know in case the bakery doesn’t work out.”

“Can I help you with anything?”

He threw me that heart-stopping smile, and my insides flip-flopped. “Nope. You’re gonna be cooking for half the town soon. Tonight, let me do the cooking. Just don’t get too used to it, because I have a very small repertoire.”

“I can teach you a trick or two.”

He muffled another giggle and let his hair swing forward, but not before I caught the hint of a blush on his cheeks. For someone who rarely flirted I sure was managing to make everything I said sound sexual.



He bit his lower lip in a way that had me imagining more perverted things than I’d ever thought of all at one time. Those teeth sinking into my lip, my shoulder, my neck, my ass.



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the first in a new series but set in a world familiar to any Sarina Bowen True North world, set in Vermont. From the Busy Bean to the Speakeasy, it is lovely being back in Colebury, meeting up with old friends and making new ones.

Here we see Sam, returned to let his gran retire and take over her business, living a simple life, avoiding romantic entanglements, and then Phoebe moves into the guesthouse... She is in town to launch the gastropub restaurant in the Speakeasy, a second chance thanks to her friend Audrey. You will be aghast at what has brought her to town, but will be delighted that she makes a success of this new opportunity.

Always planning to leave after the launch, she does not really acknowledge that she cares for Sam, and he chooses to do the same with her... it is just everyone else who knows the truth. I loved the wit and the humour, as well as the delicious food and catching up with the gang.

Great start to a new series, and I am excited to read the next installment very soon.



“Want to watch something else?”     “I wouldn’t mind watching you climb back into bed…”


Author Bio

KAREN STIVALI is a prolific writer, compulsive baker, and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. When she's not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends, who never seem to mind the excessive quantities she tends to prepare. She attributes her ability to multitask to the fact that she rarely sleeps, which gives her more hours every day. Prior to deciding to write full time, Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what's left of her time and sanity.

Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another, so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic tales filled with sarcasm and sexy details. Although she writes both m/f and m/m contemporary romance, all of her stories are love stories with happily ever after endings.

Connect with Karen

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads



Does it still count as Netflix and chill if you’re already wearing my t-shirt and nothing else?


Hosted by

Heart Eyes Press

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Touchstone (Speakeasy Taproom #1) by Karen Stivali to read and review for this tour.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Dark Queen by Ker Dukey Release Blitz

Dark Queen. Queen beats King, always. Ker Dukey. Release Blitz hosted by Candi Kane PR.

He was my boss.

Rich, ambitious, dominating.

I was a waitress, struggling to pay the fees for ballet school.

Poor, talented, desperate.

He needed to marry to appease his dying father, to inherit the family empire.

It wasn’t supposed to be real, or forever.

Until he changed the rules.

What Mafia king Luca Leto wants, he gets, and he’s crowned his queen.


I’m under his rule now.

And his reign is cruel and toxic.

They call him the dark king and to gain my freedom I’m going to have to become a dark queen.


Add to Goodreads


Dark Queen by Ker Dukey

Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Paperback (US)
~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~




Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This book is a fast-paced, wide-open, rollercoaster ride that will have you hanging on for dear life until the very end.

Alyssa only wants to be accepted into the ballet school so she doesn't have to go back to her life. When she literally runs into the most beautiful man she has ever seen, her body is on high alert. She is drawn to him, but he is mean and rude to her. She is tired of letting people run over her, she has decided to stand up for herself if she will ever get anywhere in life. What she doesn't realize is, the man she met is her new boss. He is not a nice person, and people call him the dark king.

When Luca Leto bumps into the little ballerina, she sets his skin and his soul on fire. He wants her and Luca gets what he wants. When she talks back to him, it only makes him want her more. The sparks between them will almost set a Kindle on fire. They both like things dirty and a little rough, they are perfect for each other.

I was not expecting things to happen as they did in the end, but it was a shocking surprise. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put it down and surely didn't want it to end. I am hoping there will be more to Alyssa and Luca's story.

I don't often read dark romance, but the author and the promise of a ballerina drew me in. I was not disappointed. It was passionate, harsh, violent, and yet also poised exquisitely on the parallel dangers of the world of ballet and of the street.

Alyssa, we find out quite early on, is not just the sad young farm girl who lost her mother; no, she harbours violence and masochism in her – possibly not a surprise given the pain inflicted by her chosen profession. Any ideas that ballet is not intense are dispelled pretty speedily. It makes the fact that she is drawn to Luca Leto, de facto head of the family business, not as frightening as it might otherwise be.

As she keeps attracting his intention, Luca's world is getting ever more complicated due to murders of women around him – and his interest in Alyssa could prove fatal. Again balancing on a knife edge, much like a dancer on pointe, he has to decide head or heart – even if he never really believed he had a heart.

Whilst every romance reader will know that even in a dark story there will a satisfying ending, there is plenty of tension. as well as relationship building along the way. This is a satisfying read and we are left in a good place by the end.

After a slow start, boy did Dark Queen hit all the right buttons for me.

Alyssa’s upbringing was terrible. Her mother was a dance mom from hell, always saying she wasn't good enough. Her best friend was in love with her and takes advantage of her guilt over her mother's death. The audition to the elite Swan school is her out to leave this world behind.

Luca knows death. It's been following him for years and when it hits close to home, he knows it's personal. When he unexpectedly runs into Alyssa, he's not expecting or wanting the spark between them. But after being thrown together again and again, the smart mouthed dancer is everything he's ever wanted.

I loved how even though Luca was this powerful, scary man, Alyssa was able to hold her own against him. They were explosive once they were together. I especially enjoyed the suspenseful dark nature of Dark Queen.

Dark Queen was not what I was expecting, but it was a nice diversion for a few hours!

Luca Leto is the head of a prominent crime family, and dealing with his mother's murder. He's keeping his family grounded while running the family businesses. Not only that, but as we are introduced to him, he's just been informed that his employee/sometime-lover has also been gruesomely murdered.

Alyssa is a small-town girl trying to make her dreams come true by attending the prestigious Swan School of Dance. Leaving everything behind, she travels far away from the farm and the memories of her recently deceased mother.

This was a quick read, and it was entertaining, but I didn't really feel the initial connection between Luca and Alyssa. Having said that, they are explosive once you get past the slight lack of chemistry to start.

This story took a little while to gain traction, but once it does – hold on!

I loved Alyssa's feistiness, her confidence, and that she wouldn't back down. She really is the dark queen, but this queen is only as powerful as her king.



Author Bio

KER DUKEY is an international bestselling author based in the United Kingdom.

Genres include: Dark Romance, Psychological Thriller, New Adult Romance, Romantic Suspense,
Mafia Romance, MC Romance, and more. With over forty titles published, her books have held multiple #1 bestseller banners, have had rights sold to numerous countries, translated in multiple languages, and have been adapted into audiobooks.

In addition to being an author, Ker is an annoying wife and a mother of three children + one dog (who thinks he's human). She has a passion for reading and binge-watching crime documentaries.

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Facebook Group: Dukey's darKER souls



“You’re how villains are made, little ballerina,” I growl. “Tempting fate, wanting to play with the wicked. I am the wicked.”


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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Dark Queen by Ker Dukey to read and review for this tour.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Treasured by Lexi Blake Blog Tour

When a seemingly simple mission turns into a treacherous race for a hidden artifact, it could cost them far more than their jobs… But if they succeed, the lost treasure might not be their most valuable reward.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake comes a new story in her Masters & Mercenaries series…

David Hawthorne has a great life. His job as a professor at a prestigious Dallas college is everything he hoped for. Now that his brother is back from the Navy, life seems to be settling down. All he needs to do is finish the book he’s working on and his tenure will be assured. When he gets invited to interview a reclusive expert, he knows he’s gotten lucky. But being the stepson of Sean Taggart comes with its drawbacks, including an overprotective mom who sends a security detail to keep him safe. He doesn’t need a bodyguard, but when Tessa Santiago shows up on his doorstep, the idea of her giving him close cover doesn’t seem so bad.

Tessa has always excelled at most anything she tried, except romance. The whole relationship thing just didn’t work out for her. She’s not looking for love, and she’s certainly not looking for it with an academic who happens to be connected to her boss’s family. The last thing she wants is to escort an overly pampered pretentious man-child around South America to ensure he doesn’t get into trouble. Still, there’s something about David that calls to her. In addition to watching his back, she will have to avoid falling into the trap of soulful eyes and a deep voice that gets her heart racing.

But when the seemingly simple mission turns into a treacherous race for a hidden artifact, David and Tess know this assignment could cost them far more than their jobs. If they can overcome the odds, the lost treasure might not be their most valuable reward.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Don’t miss our reviews of other books in the Masters & Mercenaries series!
Click HERE.


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Treasured by Lexi Blake

Book 22.5
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Audiobook (US)  ~  Paperback (US)




What the hell was she doing?

Tessa glanced down at her watch. She was standing in front of her building ten minutes early, and there was a big part of her that wanted him to be late. Really late. Annoyingly late.

There had to be something about the man that wasn’t perfect beyond his connection to her employer.

She’d come down when she realized if she stayed inside one minute more she was going to decide to change again. Because she’d been halfway to convincing herself that she could do a fine job as a bodyguard in that curve-hugging dress that gave her so much confidence. Lots of bodyguards wore four-inch heels and a push-up bra. Yeah, sure they did.

Coming down here had saved her so much discomfort because in her line of business, slacks, a sensible shirt and shoes, and a blazer were the only way to go. The blazer hid her shoulder holster in a way that off-the-shoulder sex dress never would. And she didn’t care that Hollywood assassins could stuff any number of weapons between their thighs. Hers did not work that way.

It’s not a big deal.

The words David had said haunted her. What did that mean? It’s not a big deal. It had felt like a big deal. Not texting that smart hottie back had been a big fucking deal to her. She’d agonized over it, and he’d just kind of let it wash over him. He’d taken his shot and moved on. She had thought of nothing but him for weeks.

Or he was saving face by playing it cool and she was being ridiculous. The man was making this easy on her and she was inwardly complaining that he wasn’t making it harder. It was perverse, but then she had deeply conflicted feelings about David.

Feelings she could maybe work out over the course of this week. She could get to know him and then she would see he wasn’t as perfect as he seemed to be. Most men showed their true colors when a woman spent too much time with them. He wouldn’t be as patient as he seemed. His charm would wear off when she took charge and he got annoyed.

Yes, this could be exactly what she needed.

Especially if he was late.



Maybe she needed a hint of bad boy in her good man.



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is book 22.5 of the Masters & Mercenaries series – and if you have never read them, then I highly recommend you get started! This would be a fun place to start, with just enough drama and plenty of sexy romance.

Tessa is feeling a little vulnerable now that she has called off her engagement to Michael, and her work life is a bit more complicated – hence, she has been taking more overseas assignments. Then she sits in a bar and meets a guy who unsettles her, in the very best of ways. Until she finds out that he is related to her boss and, therefore, completely out of bounds too. Of course, fate means that they are now going on a trip together, with her as his bodyguard.

I loved the mystery of the island and the opportunity that they had to get to know each other better – even if Tessa insisted that it was only for the time they were on the island... I think we all knew that she was kidding herself, as the chemistry between her and David was off the charts. I am looking forward to the next book, to see how they assimilate into the Masters & Mercenaries family. I did have to laugh when he explained that he did not go to Sanctum, given his mum did, haha!

A very enjoyable catch up with the gang and a happy ending for Tessa, who deserved to find the right one – even if it did knock down Charlotte's success figures.

I love this series, it has a little mystery, a little dom/sub action, and a lot of chemistry between Tessa and David.

David is the stepson of Sean Taggart and the son of Grace. He is a college history professor and needs a bodyguard to go with him on a trip. Tessa is that bodyguard; she met David at a party a few weeks before and the sparks between them were off the charts. She has to keep her mind on the job and not on what could happen between them.

While staying on the island of a family friend to get the information he needs to finish the book he is working on, things seem to turn. People on the island seem suspicious of Tessa, but David is covering for her as they pretend she is his girlfriend.

Can they pull it off and find what he is looking for and escape the island with more than just their lives? Will Tessa give the chemistry between them a chance to grow?

This is a great addition to the Masters & Mercenaries series and I can't wait for more.

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Tessa is amazing at her job. What she doesn't feel amazing at is the rest of her life. When she calls off her engagement, she knows she made the right choice, but seeing her ex-fiancé at work is tough. When she needs to get away from the happy almost family, she heads to the bar. It's there that she meets Professor David.

David loves his job. He knows that his mom is happy and that also makes him happy. What he isn't thrilled about it having to take security with him in order to finish his book. But since he doesn't want his mom to worry and knows that there isn't much danger, he relents.

While David and Tessa figure out whether or not they can make a go of their relationship off island (I mean, come on, Tessa is just kidding herself if she thinks she can turn off her attraction to David.), the mystery behind David's book and its prior inhabitants comes to light.

With a mystery to solve and lives at stake, it'll take David's wits, Tessa's smarts, and their combined strengths to figure this out.

It's a quick read with a fun story. You won't be disappointed.



She trusted him physically. The emotional part was their problem.


Author Bio

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author LEXI BLAKE lives in North Texas with her husband and three kids. Since starting her publishing journey in 2010, she’s sold over three million copies of her books. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance that she found success. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings.

Connect with Lexi

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He was the shiny center of the universe, the benevolent scholar who made everyone feel important.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Treasured (Masters & Mercenaries #22.5; Sanctum Nights #11) by Lexi Blake to read and review for this tour.