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Special Music Feature and Q&A: Christopher Ferguson

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Here is a great new music release by writer and musician Christopher Ferguson. Please help me in welcoming him back to this romance blog! 😉

Christopher Ferguson is giving look at his romance album, With Love, today.

Great cover!

 

This is the info on With Love:

With Love is a project started by the musician/composer, Chris Ferguson of Northern Alabama. Begun originally as a small collection of love songs, the project has grown and become a campaign to offer support for other charitable organizations that offer music, performance and educational services to schools and local communities. The current roster of charities that With Love supports is listed on the webpage http://www.wearewithlove.com. The website also includes original writings that have been featured on NPR, and original songs published on Reverbnation.com.

Currently featured on Reverbnation, the song “Beautiful Tears Will Fall” has 7.3 million listeners worldwide and With Love is ranked #1 locally (Northern Alabama), #1 regionally (Southeast U.S.), #1 nationally (U.S.) and #1 globally on Reverbnation. With a focus on hope, compassion and thoughtful self-reflection, the songs and stories from With Love offer a way for everyone to think of our life experiences as a part of a shared journey.

We also have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak with the musician and composer.

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Chris. Please have a seat.

Christopher Ferguson:  Hi, Marie! Great to see you again.

Marie:  It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Please tell us a little about With Love. What brought you to create it, and what is your origin story?

Chris:  I met a musician that changed everything that I knew. His name is Tim Noah. I started playing bass for him at his concerts and I saw that what he offered was not just music. It was much more than that. He started a live performance theater and invited anyone and everyone to participate. Young and old, experienced musicians and pure beginners, everyone is welcome to share their talent and message. It created a community that cares for one another. His efforts have been recognized with six Emmy awards. It’s really quite amazing.

Marie:  Nice! 🙂

So…you are a musician, but you are also a writer. Tell us something about that.

Chris:  There is an organization in Northern Alabama called The Huntsville Literary Association (HLA). It has about 200 members, which includes professional writers, university English professors, poets, and novelists. Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird) and Billy Collins (Poet Laureate of United States, 2001-2003) have been members. I was invited to become a member because of a story I wrote that was broadcast on NPR about a 75 mile wilderness hike I took. The Poetry Group of the HLA intrigued me and I joined that group. We meet every month and present new works that we read aloud and everyone offers feedback. It has helped me to write more meaningful messages in the form of poetry that I then turn into songs. The HLA has also helped me to become a better short story writer as well, which I  write for NPR.

Marie:  Wow, isn’t it fascinating how the muse works? And such a great resource for you to develop your writing. Sounds like fun.

Any new works we should know about?

Chris: Well, I like to read the New York Times. Recently, I saw a story about a girl that lived in Sarajevo during the Serbian War in 1993. It was a really touching story. She was in high school and had been asked to go to the prom by her boyfriend. But the war interrupted that and she never got to go. Her family moved away from Serbia and she never saw her boyfriend again. Until twenty years later, when she got a text message from a mystery phone  number. It was her high school sweetheart asking her to go to the prom…again. The story really touched me.

So, I wrote a piece called “A Simple Thing” that presents the story in a narrative and song form. The song features Keith Taylor (piano), and Ingrid Marie (vocal) and myself on upright bass. It was produced by Phil Williams. I really love what he did for the production, a great, artistic result.

Marie:  So cool! Your music and writing resonates with the ILRB audience. It’s great when someone finds us because of a link that was included on another website like With Love.

Chris: Yes, I have been surprised at how the romance novel audience has embraced With Love. It just shows that there are some really passionate people interested in what the I Love Romance Blog offers. Such a cool and fun collaboration.

Marie:  Aww, thanks! Can you tell our readers where and how to find your music and writing?

Chris:  Sure, a new website was created for With Love earlier this year.

Of course, With Love has a Facebook page too.

And the website used for publishing music is called Reverbnation.

Marie:  Thank you so much for letting us know more about your music and your story. I am sure that our readers will find something they can enjoy and share with others. Best of luck!

Chris:  Thank you, Marie. It is always great to talk with you, and the I Love Romance Blog is really what we all need right now, I read it often!

Marie: Awesome! ♥♥♥

Readers, check out one of the songs, “Beautiful Tears Will Fall”, here!

 

Also, here’s Christopher’s new release and single on Reverbnation called “A Simple Thing”, featuring Ingrid Marie on vocal, Keith Taylor (Dean of Music, Univ of Alabama, Huntsville) on piano, and Chris on acoustic bass, produced by Phil Williams. Plus a live verson on YouTube! 😉

Wow! Thank you for telling us about your album! It looks wonderful!  😀

Readers, don’t forget to check this album out at ReverbNation. You’re sure to be moved by these songs!

Writer/Musician Bio

My name is Christopher Ferguson. I am primarily a musician/composer (….a bass guy) and have also been writing for NPR for the last couple of years, as well (mainly just short stories that I narrate and that get broadcast on our local NPR station here in Alabama).

I call my brand of music “With Love”. The music is piano, bass and vocal. It is intentionally not loud or aggressive. I am writing gentle songs, that are soft and require the attention of a listener, with the intent of giving them something to use to reflect upon their own thoughts and feelings of love.

Link

Website:  http://www.wearewithlove.com

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/musicbywithlove/

ReverbNation:  https://www.reverbnation.com/fergusonandwithlove/songs

 

Thanks again, Christopher! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime, perhaps with your next musical release. 

Happy listening, everyone! 🙂

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Book Review: Unglorious War by Maxine Flam

Our latest I Love Romance Blog review selection is Unglorious War by Maxine Flam. What a read! 😀

The novel was a gift copy provided well before I became an official reviewer on ILRB. Going into this review, I should state that even though I love reading historical romance, this is not one of my favorite time periods to read about (and I only have two or three that I try to avoid). I don’t claim ignorance about the Vietnam War. My own father served, and has his own stories – at least what he is allowed to reveal. Much of what he did remains classified. However, to be fair as both reader and reviewer, I reserved judgment until the book was finished.

Unglorious War is an appropriate title, for reading the story proved to be a rather enlightening experience. The characters were compelling. Marla, especially, was someone I grew to further respect as the tale progressed. The secondary characters were just as fascinating.

I must congratulate the author for her historical accuracy. She clearly did her research, and this book has the seal of approval from three war Veterans.

One issue I saw – both from the standpoint of a writer and a reader – was the head-hopping interspersed throughout the story. The approach was unusual overall, hinting at more of an omniscient narrator. Still, this fact wasn’t enough to pull me out of the fictional world, in most cases.

The varied emotions on the page were real, and the love story was deeply moving. The connection between Marla and Thomas was believable and heartfelt, even with the threat of war all around them.

As for an HEA or HFN – the one aspect a romance reader yearns for – I’d probably label the novel historical fiction with elements of romance. Possibly with a hint of inspirational romance, and definitely a military romance. We have to be realistic too with any tale about war. With the intent of being remotely authentic, it can’t be all hearts, flowers, and butterflies. I am not a person who likes to give away spoilers. I will do my best to avoid doing so here.

ONE WARNING: When something bad happens, don’t give up on this read. There is so much more to discover, to be resolved. And the ending is…well, open to interpretation.

In any case, my rating for this read is three hearts ❤️❤️❤️ – for a well told story and a realistic romance. Nice job, Maxine! 🙂

Book Info:

Major Thomas Harrison Smith is critically wounded while escaping from a POW camp deep inside Laos during the Vietnam War. Stabilized by medical personnel in Vietnam and Japan, he is flown to Oahu, Hawaii for surgery and rehabilitation. Emaciated, dehydrated, and half-dead from torture and constant beatings, he meets Lt. Marla Bristol, a nurse-therapist assigned to his case. During Major Smith s recovery, he and Lt. Bristol fall in love and marry, but the military wants Major Smith to do another tour of duty and if Major Smith does return to Vietnam, will he see his beloved Marla again?

Who is Lt. Anthony Lambello and what part does he play in whether Major Smith returns from NAM? Thomas and Marla are scared but each pray to God that they should be reunited soon. They find their faith tested and God answers their prayers, but is it the way that they hope for?

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bP0AAr

Here is an excerpt.

AUTHOR: Maxine Flam

TITLE: Unglorious War

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational, Military Romance

RELEASE DATE: February 19, 2009-2012

PUBLISHER: Flamingo Publications

ISBN/ASIN: 098211740X/9780982117415

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

You can find an ebook copy for free on Smashwords! 😉

Up next time: Kurt Seyt & Shura by Nermin Bezmen

Thanks for reading our latest book review on ILRB!

 

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Book News, book reviews, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, inspirational romance, Military Romance, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, Writing

Book Review: The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot

If you haven’t checked the updates to our review policy, please do. I am taking over in the meantime. Our latest I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot. What a great read! 😀

The test of a good book is one that successfully tells a tale from which you can’t turn away. The test of a good writer is one who constructs characters anyone can care about, even if their beliefs may not align with the reader. Suspension of disbelief, and being drawn into the fictional world is key. Bardot’s The Impaler’s Wife is one such title. This gothic romance is thrilling, with unerring historical accuracy, and a hint of the legend of Dracula which most have heard of.

I love tales about Dracula, and this one is just as fascinating. Housed in historical fiction, complete with gory descriptions of war and a tale of unrivaled passion, The Impaler’s Wife gives us a unique take on not only the legend of Dracula, but also a story of the man himself. Who is Vlad the Impaler? And, who is Ilona, the strong, amazing woman that falls for him?

As a reader, I was yanked into the tale from page one, equal parts mystified throughout, and by turns horrified yet unusually resigned to the circumstances. This book may test your faith in…well, everything you think you know. Bardot has an uncanny ability to make one of the most vilified historical figures utterly human. Or is he far more than that?

Ilona really comes into her own from the first time we encounter her – and that pivotal moment when Vlad approaches her – to the well-rounded, confident, strong female she becomes by the end of the book. I enjoyed learning about both characters.

So…is Dracula just a story? It is tempting to think otherwise. Bardot may make you a believer too. Take a chance on this read. You won’t be disappointed!

I give this a rating of four hearts for an outstanding, unforgettable reading experience. Fantastic job, Autumn! ♥

Book Info:

A young woman is swept into a life of intrigue, revenge, passion, and betrayal when she falls for the world’s most notorious prince.

The year is 1464 and young King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula.

Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the Hunyadi family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer.

This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidante, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price.

Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

With Bardot’s decadent period detail and a cast of gritty, evocative characters, The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3ygVlv

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

Plus, an intriguing excerpt!

Prince Vlad rests his hand on the small of my back. “Come, Lady Ilona, look at the faces of anarchy and villainy, and see how much they resemble your friends and family.”

“I will not.” I back away from the entrance where moans rise from the bowels of the labyrinth like a demon’s song.

“The choice is yours, of course.” His tone is low and gentle, but in the lamplight his stare is wolf-like.

I shift from foot to foot, look away, only to glance back. Does he hear my heart knocking against my breast? Can he smell my fear as it beads wet on my neck? Do I want to rise to this challenge? Or am I a fool for allowing him to bait me?

My fingers tighten around the lamp’s clay handle. “I will humor you, my lord, but only because Father taught me courage and graciousness.”

“Mihály taught you well.” He holds out his hand. “My lady.”

The lamp divides the darkness like a saber, each foot forward lighting our descent into hell. Ghostly groans from below seep through the rock. I sink into Vlad’s fur-lined coat as though their suffering will soak into my soul.

Vlad pauses before descending the narrow rock steps leading into the labyrinth’s deepest level. “Are you certain?” His eyes glint with challenge. “A weak constitution is nothing to be ashamed of.”

I lift my chin and glare with pretended insult. “I am the daughter of Michael Szilágyi and Margit Báthory. Iron courage flows in my blood.” I push back my cuff and show him the blue-forked veins in my wrist. “I am as brave as Hadak Ura, our ancient pagan warlord.”

“I believe you, my lady. I will not doubt again.”

The clanking chains and eerie moans get louder with each step down, the noises merging into a demonic choir like that of Ördög’s requiem to the Underworld. My legs shake, my neck wet with icy prickles, and my skin tightens around my chest.

I lift the lamp into hell.

The circle of light shines upon a pockmarked man stretching his arm between the bars, his fingers curled like claws. “Bless me, good sister.”

In the cell next to him, a naked wretch spits onto the ground. “Menj a fenébe!”

“I am innocent!” A third prisoner grabs the bars and presses his wild-bearded face against the iron. “Tell His Highness there is a Turkish spy in his court. He is in danger! You must warn him!”

My head swivels toward Prince Vlad.

“There are always spies,” Vlad whispers.

I walk with measured pace and let the lantern reveal each doomed prisoner. Most stare, empty-eyed; the whips, chains, skin shredders, bone crushers, and strappado take away all hope and spirit. Others shout obscenities. One man kneels, hands in prayer, and mutters the Hail Mary.

The weight of their misery crashes down, squeezes my heart, and crushes my breath. This place must be worse than hell’s torments because these wretches yet live, have all their faculties! No one deserves this! It is inhumane! Sadistic and depraved!

My breath comes in shreds and clumps. I cover my nose with Prince Vlad’s cape, the stench of rotting flesh enfolding me in its putrid embrace. My pace quickens. It is time to end this test of my courage.

“You!” A milky-eyed wretch points to Prince Vlad and begins chanting in a foreign tongue.

Prince Vlad guides me away from the cells. “You have thrice over proven your courage tonight.”

“What language was that man speaking?”

“He recites from the Corpus Hermeticum.” Dracula takes the lantern and illuminates the stairwell. “It’s a pagan book of alchemy, astronomy, and metaphysics.”

“It sounded like he cursed us.”

“Pay no attention to a madman’s rants. That particular book is nothing but Egyptian and Greek nonsense.”

I tread upwards, evil’s chill clinging to my limbs. At the top, I try to purge the dungeon’s misery, malice, and madness with a long exhalation. Yet the horror sticks like nettles in my soul.

“This way.” I move past the dark tunnel and enter the lighted one, relieved to put space and distance between the prisoners and me.

The tunnel ends at a large grotto where Prince Vlad pauses to light the ring of torches affixed to the walls. I wait on a stone bench near the baptismal fount, sighing with relief as the golden glow of the church-like arches infuse peace into my troubled soul.

Prince Vlad sits beside me. “We go from hell to heaven.”

I tuck a stray lock behind my ear. “This was Father’s favorite grotto. God’s Buried Cathedral, he called it. His second favorite has a Titan-sized head emerging from the ground—like a god got stuck in molten rock. I was only in that grotto once. It reminded me of an insect trapped in tree sap that ages to amber—the insect forever entombed—never aging, almost alive in its resin grave.”

“Do you find that horrific or beautiful?” His eyes search mine.

“Both, I suppose.” My shoulders move into my sigh. “Caves are dreary places.”

“I rather enjoy them. Tunnels have saved my life several times.” Dracula stands. “I think we are both ready for fresh air.” He offers his hand, its warmth a familiar comfort.

Together we walk through the tunnel lit by small lanterns that flicker like fireflies all the way to the exit.

Prince Vlad gives the stubborn iron-crossed door a hard yank and it groans open. Outside, a sapphire dawn drapes over Buda.

“On no.” My hands fly to my face. “It’s so late it’s early.” Were we in the tunnels that long? If my aunts discover I never returned to my room…I spin about, my voice edged with panic. “I have to go back. Now.”

Vlad’s brows crease with concern. He tugs a handkerchief from his robe and touches it to my lips as though dabbing at a smudge. “There’s something I must do first.” He lays the linen over my lips and sets his mouth on mine.

Even through the thin fabric, his lips sear my own. I part my lips, feel the linen moisten with the breath of our lust. I collapse into him, my body sizzling with desire. I am about to rip away the fabric and taste his lips when he breaks the kiss.

Vlad Dracula steps back, the handkerchief between thumb and forefinger. “If you marry Luigi della Scala, you will still be chaste.” He drags the handkerchief across his mouth. “I will always have this.”

Chaste? Prince Vlad just violated my heart and corrupted my flesh!

Back in my chambers, I touch my lips that still burn with the memory of our kiss—my first kiss—and groan. Vlad Dracula used my virtue, conceit, and fears to study the labyrinth’s secrets. He took advantage of my desire for romantic adventure to learn the escape route.

AUTHOR: Autumn Bardot

TITLE: The Impaler’s Wife

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Gothic Romance

RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2019

PUBLISHER: Flores Publishing

ISBN/ASIN: B07NKJX7R8

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Marie Lavender

Get your copy of this new release today!

Up next time: Unglorious War by Maxine Flam

Thanks for reading our latest book review on ILRB!

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Filed under Blogging, Book News, book reviews, Books, Event, Fiction, Gothic, Historical, Historical Romance, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, steamy, Writing

Book Review: The Homecoming (Bayou Shifters Book 1) by Tammy Tate

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Homecoming by Tammy Tate. Once I started this one, I just kept reading – great beginning to the series!

The book jumps right into the story and I definitely appreciate that. Sometimes you just want the meat and potatoes. Sydney is goin’ on a trip. More specifically, she’s going to stay with her aunt and her pack of wolf shifters at their home on the outskirts of New Orleans. After Sydney’s mother died, her human father knew that he couldn’t help her transition, so she reluctantly agrees to go.

Her dreams have been wreaking havoc, though. It’s the same dream over and over and it always leaves her wanting.

Kyle and his best friend Beau are living the life – working, fishing, and running. But, one of them isn’t sleeping that well either.

In a story full of action, adventure, love, romance, sex, shifters, and yes, vampires – you will definitely be hooked, too.

For all this and so much more that you’ll have to discover when you read it – I give The Homecoming By Tammy Tate 5 HEARTS!

Book Info:

Sydney is half human, half wolf and has fallen in love with Kyle, a full-fledged shifter who for the last six months has been appearing in her dreams. During the next full moon, she will make her first shift from human to wolf. The transformation won’t be easy. It could leave her disfigured. Or, worse. Dead.

Kyle is in Bayou Fontaine. For the sake of the pack, the council has already chosen him a mate. Sydney and Kyle face incredible odds to be together and soon become pawns in a deadly game of survival.

The clock is ticking…

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LGNXM

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

AUTHOR: Tammy Tate

TITLE: The Homecoming (book one of the Bayou Shifters Series)

GENRE: Paranormal Romance – Werewolves, Shifters and Vampires

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2017

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B01N4OJD6J

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

 

Get your copy for only 99 cents here.

Up next week: Choosing the Cowboy by Liz Isaacson

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Event, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, Writing

Book Review: Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schulz

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Jake’s Redemption By Jamie Schulz. By now, if you’ve seen my past reviews, you know that I love a book with role reversal – this is that on steroids.

In a post-war, dystopian Pacific Northwest, women have found that, in fear or anger, they are physically stronger than men. With a (un)healthy dose of medication that makes men panicky and fearful, women rule their world.

It’s never made clear if this type of society has taken over the whole country, or just this small patch of land East of the Cascade Mountains. Here, we find Jake and his best friend Bret who are set upon by a group of bandits. Jake is taken prisoner and Bret makes his escape into the woods. Sold into slavery, Jake endures unimaginable torture, rape, and abuse.

Side note: Though the book’s Amazon listing does mention “unsettling and violent subject matter”, it should definitely include a trigger warning for sexual assault victims. I’m just sayin’.

While owned by a true sadist named Darla (I pictured a grown up version of the girl from Finding Nemo the whole time), Jake is loaned out for his skills in construction and ranch handling. With his temporary owner, Michelle, Jake finds a slave plantation owned by a woman who isn’t mentally disturbed (Michelle’s home is never called a slave plantation, btw, but if it walks like a duck…)

The romance formed between Jake and Michelle really is touching. He has a lot of baggage from his time with Darla (being shaken in that little fish bag of hers…if it were filled with chains, whips, and rape), and she has the burden of being a slave owner.

The conflict moving the book along is Jake’s impending return to Darla the Devil. Should he run and surely be killed? But, in the end Jake is saved from having to decide by being purchased by another woman (and friend of Michelle’s) named Angel. For the first bit that we see Angel, I wasn’t sure if she was another sadistic sex fiend, but after bouts of depression and an attempted suicide, Angel turns out to be one of my favorite characters.

When I finished reading this book, knowing that it was a prequel, I was eager to see how things continue in this story. I will certainly be anticipating the release of the first official book in the series.

As a closing, I’m just going to throw this out there. As a gay man living in the Pacific Northwest just outside Tacoma, WA, I had to wonder – what happened to the gays?! Outside of Washington’s few big cities, this state is really no friend to the LGBTQ community.

So, in this story, where we are of no use as “breeders”, were we just killed off? Or are we still chained up and raped for our swimmers? I am intrigued and troubled to see how or if the author touches on this subject.

For its romance and train wreck society that kept me reading – I give Jake’s Redemption By Jamie Schultz 3 STARS!

Book Info:

An imprisoned cowboy. An empowered woman. When true love is forbidden, opening their hearts could destroy them both…

Chained and enslaved, Jake Nichols is convinced he’ll die alone. In this new order where men are stripped of all power, he endures brutal torture at the hands of his female captor. But when he’s hired out to build a ranch home for an outspoken beauty, his dreams of escape transform into visions of passion.

Monica Avery struggles to fill her heart in a loveless society. With marriage outlawed and romantic partners reduced to pawns, she’s given up hope of finding her soul mate. But watching the rugged rancher hard at work on her shelter awakens deeply buried desires.

As the project comes together, Monica discovers a kindred spirit in the tenderhearted Jake. But despite their growing attraction, he still belongs to a cruel woman who’d rather see him dead than free.

Can Monica save Jake, or will their love lead to a tragic tomorrow?

Jake’s Redemption is a full-length book in the Angel Eyes cowboy dystopian romance series. If you like scorching-hot chemistry, clever post-apocalyptic worlds, and star-crossed love stories, then you’ll adore Jamie Schulz’s captivating tale.

Buy Jake’s Redemption today to see if love can brighten a dark world!

This prequel has an HFN ending and opens the door for the next book in the Angel Eyes Series.

This story would appeal to those who found the adult scenarios in books like A Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games intriguing. Or who enjoy the writing of other romance authors like Maisey Yates, Pam Godwin, Karen Robards, and Nora Roberts, or who simply love cowboys.

Please note: Intended for mature audiences. This story contains some unsettling and violent subject matter that sensitive readers may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LGnKX

Here’s a peek at the book…

AUTHOR: Jamie Schulz

TITLE: Jake’s Redemption

GENRE: Dystopian Romance, Romantic Fantasy

RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2019

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B07K5L411H

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Get your copy on Kindle Unlimited here.

Up next in the first week of April: The Homecoming by Tammy Tate

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Dystopian, Event, Fantasy, new release, rating, Readers, Romance, score, western

Book Review: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Undercover Siren By Ellen Mint. This book has a little of everything that I know you’ll love. Definitely add this one to your reading list. 🙂

This is another one of those stories that I love. The reversal of roles between Kristen and Colton is fun to experience as you read through. Don’t get me wrong, though – Colton is more than able to hold up on his own.

All I’m saying is, if you’re skeptical, read the first chapter…get to the part about the pen – and you’ll be hooked just like I was.

As I said, this book has a little bit for everyone, clandestine spies and intrigue, hot cops, sci-fi and fantasy, romance and hot sex, and lastly – a bat-shit crazy person in the background motivating the plot. What more would we need?

I’d have to put on my copy editor “hat” to find anything I’d suggest about the text, but the story, places, and characters are all fully realized and engaging – I give Undercover Siren By Ellen Mint 5 HEARTS!

Book Info:

He was only supposed to be a job. Why can’t she walk away?

Colton Davies, an ex-Marine turned cop, stumbles across a damsel in distress while working the beat and rushes to her aid. Unbeknownst to him, Kristen Trevelyan isn’t an old classmate who accidentally locked her keys in the car, but a spy working for a classified agency. She’s tasked with getting close to the police officer, but she never anticipated how close they’d become.

Action, adventure, dangerous gun battles, sizzling romance scenes, tender words of affection, and more await you in Undercover Siren.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bPZy1A

Here’s a peek at the book…

Colton snapped off the radio and tumbled back into his seat. From God-awful love songs to burnt corpses, oh and dragging her into a rainstorm. He was a real pro at dating, as she could no doubt tell. Glaring out the windshield, watching the bounce of rain pinging off the rusted hood, Colton kept whipping himself for things beyond his control. He was so far gone, it wasn’t until her hand shifted higher up his arm that he realized Kristen was touching him.

Twisting his head towards her, he found those dazzling eyes burning directly into his. She stared at him as if…as if she couldn’t see anyone else. As if she’d never seen anyone else. Soft pink lips glistened with fresh rain, parting like she yearned for a drink. Colton dove towards her, his mouth puckering up just before it plunged against hers. Warmth erupted down his spine, the woman melting from his kiss. He let go of the arguing in his brain to fall into this moment. Fingers lifted off his arm to thread through his hair, gently guiding him deeper into her trap.

He was greedy to fall into it, their first kiss turning hotter than he’d ever have expected. Kristen tipped her head, her tongue darting up and down his scar before she tugged his bottom lip deep into hers. The nibble was little more than a whisper, but it broke down a wall inside Colton and a moan escaped from his throat.

Sliding back as if to catch her breath, those dazzling eyes darted up to his. The bliss of touching her dilated his pupils so much he had to blink a moment. As she focused into view, her cheeks bright from a flush and cleavage beaded in droplets, there was no denying how badly he wanted to take this further.

How in God’s name did he do that?

“You’re so…” he mumbled, his tongue clogging in his mouth as the words all stuck together, “pradortty.”

“Pradortty?” her eyebrow lifted in surprise, but a smile stretched across her lips. The ones that tasted of hunger and the thrill of the run.

“I, uh…” Colton absently wiped the back of his neck.

“Is that some kind of word only you people in Sky City use?”

“Ye…yes,” he sputtered out. “It means, it means a very beautiful woman.”

The blush burned brighter on her cheeks and she turned to stare at the dashboard. “Oh. Well, you’re handorablesome.”

Colton chuckled at her catching him, but with a grateful nod said, “Thank you.”

Her sparkling eyes darted around the truck, seeming to take in the state of it before landing upon the clutch. “This is a stick? You can drive a stick?”

“Sure,” he shrugged, “I’m from the country. Who couldn’t back in Winterset?”

“Right, right, just…surprised to see one here in the city,” she smiled. “Isn’t it hell on stop and go traffic?”

“Not if you’re good,” Colton said without a thought before wincing. “Did you never learn?” It seemed odd to the man who cut his teeth on tractors, but not everyone was a farmer. There had to be townies in a town after all.

“A little,” Kristen admitted, “but I’m happy with my automatic. When I don’t lock myself out anyway.”

“Until a helpful policeman comes along,” Colton said as if he had nothing to do with it. She smiled sweetly at him, but silence threaded through the cab. Only the bounce of rain thudding into the metal over their heads filled the air. All the unsaid words grew thicker than the humidity, both people staring at each other not knowing what to do next.

He could take her back into the bar. To talk more. Or have another drink. It was getting kinda late. Maybe he should offer to take her home. Or that they wait out the rain here. She could snuggle up next to him and…

“Colton?” Kristen whispered, her eyes darting up to him, “do you want to get coffee?”

“Uh…sure,” he spat out, his brain trying to rack up what place would be open this late aside from a fast food joint.

Her ravenous smile nearly knocked him over, when she shrugged. “I’d say we could go back to my place but I’m all out of filters, and grounds, and a coffee God.” Slowly, her fingers cupped against his knee and worried their way up the wet jeans clinging to his thigh. He blinked at her, his brain-jarring apart as it tried to piece together what she was asking. Or telling him. Saying that she wanted.

Sweet God.

AUTHOR: Ellen Mint

TITLE: Undercover Siren (book one of the Inquisition Series)

GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi, Police Procedural

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2018

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B079QZPN5V

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited and don’t forget to check out Marie’s feature of the author’s New Release in 2018 here. Ellen also writes sci-fi and fantasy under the pen name S.E. Zbasnik.

Up Next Week: Jake’s Redemption by Jamie Schultz

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Review: The Key of F by Jennifer Haskin

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Key of F By Jennifer Haskin. With paranormal and sci-fi elements, this full-length novel is a great read.

Fale, who is as down-to-Earth as she is incredible, begins a journey to find out exactly who she is. When she starts having visions of the future and trying to do something about it, will she change it for the better or worse?

Really, I cannot say enough good things about this book – the storyline is well thought through, the dialogue is believable and relatable, and the interactions between the main characters keep you reading.

This book is extremely well-written and thought out and I look forward to reading the next one in the series – I give The Key of F By Jennifer Haskin 5 HEARTS!

Only $.99 on Kindle.

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Fale, Takanori warrior-in-training, begins having visions on her eighteenth birthday. When she realizes the visions are coming true, she intervenes and changes one to save the life of her crush. Soon after, thugs climb out of the woodwork chasing them with the intent to kill. Their only clue lies in the key Fale wears, given to her by her father on his deathbed. Could the key have something to do with her destiny? Can they live long enough to find the answers?

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/bW9G0D

Here’s a peek at the book…

AUTHOR: Jennifer Haskin

TITLE: The Key of F (book one of the Freedom Fight Trilogy)

GENRE: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, some YA elements

RELEASE DATE: May 8, 2018

PUBLISHER: Rogue Phoenix Press

ISBN/ASIN: B079P7DMQ4

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Undercover Siren by Ellen Mint

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Review: Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel. Give me a book set in NYC with a relatable main character, a sexy bad boy, and a delightfully devious old woman any day.

Ava and Cassie start out this full-length novel and I was a fan of Ava from the start. Money is certainly a regular topic in the story, but whoever complained about having too much money? When Ava meets her boyfriend’s bad-boy brother for the first time, the heat in the room rises a few degrees at least.

While most (if not all) romances include a leading lady who is looking for an earth-shattering romance, none that I’ve read before had a foul mouthed, sophisticated older woman pulling the strings.

With a bad boy we can all fall in love with and extensive descriptions that leave little to the imagination, Bronson will surely be in my dreams for days.

For its well-written, fully realized characters, a great storyline and steamy hot romance – I give Take My Heart By J.J. Sorel 4 HEARTS!

Read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Recommended Read

Book Info:

AVA – I’ve never been in love. Never felt that fire or been so desperate for a man’s touch that he’s all I can think about.
Then Bronson Lockhart walks into the party I’m at with my boyfriend, Justin.  Everyone notices him. How could they not? He’s ridiculously good looking with that dark, brooding masculinity that inspires dirty thoughts of the sweetest kind…

Too bad he’s also Justin’s adopted brother.

And they clearly hate each other. Yet I can’t help but notice the way Bronson looks at me that sets my pulse thrumming.  I can’t help wondering how his lips would feel on mine…  My new boss: a wealthy, eccentric old woman hidden away in her opulent penthouse with only her secrets and me to keep her company, tells me to follow my heart by surrendering to my deepest desires rather than act sensibly.
But I barely know Bronson, even though he seems determined to change that.

As I submit to desire and fall into his buff arms, a battle brews between my head and heart: are those hungry kisses and caresses a con?

BRONSON – Locked up for a crime I didn’t commit, I vowed to do two things when I got out–find my birth parents and make my brother pay for setting me up.  Now I’m out of jail and ready to set my plan for revenge in motion, starting with seducing his girlfriend. Not that it will be a chore.
Ava’s beauty stole my breath the moment I laid eyes on her. Sassy, intelligent, and sexy as hell, she’s got curves that fuel my darkest desires.
But what starts as revenge soon turns into something more. I want her…crave the sweet taste of her. Hell, who am I kidding? I’m falling for her. But as secrets about my adoption start to unravel, I discover a startling connection to Ava’s boss.
Was my meeting Ava a setup… or destiny?

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/mYrBJw

Here’s a peek at the book…

I enjoyed sitting out in the open air surrounded by trees and earthy, floral aromas. It was a clear night with a pearly moon that beamed a ripple onto the swimming pool.

Fanning away smoke that suddenly blew in my direction, I looked up and noticed Bronson, his back to me, puffing on a cigarette. He turned and, noticing me there, distanced himself.

My eyes were drawn to him in a way I wished they weren’t. Under the moonlight, he seemed like an almost mystical being bathed in shadow, especially when the smoke formed a halo around him.

He turned again and said, “Is the smoke annoying you?”

I put my fork down and ran my tongue around my lips to wash away the chocolate. “Um… no. It’s okay. I’m kind of used to it, anyway.”

A slight shift of the brow was his only response, and then he went back to smoking while looking up at the sky.

“I work for a lady who smokes a lot.”

He turned and faced me again. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to be left alone. He didn’t exactly give anything away with that remote stare.

“She makes sure she’s on the balcony, though.” As I babbled, a little voice within told me to stop, because he wasn’t exactly encouraging me with that gaze that bordered on blank, even though I detected a whisper of depth in there somewhere. He just kept sucking on his cigarette as if his life depended on it.

Perhaps it was the champagne and the sugar hit because I kept talking anyway. “I read for her, you see. She also makes me mix martinis.”

After a moment and one more drag on his cigarette, he said, “With an olive?” A hint of a smirk touched his lips and boy… he wore it well.

I remained transfixed. “Um… no. Hmm… that’s funny.” I chuckled in a goofy way. “I have to admit I’d never mixed a martini in my life. I hadn’t even tried one. Until now, that is. She makes me join her, which means I always leave with a smile.”

“She sounds interesting.”

“Agatha’s a cross between Miss Havisham and Greta Garbo.”

“Let me guess,” he responded, butting out his cigarette. “A lonely woman with revenge in her heart who slinks about demanding to be left alone.”

My eyes brightened. “Justin didn’t know what I was talking about when I described her as that earlier. I’m impressed.”

He shrugged. “Let’s just say I’ve had plenty of time to read.”

“Then you’re a rare being because these days not many people read. And to be honest, when I got this job being asked to do just that, reading from a book that I hold so close to my heart, I nearly broke out in a happy rash…. I…” I suddenly lost my chain of thought, mainly because he ran his tongue over his cushiony lips again.

“You were saying?” His voice had a deep, guttural resonance that suited him perfectly.

“Just that I feel blessed. It hasn’t been easy lately. I had the worst boss ever, and then I landed this job.”

“Do you always break out in a rash when you’re happy?” His lips twitched into a hint of a smile.

I giggled. “No. Sorry. I’ve had a bit of champagne, and I tend to say silly things.”

“Silly’s entertaining.”

His eyes burrowed deep into me again. And the best I could return was a cheesy tight smile. I looked down at my half-eaten cake, and strangely, my appetite had gone. “Do you have a favorite author?”

“Do you?” he asked.

“I think I love Emily Bronte.”

Wuthering Heights,” he returned. I must have shown my surprise because he added, “Why that look? Am I giving off some kind of illiterate vibe?”

“No. Not at all,” I lied, because he was the last person I’d expected to know of Wuthering Heights. “I’m sorry. Most younger guys don’t really go for books like that.”

“I’m not like most younger guys.” His eyes darkened again. He’d gotten that right. There weren’t too many guys I’d met who read books, let alone looked like him.

He came toward me, and as I sat there staring up at him in suspense, for I wasn’t sure what he was about to do, my heart raced.

He leaned in, and placing his finger on my cheek, he wiped it gently.

“You had a brown mark there.” His eyes softened slightly. He put his finger in his mouth in a way that made me want to sigh. It was so suggestive. “Mm… chocolate. Nice,” he rasped as if he’d dipped his finger somewhere forbidden.

I wanted to speak but lost my voice due to that subtle cologne scent wafting up my nostrils, combined with his melty brown eyes boring into me.

“Um… Yeah, I…” As I stammered, seeking a coherent response, Justin and Marcus came out, holding cigars and laughing loudly.

Bronson turned to face them. The brothers’ obvious cold regard for one another made me think of the classic Cain and Abel relationship.

AUTHOR: J.J. Sorel

TITLE: Take My Heart

GENRE: steamy romantic suspense, some erotica

RELEASE DATE: January 8, 2019

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN:  B07MFSZ6Z2

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: The Key of F by Jennifer Haskin

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Review: Dear Heart by Linda Lingle

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Dear Heart by Linda Lingle.

This is an interesting story laid out as a compilation of diary entries that tell the story of responsibility overcoming true love.

The narrator is married and her love interest is, too. But, when a work relationship becomes so much more – they have to navigate their way through to each other. The idea of cheating on your spouse is distasteful to me, but the story goes on in a way that you can’t help but feel for the pair.

After a whirlwind romance, life takes hold and everything changes.

Will the soul mates reunite? Or will their everyday lives keep them apart?

I really enjoyed the format of this story and how the author was able to bring it to a comfortable close. While adultery might not be a topic that everyone is comfortable with, the love story at the center of it will keep you reading.

This was something that I would definitely suggest! – I give Dear Heart by Linda Lingle 3 HEARTS!

Recommended Read

Book Info:

Deirdre Reid and Hartley Tate feel an immediate attraction when they meet at the office where they will work together and fall in love. There is only one problem: they are married to others and Lee has four daughters to whom he is devoted.

For 15 months Deirdre and Lee carry on a passionate affair. Then Lee’s wife is offered a big promotion across the country. With his heart breaking, Lee leaves Deirdre in San Francisco and moves East with his family so his wife can advance her high-powered career.

Soon, unforeseen circumstances have Deirdre second-guessing her insistence on a clean break. She resists every impulse to fly to Lee’s side, but on the first anniversary of their parting, Deirdre grows increasingly regretful and melancholy. Then she receives a surprising Christmas present which sets in motion a 38-year ritual that, against all odds, keeps alive the love she shared with Lee.

As their destiny unfolds, Deirdre and Lee dream about finding their way back to each other’s arms, and an unlikely guide emerges to light the path of their journey.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/mBrG5D

Here’s a peek at the book…

Dear Heart —

I was so sorry to learn about Jean. I know you must be feeling adrift, as I did after Bill passed, and I wish I could be there with you to let you know that everything will be okay. But, after nearly forty years of suppressing my impulses to abandon everything and fly to your side, I simply cannot give in to them now. What I can do, however, is finally give voice to our most cherished memories which, after all of these years imprisoned, can at last be freed to exist within the light. 

Why now? Because it is safe. There is no one left to be hurt by the knowledge of what we shared for those fifteen short, wonderful months. There’s the children, of course, but they are older now than we were when we met, and unlikely, in this day and age, to be shocked by what we did – especially since, when the time came to decide which road we would take, we opted not to disrupt their lives, nor Jean’s, nor Bill’s. I have never regretted that decision, Dear Heart, though the pain of parting left me shell-shocked for all of these years. 

That is not to say that I haven’t thought about you every day since the heartbreaking morning we said goodbye, or often wished that things were still like they were all of those years ago when, after watching Soldier of Fortune on our first night together, you became my Clark, even though you looked nothing like Clark Gable, except for the mustache, and I became your Susan, even though I looked nothing like Susan Hayward, except for the color of my hair.

But it was never about looks with us, was it? It was a visceral attraction, shockingly strong, and immediately apparent. Seeing you walk by my office on your first day at Cunningham, Miller, Bender, and Schade took my breath away and, somehow in that instant, I knew that I had just glimpsed my soul mate.  And when you shook my hand at the meet-and-greet, and a thrill coursed through me like electricity, and when I saw that you experienced it too, I knew that Fate had brought us together and that we were going to be lovers. It was preposterous, really, because up to that point neither I, during fourteen years with Bill, nor you, during sixteen years with Jean, had ever considered cheating, or even looked at another person with the slightest interest.

But my relationship with Bill was not like ours; with Bill, it had been a practical attraction, not a sexual one. Bill had been drawn to my energy and outgoing personality, and I to his ability to provide stability and security, which I desperately needed after my parents died. We were helpmates, not soul mates, partners journeying through life, not as explorers and adventurers, like we were, Dear Heart, but rather like Eleanor and Franklin after Lucy Mercer. And, although we had a comfortable life, it lacked the vitality that a sexual component brings to a relationship. I did not dream of Bill’s touch, nor imagine the feel of his body on mine every waking moment such that I could think of nothing else. I did not eschew sleep to indulge the fantasies of my restless libido, nor walk through life in a perpetual state of arousal, a phenomenon which I had not experienced until you came into my life.

Oh, Dear Heart, how I’ve longed to hear you call me Susie once more, how I’ve ached for you every night! And, although I highly doubt that I could get this old, arthritic body of mine to ebb and flow like it used to, I yearn for one more afternoon with you, making sheet music in decibels so loud that we surely must have scared the gulls and the fish in the bay.

But time moves on. I have long since stopped dyeing my hair that rich, auburn color you loved so much and I’ve put on a few pounds that I can’t seem to shed no matter how little I eat. And, though you have seen me at my worst and loved me still, thirty-five and full-figured is one thing, but old and plump is another, especially when you throw in grey hair and the probability that the breath required to fund just one more BIG O with you would surely be my last.

Still, after years of putting one foot in front of the other and trying not to dwell on what was, I am finally able to give myself up to the experience without fear that I will die from the pain of wanting you and not being able to have you. I have been through the worst of it and have come out the other side – battered and bloodied, yes, forever changed, certainly, but better for having known you and the rapture that comes when two souls, created from the same wisp of angel’s breath, unite in love, if only for an instant.

As I take these first steps down the road of our experience, I realize that there are those who will see this as a quest for redemption, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, once upon a time we found the Holy Grail of love and fulfillment and were forced to relinquish it, but not because we were unworthy. Our hearts were pure, of this I am certain, but Fate had other plans for us, and sent us on a journey to prove our love was true. It was an arduous trip of longing and desire, sorrow and pain. But there were also respites along the way, of indescribable happiness and unexpected blessings.

Although I may never again know the fire of your embrace, I will experience it nonetheless as I retrace the steps of our story – slowly and with deliberation so that I can savor every morsel of our time together. Call it self-indulgent, or the fanciful undertaking of a silly old fool, but also call it a labor of love, Dear Heart, because most of all, that is what this is.

AUTHOR: Linda Lingle

TITLE: Dear Heart

GENRE: contemporary romance, second chance romance

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2018

PUBLISHER: Solstice Publishing – Summer Solstice Imprint

ISBN/ASIN: B07CX91BYM

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Take My Heart by J.J. Sorel

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Book Review: Boardroom, Bedroom by Gemma Snow

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is Boardroom, Bedroom by Gemma Snow. If you’re looking for a short story with a lot of meat and very little potatoes, this one’s for you!

Geneva is a business woman trying to finalize a deal and Dylan is the hot guy, heir to the company, standing in her way. The story goes by quickly and is filled with plenty of sex (for those of you who are looking for those kind of stories), but be warned – the overarching storyline sets the women’s movement back…way back.

I waited a week to write this review, just to see if my thoughts changed at all – they didn’t.

Geneva is a smart woman, or she is supposed to be. After a particularly trying meeting with Dylan and his father, she decides on a night out with her best friend. The best friend who promptly bails on her at the bar (what kind of friend does that?).

Geneva thinks, “Okay…I’ll have fun on my own.” (You go, girl!) While dancing, she proceeds to let a guy she doesn’t know and even hasn’t looked at, use his hands on her in the dirtiest ways possible…on the dance floor. (I get it, that’s pretty hot.)

Then, still without even looking at him…she agrees to go home with him.

You were supposed to be smart, Geneva!

But, surprise! We already know who the guy was the whole time (Thank goodness it wasn’t that creepy guy who hangs out at every bar, ever.)

Fast forward, after a lot of hot sex…he agrees to the business deal. At this point, I was just thinking, “Kick him in the balls, Geneva!… and don’t forget your clutch on the way out!” (Quid pro sex is not sexy.)

But, no. She was happy about it. 😦

I love romance and always will. But, stories that make women (or men) less than what they should be and what they deserve, are, let’s face it…a boner killer.

I give Boardroom, Bedroom by Gemma Snow 1 HEART.

Book Info:

All Geneva Sterling wants is for Trenton and Sons Investment to sign the contract that could make her career. She’s been after them for nearly a year, and would have been successful too – if it weren’t for Dylan freaking Trenton. He’s hell bent on sinking this deal, and he’ll stop at nothing to get her to back off. But Geneva’s not going down without a fight, even if her opponent in this boardroom boxing match makes her hotter than anyone else ever has.

Dylan Trenton just wants to get his mind off work, and the powerful, infuriating and oh-so-beautiful Geneva Sterling. So when an associate takes him to Club Underground to check out his most recent investment, Dylan decides to go with the flow. After all, there’s a goddess in a slinky silver dress just calling his name. But when he finds out exactly who he’s dancing – and more – with, Dylan learns that hate and desire run a close parallel, and tonight he might just step over the line.

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/4AJxro

Gemma’s free option: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/r7rS2

The teaser is way too racy for us to post on ILRB, but you can view it on the author’s site here.

AUTHOR: Gemma Snow

TITLE: Boardroom, Bedroom

GENRE: erotica

RELEASE DATE: October 13, 2017

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B076FM75HL

OUR RATING: ♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

Up Next Week: Dear Heart by Linda Lingle

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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