It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.
This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.
Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.
— MY REVIEW —
Every once in a while I break out of the fictional bubble to dabble in some non-fic. Well… usually autobiographies and memoirs by public figures who interest me.
And this time around, it’s Mariah Carey, “dahling”! 🙌
I’ve been a fan of Mariah’s for years. With Christmas around the corner and with her Christmas album on repeat the past week, I picked her book up on a whim. If you’ve been following her career and her life that’s been somewhat shared to the public over the years then you won’t be surprised by the stories she shares in this book (it’s just more detailed than what the media has shared or even portrayed).
I was interested in knowing more about her family, her upbringing, and her first marriage to the music mogul; Tommy Mottola — all of which she does talk about.
She doesn’t sugarcoat her feelings and opinions on these people from her past. It’s obvious when it comes to her family, it’s complicated but she seems to have found acceptance and peace to a point where she’s managed to keep some resemblance of a relationship when it was almost non-existent in the past.
Not going to lie, this was a wordy read. I certainly couldn’t read it in one sitting. I’m a fan of Mariah’s music but reading about her life and her POV on events is best done in doses. 😅 If you’re a fan, you’ll surely like learning more about her personal life and her journey in the music industry.
An interesting insight to both her private and public life. You learn more about her difficult childhood and adolescences knowing that she hardly discussed about her mother or father openly in interviews.
There’s also the attention surrounding her failed marriages. Growing up I remember the controversary surrounding Mariah’s marriage to Tommy and here we get to see her side of things about her life with him in detail. There were already accusations that he was controlling not only with her music but her overall public image. You realize from Mariah’s perspective what their relationship was like behind closed doors.
“Happiness was secondary. Happiness was a fleeting bonus.”
Then there’s her second marriage to Nick Cannon and the reason behind their breakdown. But also about their children, the struggles, the life altering moments, and the balance she’s found since having them.
The addition of candid photos with friends and family is a nice touch to the paperback edition. Seeing these photos of her looking just as mundane as the rest of us makes her more relatable, like all the glitz and glamour can be set aside when she’s just chilling with her friends and family.
With each song she’s written over the years, it’s been inspired by a moment or event in her life that’s impacted her in a significant way, whether good or bad. She didn’t have the fairy tale upbringing — it was far from it, and there’s no doubt she’s had some struggles and breakdowns in her adulthood that I’m not entirely sure she’s completely gotten over or healed from but she has found her people to lean on.
I don’t think this book made me see her in a different light or in a new perspective per se. Mariah is Mariah and this book is her. She takes you on a journey about her music, songs she written and released, her tours, her achievements and accolades over the years, as well as the people who she’s had the pleasure of meeting and working with, and so forth.
I’ve read a few mixed reviews on this book and I may be biased here because I am a fan but I was not surprised by what she did or did not include in her memoir. Would I have wanted her to elaborate on certain topics she’s touched on? Mm yeah, sure. But lookey here, I came away with more than I knew about her life before I read her book, so it’s all good!
She’s a queen. She’s a diva. But who’s to say that that’s necessarily a bad thing, right? Mariah has been in the biz for decades! Yes, she pens her achievements in this book in detail but hey, why not?! I, for one am not surprised that she included them. It is Mariah Carey, the woman has made some amazing accomplishments in her lifetime… and this is her memoir. 🦋
Great holiday read for fans of Mariah and those who enjoy reading autobiographies. I recommend you read it whilst listening to her songs, makes it extra festive!
Hope you’re all enjoying your day, week, month so far! 😊 Happy reading and as always, catch you in my next one! Xo
Money can buy anything. And anyone. As the head of the Constantine family, I’m used to people bowing to my will. Cruel, rigid, unyielding—I’m all those things. When I discover the one woman who doesn’t wither under my gaze, but instead smiles right back at me, I’m intrigued.
Ash Elliott needs cash, and I make her trade in crudeness and degradation for it. I crave her tears, her moans. I pay for each one. And every time, she comes back for more. When she challenges me with an offer of her own, I have to decide if I’m willing to give her far more than cold hard cash.
But love can have deadly consequences when it comes from a Constantine. At the stroke of midnight, that choice may be lost for both of us.
— MY REVIEW —
What’s better than a fairytale inspired story or retelling? A dark fairytale story or retelling! The fact that Stroke of Midnight is a Cinderella story, just had me even more excited to read it! 😊
But I hadn’t encountered a lot of things when I started this book. The blurb certainly tells you a loose outline, but soon discovered it was so much more that what I was expecting. I think this book will be eaten up by romance readers who love some kinky BDSM in their reads.
I’m an avid romance reader but I have to admit romance books that contain BDSM are usually ones I steer clear of because they’re not my type of story. But I would never discredit these books, authors who write them, or the readers who enjoy them. To each their own.
I have to point out that there’s also a relatively sizable age gap between our protagonists. It’s a trope I’m slowly reading a lot more of these days but even then I tend to be picky about which ones I read. I find that if the age difference isn’t as noticeable when the characters converse, then it’s not going to be an issue. With Stroke of Midnight, the age difference is practically one of the focal points in the story. If it’s not mentioned by the characters themselves, it’s displayed in the way they behave towards one another. It’s a bit of a hit and miss for me because it was either funny to witness or at times a cringy reminder. 🙈
For someone like me who’s just venturing towards this romance trope, I was taken aback in the beginning, but the further I read on, it became the norm with Winston and Ash that I eventually shrugged it off and accepted it. Although I may have huffed at the fact that being in your thirties is considered “old”. But I suppose when the heroine is still a teenager then yeah… I can see why it may seem old in comparison. Lol. 🤦♀️😂
If you like the following themes in your romance books, then you’ll be sure to enjoy this one!
Dark fairy tale retelling
The whole sugar daddy kink!
In saying all that — I did surprisingly find this book entertaining to read. I was hooked on the aspect of the whole Pretty Woman, make-me-an-offer bit, which I think is initially what kept me engaged… that, and the fact that I enjoyed seeing Winston and Ash’s nonstop bantering. It kept me chuckling and turning the pages!
“He’s a villain who looks the part of a golden prince.”
I’m not going to lie, I had trouble deciding what to rate it. I have a love/ hate relationship with this book. As I mentioned earlier, this is not my usual type of romance read. I know there’s a massive fanbase for this romance trope. Based on some similar ones I have come across (and DNFed) in the past, this one managed to have a lightness added to an otherwise dark romance.
But before I go further, I have to mention it contains sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers. It contains violence, sexual harassment and assault. So please keep that in mind when deciding to start this novel.
Another issue I have to bring up is that it ends on a cliffhanger. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but I know plenty of readers who have issues with it considering it’s not mentioned at all in the blurb (which would’ve been nice). Unless you specifically check on Goodreads, you won’t know that it’s not a standalone until you’re already well into reading it. Sigh.
K. Webster is a new-to-me author, so I had no idea what her writing style would be like. Despite the romance tropes in this book, I did get invested in seeing how things would pan out for Winston and Ash (especially with how things concluded), so I’m looking forward to the next book!
It’s a relatively well-paced storytelling and told from both their POVs. A definite modern, twisted take on the classic fairy tale.
A handful of shifty secondary characters to look forward to. The villainous stepmother and her disturbingly cruel spawns is just the start of it. But there’s also some cool characters included to keep the scale from tipping entirely to the evil side. Hehe.
Winston and Ash, as weird as their relationship is, do have zingy chemistry. Their conversations more than anything is what I enjoyed reading the most. For the majority of the time I wasn’t a fan of Ash’s immature personality and naivety, but it does display a dynamic between Winston and herself… and she is a stereotypical teenager so… 🤷♀️
*whispers* I would’ve rated this book a little higher if Ash’s actions didn’t bother me as much. Her heart is in a good place and she has clear opinions but her decisions don’t necessarily reflect that.
Successful, powerful Winston has the world at his feet, but I also questioned his decisions when it came to Ash’s welfare. He just didn’t make a big enough impact on me as the guy you don’t want to mess with. Know what I mean?
I can only hope the sequel we’ll get to really see his full potential as a Constantine, and see a lot more growth from Ash. There’s so much potential and possibilities with their story.
I’m a sucker for fairy tale stories where the hero is so affected by the heroine that he gradually changes from the cold-hearted man into one full of love and emotion. Winston and Ash have that potential of a love story.
In my honest opinion Stroke of Midnight would be an absolute smash for readers who like these specific types of romance stories. I can totally see its appeal. It’s not my usual preference but I did end up liking it for the most part and I would recommend it to readers looking into this romance sub-genre. A nice quick read you can finish in one sitting too! 😊
Thank you to K. Webster and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💙
Happy reading, guys! As always, catch you in my next one! Xo
My past was destructive. It haunts my dreams. The moment I embraced my addiction, I knew my life would change dramatically.
As the VP of the Houston Defiance MC, my job is to stand tall. Contain the demons clawing from the inside, begging to escape from within. But when I embrace my bloodlust, nothing can tame my wrath.
Zero took me in as part of his family – a bond unbreakable. I should care about the no-touch rules. And the fact they are in place on his sister.
But the draw to Prinie is addictive, destructive, exhilarating. And I am all too aware that I’m dangerous. She needs to see that too.
Her brother loathes the idea of us. Honestly, I put up a fight too. But maybe fighting my addiction to her is impossible? When chaos strikes the club, we’ll turn to each other. But chaos can just as easily rip us both to shreds.
From International Bestselling Author KE Osborn comes the second book in the Houston Defiance MC Series.
— MY REVIEW —
After reading the first book in the series and how it ended, I knew I had to read Wraith’s story.
Addictive was not at all what I was expecting! 😱
The story is so much more than a simple MC romance. Wraith has such a broken past that he can’t seem to escape from no matter how hard he tries. It’s disturbing, tragic and completely heartbreaking to read about. I really didn’t know what I was getting into but the minute Wraith’s story begins to unravel, you start getting that uneasy feeling as you read on knowing it’s not going to be so pretty.
This book is not for the fainthearted. It delves into serious subject matter that can be triggering for anyone. It contains detailed violence, addiction, drug and sexual abuse. It can be a difficult topic to read about, so please keep in mind before starting this book.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story, there was a lot to take in. Most of it is set in a dark, gritty atmosphere with constant problems arising, not only for Wraith and Prinie’s relationship, but for the MC itself. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and I’m not going to lie, I might’ve had moments of panic at what could possibly happen next. Eeep. 🙈
It’s unpredictable and oh-so suspenseful that that alone was what kept me reading. The constant questions and second-guessing added extra excitement to this forbidden/ hate to love MC romance.
“I have to do better. I need to be better.”
The first book gave an unbelievable introduction to the world-building of the Houston Defiance MC, and Addictive effortlessly expanded it further. You get an insight to more of the other brothers in the club, the group dynamics and the relationships that have formed.
There are secondary characters I’m eager to see more of and hope they get their own book in the future. I love that all these bikers have history and it comes through in moments when they give sound advice to Wraith.
And whilst this book didn’t have as much swoony moments as the first book had between Zero and Rayne, seeing any scene between Wraith and Prinie just made it all the more special because they were rare. I only wish there were more them! They have a complicated push and pull relationship and it’s helluva slow burn! You’ll be frustrated and you might even wail (not saying that I did… *cough*) but I found with all slow burn romances I’ve read, is that it is well worth the wait when you finally see them get together! 😉
Wraith and Prinie have quite a journey. It’s full of hurdles and it feels like the world is always against them but coming away from this read, you realize how much they both grow as individuals and as a couple. The character growth is extraordinary — especially from Wraith’s POV. With his scars and the constant battle he has with himself, you get to see how much he develops as a character. Ugh. *hand to heart* ❤
“She’s my fucking kryptonite.”
Prinie is young, yet she’s already lived such a life. Her struggles are relatable and you can’t help but sympathize for her. But I’m relieved to see Osborn created her as character who yes, is vulnerable but who also has a strength within her to overcome issues. She’s a persistent little firecracker!
But what I loved most about their complicated relationship is they give each other strength and support despite the fact that they consistently bicker and banter, nevertheless when push comes to shove… they’ve got each other’s back. It’s palpable how much they care for another and for the people they consider family.
The support of the MC is another highlight. These guys may not be all about openly sharing their feelings but they are supportive as hell! As I mentioned earlier, this story is not for the fainthearted, and a big chunk of it is full of darkness. But Osborn has added some lightheartedness in between to really give not only her characters, but the readers a breather.
A beautiful story of family, growth, overcoming adversaries, and moving on from the past. A steady paced storytelling told perfectly from Wraith and Prinie’s POVs. It’s a story full of emotion that’ll have you sighing in contentment once you reach the last page. A great sequel and addition to the Houston Defiance MC series.
Although each book centers around a different hero/ heroine, I recommend you read Explosive first because the books do interconnect. You’ll get a better grasp of the world and the relationships within.
Thank you to K.E. Osborn and The Next Step PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💙
🔔 Interested in reading Addictive? Grab your copy here: Amazon
Read my review for Explosive (Houston Defiance MC Book 1)
Your first kiss is supposed to be sweet. Ours was baptized in fire.
I was the new girl trying to find her place.
Landon was the brooding neighbor I tutored over the summer.
I didn’t know he was a legend at Black Mountain Academy.
I didn’t know they worshipped him like a religion.
But I fell for him before I knew those things.
To me, he was just the tortured soul who drew me in like a magnet.
And then he did something so unspeakable, so unforgivable, it shattered me.
I ran away then because I was weak, but I’ve shed my tears.
He stole my heart and my dignity, and I’m here to take it back.
The only problem is… he’s not giving it up without a fight.
— MY REVIEW —
Okay. So… I may just be a little bit obsessed with this book 😅 I’ve been waiting for a new book from Zavarelli in what feels like years (even though it’s not), and Pretty When She Cries completely and utterly filled that craving! This is why I adore Zavarelli’s books, because they are totally intense, all out soul-consuming works of fiction that has you thinking about for days on end after having read them!
I honestly thought I outgrew high school romances in my reads, but it turns out they just have to be as dark and twisted as this one for me to enjoy them again! 😜 Lol. I don’t think I’ve read a deep, juicy, rub-your-hands-together-and-plot-revenge style romance in all the years I’ve read romance books.
It has become one of my favourite reads of 2020 and it’s going straight to my list of all time favourite books! It has all the elements I love in a story —
Gripping storyline from start to finish.
Complex characters who’ll have your mind reeling.
Unpredictability and suspense.
World-building that’s constantly expanding.
Evident character and relationship growth.
A mixture of genres that work well together. In this case, there’s romance, a little bit of mystery, a little bit of crime and thriller, and a smidge of action.
Zavarelli has a way of writing such vivid, detailed stories with unique plots and characters that are three-dimensional.
Landon, right off the bat had an air of mystery about him because he rarely shared feelings and thoughts with anyone. With Kail, although a little shy and less extroverted than some of her peers, had a confidence about her. She knew who she was.
So when all hell breaks loose, you can’t help but see how things will unravel from there and see the ramifications of that certain event. I was invested the minute they first met. Like our hero/ heroine, I was just as intrigued by them as they were with each other. There’s an instant chemistry that had me perking up with interest. They are from completely different backgrounds and upbringings, yet whenever they were around each other, they clicked!
Be warned though, have tissues nearby. I must’ve gotten teary-eyed countless times throughout reading this. The emotions this story evoked in me is why I would (and have) recommended this book to my friends already, and any reader who likes reading romance fiction.
My heart broke for them both for almost the entirety of the book. They go through a roller coaster of life events that is jaw-dropping and almost hard to wrap your head around. The drama is strong with this one!
The unpredictability in this story is what’s really going to get you turning the pages. Just when you think you know what’s about to happen next or know a person’s motive — Baam! You don’t!
For a standalone romance, it packs a punch! Yes, there’s a lot of things happening but they were written out so well that everything included was for good reason. It’s an effortless read with constant buildup. P.S. I like that there was some diversity included. I’m not the type of reader who constantly needs or expects it but when it’s included and it’s done well, it’s definitely a plus.
Landon will have you wanting to just give him a big bear hug and never wanting to let go! And Kail will have you pounding your fist to your chest in solidarity, yelling “I got ya back, girl!” ✊
And in the midst of all the chaos, banter, revenge, and what-the-fuck moments, you’ll still be rooting for things to work out between them. Their relationship may be a constant push and pull but I guarantee their one-on-one scenes are… phew… intensely hot! 🔥🔥🔥
Pretty When She Cries kept me on the edge of my seat and reading until the sun rised. It touches base with relatable subjects (especially during your adolescence) such as diversity, social standing, body image, not to mention peer pressure and bullying. Whilst this is a work of fiction, it really delves into the harsh reality of the issues teenagers may go through during their years in school and the lasting effects and scarring it could leave on them.
Reading it, reminded me so much of what high school was like and just how much teens go through that parents may not even be aware of.
What I love about the characters in this book is that there was a great contrast of personalities. You have the obvious villainous, cruel characters that really rile you up, but then there’s also the characters that bring so much positivity and light. Kail has a great support system, and although she didn’t necessarily feel like they could help her in the way that she wants or needs, and didn’t want to burden them with her issues, they’re there and they’re constant, nevertheless.
Although this is Landon and Kailani’s story overall, in my opinion the secondary characters made just as much of an impact and played vital roles. I adore the bonds and friendships, especially the unlikely ones.
And can I just say, this entire story reads like it’s made for the screen! 😍
A very well thought-out storyline with suspense and intrigue. Zavarelli has brilliantly created an atmosphere of curiosity around Landon the second Kailani talks about him. Their story is told from dual points of view and the fact that it’s in first person, us readers are really riding out their experiences and feelings right along with them — the good, the bad, and the oh-so ugly!
It’s an upcoming release that is well worth the wait. I highly recommend you add this one to your TBR asap because this one’s end game, people! 🏈
Thank you to A. Zavarelli and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! ❤
I’m a Devil King; loyal to no one but my club, until she comes along and tests everything I thought I believed in. When I do a favor for my imprisoned ex-president’s ol’ lady, I come face to face with the one-night-stand that’s haunted me for three years. She pulled a disappearing Cinderella act on me, vanishing with the dawn. I searched high and low for her, and now that I’ve found her—she’s the definition of off-limits. She’s an MC princess—my MC’s princess. And even if her father no longer runs things, she’s still forbidden with a capital F. Tell that to my traitorous body that reacts every damn time she gets within sight of me. They say no good deed goes unpunished, and I’m learning this golden haired beauty could be the death of me.
Though our chemistry blazes, every second I spend with her risks the brotherhood we’ve just repaired.
I’ve never wanted anything to do with my father’s filthy MC, The Devil Kings. With daddy dearest in prison, my mother is falling apart. Her struggle with anxiety, drugs and money problems drag me back from the independence I crave. She needs my help and my father holds the key—literally.
But when he insists I get him information on the Devil Kings in exchange, I’m thrust into a world I want no part of. My father may be their EX-president, but I’m still considered an MC princess.
When my mother pulls in a favor and arranges an escort for me down to the prison, he walks in—a patched member of the Devil Kings MC—and a memory from a one-night stand we had three years ago.
But there’s a reason I ditched him the next morning; I want nothing to do with men like my father. Gypsy is everything I need to steer clear of—he’s an outlaw, a Devil King, dangerously sexy and loyal to his club.
As my mother’s world falls apart, my choice becomes clear. But how do I choose between saving her and betraying the man I love?
— MY REVIEW —
Ahhhhh! I loved reading this book! 😍😍😍
I’m just gonna say it straight out —
✔ Amazing storyline. ✔ Amazing characters (and mind you, oh so hot!) *phoaarr!* ✔ Amazing world building. ✔ Amazing secondary characters (Hayley is a hoot and half. I love her!) ✔ Amazing development.
Just fucking AMAZING! I wish this series didn’t have to end but I’m glad it ended with an absolute banger! I only wish this book was a little longer. I really didn’t want it to end.
Tess and Gypsy are quite a pair. A perfect fit. I thought no other Devil King could top Reno but I think Gypsy is a definite contender. I will for sure grab a paperback of this (and the other books in this series).
“All my life I’ve sworn I wanted nothing to do with my father’s MC. And then you come along.” — Tess
A must read for fellow MC romance lovers. Nicole James has done it again. She’s effortlessly gotten my attention well within the first chapter and followed all the way through with a strong plot, chemistry between her hero/ heroine, and some good ol’ suspense added in.
Nothing faltered. The pacing was steady and there wasn’t a damn moment that I didn’t soak up!
Some absolute highlights to look forward to:
Tess’ best friend Hayley! 😄 She is without a doubt THE BEST friend any girl could have. Not only is she upbeat, hilarious and 100% supportive, she is for sure a ride or die type of chick! 👊 She adds an uplifting element to the story and a nice contrast to the usual gritty world of an MC.
“I’m pretty sure it’s in the BFF rulebook. Accompany your friend when she’s about to do stupid, dangerous shit. It’s right after Don’t let her date a biker.” — Hayley
Appearances from the club is a given — but most importantly characters from the previous books like Rusty and Reno are present, and brotherly banter strong as ever!
But what screamed at me was the visualization of the entire world. The way James has described her characters, from their physical appearances to their personality traits was so vivid, I could almost picture them as real-life people. By giving us past glimpses to how the club has grown and evolved since the past James has expanded her already existing world of the Devil Kings MC.
Tess and Gypsy’s forbidden (hmm.. “forbidden” might be too strong a word. I should say it’s more of a don’t-even-go-there) romance was the shit! Excuse my potty-mouth for this review but it was needed to express my feels! Lol. 🔥 They’ll have you invested and rooting for things to pan out for them.
“Can’t promise you there won’t be bumps in the road, but I can promise you a hell of a ride.” — Gypsy
Gypsy is the right balance of alpha male and gentleman. He’s strong, dependable, but not overly domineering like a lot of stereotypical alpha males. He stands out from the crowd just with his presence alone. He was caring and sweet (even before anything serious happened between him and Tess). I liked that he wasn’t pushy either with what he wanted.
Neither he or Tess are perfect people yet together they’re stronger, better and all round happier.
Tess is spunky, feminine and confident in herself, but when she’s vulnerable, Gypsy is there to pick her up, keep her thinking positively and just makes you wanna swoon. You’ll wish it was you he was giving those soothing hugs and kisses to… trust me! (And FYI, anyone willing to go to WB Wizarding World, gets bonus points from me!)
Totally likable characters. There wasn’t a single moment where either one of them annoyed me with their antics — because there weren’t any! (But that’s not to say there isn’t any drama. There is!) 🙌
Ugh. Just go read it! It doesn’t disappoint! The entire series doesn’t disappoint! *flails arms*
This book is another phenomenal example as to why I consider Nicole James a queen of MC romances. She always gets you suckered in by the blurb and hot ass cover, then when you actually read the book, it exceeds any expectation you may have. I love the way she writes and if you haven’t read any of her books, then I highly recommend you rectify that, pronto!
Hiya! This post is a little different from my usual reviews and teasers but wanted to just stop by with a quick mention that it’s #AustralianReadingHour today! 😊
It’s an awesome annual campaign that encourages Aussies of all ages to take at least an hour of the day to read! How cool is that?!
I caught onto it about two years ago. It was all due to Bookstagram and the great community there that I was made aware of it in the first place. Although I love reading daily, I enjoy participating and helping share awareness of this campaign!
Any fellow Aussies who want to join in, please do! Post anything book related or like me, your current read and use the hashtag #AustralianReadingHour
And make sure to spend an hour READING! 📖📖📖
This year with the pandemic and lockdowns currently in place, a new hashtag has been added to the campaign #AustraliaReadsAtHome to really get Aussies to use some of their time to read whilst at home.
Hope everyone is staying safe and keeping healthy. Happy reading and as always, catch you guys in my next one! Xo
I’m currently reading Fragile Longing by Cora Reilly! So far, so good! 😍
F o r b i d d e n D e l i g h t s by Cora Reilly A Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles Short Story
Stella is a forbidden fruit Mauro isn’t allowed to taste.
Not only because she isn’t promised to him, but also because she’s his step-sister.
She used to be his annoying shadow, the little girl he needed to protect and babysit. Now she’s all grown-up and he can’t stop noticing. Being locked into a panic room with her might be the ultimate test for his self-control…
Mauro has always been Stella’s protector and ally, until she starts to see him as more. Afraid of his reaction, she hides her attraction. But can she keep doing so when they’re trapped in a small room all alone?
— MY REVIEW —
I love my mafia romances. And more specifically I love Cora Reilly’s mafia romances. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read her novella that was included in the Love in Lockdown romance anthology. 😊
But let me ask you this…
Have you ever felt a little creeped out or iffy about romances that centers around step or foster siblings — thinking it’s a little too close to incest despite the fact that they’re technically not blood related… but still, you know… weird?
Haha. No? Just me then? 😅 It’s why I usually steer clear of any romance reads with this trope. I’ve read some pretty disturbing ones in the past and it’s a big reason as to why it’ll never be one of the tropes I look for.
So, reading the blurb for Forbidden Delights, I had my doubts. But you know what? I really shouldn’t have doubted Cora or her writing talents because any concerns I had about a step-sibling romance went right out the window. What I saw between Mauro and Stella is yes, a familial affection from having grown up together but it also goes deeper than that. It also displayed blossoming young love between two people who truly care about one other. No weird factor present! Yay!
“The mafia world was built on rules. Rules never to be broken.”
“One of those rules was not to desire a girl that wasn’t promised to you…”
This a forbidden/ secret romance set in a dark mafia world, but their story is full of warmth and lightness. As much as I love a good, gritty mafia romance, having the mafia side of things be in the backdrop to their increasing closeness was refreshing. Sometimes you just need a love story with less drama. 😉 I enjoyed reading their points of view and seeing Stella and Mauro try and navigate through their feelings. It’s adorable seeing their thoughts mirror each other but in fear of their relationship changing for the worse or their feelings not being reciprocated, they keep it to themselves.
*whispers* The bed scenes are a highlight. I could not stop giggling! 🤭🤭
So little time to tell their story, yet it packed a punch full of chemistry, heart and hope! Being trapped alone certainly gave this story suspense.
How much are they willing to risk?
How far will they go?
Will they get caught? *dum dum duuuum!*
“You look as if you got a jail sentence. Is it really so bad to stay with me?”
I can’t say anything bad about either one of these characters because they’re both likable. Stella’s a teenager, and whilst she’s been shied away from the mafia side of their family, she has a maturity about her and knows the seriousness of the business. (Although seeing her crushing on Mauro is totally teen-like… and quite understandable). 😜 Mauro’s character screams thoughtful and protective from beginning to end. I swooned over the fact that he always considered Stella and her feelings first. Ladies, he’s a gentleman. *fans self*
This was a relatively short story (even for a novella) but Cora has managed to add in world-building — even if you’re not familiar with her Mafia world, it’s described in this novella well enough for you to get a gist of the importance of both Stella’s step-father and Mauro’s positions in the business and the dangers of being involved in it. You also get a good sense of her family dynamics and the type of relationship she has with her mother.
I like the idea of Mauro and Stella against the world (or in this case, against their family and “the rules”). Their bond is evident and relatable. They share lighthearted banter here and there, but mostly reminiscing over sweet memories of their childhood. They have a very close relationship, developing from brother and sister to something more… but thank fuck it didn’t come off as disturbing or nauseating. Lol.
Ugh. This was too good to pass up. But too short of a story! 😭 I only hope this isn’t the last time we hear of Mauro and Stella. And I hope that if we do see them in future books that they get the ultimate happily ever after! 🙏
Highly recommended for Cora Reilly fans that want more of her mafia world. Don’t sit on this one if you already have a copy of Love in Lockdown, but have yet to read any of it.
Side note: While Forbidden Delights is part of Cora Reilly’s mafia world, it doesn’t affect or directly connect to any of the storylines with her Born In Blood series. This can be read on it’s own.
L o v e I n L o c k d o w n — ( C h a r i t y A n t h o l o g y )
A state of isolation, close proximity, or confinement.
Join fourteen bestselling authors as they distract YOU from lockdown with this collection of all-new short and steamy stories.
There’s no escaping… love is catching.
Pre-order this upcoming charity anthology and help raise much needed funds for families struggling on hard times due to the coronavirus.
Each author has rustled up a new steamy story especially for this anthology to raise as much money as possible. All the profits will be split between two charities, one in US and one in UK, who are working hard to provide families with food during these challenging times.
Another super late book review I’m finally posting. I don’t remember why I never posted this in the first place, but whatevs… It’s here now! 😊
— BLURB —
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
— MY REVIEW —
⚠ WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!
This was my second sci-fi book ever read (The first was The Martian, which I loved!) So I seriously hoping it would be similar to that book in the sense that the “science-y” stuff is going to be easy to follow, that there was a bit of humor to break up all the technical aspect and based off of the synopsis a bit of romance.
Well… this book didn’t fail. I loveeeeed it! 🙌 I’ve been saying to just about anyone who would listen that if all science fiction books were as amazing as The Martian and Illuminae are then I could be reading a lot more from the genre! 😉
I think another thing that captured me with Illuminae is how quirky and different the book layout was. It wasn’t set out like your everyday typical book. Some of the pages were written to form images, some were written to make follow each line into a bigger picture. It’s hard to explain, all I can say is if you haven’t gotten a copy yet – do! Go to your local bookshop, look for it and just flip through it and you’ll see what I’m trying to say.
The book overall is set a journal/ records type format and put together into one big file, basically. So there’s emails between characters, logs recorded from certain days and interviews. It’s ridiculously jam-packed!
It’s very well created and it had me wanting to keep reading to find out what happened next. It was hard putting it down for the day.
I never saw full reviews on Illuminae prior to reading it so I wasn’t sure what people thought of it besides whether or not they liked it but I have to say halfway through the book I had a strong sense of Resident Evil-esque to the story line. Where the spaceship’s AI (aka AIDAN) is corrupted and pretty much turns evil and starts wanting to kill everyone on board but thinking he’s doing the right thing. Then you have half the crew and civilians on board infected with some kind of virus that’s also causing serious problems all over the ship. It’s one massive chaotic disaster that puts you on the edge of your seat.
“Am I not merciful?” — AIDAN
Reading about Kady and Ezra’s roller coaster relationship added a romantic touch to an otherwise sci-fi story line and it pretty revolves around them and wanting to keep each other safe. I loved reading their messages to one another. It’s probably the bits of the book I loved reading the most.
Besides the sci-fi aspect and the romance aspect – this book also provides us with comical relief in all the right places (usually involving Ezra because he’s a funny smartass). 😄
Downside to being introduced to super cool characters?
That was me the further I read. As much as I loved reading Kady and Ezra’s exchange of funny but sweet banter-filled emails, I knew it wouldn’t have lasted forever and I was right. Why do authors love making us fall for characters just to take them away from us?
Spoiler Alert: Ezra died! 🙈
Yep… and just like Kady, you don’t find out til it’s too late. Unless you’re one of the clever readers who analysed every detail of this book and probably saw signs early on.
*Side Note: Jay and Amie actually said that if you really pay attention to the details in the book, it gives off little clues on who certain characters are that are still unknown to us or hints of upcoming events.
Seriously, this book was one big fuuuuuuuck-with-your-mind type of story. It was so hard to put it down because I just didn’t know which direction the story is going. I don’t know about other people who’ve read this but I didn’t see any of the plot twists happening. Not even a smidge! Maybe I need to reread it again and keep a lookout for those hints I mentioned earlier lol.
Another highly recommended book. If you’re like me who usually only ever reads fantasy fiction, give this one a go. Trust me you won’t regret it and I guarantee you’ll love it enough to want to read Gemina (second book in the Illuminae series)!
Happy reading, friends! Hope you’re all doing well. Catch you in my next one! Xo
I’m an open box of passé photographs, snapped in chaste daylight, but filtered in sepia. I’m the past that he tried to forget, and he was the future I needed. When he left six years ago, I screamed for him every night. But then it all stopped. My screams were suddenly muffled by cruelty, and further coaxed by pain.
But he has come back. He’s not the cute big brother I had a furtive crush on, or the bad boy, rich brat that I hated to love.
He’s the ruthless vice president of Wolf Pack MC, and he doesn’t answer to Royce Kane anymore.
He answers to Sicko.
— MY REVIEW —
This was one hell of a ride! All kinds of trouble… and I’m still wrapping my head around what I’d just read. 🙉
After reading the blurb: Alright… I’m about to get into a hot MC romance.
After reading the first few chapters: Alright, okay… a little backstory to our hero/ heroine. Nothing sinister yet. Nice.
Reading the next few chapters after: What the hell?!! What just happened?? 😱
Double take galore! 😲😲😲
Since this sudden, unexpected, and shocking turn of events… the rest of the book felt like I was damn Alice down that rabbit hole.
I’ve read countless dark romances and MC romances, and tons with lots of twisted, gut-wrenching content, but I’ve never encountered one that has me completely disturbed, cringing with disgust and questioning nonstop at what exactly I was reading. But weirdly enough — I could not stop reading. These characters are masked in mystery, darkness, and answers that I so deeply needed in order to understand what the hell was happening.
‘Eyes Wide Shut’ meets ‘Taken’ meets Sons of Anarchy/ Mayans MC is what comes to mind when I was reading this book. It’s quite a combo.
There’s a lot of sensitive subject matters that may trigger some readers. Trafficking, rape, drug use, kidnapping and extreme violence, with continual mental and emotional abuse present. It also contains some BDSM. It’s definitely NOT for underage readers.
Props to Jones for writing something that exists all around the world but unfortunately is hardly spoken about in society unless it’s breaking news. Whilst Sicko is a fictional story, it does put awareness of situations similar to the ones broached in this book do happen in reality without a doubt.
These characters are psychologically damaged (and I think that’s putting it mildly). They use liquor and drugs as a crutch to get through what haunts them, and other times (especially with Jade) it’s just plain old snappy remarks to hide the truth. Despite knowing this is a work of fiction, my heart and sympathies go out to them for what they’ve been put through.
I initially thought I would be drawn to Royce (I do love me some bikers). But I ended up being more intrigued and invested in our heroine, Jade. She’s the focal point. I guess the cover should’ve clued me in! 🤦♀️
But with their lives drastically altered, the character growth is strong with this one!
Jones has created such an inky, perplexing world that’ll have you second-guessing anything and everything. I hadn’t expected mystery/ crime/ thriller and a whole bunch of game playing added into this dark MC romance. It added layer upon layer of world-building and gave different dimensions to these characters’ personas. You won’t know for sure which side of them is showing until it’s smack dab in front of you.
With darkness, there is also light. The steady playlist of songs throughout the book was 🙌 ahh… pure perfection! Not only did it set the mood for each scene, but it set this entire story’s atmosphere. It’s another added element to look forward to. (I grew up listening to a lot of the songs/ artists featured so it was a cool little throwback for me!)
Jade is unique as they come. She has a facade of coolness, nonchalance, and someone who you could never imagine to be corrupted. Yet she’s living in hell, daily — and what worried me on occasion whilst reading Sicko, was whether she liked all that darkness, or whether she’d been in that life for so long that she’d grown accustomed to it.
Royce, on the other hand was a tougher nut to crack. That is until he finally revealed some of his past… and from there things started to make some sense. But seeing how he was first introduced to how he is years later is surprising… yet not surprising. 🤔
I’m not going to sugarcoat this — So many things happen in this story. So many different sub-plots that somehow eventually work its way together, with a good handful of secondary characters that all have their own secrets and demons that I found overwhelming at times. Especially when trying to pinpoint how they all interconnect. There was one big plot point I figured out fairly early on into the story (unless you’ve already read the sample chapters of Sicko from the Love, Loyalty & Mayhem Anthology which pretty much spills the beans anyways). Luckily — a deluge of other unpredictable things that did pop up that completely blindsided me. So that certainly kept things interesting! 😜 Hehe.
This is a twisted, somewhat sick story. Jade and Royce’s love is beyond complicated and brutally hard. I mean — they are brother and sister (albeit foster siblings, but still). You won’t be swooning over their relationship. Yes, there’s moments where you’ll find yourself holding your breath. But for the most part, I think you’ll be looking at it with deep, almost probing eyes. Their relationship is an intense roller coaster.
And it won’t just be their relationship that you’ll scrutinize — it will also be the people they call family, and the consequences to all their actions. This story is a head trip (hence why I couldn’t put it down)! You forget that these protagonists are still relatively young, yet they’ve already lived such a demanding life.
If you’re looking for a stereotypical MC romance where there’s your bad ass alpha hero, and your gorgeous but tough-as-nails heroine with banter, hooking up, and comical relief from friends, then I don’t think this one is quite what you’re looking for. Whilst the MC and the brotherhood is present, it’s not the be all and end all of this story. Sicko comprises of so much more. It’s one of the more darker MC romances I’ve read. If you can handle the grit, then I say give this one a try!
Thank you to Amo Jones and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💚
I’ve been a long time fan of Bella Jewel. I’ve read a couple of her MC romance series’ already and I am obsessed. I figure I would go back to her older book series’ starting with the Iron Fury MC!
Now, six books later and here is my review of the entire series! All the books are connected so it made sense to just review it as if it was one big book! 😁
ALL SIX IRON FURY BOOKS IN ONCE PLACE!!!
Come on a wild ride with country singers, bikers and a whirlwind of romance, pain, drama and danger! The entire Iron Fury MC Series is yours for the taking! What are you waiting for? Jump in, today!!
Come on this wild ride, with all these gorgeous couples!!! All of the books intertwine, and you’ll get to enjoy all the characters in each!! I promise, you won’t regret it!!!
Whiskey Burning #1 – Country music singer Scarlett meets her match when she stumbles across gorgeous biker, Maverick. He comes at the right time, though. Danger is lurking in every corner!
An opposites attract/ second chance romance story.
Refreshing to see a successful, hot and happening singer and an MC member fall in love, considering MC’s are notorious for keeping to themselves and avoiding any kind of public attention. Scarlett and Maverick’s relationship bloomed from friendship, so it was nice to see some sort development before they actually hooked up.
It’s a cute and engaging enough story. Scarlett was a little cheesy for my taste but sometimes all you can do is laugh it off and just accept it. Maverick is your stereotypical alpha MC member who tends to be bossy and possessive, but if you can get pass that trait (because, c’mon this is MC romance.. and fictional) then you won’t have any issues with these men!
They both have dark pasts they’re trying to move on from but can’t seem to do so, but their past is just one of the reasons they connection with one another.
I liked seeing the contrast between the world of stardom/ music industry and the MC world mesh together. It’s different from any other MC romance read. It was great seeing them make their relationship work despite Scarlett’s fame.
Hushed Torment #2 – Amalie is quiet, gorgeous and sweet. She’s also deaf due to a horrendous accident earlier in life. When she meets MC President Malakai, sparks fly. Can they work out, being from two completely different worlds?
Ooh. I love a good opposites attract romance. This was a juicy read! I love seeing big, booming alpha heroes turn gentle, caring and protective as hell towards woman who may be innocent and sheltered and who have completely have stolen their hearts.
The idea of Amalie having a disability was such a great element added to what would have been a stereotypical MC romance story. Seeing the patience and effort Malakai has put in to ensure Amalie was ready for a relationship with him was without a doubt swoon worthy material! 😍 I love that when needed, Amalie gave us grit and girl power! When she was introduced in Whiskey Burning as fellow musician and quiet friend of Scarlett, I immediately took a liking to her. Seeing the instant zing the moment Mal and Amalie laid eyes on each other… ugh… I knew Hushed Torment was not to be missed. I highly recommend. Not going to lie, I think this book surpasses the first. 🤫😉
Darkest Hour #3 – Charlie is wild, and the daughter of a very dangerous man. When a hit on her head causes her to hide, she’s left alone with Dakoda, gorgeous, rugged and completely driving her crazy!! How will she survive in lock down with this gorgeous man? Will they escape before they kill each other?
I though Amalie and Malakai’s story would be my fave, but I think Charlie and Koda’s topped it. 😋 Hate to love romance to the max! These guys had fire, banter, and sizzling sexual tension! I adore everything about Charlie’s spitfire attitude whenever she feels she needs to guard herself, but loved seeing Koda’s searing protectiveness over her despite the fact that they get on each other’s nerves. In my opinion, their story was the one that had the most world-building, and well written character development. Seeing their pasts come back to haunt both their present, and unraveling before my eyes had me in a knot. Not only has the suspense kept through from start to finish, but it was entertaining see how things evolved between Charlie and Koda. Definitely one of my fave couples from this series!
Sassy Little Thing #4 – Saskia needs a job, when she finds herself taking care of a house for the gorgeous Mason, things don’t quite go as expected. No, Mason is going to take her on a ride she’ll never forget. If only he knew the secrets she was hiding from him…
Hmm. Not bad. This was an unusual workplace romance. Although… half the time it didn’t seem that way, considering Saskia had no issues sharing her opinions to Mason. It was kind of entertaining at times. 🤭
I was already a big fan of Mason since his minor interaction with Charlie in the previous book. But other than a few lines here and there, you don’t get a inch of his story until this very book. Saskia is a newly introduced character. She’s in your face, confident and doesn’t seem to give a damn… but she also comes with baggage — baggage that Mason and the rest of Iron Fury MC have taken upon themselves to take care of.
The story line itself was okay. Pretty much similar to the other before it with a troubled past and needing the MC for help. Nothing too wowing or gripping but enough to keep me reading nevertheless. I think that’s more to do with Mason… but meh. 🤷♀️ I’m not overly fond of Saskia and her stupid moments, but Mason actually makes me tolerate her. Haha.
There’s some individual backstories but unfortunately it was never full developed, and by the time this story was nearing the end, their individual stories were wrapped up too abruptly which leaves you kind of questioning things. I would’ve loved to have seen some more growth within their relationship to make it more believable, but considering all the books are relatively similar in that factor as well, I’ll let it pass.
I do like the banter the had going for them, especially where Mason’s “hookups” are concerned. I giggled at those moments, they were probably my fave scenes from the book.
Me, Please #5 – Chantelle or Penny? Boston has a hard choice ahead of him, when he’s faced with two very gorgeous women, how will he ever choose? These two are going to keep him on his toes.
If you enjoy the cruelty that is love triangles, then you might enjoy this one. 😜
I can usually tolerate love triangles on a good day (even though my fave never gets chosen in the end) but fairly early on in the story and I knew I wanted to get through it and move onto the next book. I think this is the first love triangle I’ve read that consisted of two women vying for the same guy — and it’s the last!
Not a fan of the hypocrisy these women had in spades. They said on numerous occasions that they had nothing but love and respect for the other woman (because it’s not their fault the hero couldn’t make up his mind) but then turn around and something completely opposite. It was overly repetitive and tiresome. I also just about rolled my eyes the minute I sensed that one of the women was starting to be written as the “perfect one” whilst the other was just that… “the other”. Ugh. 🙄😒
Other than my not liking this book solely because of preference, it did lack enough character development. These characters each clearly had their fair share of horrible events in their past but it was delve into deep enough — more like it was just mention in conversation and that was it.
I don’t regret reading it because I was totally invested in reading (and finishing) this series, but it’s definitely not one of faves and I won’t be rereading it.
Our Final Tale #6 – Slater and Ellie. Parted in the most horrific way ten years ago when a mistake caused Slater to lose the love of his life. He spent years searching, and now she’s back. There’s only one problem…she has no idea who he is….
Eeep! I’m so happy this series is ending with a bang! I’ve been curious about Slater and Ellie’s story since Darkest Hour. There story is by far the most well-developed. Their past was slowly being revealed throughout the previous books to give you a gist of their relationship — so there’s already that build-up by the time you get to this book.
This is a first love/ second chance romance and I couldn’t get enough of it! I was hooked and 100% invested in seeing their story play out. All throughout I was rooting for Slater to get his happily ever after, and for Ellie to be able to give it to him. Edge of your seat love story. So much mystery surrounding Ellie since she finally surfaced after being missing for 10 years. But seeing these two slowly get to know each other again is what I loved the most about this book. Add in the introduction of Slater’s brothers, and seeing the family dynamics (other than of the MC) gave this book an entirely different aura from the rest.
I was not expecting to love this book the most. I had my fave couples in Amalie and Malakai, and Charlie and Dakoda, but Ellie and Slater’s was something extra special. I actually think this has been added to my list of all time fave first love/ second chance romance books!
FYI: The book is not only an introduction Slater’s family, but an introduction to a whole new series centering around these hot ass men! You can guess I’ll be reading Rumblin’ Knights series next from Bella Jewel! 🙌
I’ve been a fan of Bella Jewel since I first discovered her Sinners MC series a couple years ago and loved it! Since then I’ve been going through her backlist, and finally got to the Iron Fury MC. It’s a not as gripping or as well-written as her other MC series’ but it still kept me entertained enough to keep reading all the way through until the sixth book. Each of the story lines are pretty similar, and the situations become repetitive but I was invested more so in the couples. The process of these characters getting together was what had me hooked. Some couples had the witty banter, whilst some had the whole opposites attract shtick that I love just as much.
All the books are told in first person/ dual points of view. With each story going back and forth from past to present time.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this series first from all of Bella Jewel’s books, but if you’ve read (and enjoyed) her other ones and like me, wanted to go through her backlist, then this is not one to skip out of. Just don’t take all the guys’ attitudes and actions too seriously. It’s simply a bit of MC fun! 😊
But I have to state that whilst each book are romances, they do all contain some form of sensitive subject matter that may trigger some readers. There’s violence, sexual abuse, drug addiction, and kidnapping. Other than the romance, their stories are about willpower, strength, realizing that they are loved and supported, and overcoming the tragedies that they went through and finally finding closure.
This was a lengthy review, but hope you stuck it out 😅 But thanks for stopping by, catch you in my next one! Xo