Savage Beginnings by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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— BLURB —

It started with a single look, my obsession, my desire and need to possess the sweet, and incredibly naive Elena Romero.

Like a thief I came in the dead of night and stole her away from her protected castle and placed her in a gilded cage made of gold.

The arrangement had been made. Her father knew I was coming, knew I had intended to make him pay.

His empire was crumbling. He had no money, nothing of value to me, nothing except… her.

Which is why he agreed.

His precious, virgin daughter in return for a debt paid.

He thought I would break her, kill her, he had no idea what I had really planned.

She would become my wife.
She would bear my children.
She would bend to my will.

And I would go to any lengths to keep her by my side.

*This is a dark mafia romance that contains mature themes, graphic violence, and sexual content.*

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— MY REVIEW —

So many emotions running through my mind thinking about what I had read. After having read the prequel Stolen Bride first, I was pumped to get onto the main book. I was lured into the mystery surrounding Julian and being in the same boat as Elena at not knowing what exactly was happening.

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This was one roller coaster of a read! *phew* 🎢

It started off with a bang! Julian walks in, then walks out not even 10 mins later with his new bride-to-be in tow.. Who I might add did not have a single clue of what was happening. Poor girl.

Immediately, I was eating it up! I love a good mafia romance filled with secret agendas and motives — and Julian had it in spades. Told from dual perspectives, but even that doesn’t really help you with what the secret is. Why Julian has truly taken Elena.

It’s a relatively nice pacing, at least for the first half of the book but to be honest, I thought it started to drag a little by the second half. At times it felt like the story wasn’t progressing any further and was stuck in a loop of constant mistrust and apprehension when it came to Elena and Julian’s relationship.

Once they start divulging their feelings and open up to one another, there was almost always something popping up that kind of makes them second-guess everything that’s happened. Hence the roller coaster. They have so much hurdles to jump over, but to be honest their issues could have very well been resolved a lot earlier it wasn’t for the uncertainty between them.

Elena made a sweet first impression as the young, innocent girl who cares deeply but after a while, it got a little boring. You figure, once it all sinks in that she’s being held captive by a dangerous man and being forced to marry that she would be a little more wary and alert. Unfortunately as the book furthered along, Elena stayed just as naive and gullible as ever. Didn’t even want to see what was right in front of her.

I wish she had more character development. I would’ve liked to have seen her mature a little more and pluck up some courage to stand up for herself once in a while.

Julian was a little more of a developed character. He went from someone who strictly had a goal (which is to mete out revenge), to someone who eventually grew some conscience over Elena’s feelings.

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Julian isn’t the biggest, baddest Mafioso I’ve read about. Maybe my preferences have gotten darker and darker over the years when it comes to mafia romance, but I felt this one was just too tamed. Yes, there’s violence. Yes, there’s definitely some war brewing between enemies. But there wasn’t enough build-up, and by the time I reached the end, it was all very anti-climactic.

There was a lot of loose ends with this book that bothered me, and I can’t help thinking if the authors had initially stuck with their original plan of having a duet instead of one full-length novel, the entire world-building as a whole and character development would’ve been more in depth.

I was curious about the secondary characters introduced in this book, specifically Markus and Lucca, the closest men working for Julian. But they were literally only present in the book at the beginning and at the end, which was a pity because I saw some real potential for further world-building by having more people in play within the story. Both Markus and Lucca clearly have their own stories, so I couldn’t help think are there plans for books of their own? Will it become a series or is Savage Beginnings still a standalone? There are also other characters mentioned that seem to already have backstories — Once again, are these characters from past books and are just making appearances? Questions. Questions. Questions.

But unfortunately, their history with Julian is only brushed upon, and I was left wondering what their deal was, and how they all came about to know one another. 🤔

The secondary characters are fairly minor in this story line. Strictly centering around Julian and Elena, and seeing their progression from captor/ captive to man and wife. Not going to lie, there’s instant chemistry and spark between the pair. It’s one of the main reasons I was drawn to the book. But after having some time to let it all sink in, I’m also questioning whether the relationship was truly love or a case of Stockholm Syndrome? Although there is some obvious attraction between them, by the end I still wasn’t completely sold on their loving relationship. Like I mentioned earlier, maybe if this was duet, I would’ve seen their relationship grow at a more realistic pace. There was very little development in getting to know each other on a deeper level. Julian’s bossiness and dominance was consistent from start to finish despite considering giving Elena more freedom, yet it never came about. Not really.

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I easily give the first half of the book a solid four stars. I’ve had to lower my overall rating a smidge in the end due to some repetitiveness in the story, the anti-climactic ending, and the stories involving Julian’s men that were left open. I still found the overall plot gripping. If you like semi-dark mafia romances, with hostage/ captive story lines, then this is an absolute must. Both Julian and Elena are remarkably decent people who happen to be living in a grisly world with its own set of rules. A good book for readers wanting to dip their toe in mafia romance but not quite ready for full-out grittiness and brutality that usually comes into play with this genre.

RATING: ♥♥♥¾

Thank you to J.L. Beck, C. Hallman and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛

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Read Stolen Bride the prequel to Savage Beginnings!

🎁 Grab your copy below!

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon CA  |  Amazon AU

•••

Read my review for Stolen Bride!

📔 Stolen Bride by J.L. Beck & C. Hallman



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Savage Beginnings by J.L. Beck and C. Hallman

Release Date: July 17, 2020

Add to your TBR: Goodreads

📒 Grab your copy NOW!

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Amazon CA  |  Amazon AU


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See the teasers for Savage Beginnings!

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Savage Beginnings Teaser

Savage Beginnings Teaser 2

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Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one. Xo

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Dirty Deals by Nicole James

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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— BLURB —

Rusty—
I’m the president of the Devil Kings Atlanta MC. With a fractious club to rebuild and a revolving door on my bedroom, the last thing I need is 5’4” of sex-on-a-stick trouble.
When a mysterious beauty shows up with her playmate’s body, dark soulful eyes and a bagful of cash, I’m willing to make an exception.
I don’t fully trust her, but she needs my help.

Ashlynn—
Things are finally good. I’m one of the best high-roller hostesses on the strip. But I’ve lived in Las Vegas two years and have yet to unpack my bags. Why? Because shit always goes sideways.
I should have known this time would be no different.
When I’m asked to hostess a private poker game at a mega exclusive hotel penthouse, I end up in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m the sole witness to a double murder and I’m suddenly on the run again, but this time I’m running for my life.
I get as far as Atlanta before my Porsche blows a tire.
That’s when he shows up. Dangerous. Drop-dead gorgeous. Scary badass biker. One I can’t take my eyes off. Maybe this town is as good as any to lay low.
When trouble tracks me down, I want to run again. But he has other plans.
He’ll protect me—for a price.
My willing body in his big bed—all night, every night.
That’s the dirty deal he offers.
Dare I accept?

Where the President of the Devil Kings is involved, there are no rules.
But I’ll stand toe-to-toe with him and make it out of this bargain with my heart intact. Because in the end, running is what I do best.

•••

— MY REVIEW —

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I can’t get enough of Nicole James’ MC romances! And this one was just as enjoyable, just as swoon-worthy, and just as thrilling to see unfold! 😍😍

My only downside to this book? It was too friggin’ short! Nowhere near as long or as organically developed as it’s predecessor, Dirty Deeds. Ugh. I have loved and been intrigued by Rusty since the good ol’ Evil Dead MC days where he was introduced in Shades’ book as Skylar’s ex-boyfriend.

After having read Dirty Deeds, not only did it cement a new love for these Devil Kings members (and spin-off series), but it reiterated how much I wanted Rusty’s story.

I want to say that Rusty has been consistent in his personality and traits since he was first introduced in Evil Dead, all the way up to this book — HIS book. He always stood out to me as a character, whom despite being in a big bad MC, had morals, gentlemanly manners, and just good all around decency. I am so glad, he hasn’t strayed away from that. Dirty Deals, just made me love him even more and knowing that he’ll finally have his own HEA!

Okay! — Let’s talk storylines before we move onto my thoughts on our heroine, Ashlynn (aka Hot Rod), shall we?

The blurb pretty much sums up the plot to a T. Ashlynn blew a tire out and the lucky girl that she is, happen to have had Rusty riding past, pulled over to help her out, and the rest is history! 😉 You might say, their attraction to one another was instant. So, you can imagine me already scooting over, hand under my chin, grin on my face, and my full undivided attention in place!

With Reno’s book; Dirty Deals, the majority of the story revolved around their MC. In this instance, Rusty’s story revolved around Ashlynn and ensuring her safety. It still has a nice MC backdrop with members dropping by now and then, and having some of the scenes play out in their clubhouse, but make no mistake, Ashlynn and Rusty’s growing relationship, and her troubles are very much in the forefront.

It’s a little different from Nicole James’ previous MC romances in the sense that it’s MC-lite and more romance. Rusty, isn’t as gritty or troubled as some of the other MC characters Nicole has written in the past. Yes, he’s alpha. But he’s also patient and willing to take things slowly when it comes to someone he truly cares about.

I would’ve loved it even more if the story was little longer, so that it didn’t feel like things were progressing too fast. Their relationship, although sweet and steaming hot… it also felt like they skipped a few milestones between getting to know each other to not being able to live without one another. It still works, but in my opinion it only does because it’s an MC romance. If you’ve read from this genre before then you know, the guys usually move a little faster in claiming who they want. If this was more of a contemporary romance, then I consider their relationship leaned more towards insta-love.

Don’t get me wrong, this was an enjoyable read that had me hooked from start to finish. I would definitely reread it again, and I’m not gonna lie the cover is now one of faves out all of James’ book covers! I just wanted MORE! ✊ More Rusty! ✊ More Rusty! ✊ More Rusty!


“I get we just met, and maybe you don’t trust me. I get that, babe. But if you need help, all you gotta do is ask. Understand?”


Ashlynn is an independent, well established career woman. It’s always refreshing to see a heroine in an MC romance to be so self-reliant. Yes, she’s a damsel in distress when it comes to the trouble she falls into, and yes, Rusty is more than willing to help her out. But I love that she’s financially set, and that she actually likes to work.

She’s got some personal issues and quirks, but she’s not naive, immature, or a pushover (which I always favor in my heroines!)

She knows she’s in a fucked up situation, but I respect her for wanting to make sure the people she cares about doesn’t get sucked into it with her. She thinks about consequences and actually uses her brain to piece things together.

  • Likable, smart heroine? ✔
  • Stunner of a anti-hero? ✔

This can be read as a standalone as each book centers around a different MC member. I still highly recommend you read Dirty Deeds so you get the entire backstory of the club, how Rusty became the President, and to get to know the relationships between the secondary characters (aka the rest of the MC members). If you really want to see what the Devils Kings MC were like in the past, how much they’ve evolved, and get an even bigger impression of Rusty — then read Shades from the Evil Dead MC series.

You don’t get a lot of world-building in this book. It’s more of a continuous from the first one, with very little expansion since — but as I said earlier, this one is less MC, more romance.

And whilst Rusty and Ashlynn’s relationship came together relatively quickly, there are some very memorable moments where they do try to get to know each other more. Their feelings for one another is actually one of the more solid things in this book.


“I just want you safe. I can be a dick, I know. Get used to it.”


A highlight is always the brotherhood and friendship that James’ always manages to include in her books. This was no different. There’s banter, but there’s also some deep camaraderie between the men. (Another reason why I think Nicole James’ is at the top of the game when it comes to MC romances).

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Somewhat short, but a worthwhile read. I’ve come to really love this spin-off series and look forward to the next installment. Effortless storytelling that’s full of life and love. Make sure to leave room in your book boyfriend list for Rusty’s name, because I guarantee after you read Dirty Deals, he’ll be all over it!

RATING: ♥♥♥♥/5

•••


Read my review for Dirty Deeds — first book in the Devil Kings MC!

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📕 Dirty Deeds by Nicole James



Read my review for the Evil Dead MC — the series that started it all!

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📚 Evil Dead MC Series by Nicole James


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Hope you guys are doing well! Happy reading, catch you in my next one. Xo

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Convict by A. Zavarelli

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•••

— BLURB —

From the shadows, I’ve tracked her every move.

I was just supposed to watch her. But now, I can’t stop.

She’s my obsession. My addiction. My poison.

Watching her isn’t enough.

The savage in me won’t be satisfied until I take her and make her mine.

One taste and I’m hooked. Too bad for her… I’m never letting her go.

**

Stalked. Hunted. Captured.

He took me from my life and locked me away in his compound.

The ex-con. The big bad biker. Inked, bearded, and inhumanely sized.
And yet, every time he looks at me, I melt.

This broken beast hides demons behind those brutal eyes. I hate him… and I crave him.

His touch, his words, his lips.

When my enemies come for me, he vows to protect me as long as I do what he says. I’ll be secure in this prison he created for me.

But who will protect me from him?

•••

— MY REVIEW —

BIRDIE AND ACE’S BOOK WAS EVERYTHING I WANTED AND HOPED FOR COME TRUE!!

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I don’t know if it’s because I was still reeling from reading Confess a couple days earlier resulting in an unexpected emotional breakdown.. but I started Convict with my eyes already burning and ready to shed more tears.

As much I loved reading Gypsy and Lucian’s story, I knew almost immediately that when Birdie and Ace were introduced in Confess and had their first encounter that getting my hands on their story would have me acting like a total savage!

Exhibit A:

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So, before I dive into my review I just want to first say a big thank you to Ashleigh Zavarelli and to the ladies @ happilyeverinstatours for the amazing opportunity at being one of the earlier readers to snag a copy of Convict! Xo

**This is a spoiler free review so please read on!**

Okay. Let’s start off with my thoughts on the characters. Starting with the man of the moment – Ace. I was already quite drawn to him when I found out he was a bikie part of an MC. I love my MC romances with alpha bikers and women who completely give them a run for their money. When I first read that he was all built, bearded, leathered-up and inked I was like “ding, ding, ding.. we have a winner, folks!” 😜

And Birdie.. oh bless her. When I think of Birdie the first thing that always pops into my head is that that girl needs a big ol’ bear hug, stat! Even with her tantrums and facades towards other people, deep down she’s caring, vulnerable, and girly.. but who’s in obvious need of a strong, steady support system.

Similar to Confess with secrets and mysteries surrounding the protagonists’ lives, Convict was just as much a storyline that needed to be unravelled due to Birdie and Ace having pasts that they both can’t seem to escape from.

What I enjoyed about Convict (and Confess alike) is that the story’s written so that the further you read on you start to get an idea of what their pasts were like, and what each lead character had gone through. It makes you have assumptions yet it keeps you intrigued to see how it all unfolds and whether or not you were right in thinking about certain things in a particular way. It’s beautifully executed, nicely paced, and in my opinion a little more gripping than Confess. Ashleigh does a brilliant job of not revealing too much away too early on.

As I said earlier Ace is a biker, and although he’s part of an MC that play somewhat of a role in this story, it’s not your conventional club where you see them fending for their turf against other clubs or anything of that sort. Although they’re not in the foreground whenever one of Ace’s brothers is around you do see that strong brotherhood and that MC life mentality within Ace. If you like reading romance books that have MCs in it like I do – then you may like this one a little more! 😉

Whilst it didn’t have the big shock factor for me like I had experienced with Confess… Birdie and Ace are such likeable characters (FYI I definitely ended up liking Birdie a lot more than Gypsy) with intriguing, complicated lives that I found that unexpected scenes or plot twists weren’t needed to keep me hooked. In fact I ended up finishing this one a lot faster lol. What can I say? I just couldn’t put it down!

Exhibit B:

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And although I had a little issue with the big age gap between Lucian and Gypsy in Confess, funnily enough the age difference didn’t bother me with Birdie and Ace. Maybe because their one wasn’t as bad, or maybe because Ace wasn’t as old as Lucian.. Who knows? But their relationship felt like it developed more organically and in the end.. just inevitable. They fit so well together even with all the road bumps they were forced to go through and the complexity of their situation.

They’ll make you swoon…

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They’ll make you hold your breath…

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They’ll make you gasp…

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They’ll make you melt…

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I’ve never read a dark romance as suspenseful and apprehensive as this series had been.. and I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do now whilst I wait for Ashleigh’s next book. Birdie and Ace are officially up there along with my other fave couples Mack and Lachlan (Crow), Sasha and Ronan (Reaper), and Scarlet and Rory (Saint) from Zavarelli’s other books.

Another irresistible book from A. Zavarelli that’s a surefire hit! And definitely NOT to be missed! Ashleigh has the Midas touch when it comes to creating characters who are raw, gritty and broken but who persevere nonetheless. Read it and you’ll know what I mean!

RATING: ♥♥♥♥½

Thank you to A. Zavarelli for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💜

•••


— Convict by A. Zavarelli —

Sin City Salvation (Book Two)

SaveTheDateRelease Date: July 22!

Birdie and Ace are first introduced in Confess and although it’s not necessary to read it prior to Convict – I still highly recommend that you do. It’ll provide you with a fuller understanding of the world they live in, the situations they’re at, and how they came to be together in Convict.

Please Note: This book is graphic and contains dark themes and touches on serious and very sensitive subjects such as: child abuse, rape, violence, traumas and death. It also contains steamy scenes. Readers of age only!


Read my review for the first book in the series!

📓 Confess by A. Zavarelli


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Thank you for stopping by and reading my review! Hope you enjoyed it. Catch you in my next one! Xo

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