Dayton by Stevie J. Cole & L.P. Lovell

booksofthemuggleborn_daytonseries
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••


• BOOK ONE | NO PRINCE •


BLURB

Zepp Hunt wasn’t the king of Dayton high school. He was the top of the food chain. And I was next in line to be dragged into the lion’s den. At least that’s what he thought…

Good girls wanted to tame him. Bad girls want to be tainted by him. Everyone bowed down to him. And me?

I hated Zeppelin Hunt with every fiber of my being.

Which was why I stayed away from the arrogant bad boy with tattoos and a rap sheet.

Until I couldn’t.

Until we traded favors, and I owed him three months of my life. I never thought I would end up in his bed, and when I did, I had to remind myself that he hated me as much as I hated him.

Until I didn’t.

Zepp Hunt was no prince, and I absolutely refused to be his damsel in distress…

MINI REVIEW

Genre/ Tropes: Hate-To-Love, Close Proximity, Instant Attraction, Secret Crush

TW: Attempted Sexual Assault, Drug Use, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Violence 

I went into this book with the assumption it was just another hate-to-love teen romance. Little did I know it was the start of a new obsession! 😍 Dayton is the type of harsh reality I only ever see in either films and tv, or on the news— rundown neighbourhoods, seedy environments, high crime rated streets, and those who unfortunately live in the thick of it.

Yes, it’s angsty and tragic, but rightfully so. Yet, I found it thoroughly engaging and at times unpredictable. This book sets up the world-building and overall gritty tone of the book, and the rest of the series for that matter. It’s contemporary with a handful of dark elements included. The cast of characters introduced immediately had me curious to know more. Zepp and Monroe couldn’t have been a more perfectly suited pairing. The zingy pull-and-push relationship brewing between them was gripping to say the least. The constant game-playing and sexual banter was highly entertaining, but there was also a nice counterbalance of sincerity, understanding, and protectiveness in between.

You see a gradual progression in their character growth as the two unexpectedly form an undeniable bond. I was intrigued by the premise, and I’m happy to say the storytelling was well-executed. I didn’t even mind the slow burn romance. My only hang-up is the ending was a little on the abrupt side and wasn’t as in-depth in details as the rest of the book. But it’s still a gripping read and an excellent start to the series.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

•••


• BOOK TWO | NO GOOD •


BLURB

He was the reprobate king of Dayton high. I was the bitter princess cast out of my kingdom. And we were at war.

It started off with a lie, and a one-night stand gone terribly wrong. Although I knew nothing good would come from my encounter with Bellamy West, the small town’s gorgeous bad boy, I didn’t expect him to throw jet fuel onto the already flaming wreckage of my life. Then step back with a sexy smirk on his face to watch me burn.
And burn I did…

He got me fired.
I got him arrested.
We were enemies until we weren’t. Until one touch went too far, and I found myself craving each dirty word. Every filthy promise.
Bellamy West was no good, and I wanted to be bad.

Screw falling for Prince Charming, I wrote my love story with the villain.
And for that, I paid..

MINI REVIEW

Genre/ Tropes: Opposite Sides Of The Tracks, One Night Stand, Close Proximity, Forbidden Romance

TW: Drug Use, Violence, Bullying

This next book was a little more on the light-hearted, playful side. There’s still some saddening developments but for the most part Bellamy and Drew have this highly amusing, super adorable relationship. It’s an opposite sides of the tracks love affair that had me giggling all throughout. 🤭 They’re another likable pair of characters, with Drew being a cute and confident heroine with bratty tendencies, and Bellamy surprisingly being one of the sweeter, more adult, more thoughtful heroes from the series, and it has a lot to do with his backstory.

The distinct differences between Bellamy and Drew doesn’t hold them back from pursuing one another—and when it looks like all things are stacked against them, they always manage to find a way around it. If charming, protective, loyal heroes tickle your fancy, I think you’ll find Bellamy quite the sweetheart.😉 He went from a secondary character to the main man of Dayton in this book and he filled the role with his own swoon-worthy finesse.

A great addition that essentially left me happy sighing, but it’s another story in the series with another abrupt ending— this one slightly more hasty than the last in resolving issues before it concluded. Although there was an epilogue, I was left wondering about certain matters. I wish this story was longer, but nevertheless still a worthwhile read!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

•••


• BOOK THREE | NO ROMEO •


BLURB

To everyone in Dayton, Hendrix Hunt was the tattooed bad boy, the bully, the player. Guys hated and feared him. Girls wanted to tame him. And I just wished I could forget him.

Two years ago, Hendrix was my world. Then the taint of Dayton ruined everything, breaking us both with secrets and lies. I destroyed him and now he wants to destroy me…

They say love is patient, that love is kind, but when love is broken it becomes filled with jealousy and revenge.

Hendrix Hunt was no Romeo. But unfortunately, just like Juliet, I was in love with my enemy.

MINI REVIEW

Genre/ Tropes: Friends-To-Lovers, Second Chance Romance, Love–Hate–Love, Close Proximity

TW: Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Drug Use, Abortion, Violence  

I’ve read countless romance books with “alpha-holes” and “man-whoring” leading men… but after having read these books, Hendrix takes top spot, hands down! Lol. In saying that, never in a million years could I have predicted (after all he has said and done in the past two books) that Hendrix and his story would end up becoming my favourite! 🤯😄

I was wholly captivated by Hendrix and Lola’s relationship and their entire backstory right from the opening scene. Hendrix has a distinct image he presents to everyone but this book gave amazing insight to another side of him that ultimately made me see him in a different (and absolutely lovable) light.

It’s well-paced storytelling, and jam-packed full of developments between Lola and Hendrix. Their history is well-developed alongside a deep sense of genuineness to their relationship that was effortlessly convincing. There’s air of tension and angst throughout that really drives home the heartbreak that both these leading characters are constantly experiencing. I love the amount of heart and emotion their story possessed— it’s one of the main reasons as to why I became so invested in seeing their HEA.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

•••

I’m not even the slightest bit embarrassed to admit I got hooked on this series relatively quickly. I wasn’t even halfway through No Prince before I knew I needed to grab the other books in the series. Each book’s storyline has some repetitive formulas but I didn’t mind it one bit. There’s still differences within each of the couples and their developments that made each story their own.

Although it’s set in a high school backdrop, these books are most certainly NA romance with a ton of raunchy sexual content for targeted audiences 18+ only. The world-building is one I haven’t come across in a lot of contemporary romance reads and immediately had me curious. The struggle is real with what these cast of characters go through and I was invested in each and every one of their lives from beginning to end.

I’ve been an avid fan of Lovell’s mafia romances and wanted to check out the rest of her backlist of books. Not only has the Dayton series introduced me to Lovell’s style of contemporary romance writing, but it also introduced new-to-me author Stevie J. Cole.

I’m late to the Dayton series party, and I’m not sure if No Romeo is officially the last book, but I do hope Wolf gets one of his very own. Although Hendrix is a loud, very memorable, one of kind character, Wolf was the very first Dayton “bad boy” introduced in No Prince (besides Zepp) that caught my eye.

Once I started this series I could not NOT binge-read them back to back. Safe to say they’ve become an addiction! 😁 They all have crude but laugh-out-loud humour, swoon-worthy romantic elements, and strong, genuine friendships that made them massive page-turners. There’s a real sense of survival, desperation, and a struggle with poverty with these characters that added another layer to each of their narratives. These books won’t be for everyone, but I highly recommend you give them a try. It’s an interconnected series but each is a standalone novel.

OVERALL RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

•••


Want More High School Angst?

🎒 Black Mountain Academy

Pretty When She Cries by A. Zavarelli
Mr. Heartbreaker by Jordan Marie
Hate Me by A. Jade

•••

🔥 Hellfire Club

IMG_20220628_174835_501_EDIT2

Wicked Idol by Becker Gray
Callous Prince by Becker Gray
Brutal Blueblood by Becker Gray
Ruined Sinner by Becker Gray
Sweet Devil by Becker Gray

•••

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

Blog_Sign_Off

A Vow Of Love & Vengeance by L.P. Lovell

⚠ This review contain minor teasers!

booksofthemuggleborn_AVOLAV
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

I killed my father and started a mafia war.

The marriage I’ve been running from may now be my only salvation. The problem is, I can no longer say I don’t want Giovanni Guerra. And wanting a man like him could prove far more dangerous than my traitorous family.

All is fair in love and war, and vengeance… vengeance will be mine.

•••

• MY REVIEW •


“He was danger and darkness and adrenaline in my veins.”


Enzo_HalfSmile

This book picks up right from the ending of A Vow of Lust & Fury… and it takes you straight into a gritty, highly emotional rollercoaster as Emilia and Gio try their damnedest to navigate through the deep end of mob life unscathed.

This second half of the duet is definitely more emotion and character-driven with Emilia in the forefront of a high-stake war that’s only getting more dicey by the day. It’s extra angsty, a lot more dramatic, and their relationship is all the more explosive because of it!

  • One part dangerous romance.
  • One part action and suspense.
  • One part strong familial dynamics.

These elements along with a solid storyline continuation made A Vow of Love & Vengeance an excellent conclusion to The Tainted Vows Duet. It’s well-paced with dual points of view that, in my opinion, elevated the storytelling as it switches back and forth from the protagonists’ perspective, really delving into their thoughts.

You’ll see pain and trauma that Emilia endures and how hauntingly genuine her struggles mirror real-life grief and hardships. It also demonstrates how a fierce and loving support system can make such a difference in one’s recovery and healing.

As the story progressed, Gio, a morally grey hero evolved into a more humanized character. Once a solely domineering and intimidating Made Man with a dark and powerful reputation has cracked open his character to vulnerability and love. As if he couldn’t be any more swoon-worthy! Sigh. 😍


“He was my enemy. My lover. My husband. The lines of love and lust and hate had never been so blurred.”


This is a standalone story but if you’ve read Lovell’s previous mafia romance books set in the same world, such as the Kiss of Death duet and/or the Touch of Death duet, then you’ll recognise the character crossovers included. These secondary characters were one of the highlights for me, not only providing dimension and further complexity to the narrative, but at times they provided much needed (and unsuspecting) light-hearted humour that breaks through the overall dark and gritty atmosphere.

Please note, this book does contain sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers such as, graphic violence, attempted kidnapping, and certain events resulting in depression and PTSD— along with self-harm and suicidal tendencies. It also includes strong sexual content (minor BDSM), and intended for readers 18+ only.

I’ve read a few of Lovell’s books in the past and have loved them oh-so deeply. Now, this duet is one of them, having been a gripping mafia romance story with eye-catching characters that I immediately got invested in. It’s also a nice addition to Lovell’s already vivid and exciting mafia world. I’ve always found her storytelling effortless to follow and this story was no different.

It’s an enemies-to-lovers, arranged marriage with an intricately sinful twist. The age-gap trope also plays quite a contrast in Emilia’s and Gio’s interactions and the roles they take on within their relationship. If you like strong, protective, and possessive heroes, Giovanni Guerra is your man. Emilia Donato is much younger and at times her youthfulness is evident, but she’s a damsel in distress who eventually grows into her own.

Overall, a satisfyingly devious yet smoking-hot love story! I found it to be hearty, soulful, and with the journey these characters go through, the ending left me happy sighing in pure contentment. It’s such a top-quality mafia romance that had all the elements I loved reading within this romance genre, and because of that, I would highly recommend it to fellow readers who enjoy reading dark mafia romance/ romantic suspense books. It’s more than a guilty pleasure read.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you L.P. Lovell and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💛

🔔 Interested in reading The Tainted Vows Duet? Grab the books here:

•••


💍 The Tainted Vows Duet!

booksofthemuggleborn_taintedvowsduet
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

Read my review for the first book!

📖 A Vow Of Lust & Fury by L.P. Lovell

•••

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

Blog_Sign_Off

A Vow Of Lust & Fury by L.P. Lovell

⚠ This review contain minor teasers!

booksofthemuggleborn_avowoflustandfury
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

My uncle is the boss of the Chicago Outfit, but there’s one man even he fears, Giovanni Guerra. And he just sold me to him —as his wife. For an alliance. For power.

The boss of the New York family is beautiful, and deadly, and he stokes a fire in me that might just destroy us both. Giovanni was sold a submissive little mafia princess, but he’s about to find out that I am no one’s pawn.

The only vow I make is one of lust and fury.

A Vow of Lust and Fury is part of the Underworld Kings Universe. A multi-author series of standalone books filled with mafia families waging war, danger and violence, arranged and forced marriages, angst, love, and everything in-between.

Light or dark, twisted or sweet, the Underworld Kings has something for every reader.

•••

• MY REVIEW •

TVD_Elena_ThumbsUp

Eeep. This is a perfect example as to why I am obsessed with dark mafia romance reads containing broody, excessively intimidating alpha heroes! AVOLAF had all the elements I love from this genre.

The premise was what initially had me wanting to read this story. From the first chapter, the protagonists had me intrigued. As it progressed, the storyline kept me engaged. There’s constant build-up and suspense, a torturous slow-burn between Gio and Emilia, and on top of that, their enemies are practically at their doorstep. Ugh. It’s one savagely edgy dark romance! 😍😍


“A better man would look away. A better man would let her go, but she’d made a fatal error; she’d drawn my attention.”


The Kiss of Death duet was the story that introduced me to Lovell, and the dark, all-out gritty mafia world she had created. This book not only lives up to the high standard that that duet had set, but it was a pleasant surprise to see the characters from said duet crossover into Gio’s and Emilia’s story. It’s honest-to-goodness like going back and visiting one of my favourite bookish worlds and seeing the gang together again. 🙌

If you haven’t read the Kiss Of Death duet, I think AVOLAF is a great introduction to their world, and the tight-knit circle of friends within. Not only will you be invested in Gio’s and Emilia’s developing relationship, but the supporting cast included will have you wanting to know their story too! The strong familial bonds amongst Gio and his friends are just as equal a highlight as the addictive push-and-pull romance.

Despite the slow burn, the storytelling is relatively fast-paced and action-packed. Lovell has created an atmosphere of uneasiness and danger surrounding Emilia and you can’t help but feel the dread right along with her. The desperation Emilia exudes has you sympathising her and the situation she’s inevitably been forced into by the lack of options she’s been presented with.

Please note: This book contains sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers, such as graphic violence, domestic abuse, and sexual assault. Explicit mature content intended for readers 18+ only.

I always yearn for a strong, gutsy heroine in my reads as I find the majority never live up to the “fierce, independent heroine” tag they’re supposedly described to be. But Lovell doesn’t disappoint in providing one in Emilia. In a male dominated world, she may not be as physically powerful in comparison, but she’s not one to back down and take brutality either. It’s what makes her a likable character that earns both awe and respect. Her vulnerability is what makes her relatable and genuine, and quite a contrast to the confident, and overprotective men in her life.

Gio is your typical anti-hero who does some questionable things but within reason. It’s hard to turn your back on him — he’s merciless, calculating, danger personified, yet within their society’s Underbelly there’s also an ulterior motive to his power and reputation. I love grey characters and he’s one of a few within this world that I was instantly hooked on. He’s arrogant with a little bit of a cheeky side to him that’ll have you suppressing a giggle or two, not wanting to admit that his charm has gotten to you. 🙈🤭

A mafia romance with an arranged marriage/ forced proximity trope. It’s dramatic, angsty, and keeps you on your toes the entire time. It’s very character-driven and emotion-based. Told from dual POVs, Emilia and Gio are both fighting the sizzling chemistry between them, and as their relationship builds, the intensity only deepens. For lack of a better word, it’s hot! 🔥🔥🔥

As the plot thickens, you see a gradual shift in their relationship. It might seem small in the grand scheme of things but the scenes where they get snippets of each other’s characters when their defences are down only added more dimension and complements the dark and gritty side of their story.


“He was the key to my shackles, and it occurred to me that while I’d been trying to escape him to find freedom, perhaps he was that freedom.”


True to its genre, it has equal parts mafia to romance elements. The antagonists here are legit villains. Lovell has created a diverse range of characters, all of which evoke strong emotions out of you. The writing is high quality, with such vivid world-building that I couldn’t get enough of.

Read the books from the Underworld Kings, they say.

They’re all standalone dark, mafia romance books, they say.

Um well… 🤔😅

At the rate I was devouring this book, I was completely blindsided by this, and I know plenty who considers it to be a deal breaker, especially if there’s no warning in advance, so I have to mention that this book is NOT a standalone. It ends on a massive cliffhanger that had me 😩😭😭 and needing the sequel baaaadly!

But despite the savage ending that leaves you desperately hanging, I still absolutely, without a doubt recommend this book. Lovell has quickly risen to auto-buy author status and AVOLAF has fast become one of my favourite dark romances. I will read this one over and over again. It’s a must read!   

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Thank you L.P. Lovell, the Underworld Kings team, and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!

🔔 Interested in reading A Vow of Lust & Fury? Grab your copy here: Universal Link

•••


👑💀 More reviews for the Underworld Kings!

UnderworldKings_SeriesBanner
📷 Underworld Kings Website

Razor’s Edge by Mila Crawford

Tears Of Salvation by Michelle Heard

Marriage & Malice by Trisha Wolfe

Kingdom Fall by A. Zavarelli


•••

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

Blog_Sign_Off

Kiss Of Death Duet by L.P. Lovell

booksofthemuggleborn_kissofdeath
Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

•••

• BLURB •

Una

I’m an assassin of the Bratva, raised and trained to be strong, to be a cold killer. But even I have a weakness, and Nero Verdi will regret using it against me. He’s my enemy, so why do I get such a thrill when his fingers wrap around my throat? Why am I addicted to the brutality of his touch?

Nero

They call her The Kiss of Death, and I have the one thing she wants above all else. She’s nothing more than a weapon, a ploy for power, and yet I find myself wanting to dance with death, to possess her. I crave the kiss of her blade just as much as her lips. And that might just get me killed.

A game of power. An obsession that would see the world burn at their feet. A bloodied king. A broken queen.

Kill me or kiss me?

•••

• MY REVIEW •


“Bacio della morte”

Kiss of death. It’s what the Italians call me.


AtomicBlonde_B&WGun

Fuck yes! 🙌🙌

L.P. Lovell as blown me away with the Kiss of Death duet! By far one of my favourite mafia romance stories to date! This is also my first book of Lovell’s and honestly, with how high a quality storytelling this one was… I will be sure to checkout out her backlist of books!

Kiss of Death was originally released as two separate books, but Lovell’s releasing this duet as one and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it (especially after reading the blurb). Did you guys read the blurb?! The heroine is a fucking Bratva Assassin!! Like c’mon, hot sauce!! 🔥

I’m always reading at least one mafia book a month and this one had all the makings of an addictive read that you would without a doubt come back to time and time again.

  • A strong plotline you can easily get invested in
  • Well-developed characters
  • Vital backstory
  • Detailed world-building
  • Build-up and suspense
  • Plot twists and constant unpredictability
  • Chemistry between the hero/ heroine
  • Secondary characters that elevate an already exceptional story

So! If any of what I listed above appeals to your dark, romantic heart, then I think you’ll be happy with Una and Nero’s story. But I should mention whilst I was provided an ARC, as I mentioned earlier that the Kiss of Death duet has already been released as two separate books. Book one is Kill Me, and book two is Kiss Me. For the first time ever, Lovell has combined the two books into one (pictured above is the brand, spanking cover for it)! Buuuuuut… If you can’t wait for this release, go grab those books now! 😉


I’m the Capo of New York.

A beautiful woman with a homicidal streak has always been my weakness.


TVD_EnzoSmile

Ok. Let’s get down and dirty and start off with Nero Verdi…

I tell ya, I’ve read countless stories of Made Men and they’ve all been described as powerful, intimidating, not-to-be-fucked-with mobsters… but I have to say Nero is one of a few that I actually think fitted the bill. He exudes confidence and strength and not once did I not believe that when he sets his mind to something that he wouldn’t succeed. Because he bloody well does! 🩸🩸

Nero may not necessarily have a moral compass, but what’s better than a twisted, bastard of a mobster who plays by his own rules to ensure he gets what and wants and rules all?

The only thing that confused me about Nero was his position in the Italian Mafia. On a couple of occasions he goes back and forth from being Capo and Underboss with him being Underboss for most of the story. Hmm. I’ve read quite a few mafia romances over the years, so correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Capo higher ranking than an Underboss? Because if that’s the case, why is Nero demoting himself to Underboss??? I just had to mention because it was niggling at me the entire time I was reading this book. 🤔

But I suppose either way, Nero rules and he has his soldiers to order around. Hehe.

Now. Did I mention how much I think the secondary characters in here not only made quite an impression on me, but they did a superb job in really elevating this world? 👏👏👏 There’s quite a span of secondary characters included and not once did it feel overwhelming or unnecessary seeing them. I’m not going to lie, some characters stood out more than others, and it wasn’t hard to get invested in them just as much as I did Nero and Una. Whether they are heroes, villains, or gray characters — you’ll get your fill here!


What will it be, Morte? Kill me or kiss me?


Charlize_Crossfire

I can’t rave about this duet more! One of the best mafia romances I’ve read. It’s absolutely filled with this dark, gripping world that’s so vivid and detailed, which effortlessly teleports you into each scene; each moment. The storytelling is slower-paced but in a good way where there’s a gradual build-up to each scene giving you a picture of the situation. Told from both Nero and Una’s points of view, it couldn’t have been more intense seeing things from both their perspectives (especially when concerns the other). Their lives are supposed to be worlds apart yet they have the same type of darkness surrounding that that ultimately keeps them connected to one another.

Their story gives an entirely new dimension to the enemies-to-lovers/ forbidden romance tropes. There’s this satisfying balance between Una and Nero where they’re both each others’ strength and weakness. Dark, mafia romances is kind of my bread and butter in the romance book department and what makes me love this one so much is the fact the Una stands out from the rest of the heroines you usually would encounter in these gritty stories. She literally kicks ass! She knows how to defend herself, she’s street smart, and she oozes (rightly so) confidence in her capabilities. What I adore the most is she’s not a damsel in distress. In a male dominated world, she’s favored and feared. It’s honestly refreshing to see a heroine who is empowering, and who is powered by her emotions despite being conditioned to lose all emotions and all things considered weaknesses such as love and family from her life.

Ugh. I strongly recommend, if you haven’t already, to grab this book and start reading! In my opinion, it has one of the best dark fictional worlds I’ve read, and one I will absolutely go back and visit!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Thank you L.P Lovell and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!

🔔 Interested in reading Kiss of Death? Grab your copy here: Amazon US |  Amazon UK |  Amazon CA |  Amazon AU


•••

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

Blog_Sign_Off