Worth The Pain by J.L. Leslie

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

Allie…

I let him break me. Shatter my heart into a million pieces. And I took the coward’s way out. Only the drugs didn’t help. Didn’t make me forget him. I still remember every thing about him. The way his piercing blue eyes looked right through me. The way his perfect lips danced over my skin.

The way he rejected me so cruelly.

And now I can’t escape him. Couldn’t pretend he doesn’t exist even if I tried. Because every single day I wake up to a beautiful reminder of the devastating pain he caused.

Hunter…

My club thinks I’m losing my mind. My sister prays the old me will return. And my best friend…well…I’ve cut ties with him.

I’m on a path of self-destruction and I have no intention of changing direction. Not until I find out the truth. Not until I find the missing girls.

I thought she was one of them. Thought she’d been taken. But she was simply hiding away from me.

I don’t blame her. I was cruel to her. Caused her undeniable pain.

But she’s hiding more than herself. She’s hiding a kid. A kid who has piercing blue eyes exactly like mine.

And after everything I’ve put her through, I need to prove that I’m worth the pain.

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• MY REVIEW •

I know this is only the second book in Leslie’s RBMC series but it felt like I’d been waiting for Hunter’s story for—ever! He was the secondary character from Worth The Risk (book one) that I was most eager to read more about, and now that his story is here, I have to admit it’s not at all what I had expected. 🤔

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It’s a relatively quick story for a full-length novel and I was able to finish it in one sitting. The storytelling is fast-paced with constant developments coming one after the other. It’s emotion-based, told from dual points of view with both Hunter and Allie being of second mind for the majority of the story. With all the craziness and the push-and-pull within their complicated relationship, you’ll question whether or not they’re truly suited for one another.

The premise is what initially intrigued me but the flow felt a little choppy for my liking, and the development in their relationship didn’t feel as in-depth or come off as authentic as I was hoping to see. They had a one-night stand and prior to their reconnection had spent time apart so I was expecting plenty of character growth and maturity from both protagonists but it seemed like time hadn’t altered their mindset and they’re stuck in this repetitiveness with their feelings, never quite moving forward. I am relieved to say it eventually improves and they do finally get their act together but I’m contemplating if it happened just a smidge too late in the story.

Hunter is not at all how I remembered him from the first book. From that time to the present his character has clearly shifted because he’s become a hard man to love. The only redeemable quality I could see in him within this book is that he eventually saw the light and wanted something more out of life, and knowing Allie had to be a part of it started to make amends. (I would’ve loved to have seen some more groveling from him though).

Allie is a likable character but she doesn’t necessarily make the best choices. She’s the type of heroine that I think readers would either love or loath. Although some readers may find her and what she’s been through relatable. She’s indecisive and uncertain about a lot of things but she also knows what she wants for her future, and I think it’s easy to identify with that.

Similar to the first book I was left with some unanswered questions that I’m guessing will either be left unsettled or will hopefully be addressed later down the track in future books. There are quite a few different plots happening at once and if you haven’t read the first book, you may find it a little difficult to understand the history amongst these characters. Although you can technically read this one as a standalone, I highly recommend you read Worth The Risk first.

For the most part a grey atmosphere but with this being the second book in the series, the world-building is gradually evolving. I do like that there’s a nice amount of both romance and MC elements. It has plenty of suspense and unpredictability. The violence is detailed but not overly graphic, and I thought there was enough lightheartedness brought on by the MC and the friendships to keep things from getting too gritty.

The storyline touches on drug abuse/addiction that some readers may find triggering. Including adult themes such as violence and strong sexual content, be advised this story is intended for readers 18+ only.

Overall, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst I was already hooked from the opening scene and invested in seeing their story unfold, it did take a while to grow into liking Hunter’s and Allie’s relationship. But I can’t deny that it was the little moments they had throughout that ultimately kept me engaged. With the addition of the brothers from the MC and their comradery, I thought this was a pretty decent read.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

Thank you J.L. Leslie and the RBMC team for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💙

🔔 Interested in reading Worth The Pain? Grab your copy here: Universal Link

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👑💀 Read my review for Worth The Risk!

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Original post from my IG @booksoftheluggleborn

📒 Book One: Worth The Risk by J.L. Leslie


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

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Tears Of Salvation by Michelle Heard

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

ISABELLA

I was the party crasher.
He was the Devil.

Three months ago, I suffered a moment of insanity and had a one-night stand without even knowing who the man was.
It was hot and unforgettable.
I tried to forget him, but there are moments I swear I can still smell his aftershave.

Little did I know he’s the head of the Bratva.
Alexei Koslov.
My family’s worst enemy.

There’s a thin line between love and hate,
and I’m straddling it.

ALEXEI

There’s an even thinner line between the truth and a lie.

As the head of the Bratva and the best assassin,
I’m the devil everyone fears.

I get more than I bargained for when I come face to face with Isabella Terrero.
Instead of the Princess of Terror, she might just be the embodiment of the goddess of mischief and chaos.

For her, I broke all my rules.
For her, I burned down the world.

STANDALONE: A complete standalone novel in the Underworld Kings series.
WARNING: This book contains subject matter that may be sensitive for some readers. There is dark and triggering content between these pages. 18+ only. Please read responsibly.

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• MY REVIEW •

They say good things come to those who wait…

I’ve been wanting to read books by Michelle Heard for some time now but timing was always off. But you know what? Not only was Tears of Salvation THE BEST introduction to new-to-me author Michelle Heard but this may just be THE BEST introduction to the world of the St. Monarch’s Academy! 😍😍❤

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I love my dark mafia romances and this story had the perfect balance of action, suspense, and romance within such a well written and vivid storytelling. Michelle Heard, where have you been all my life?!

The cast of characters whether they played a major or minor role were unique and stood out in their own right that I had no issues differentiating them from one another. These characters are also one of the main reasons as to why I am eager to read the other books in the St. Monarch’s Academy (even though this one in particular is also part of the Underworld Kings author-collaboration series).

From the opening scene, Isabella’s and Alexei’s story had my full attention. The immediate sexual chemistry between them leaped of the pages setting the tone for the rest of the story. With all the intensity, it was easy to keep invested. The fast pacing, the constant build-up of suspense, and the dual points of view all added to making the entirety of this story exquisitely and deliciously addictive!

Whilst there’s some sensitive subject matter within, the overall atmosphere is not overly brutal or gritty. I thought it had the right amount of lightness and darkness throughout. There’s also some lighthearted banter amongst the brotherhood which was unexpectedly awe-inspiring and a display of friendships that seemed so genuine. Seeing the familial bonds and deep affection was just as gripping as the romantic aspects of the story.

An enemies-to-lovers with a twist that I did not see coming. I love that Michelle has written a story where anything and everything can happen that you feel like you have to constantly be on your toes so you don’t miss out on anything.

It’s a refreshing take on mafia romance. One feature being the fact that these characters despite their differences and alliances all trained in this exclusive, specialized school. I have never wanted to go to a fictional school more since I first read about Hogwarts in Harry Potter during my teen years. I can without a doubt say St. Monarch’s Academy is up there with the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If I was offered a place, I’d be there in a heartbeat! 😄

If you love any of the following, you have to add Tears of Salvation to your TBR, stat!

  • Dark Romance
  • Russian Mafia Romance
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Enemies-to-Lovers
  • Assassins
  • Comradery
  • Kickass Heroines
  • Overprotective Alphas

The world-building in this book is exceptional, clearly showing both Isabella’s and Alexei’s worlds that eventually fuse together as they discover that they may have more in common than they initially realized.

Isabella is such a likable character with the perfect amount of heart and badassery in one. I’ve read plenty of dark romance books where a strong, independent heroine is present, but Isabella is in a class of her own. There’s a believability in her determination and strength, in her actions, and even in her presence when she’s around people that makes her favourable, not just as a heroine but as character in general.

Alexei is a total swoon-worthy alpha of a hero, not only does he walk the walk but what I ended up loving about him most is his fierce loyalty and protectiveness over his loved ones. He’s a feared and ruthless leader but those who follow and serve him know his greatness and his heart.

Overall, I really could not fault this book. Yes, I would’ve preferred some parts of the story to have played out a little longer than they had, but those are just minor hang-ups for me. I loved reading every page of it and wish it hadn’t ended. There was an effortless flow from beginning to end, with plenty of dimension as the story develops. You’ll get to see gradual character growth from both Isabella and Alexei as they navigate through their intricate relationship. They are an exceptional match. Equal pairing that I couldn’t get enough of!

I was never bored. I didn’t once feel the need to skim through pages. I enjoyed seeing the multi-layered storylines that all weaved together— from the romance, to their own personal vendettas, to all the secondary characters and their stories that added to the entire world-building.

Please note it does contain matters that may be triggering for some readers such as, human trafficking, child abuse, kidnapping, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Take into consideration before starting. Whilst this may ultimately be a dark, mafia romance, it’s no fluff read. The backstory covers real dark societal issues. As I delved further into the story I connected more and more with the characters, sympathising with the realism in what they’ve experienced and witnessed in their lives.

A highly recommend book that can easily be read in one sitting. It’s one that had me thinking about long after I finished reading it. From this book alone, I can already tell that Michelle’s writing style is one I’ll constantly enjoy reading.

If mafia romances are your go-to romance books, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this one. It had all the elements of a hearty story— memorable characters, substantial character growth, a fleshed-out storyline, complex world-building, and enough scenes with shock value. Tears of Salvation had all that and then some! *singsong voice* Loveeeed it! Now one of my all time favourite mafia romances read to date!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Michelle Heard, the entire Underworld Kings team, and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 🧡

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💀 More on the Underworld Kings 👑

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Website: Underworld Kings


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

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