Ashley Jade is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and top 20 bestselling Amazon author who craves tackling different genres and tropes within romance. Her first loves are New Adult Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Romantic Suspense, but she also writes everything in between including erotica and dark romance.
Her characters are flawed and complex, and chances are you will hate them before you fall head over heels in love with them.
She’s a die-hard lover of oxford commas, em-dashes, music, coffee, and anything thought-provoking…except for math.
Books make her heart beat faster and writing makes her soul come alive.
If she’s not paying off student loan debt, working, or writing a novel—you can usually find her listening to music, hanging out with her readers online, and pondering the meaning of life.
Check out her Amazon page and Facebook page for future novels.
She loves connecting with her readers—they make her world go ’round.
Guess who’s back with another favourite reads post!?
Yep. Last year I posted a round-up of my favourite reads, and this year I decided to do it again! Could it be the start of a new tradition… Who knows? 😊
Ha! I thought 2020 was a tough year to get through. Sheesh. If I knew how sucky 2021 ended up being, I wouldn’t welcomed it with open arms. Lol.
But like I said last year and every year I’ve been reading… it’s always been my form of sanctuary and escapism. I’m your stereotypical introvert who prefers books to company. Who prefers a cozy night in with a swoon-worthy book and comfort food over late-night partying with outfits that’s all-too binding, uncomfortable shoes, and the stench of sweat in the air. 😅
This year, I’ve compiled my top 12 favourite reads of the year. Ideally, I wanted one favourite book from every month but… some months had doubly amazing reads, whilst others had mediocre ones not completely worthy of this list.
Even though I had a few reading slumps along the way (nothing new), after compiling my top reads, I realized that the majority of the books were from new-to-me-authors, so despite a few hiccups along the road, this year introduced me to some incredible authors who’ve quickly become auto-buy authors!
So here we go!
• Contemporary Romance •
📖 Kiss Me First by Anna B. Doe
(Small Town, Coming of Age, Sweet New Adult Romance)
📖 Kiss To Remember by Anna B. Doe
(Second-Chance, Sports Romance, Love Triangle, New Adult Romance)
Annnnnd… there you have it! Yes, I snuck in a few books that technically did not make it to my top 12 list but came a very close (hence the mentions)!
Like last year, if you want to see all my reads for the year, check out my Monthly Wrap-Ups. I posted my December one earlier and I wanna say I have reviews up for all the books I read this year… but sadly there’s some still waiting to be written. Sigh. But links are up for those available.
I hope you all had a relaxing Christmas (if you celebrate), and now enjoying the holidays (hopefully you have holidays)! I sincerely wish everyone a safe yet happy New Year’s Eve/ Day! 🎉
Thank you for the support you’ve all given me for my reviews and my book blog in general! I’m in awe of the amazing people I’ve met through this bookish community and the copious amounts of books I’ve discovered over time. I’m truly thankful for the friendships I’ve made. As well as the opportunities I’m fortunate enough to be a part of.
I truly hope 2021 will be a year of nothing but happiness, love, good health, and good fortune for us all!
Happy reading, and as always catch you in my next one! Xo
He became the headstrong star quarterback in a town that idolized high school football titles.
Meanwhile, I was the coach’s dutiful perfectionist daughter, never daring to step out of line.
We should have stayed far away from each other but we didn’t.
And the volatile fallout was unbearable.
More than a decade has passed and now my father is dying.
He wants to make amends.
He wants to be forgiven for the role he played in Colt’s ruinous downfall and my painful heartbreak.
To give a dying man some peace, Colt and I agree to a plan.
While Colt is here in town, we pretend to date.
We pretend to like each other.
We pretend that the past is buried and forgotten.
But with one reckless, passionate act we carve a new future.
Leading to a fate we never suspected.
In the middle of a storm we never saw coming.
And an ending no one could have predicted…
• MY REVIEW •
“I never meant to fall in love with Colt Malene. I wasn’t supposed to. I’ve done it anyway. Again. I couldn’t help it, then or now.”
After reading Till It Hurts and loving the strong trio of characters, I knew I needed more. Till Next Time is utter perfection that completely transported me back to their small town of Arcana, and to the trio who’ve reconnected as adults.
This story centred around Colt Malene and his life story. I couldn’t put it down! Cora has executed in telling his story and getting me emotionally invested right from the first few pages. The writing is effortless and vivid. It’s exactly the type of drama-filled contemporary romance I love to read. Fleshed-out, heartbreaking, yet nevertheless, inspiring.
Memories of past events weaved in between the present day not only gave Colt’s and Susanna’s personal stories so much depth and dimension, but it provided insight to their perspective households, families, and their developing relationship through their POVs.
The characters are complex and their lives are more than your average teenage rebellion against their parents. You see how much certain events that took place in their past have impacted and influenced their adulthood in the present.
You can’t help but feel for Colt. He had very little positivity in his life growing up, and it’s saddening to see his parents failed him as his much needed support system.
Susanna has her own issues and it becomes evident as the story progresses how much her life hadn’t ended up as initially planned.
It’s well-paced storytelling and these protagonists’ lives are not only touching to learn about, but they deal with life-long insecurities, along with some very heavy, realistic, and quite relatable issues along the way. I love the realism that Cora has imbedded in their story (along with Till It Hurts), it’s why I easily felt an attachment to these characters, especially Colt. They’re a likable pair of people, genuine characters with strong polar-opposite personalities.
The world-building is extraordinary— from Arcana; the little town that’s gradually wearing out over time, to the different backdrops that holds so many memories for Colt and Susanna, to the diverse range of supporting characters who all played significant roles in shaping them into who they are now and bring about contrasting dynamics.
I loved their journey. The highs and lows. It had the right amount of angst, drama, and suspense to keep you reading with bated breath, but also had moments of lightheartedness to keep it from veering towards an overly depressing atmosphere. Colt and Susanna come full circle by the end of the book that leaves you not only happy sighing with complete contentment but a little bittersweet knowing that with Till It Hurts and now, Till Next Time, all three friends have had their story told and we bid adieu to their world.
This is only my second book of Cora Brent’s but after having back-to-back exceptionally quality storytelling, I’ll be looking into her backlist of books for sure. Till Next Time is a must read along with Till It Hurts. You can definitely read them as standalone books without missing a beat as events and relationships are well explained… but I do highly recommend reading the pair!
Colt’s and Susanna’s story was one big “Sliding Doors” moment full of missed chances and what-ifs? The road to their HEA wasn’t an easy feat, but it’s an epic second-chance romance that was a long time coming and well worth the wait!
Thank you Cora Brent and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! ❤
Marcella gave Maddox the impossible choice, and he chose her.
Still, she wonders if Maddox is ready to commit to a relationship, or if he’s scared of losing the uninhibited freedom his biker lifestyle offered him.
All his life Maddox knew who his enemies were, but suddenly he’s at a loss whom to trust. Will he ever find a place in Marcella’s life and family, or will old companions give him a new home and purpose?
Can enemies ever truly become lovers if the odds are against them?
• MY REVIEW •
“Marcella is the queen I didn’t know I needed in my life. There’s no one I’d like to be led around by the balls by.”
*singsong voice* Everybody! Take a shot every time Marcella is remotely mentioned as being a “Queen.” LOL 🙄🥃
Hmm. I have a lot of strong thoughts and emotions swirling in my head right now that I’m trying to unjumble and put into words. I’ve been reading Cora’s books consistently for a few years now and I found fairly early on that her writing is white-hot and all-consuming. With detailed world-building that practically transports you to her characters’ world, and the characters themselves stand-out effortlessly from a crowd. It’s a big reason as to why she’s easily an auto-buy author of mine.
So, I really had trouble digesting that this book was written by the one and only Cora Reilly. When you have a much-loved OG series, it can be difficult to top or re-create the same likability in a spin-off or next generation series. The first book in this two-part story had potential, unfortunately I just think this conclusion missed the mark. It didn’t have the same vibe as the previous books set in this world. Other than the appearances from OG characters like Luca, Matteo, and Growl, it almost didn’t feel like a mafia-based backdrop, let alone one that had MC elements. 😐
The story is character-driven and focuses solely on Maddox and Marcella trying to navigate through their emotions about their relationship whilst figuring out how the Famiglia will accept Maddox into their fold—and for that reason, I found the book relatively repetitive.
I know I’m going to be in the minority here, and that’s fine. Not everyone is going to like the same books, or even the same characters— and I think that’s ultimately the reasoning behind this book being a miss for me. The characters. As I mentioned in my review for Part One, I am not a Marcella fan. As a child when her personality started to peek through, I knew when she would be of age, that either her “princess” personality would only grow tenfold, or Cora would revamp her character and show plenty of growth and maturity.
I found the preconceived notions the characters had of her in this book spot-on. She’s a spoilt, bratty princess who keeps insisting she can “rule” because she’s a Vitiello. Nope. Sorry. It’s one thing to say it, but it’s another to follow through and for people to believe it.
I couldn’t connect with either Marcella or Maddox, and I had trouble getting invested in their story. Their romance doesn’t seem genuine, and it was painful to easily see Maddox proclaim his “love” only for it to not be openly reciprocated by Marcella. The majority of the time it felt like Maddox was putting all the effort into their drama-filled “relationship”. It was not an equal partnership. Not even close. I almost pitied Maddox for being the one who constantly sacrificed a piece of himself whilst all Marcella did was take, take, take.
“Marcella makes the rules and I’ll follow her, if necessary, to the gates of Hades.”
*singsong voice* Everybody! Take a shot every time Maddox is willing to do anything and everything for Marcella! 🤦♀️🥃🥃
Is Marcella Vitiello really worth all this trouble? Ehhhhh. Not really.
They’re a pair of characters who I felt would’ve been fine and may have even done well all on their own. Their coupling lacked believability, visible connection, or even intensity that the past couples from this world had displayed time and time again.
The pace of the storytelling lagged, and lacked any in-depth development. In all honesty, the only positive aspects I found in this book is the fact that we get to see OG characters; more specifically Growl. 😍😍 I always hoped for another book for him just because I wanted to see how his life had turned out after he moved to New York and started working for Luca. (I know Growl and Cara have a novella in the Bound by Blood Anthology, but it wasn’t enough for me lol). This book actually shows a good number of snippets into what he’s been up to after all these years. All the parts that included Growl were by far my favourite scenes! I actually loved the contrast he brings in. There’s a cool dynamic between Growl and the Vitiello brothers.
I’m not crossing this entire series off, because that seems premature. I knew going into the Sins of the Fathers series that Marcella’s story would’ve been the book I probably would have liked the least. So now that hers is officially done, I am eager to see the next next-gen character in line. After reading this book, I have my eyes set on Amo’s story. He’s the only Vitiello offspring who I saw real potential in bringing back some of the old Mafioso flare that Luca Vitiello first ignited in Bound by Honor. He already has the vibe going for him, so I have my fingers crossed that his story ends up being an epic one!
I strongly recommend reading Cora’s Born In Blood series first before diving into Maddox’s and Marcella’s story, especially if you’re new to her books. This is not her strongest work, and it doesn’t provide enough world-building on its own. Reading the original series that started it all will not only give you the backstory behind the Vitiello family, but it explains the history behind the war between the New York Famiglia and Maddox’s MC (motorcycle club).
This may not have been my cup of tea but I have no doubt other readers will like it. Especially if they’re already a fan of Marcella. It’s light on both the Mafia and MC elements. It has more of a NA contemporary atmosphere to it.
Thank you Cora Reilly and Emily Alice for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! ❤
He doesn’t deserve happiness, but he holds it in his hands. A woman he loves. A child. The past threatens to rip them away. He risks losing them forever.
Jane Mendoza is determined to protect the people she loves from every threat–the mysterious arsonist, the corrupt police force. The darkest danger comes from a place she never expects.
She risks more than her newfound family. She risks her life.
• MY REVIEW •
“A responsible boss doesn’t get involved with the nanny.”
Whilst the first two books in the trilogy had an air of suspense and secrecy, I was a little taken aback to find this third and final book was surrounded in such a depressing tone. It’s hard not to be affected by it because Jane, Beau, and the secondary characters all seemed to be in such gloomy moods for the majority of the book.
I found the pace of the storytelling a little slower in comparison to the first two from this trilogy. Although this part of the story is told from multiple POVs, so there’s lots of input and perspectives from different characters regarding the situation they found themselves in.
The first half of the overall story was very much inspired by the classic tale, Jane Eyre, but Warren has given the final leg of Jane’s and Beau’s story her own.
The angst between Jane and Beau is still very much present— if anything it’s amped up further now that their relationship has evolved from their initial guardian/nanny fling. I found their relationship to be drama-filled, tentative, and complex. If you’re looking for a swoon-worthy romance with tons off heat leaping off the pages, you won’t find it with Jane and Beau. There was initial sexual chemistry and zing in the first two books, but I found as the drama intensified, the sizzling romance became minimal. The push-and-pull between them is almost painstakingly angsty, but it can’t be denied that they do have a desperate need for one another.
Other than the relationship between the protagonists, there’s some interesting secondary plotlines occurring in the background that adds an extra element to the story.
As I mentioned earlier there’s a somberness to this book that ultimately became a big decisive factor in how I felt about it as a whole. You definitely have to be in a particular mindset to read a romance story that’s heavy on tragedy and heartbreak, and be prepared for it to seep into your own emotions. I easily got affected by Jane’s insecurities, Beau’s indecisiveness, and especially Noah’s battered heart. He surprisingly became the character in this book that I became the most emotionally invested in, just because his frustration and opinions when it came to Jane and her actions I felt were just. I most certainly felt bad for the guy.
There’s some character growth since Private Property, but I would’ve liked to have seen more in-depth development. The world-building was created and set from the first book but didn’t really expand any further from the small cast of characters and the town they reside in.
Overall, I thought it was decent conclusion. I admit it’s my least favourite book from the trilogy, but after having read and gotten sucked into Jane’s and Beau’s world, I was curious to see how it will all end. If you like Jane Eyre and retellings, I recommend you add this story to your TBR. It’s a contemporary take on a classic with an age-gap romance trope. With the differences in social standings, lifestyles, and familial backgrounds, Jane and Beau are the epitome of “opposite sides of the tracks” that unexpectedly collided together and sparked life-altering moments. It’s a dark billionaire romance; a Cinderella story of sorts, with a smidge of suspense and foreboding. These characters will have you second-guessing everything and keep you on your toes.
Thank you Skye Warren and Valentine PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💜
Rapture, desire, need – the yearning for our passions is the reason we strive, the reason we breathe. I’ve devoted my entire existence to the pursuit of my passion for dance. Ballet is my escape from the dark underworld I was born in to. As a Carpella and the daughter of a made man, I’ve accepted certain traditions. Yet, having just been promoted to principal within a prestigious dance company, I’m so close to being free…
Until a devil with blood on his hands and an Irish curse inked into his skin tears into my world, now passion holds a whole new, sinister meaning. With ruination in his steel-blue eyes and me in his crosshairs, Lucian Cross traps me in his gilded cage and uses me to deliver his retribution.
Forced to sign a marriage contract to unite two warring families, my father traded my life to save his own. Now I’m bound to Lucian, owned by a monster who swore an oath of pain and suffering to the Carpellas.
Lucian’s passion is revenge.
And because my family destroyed what he loved, he’s vowed to destroy what I love. Every night he forces me to dance until my breaking point. He wants to condition me to loathe the very thing that once gave me hope.
I can’t let him break me, but the closer we get to the wedding date, the more entangled I become in his dangerous, tempting world, and I’m losing myself in this man.
His vow is my pain.
My vow is not to fall for the enemy.
But how can I dance with the devil himself and not be singled by his fire?
• MY REVIEW •
I have never read a romance story with a slow-burn romance that tortured me as badly with how sluggish it developed than this book right here! My gosh, it was like a gradual teasing build-up that led to more teasing and a whole lot of sexual frustration and torture for both protagonists… and *cough cough* me. 🤦♀️😅 If you enjoy angsty, SLOOOOW slow-burn mafia romance reads, this story might just be for you!
Trisha Wolfe is a new-to-me author and this was my introduction to her writing. Marriage & Malice sets a gritty almost squirm-inducing atmosphere right from the opening scene. I was instantly immersed, needing to know what’s to become of Violet and Lucian in this all-out mafia war and enemies-to-lovers story.
Italian mafia vs the Irish syndicate, and caught in the crossfire is Violet who spent most of her life outside of it, training as a ballerina. The premise of the two worlds merging was what initially had me interested in reading this story and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of seeing a nice balance of both elements. There’s an obvious dynamic between Violet and Lucian the minute they meet and it only intensifies the longer they’re in forced proximity.
I did enjoy the build-up to their relationship and the suspense surrounding them. I only wish it didn’t take as long to admit their feelings for one another, and because of that I felt like by the time they were in it for more than the initial arranged marriage and Lucian’s vengeance, the emotions they were feeling wasn’t as in-depth or believable as I was hoping for.
For the most part it was steady-paced storytelling, only occasionally slowing down in certain parts. It’s told from dual POVs and gives you excellent insight into both Violet’s and Lucian’s pasts. Their romance is undoubtedly steamy and their growing attraction for one another is one of the most tantalizing things you can expect to see.
Overall, it had suspense, some unpredictability, and the secondary characters helped create layers in the world-building. It’s a pretty grim and dark atmosphere throughout and putting aside the romance aspect of the story, it has subject matters that may be triggering for some readers. It contains attempted sexual assault, graphic violence, abuse/ torture.
Whilst both protagonists have some character growth, it’s Lucian, in my opinion who had the most development. The further you delve into the story the more you see the subtle changes in not only his demeanor but his mentality towards Violet as he struggles with keeping his revenge. It may be a love story (albeit a dark one), but Lucian is the central character here and the story revolves around his agenda.
As much as I like this book, I do however feel an epilogue is very much needed, whether or not Trisha decides to revisit this world in the future. The ending just didn’t feel complete for a story that’s supposedly a standalone and I was left wanting more for their HEA. 🤔
Nevertheless, I think it’s a great addition to the Underworld Kings. It certainly brings in the darkness, the world of Made Men, along with complexity, villainous characters, and ulterior motives one can hope for in a romantic suspense read. The scenes with Violet dancing were beautiful, and such a contrast to the death and violence that consumed a large portion of the storyline. Lucian is Irish and a real alpha-hole… but for good reason. Violet is thrust back into the world she was born into and discovers she has more grit in her than anyone (including herself) could’ve ever imagined.
If you enjoy reading hate-to-love romances with a dark mafia backdrop to them, give this one a read.
Thank you Trisha Wolfe and the entire Underworld Kings team for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💜
I’m an outlaw. A man who takes what he wants without asking, and what I want is her. I’ve been bewitched by a vixen. The witch has me under her spell. She hexed me. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I’ll prove it. I’m not supposed to fear anything. I never have. Until her. They call me Sandman but Bianca is the one haunting my dreams.
Bewitching the Biker is book 7 of the Royal Bastards, Charleston WV, Chapter but can be read as a stand alone. Suggested reading order: The Biker’s Kiss Lady & The Biker Tempting The Biker Keeping The Biker The Biker’s Lucky Charm Taken By The Biker Bewitching The Biker
• MY REVIEW •
“Fuck me she’s a witchy dream come true. I’ve never wanted to fuck a wicked witch more in my life.”
Eeep! Complete and total fun halloween-y addition to Glenna’s already amazing RBMC series! What a novella! 😍🙌
In just a short amount of time this story had me both swooning and laughing my ass off at the banter between Binx (aka Bianca) and Sandman! It’s a great little romance read perfect for the season of pumpkins, sweater weather, and all things eerie! Glenna has managed to shine a spotlight on a character that, to be honest until now I hadn’t really paid much attention to in the series’ previous books. Sandman is gruff, sexy, and all-out alpha, yet seeing him constantly get knocked down by a five foot tall minx of a heroine was a hoot to see! *Ka-pow!* 👊😂
Both protagonists are such lovable characters but I have to admit I immediately gravitated towards Bianca because I found her so relatable. If like me, you’re a huge fan of the cult film (and novel) Practical Magic, I guarantee you will enjoy this story too! It might technically be an MC romance but there’s definitely magic and suspense in the air.
“You can fight fate, deary, but she always wins in the end.”
A novella that had great world-building especially from Bianca’s witchy world, and a nice little build-up to their romance. I was so immersed in the development of their relationship that I honestly was bummed to see this story abruptly conclude. I would’ve loved one more chapter… or at least another few pages. But I’m giddy with excitement that Glenna does have more plans for this couple because they’ve seriously become a hot ticket item! ❤
Here are the things I thoroughly loved about this book that you can look forward to:
Hate-to-Love (Banter! Banter! Banter!)
Tons of Brotherly Love
A sprinkle of Paranormal Activity
Laugh out loud one-liners! 😮🤭
Great in-between read that’ll lift up your spirits 👻 (no pun intended). It can be read as a standalone book but this series and all the characters from Glenna’s RBMC world are addictive as fudge, and it’ll be a shame if you don’t read them all.
Fast-paced storytelling but it’s hearty, multi-dimensional, and full of genuine characters. You’ll get a kick out of both Bianca’s and Sandman’s inner dialogues and opinions of one another as it’s told from dual points of views. The secondary characters from the comic reliefs to the adorable sidekicks added the extra oomph!
Glenna’s writing style has always been effortless to follow and this one is no different. She has a way of sucking you in from the opening scene. There’s a sense of being watched, secrecy, and mystery throughout that gives the entire setting a buzzing thrill. Ironically, for a Halloween-themed story it’s actually one of Glenna’s less darker storylines but don’t worry, you can still expect enough MC elements within. Halloween, an unexpected romantic connection, and a motorcycle club… nuff said!
Thank you Glenna Maynard for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 🧡
🔔 Interested in reading Bewitching the Biker? Grab your copy here: Universal Link
👑💀 More reviews for the RBMC Charleston, WV Chapter!
Mafia & Bratva Romance. Set in the same world with connecting characters but these books are all STANDALONES and do not have to be read in order. All the books are told from dual POVS.
• Book One | Merciless Saints •
Alliances are made. Loyalty is owned. Love is taken.
I’ll show everyone I’m a threat, and they will fear me.
For my family. I have to protect them.
The second I hear the name Damien Vetrov I know I’m in trouble.
He’s an arrogant Russian God.
Only, I have zero intention of bowing to him. Ever.
Attractive and lethal. He’s such an intoxicating mixture.
Every second we spend together, the pull between us becomes stronger, and my fear grows.
While my body wants him, my head knows better. He has the power to kill my family.
But when blood is shed, I’m forced to depend on Damien for my life.
Being at his mercy, whether he’ll kill me or protect me, is still up for debate.
Damien & Winter | An Irish and Russian marriage of convenience/ formed alliances romance.
Their story surprisingly have me bawling my eyes out! A heartbreaking storyline that just kept hitting the feels! I was emotionally drained after reading this book and a lot of it was due to the brutal tragedy that befalls Winter.
It’s action-packed and constantly moving forward. There’s just the right amount of build-up, suspense, and tons of shock value. I certainly wasn’t ready for how this story progressed, but despite the hardships these characters go through, I was instantly invested in not only Winter and Damien but all the secondary characters who were also introduced. The bond and brotherhood smacked me from the get-go. I was in awe of how little it took for me to believe the history, love, and loyalty these characters had with one another, and besides the romance aspect, was a big reason as to why I knew I would love the series! The family dynamics and strong ties will have you swooning just as much as the romance elements.
Winter and Damien had a sizzling push-and-pull chemistry. The writing felt effortless to follow and the emotions that both Winter and Damien displayed felt so genuine. It’s a relatively quick read that can be finished in one sitting. I enjoyed the pacing for the most part as the story came off hearty and full of dimension. I enjoyed the backstories, especially from Winter’s POV as it truly transports you to her life as if you’re experiencing her emotions in those events right along with her.
Right off the bat, the thought of an elite Academy who trains high-end assassins and has dealings with the underworld had me on the edge of my seat hooked! And seeing Winter and Damien start out as students of this Academy who eventually become two of the most dangerous, most powerful players in their Mafia world had me giddy with excitement at not just their budding romance, but the start of an intricate world-building. Although it’s a standalone story, it was amazing introduction to St. Monarch’s Academy and the entire cast of characters who’ll be reappearing in all the books to come.
• Book Two | Cruel Saints •
Alliances are made. Loyalty is owned. Love is taken.
Little did I know my love and freedom would be taken to form a new alliance.
Brutal, possessive, and dangerous, Lucian is feared by all. Including myself.
When his father is assassinated, Lucian takes his rightful place as head of the Cotroni family. They rule the Mafia with an iron fist, and he’s set his sights on my family.
Until now, we’ve been the only threat, but when a new one emerges, my father is forced to arrange a marriage between Lucian and myself.
He might be handsome but he’s not the kind of man who loves. He takes what he wants and right now, it’s my body.
I might belong to him in name, but the question remains – will our union be consummated in blood or love?
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.
Lucian & Elena | A Italian Mafia arranged marriage/ formed alliances romance story
It had my arms flailing and my eyes glued to the pages! I absolutely devoured this book! I loved the opposites attract trope between Lucian and Elena. They were the epitome of a knight in shining armour and the damsel in distress (in a dark Mafia setting). This was a refreshing dark mafia story as Lucian’s family was surprisingly the sweet, loving dynamic that’s not usually the norm in mafia romances. I’ve read countless books from this genre but I don’t think I’ve encountered one where the hero’s family was the one oozing love and happiness, and a genuine bond between father and son.
This story was one of the more grittier storylines and it includes sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, and graphic violence.
Although I don’t have triggers, I’m not going to lie, some of the scenes in this book was tough to get through. Michelle has written these stories with such vividness, that you’re already emotionally invested in these characters and their world right from the beginning, and seeing one suffering is gut-wrenching. Learning their backstories added more dimension and an understanding of these characters’ mindset in the present day.
Perfect balance of light-heartedness and darkness throughout. There’s evident character growth from both protagonists as the story progresses and seeing their bond grow from strength to strength makes this a touching and empowering romance story.
It’s intense with lots of action and suspense. There’s a nice gradual build-up in their romance that makes their relationship go from a marriage of convenience to genuine love and loyalty.
The secondary characters in this book will also steal your heart.
• Book Three | Ruthless Saints •
I move in the shadow of death. I’m the villain. The monster everyone fears.
I’ve been born into a life of depravity and ruthlessness. It’s kill or be killed.
The moment she smiles at me, my world changes.
I keep coming back. Watching her brings me stolen moments of peace.
Until I can’t stay away…
She doesn’t know who I am, that she’s flirting with death.
Slowly we fall deeper until she loves the lies I’ve told her.
The danger that follows me, creeps closer and the façade I’ve built comes crashing down around us.
And lovers turn to enemies.
But there’s no going back for me.
I want her. I will have her.
She doesn’t have a choice.
Carson & Hailey | An opposites attract, mafia/outsider romance story
OMG! Might just be my favourite story (after Alexei’s and Isabella’s)! I was just as immediately intrigued by Hailey as Carson was when she first walked into the room. The opposites attract in this particular story popped with bubbly, happy-go-lucky Hailey and enigmatic, broody, lurks-in-the-shadows Carson. The curiousity gets the better of Carson and seeing him struggle with wanting to know more about Hailey and steering clear of her was a gripping development to see play out throughout.
The inner dialogues by both these protagonists had me giggling at times and gave such comic relief and lightheartedness when you least expect it.
Similar to the first two books, it’s another action-packed, suspenseful quick read. By this third one you get the gist that each of the books within the series contains the build-up in the first half of the story with a somewhat swift conclusion by the end, which I would normally be disappointed with but since these books present character growth, steady romantic development, and an overall detailed storyline, it doesn’t feel like it’s ending abruptly.
Hailey and Carson, in my opinion had one of the more complex and heart-wrenching storylines from all all the couples, and despite the heartbreaking scenes that were tough to see play out, I could not put it down until I finished it. It’s an angsty, dramatic rollercoaster ride that had me ugly-crying for a good chunk of the book.
With Carson being Alexei’s younger brother, they certainly have the talent to turn heads. *waggles eyebrows*
I’m also loving the entire innocent-outsider-enters-the-mafia-world. It’s thought-provoking seeing their dark and gritty world from an outsider’s perspective, and once again I adore the fact that the hero is another protective, caring sweetheart who’s just the right amount of dominating alpha.
• Book Four | Tears Of Betrayal •
My father is the head of the Bratva, but being born out of wedlock, I’ve never been a part of that world.
Until a hit is taken out on me. I’m kidnapped in the dead of night and waking up, it’s to come face to face with Demitri Vetrov.
Dangerous and heartless, Demitri is the most feared man in the world. I’ve heard whispers of what he’s capable of.
I’m thrown into a nightmare where I don’t know who I can trust, and fear for my life is my only constant companion.
I’m forced to be at Demitri’s mercy, I’m just not sure he has any. It also doesn’t help that he’s disarmingly attractive.
Tall, dark, and deadly.
Knowing this, he uses it against me like a weapon, breaking down my walls faster than I can put them up.
There’s a war coming, and I’m right in the middle of it.
The only question is, will Demitri be the one to save me or kill me?
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.
Ooh okay… I feel like after reading Alexei’s story, there was a lot of anticipation in reading Demitri’s story— just for the fact that he was this quiet but deadly character who was strictly all business.
First thing that comes to mind after reading this book is how much I couldn’t get enough of their inner dialogue—especially Ariana’s as her mindset was so genuinely relatable… and so girly. Lol.
If you love sexual banter, you will enjoy the hell out of this one. The unsuspecting one-liners that come out of Demitri had me snort-laughing, and it’s these moments that break the tension and gloomy atmosphere that overall surrounds the situation that Ariana (and Demitri) find themselves in.
Another storyline with tear-jerking moments (honestly, I don’t think there was single book from this series where I didn’t cry at one point or another).
And after having reading all the books, I realized that each one had strong family presence. These may be a bunch of mafiosos and assassins but trust, loyalty, and family are paramount in their world.
Demitri and Ariana had somewhat of an insta-love romance yet slow-burn at the same time. Best way I can describe their romance is there’s a ton sexual build-up and teasing before their relationship develops deeper.
• Book Five | Tears Of Salvation •
Alexei & Isabella | An enemies-to-lovers, Cartel and Bratva romance story.
At the time I read this book it was also part of the Underworld Kings author-collaboration series. It was my introduction to Michelle Heard and the rest of The Saints. After having read Tears of Salvation I knew I had to go back and start from the beginning of the series. Best. Decision. Ever! ❤
I have myself another favourite romance series that I will surely read (oh who am I kidding, I already have) over and over again. I love how they are all relatively short reads so whenever I need an all-consuming, passionately hot romance read to perk my mood up or get me out of a reading slump, these will be my go-to books for sure!
One word to describe this series— the characters, the storylines, the romances, all the developments…
Mason Hill wants one thing: revenge. When Charlotte Van Kempt walks into his office, all innocence and desperation, he knows the perfect way to get it. He makes a dark bargain. She’ll give him her body to save her family. Little does she know he plans to ruin both.
• MY REVIEW •
After having recently read the prologue, I could not get started on Net Worth fast enough… and it soooo did not disappoint in regards to storyline, character chemistry, and overall flow.
This book gave me twisted Cinderella meets Party of Five meets Fifty Shades vibes. Unusual mix, I know. But once you read it, you’ll hopefully know what I mean. 😅
When Mason’s family was first introduced in the prologue, I didn’t have a strong connection to any of them, but Net Worth gave me a better understanding to their situation and seeing their family dynamic, my impression of them have now somewhat altered. Mason’s siblings all have distinct personalities and all seem to have their own coping mechanisms for dealing with the tragedy that’s surrounded their family— so I’m eager to see how each of their character develops as this story continues.
The introduction of Charlotte in The Proposition, she was instantly the type of heroine I could back due to her sweet disposition, yet determined attitude despite her current standing. Whilst I thought she did lose some of her spunkiness since the prologue, she’s still a likable character. I admit I didn’t agree with all of her decisions and actions throughout this book, but when it comes to Charlotte it’s not hard to look past it and carry-on reading. She’s the light-hearted element within (other than her awesome-sauce of a bestie Elise), that balanced out the sombre atmosphere that usually followed Mason around.
You’ll either love or loathe Mason Hill, or in my case, interchange from loving to loathing and back again all throughout. Seeing the different sides of him whether he’s with his family or with Charlotte was one of the big reasons I ended up emotionally invested.
What immediately struck me in this story was the genuine intrigue and attraction between Mason and Charlotte. There interactions were weirdly addictive to see play out. I honestly didn’t know what to expect each time they were together. I especially wasn’t expecting the slow burn romance despite the fact that almost every interaction had some sort of sexual encounter. I don’t know how Amelia has managed to put some very raunchy exchange, yet still leaves you hanging for more. But she’s done it! 🙈
It’s told from first person, dual points of view, well-paced storytelling, and can be read in one sitting. As the POVs interchange back and forth chapter by chapter, reading from each of their own perspectives, you can see the differences between them and their lives, especially when it came down to the dynamics of their households.
There are quite a few tropes in this story, so if you enjoy any or all of the following in your romance reads, I really recommend you read this one.
Enemies to Lovers
As a romance reader who usually passes up books that include BDSM (just my preference), I was second-guessing whether or not that this particular feature would dampen my reading experience as I hadn’t expected it. But I can honestly say that the minor (and some might say tame) BDSM included didn’t deter me from finishing, and most importantly, from enjoying the book overall.
Amelia Wilde has a unique way of writing her characters and their monologues. If you’ve read enough of her books, you can easily identify her work. If you enjoyed her writing style in the past, I have no doubt you’ll enjoy reading this one just as much. 😊 I’ve always found her writing easy to follow. The setting and world-building are already so vivid and very much present by the first chapter, along with the intrigue of getting to know more about the protagonists.
Net Worth is one seductive start to the Wealth Trilogy. The deal that ultimately started the steamy yet swoon-worthy relationship between Mason and Charlotte had me on the edge of my seat the entire time and desperately needing more of their story. With an air of danger, secrecy, and provocation, there’s tons of build-up and suspense to this billionaire romance. It won’t be for everyone but if you enjoy edgy contemporary romance reads with a side of smut, then give this one a try. It has good bones, with tons of potential. The characters are all promising and definitely add an extra oomph to this meaty, multi-faceted storyline.
Please note, as it is part of a trilogy and a continuous storyline, this book does end on a cliffhanger.
Thank you Amelia Wilde and Valentine PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! ❤
Retribution (verb): inflict hurt on someone for an injury or wrong
Vengeance. It runs through Mason Hill’s veins. Except the person who walks through his office door isn’t his enemy. It’s the man’s daughter.
Charlotte Van Kempt tempts the worst part of him. He wants to use her.
He forms a new plan for revenge…He’ll take out every past hurt and dark memory on her sweet body. And to save her family, she’ll let him.
From USA Today bestselling author Amelia Wilde comes a sensual new series. THE PROPOSITION is a 17,000-word prologue to the new Wealth trilogy.
• MY REVIEW •
The Proposition is the perfect flirty teaser to get you pumped for Amelia Wilde’s upcoming book; Net Worth (the first in the Wealth Trilogy)! 😍
You would’ve been familiar with Mason Hill if you’ve read the Devil Trilogy. This billionaire, anti-hero has been gunning for Charlotte’s father ever since he ruined Mason’s family. But when he ends up taking a meeting with Charlotte instead of his enemy, he revises his plans to mete out his revenge through her instead.
This introduction gave me enough of an impression of Charlotte to see she’s a likable heroine, as well as a little more perspective on Mason, and the situation that prompts Charlotte to ultimately make a deal with him and kick-off the main storyline for the first book. It’s short but packs a lot of punch and intrigue to this billionaire, enemies-to-lovers romance. It’s contemporary but has a layer of dark romance surrounding the entirety of their story — like you know Mason will ensure it’ll be just a little but twisted. 😉
I was curious about Mason when he was first introduced in the Devil Trilogy, but for some reason I can’t quite pinpoint at the moment, seeing more of his character in this novella altered my impression of him. It’s neither good nor bad, just different. So, I’m eager to see more character growth in Net Worth.
I want to say that the introduction of his family in this novella amped up my overall interest of Mason’s world but I couldn’t connect with his family or their unusual dynamic. Other than Mason, there wasn’t anyone in particular from his family that stood out to me that I was easily willing to get invested in. But I guess time will tell if that changes.
I can however say, the dynamics within Charlotte’s own family and seeing her household gradually crumble around her left me plenty curious to see further developments. Charlotte herself had me hooked from the very beginning with her down-to-earth, relatable personality and inner monologue that had me smiling throughout. She definitely contrasts Mason’s ruthless business mindset that I’m hoping her optimism, determination, and genuine persona carries throughout the rest of the main story. I’m looking forward to seeing how her character and personal story develops.
The little appearances from characters from Amelia’s other books was a bonus treat to discover in this novella, and their roles, although minor, still left a lasting impression. Amelia has incorporated them so well into the story that it felt seamless and believable to see the interconnection with these new characters.
It’s well-paced, told from dual POVs, and already has a relatively detailed world-building in place. The atmosphere is set, with mass amount of build-up, and intense heat leaping off the pages whenever Mason and Charlotte interacted— I can only imagine how it’ll escalate from here on out! 😬🙈
For romance readers, give it a try if you like any the following romance tropes: