May 8, 2018

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Passion Rising (Original Sin #4)


Passion Rising (Original Sin #4), by J.A. Huss and Johnathan McClain
Publish Date:
May 8, 2018
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-ARC, provided by the authors
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS


(Synopsis) Old demons are back.


Maddie’s dealing with the fallout of her choices. Safety and happiness are relative, elusive things she’s desperate to have. But they will forever remain out of reach until the demons of her past are laid to rest.


Tyler’s mistakes resurface to haunt him and he’s just beginning to understand that money can’t fix a broken relationship. He must open his heart and search for answers he’d rather not find.


She wants peace in a world made of chaos.


He wants to rid himself of a lifetime of guilt.


They’re soul mates, but that’s no guarantee.


They’ll need to rely on each other to find their happily ever after.


Because the fight never ends—it just gets easier with someone at your side.

Passion Rising punctuated the fact that, as a whole, the Original Sin series is really more of an experience than just a series of books for you to read. These four books are not just a story of a boy getting a second chance with a girl and, after some drama and some bad stuff happening, living happily ever after. It's not nearly as cut-and-dry and "tropey" as all that.

Once again, I have to be super cagey, because so much of what happens in Passion Rising is a culmination of things that have been happening and building throughout the first three books in this series. I CAN say that this final book is about self-reflection on both Tyler and Maddie's parts. After everything that has happened to them, they are both left saying, "Okay, so now what?" Them being a couple isn't in question - of COURSE they are a couple. But, the health of their coupledom depends largely on how they now see themselves.

If you'll recall, in my review for Sin With Me (Original Sin #1), I said, "Truthfully, these two are some of the saddest and most despondent people I've ever read about." And it was true. The circumstances of Maddie's and Tyler's lives up to this point had lead them to their own versions of hell on earth. They were treading water with no forward movement and no hope.

You would think that with all the crazy stuff that happened to them over the three books prior to Passion Rising, that we would now see a woman and a man broken beyond repair. But, instead, we see the opposite. The events leading up to book 4 forced them to work together, to wade through their past hurts, to face their current fears and to lean on each other.

I love the way these two love each other. They would give their lives for each other and are looking forward to what comes next in their lives. Their banter is adorable, their sex is hot and their love is lasting. It's everything you could want in a romance book. Plus, you get angels, devils (figurative, not literal), action, closure and a really good death scene.

I think JA Huss considers her first collaborative writing effort a success. I know I do. And I'm already looking ahead to what's next from my new favorite writing duo.

April 17, 2018

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Flesh Into Fire (Original Sin #3)


Flesh Into Fire (Original Sin #3), by J.A. Huss and Johnathan McClain
Publish Date:
April 17, 2018
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-ARC, provided by the authors
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS


(Synopsis) Payback is owed.


And Maddie Clayton is going to collect. This time Carlos and Logan have gone too far. People are dead, lives have been changed, and she’s had enough. Plus, she’s got the Devil on her side, so when an enemy turns into a friend with an idea of how to take Carlos down, she’s in.


Tyler Morgan has been fighting back his whole adult life. He’s ready for anything when it comes to payback. But endangering Maddie can’t be part of the deal. Unfortunately for him, once Maddie gets an idea in her head, there’s no stopping her.


Her debt has been paid in blood and she wants revenge.


His fight is still there, but now he’s got more at stake than himself.


The end is coming.


But even if they win against Carlos, they can still lose each other.

Only these two - only Maddie and Tyler - could find themselves up to their ears in this much crazy. 

Things have come to a head with Mexican drug lord Carlos and his menace of a nephew Logan, and Maddie is finished hiding away from the problem, working herself and her soul to the bone for what she knows is a futile effort. Her happiness is going to be hard fought and hard won, and it's going to happen with Tyler by her side. 

For the first time in the Original Sin series, the main thrust of the story is not Tyler and Maddie figuring out their relationship. They're there. Maddie has given up the fight and recognized what Tyler knew all along - that they were made to be together. And that no matter what, he's never leaving her again. 

Unfortunately, that makes Maddie's desire to go undercover in Carlos' compound not Tyler's favorite plan.

Both Tyler and Maddie are trying desperately to hold on to the slice of happiness that they've found in each other. Both of them were without that kind of happy for so very long. They were both at the bottom of the barrel, and now they've clawed to the top, found a partner, and are ready to take a break from the bad. 

It's weird to be on such equal ground with someone. Someone's... partner, I guess. But it's completely awesome at the same time.

But, their methods of finding that new life together are very different. While Tyler is the brawler who has never backed down from a fight, he is the one who would be perfectly content to fly to a deserted island somewhere and never come home. Maddie, on the other hand, wants to be able to look at herself in the mirror every day. She wants to actively fight for the life she wants, and if that means she might die in the process, well then, at least she went down fighting the good fight. 

Seeing this dynamic shift between them was really interesting, and I thought it showed an enormous amount of growth in their relationship. They haven't even been together for very long (although, they knew each other for years growing up), and while they spent the first few weeks fighting their attraction - at least Maddie did - now that they know in their souls that this is it, it's like everything has changed for them. And I love that. 

Some people search their whole life looking for that one place they belong. For that one person who gets them. Who brings them into their world, lets them fall easily into the pull of their gravity, and lets them just... be. Just exist. Quietly. Naturally. Freely. This is Tyler for me. The center of my universe. The man around whom I now orbit.

I mentioned craziness - there's plenty of that in Flesh on Fire too. Maddie's in a ton of danger nearly from the very beginning of the book as she enters Carlos' compound under false pretenses. There are fights and explosions and near misses and - once again - fires. And, although this book does come to more of a definite close than the first two books in this series, there's some pretty big loose ends left flapping around that I'm sure will lead us into the final book in the series. 

I can't wait to see what insane thing Maddie and Tyler will do to punctuate this fun, sexy and exciting series. 

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Fallen Ink (Montgomery Ink: Colorado Springs #1)


Fallen Ink (Montgomery Ink: Colorado Springs #1), by Carrie Ann Ryan
Publish Date:
April 17, 2018
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-ARC, provided by the author
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS


(Synopsis) The Montgomery Ink series continues with a spin-off in Colorado Springs, where a familiar Montgomery finds her place in a new tattoo shop, and in the arms of her best friend.


Adrienne Montgomery is finally living her dreams. She’s opened a tattoo shop with her brother, Shep, and two of her cousins from Denver and she’s ready to take the city by storm with her art—as long as she can handle the pressure. When her new neighbors decide her shop isn’t a great fit for the community, however, she’ll have to lean on the one person she didn’t expect to fall for along the way… her best friend.

Mace Knight takes pride in two things: his art and his daughter. He knows he’s taking a risk by starting over in a new shop with the Montgomerys, but the stakes are even higher when he finds himself wanting Adrienne more than he thought possible.

The two fall fast and hard but they know the rules; they can’t risk their friendship, no matter how hot it is between the sheets and how many people try to stand in their way.

The Montgomery cousins are open for business at Montgomery Ink Too, which is nothing but awesome for we readers, since that means that the well of stories based around this amazingly close-knit family hasn't even come close to running dry. 

The first book in the Montgomery Ink: Colorado Springs spin-off series, Fallen Ink, centers around Adrienne Montgomery, one of the two new owners of the satellite tattoo shop (she owns it with her older brother Shep). Adrienne and Shep only have a small staff right now which includes tattoo artists Ryan and Mace. Mace happens to be Adrienne's best friend, and after some opening day stress and a rainy night, things between these two escalate to seriously hot heights. 

It seemed as if Mace and Adrienne were poised to take that next step, even if both of them were in total denial about it. No one was surprised when it finally happened. It reminded me so much of Maya Montgomery and Jake Gallagher's relationship (Ink Enduring). It is a good thing they have that strong basis as friends, because stress is coming at them from all sides, and it makes starting a new relationship with your best friend all that more challenging. 

First, the new shop is targeted relentlessly by someone who doesn't appreciate people with tattoos in their otherwise idyllic white bread neighborhood. The vandals become increasingly violent and hateful, and it's difficult to find out who's behind it all. 

On top of that, Mace suddenly has to care for his daughter on a more permanent basis, so he has to balance work hours, quality time with his daughter and personal time with Adrienne - who also happens to technically be his boss. It's crazy and dangerous and the whole time I was reading I kept thinking that, if anyone can make it, a Montgomery can. 

The one hold-over from the original Montgomery Ink series is the presence and importance of family - both by blood and by heart. It's my favorite part of this series. I love how close the Montgomery siblings are and how they're always there to watch each other's backs and to meddle when necessary. 

Fallen Ink is a well-thought out spin-off of a beloved series and is rife with tons of plot bunnies just waiting to take off and make the Colorado Springs series just as amazing as the original.