The Cocky Cockers

There comes a time in our lives where we look for something new, something that bends the rules, something that is sure to ruffle some people’s rooster tails. Introducing The Cocky Cockers in all its cocky glory!

What do you get when you cross cocky heroes and heroines with Cocker Spaniels? Why, Cocky Cockers, of course.

All the stories in this anthology feature a Cocker Spaniel and a happily-ever-after (or happy-for-now) ending. How they get there? Well, that’s all the fun!

Warning: The stories in this anthology run the gamut from G to NC-17 ratings and include examples of nearly every subgenre–including contemporary, historical, paranormal, and steampunk–as well as m/f, m/m, and f/f pairings.

Proceeds from this anthology will first be used to defray any legal costs associated with its publication, and secondarily donated to the Romance Writers of America’s Benevolence Fund.

Amazon US Preorder link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DLHHBNC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1528472929&sr=8-2&keywords=%22The+Cocky+Cockers%22

Contributors:

Shiloh Walker https://www.shilohwalker.com/website/

Jackie Barbosa, Editor http://www.jackiebarbosa.com

Sela Carsen http://selacarsen.com/

Tom Eden http://www.tomeden.com/

Anne Gaston https://annegaston.com/

Missy Jane https://authormissyjane.wordpress.com/

Sadie Jay https://sadiejaywrites.wixsite.com/relationships

Kinsey Holly, Editor http://kinseyholley.com/

John Jacobson, Editor

Taryn Kincaid https://tarynkincaid.com/

Lucy Kinsley and Tara Song

Rachael Kerr

Tara Kennedy http://www.talkapedia.com

Mia Koutras http://www.facebook.com/mia.koutras

L.J. LaBarthe https://www.ljlabarthe.com/

Elise Logan https://twitter.com/Elise_Logan

Carrie Lomax https://carrielomax.com/

Mara Malins https://twitter.com/MaraMalins

Heather Massey http://heathermassey.com

Siobhan Muir https://www.siobhanmuir.com/

Marie Piper http://www.mariepiper.com/

Joanne Renaud http://joannerenaud.tumblr.com/

Dominique Rothford http://dominiquerothford.com/

Selene Grace Silver http://selenegracesilver.com/

Naomi Tajedler http://www.naomi-tajedler.com

Emily Veinglory https://veinglory.blogspot.com/

Jules Voigt https://philosophersden.wordpress.com/

Jody Wallace http://jodywallace.com/

Mary Winter https://marywinter.com/

Julia Wolf http://juliawolfwrites.com/

So pour yourself a glass of whiskey, give towards the good fight, and answer the siren song of the cock. After all, it’s cheaper than a cop of coffee, so what do you have to lose? No, really. It’s literally cheaper than a Grande Cafe Latte from Starbucks. Total steal.

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Queen’s Innocence

Today, we’re going to be exploring a book with a much darker theme than most we share. But often, the books with the harshest look at reality are the ones most important to read. After all, is there anything more frightening in the world than the things that we, as humans, do to one another?

I was recently approached by author D. Odell Benson concerning her novel Queen’s Innocence, a realistic look at the practice and aftermath of human trafficking in the life of one girl. While this book holds subject matter that may be difficult to read, perhaps after learning a bit about its author and how she created Aaliyah in Queen’s Innocence, you’ll add it to your reading list.

Aaliyah was born into a loving family with two parents, a full toy box, and the carefree innocence that children inherently have. But when her father crosses the line and assaults her, Aaliyah’s life if turned upside down and the once promising trajectory veers sharply off course.

She rapidly slips through the cracks, the police and foster care failing her at every turn. She passes through the hands of doctors and case workers, warehoused and ignored. When it does come time for freedom, she leaves the system only to be forced into a new type of system, one where women are a commodity to be bought, sold, and abused.

But as Aaliyah grows and is faced with the ability to retake her power, there are those who don’t wish to lose out on the money she can earn them. Can she break free of years of bondage, or will Aaliyah become yet another statistic?

I’m sorry to leave the description on such a cliffhanger, but Aaliyah’s journey is the book. Unless you can walk beside her and really take in all the trials of her teens and adult life, you can hardly appreciate the work Benson has created. Still, Aaliyah’s story isn’t just words on a page, it’s the end result of months of research and true stories that are reflected on the pages.

Human trafficking isn’t just something that exists on the fringes of society in seedy motels and back alleyways. It happens in the penthouses in New York City, the farmlands of Iowa, the split level home next door, and the streets of your own town. This includes my own area, no matter how quiet my middle class, suburban streets now are.

I was born in Atlantic City, which hasn’t had the best reputation. If you’re out on Pacific Avenue at night, you might see “the girls” strolling the sidewalk, trying to make eye contact with the bachelor parties as they walk to yet another strip club. You might see a man parked down one darkened street, watching “his girls” and ensuring they don’t leave the fold, collecting his cut after ever job. For people born in my area, that’s just part of casino life, but many of those women don’t choose to be there. Drug addiction, mental illness, abusive relationships, and even poverty brings the human traffickers. And once you’ve been taken into that life, it’s often difficult, if not dangerous, to leave.

Now that we’ve discussed the book and why I found this novel particularly engaging, let’s get to know D. Odell Benson and find out what brought her to write Queen’s Innocence.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your journey toward becoming a published author.

I am an introvert that is generally the life of the party/event. I believe that being nice to people will cost me nothing, so I make sure I offer a smile when I can. Considering life has not expiration date, I live with my heart on my sleeve, even towards strangers, loving unconditionally. That’s the most important thing about me, well that’s what I would like to believe.

My journey truly started in 2013. I was working full-time on my Master’s Degree coupled with full-time employment; but still felt that I could do more, which doesn’t happen often. See, I have ADD (attention deficit disorder) so focusing on one thing has always been a challenge for me; but, for some reason I was able to write in pure tunnel vision. The joy and adrenaline that came from the first five chapters gave me a lease on life that I have never felt before and one I refuse to live without. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve written thousands of short stories and poems throughout the years, but writing a novel is a total different beast and I love it.

2. What inspired you to write Queen’s Innocence?

The inspiration to write Queen’s Innocence came from my own daughter. A toddler doesn’t see or understand the dangers around them. Everything is fun, bright, and peaceful. These are innocent souls that we as adults are supposed to care for and keep safe; but how do you keep your child or the children around you safe when no one speaks of the dangers. I want people to speak on these dangers. I feel that Society as a whole has gotten into this “mind your business” phase and it’s more damaging to the younger children that didn’t ask to be here.

3. What was the inspiration behind the character of Aaliyah?

Aaliyah is you or me or even the girl next door. The things she did during the day, playing with dolls and sitting in front of the television waiting for her favorite show. This is typical child behavior. I thought about myself as a child, and incorporated my two oldest nieces and was able to see the innocence even at that age. I want people to see that Aaliyah can be any child, male or female. In a single parent home or a home with two parents. A happy thriving child can be a victim too. It’s not just “bad” or low poverty areas, Aaliyah is in every household, good, bad, or indifferent.

4. Your biography states that you were born in Philadelphia (this makes us almost neighbors!) did the city of your birth lend any inspiration to your work?

Yes, a lot of my work either starts here, ends up here, or crosses path with the City of Brotherly Love in some way. The inspiration for Queen’s Innocence and Philadelphia conjoins by the hopefulness of neighbors. Abuelo is anyone’s father or grandfather. I grew up on Bellevue Street in North Philadelphia where there was always a man somewhere telling you not to do something or will provide us with something we needed in order to keep our game going. Older men generally are essential to urban communities.

5. Aaliyah seems to “bounce back” from things fairly quickly for having been through so much, including the assault and drug addiction, so much so that her wit is sharper than one might expect for a young, abused teen. Why did you decide to make her such a resilient character?

Growing up in the City you see at a young age that things can go horribly wrong. You can either allow it to consume you or you can consume it and move forward. Not all “victims” remain victims, more times than not they become victorious; because in them, is something stronger, deeper, something that they were given at birth. The ability to recognize the World’s truths but the understanding that you and only you  can show someone else that it’s okay to hurt, to cry, to lash out, but time waits for no one; not even the victim. Aaliyah saw first hand what giving up looks like. Most women forced into human trafficking can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes the drugs forced on them is the one thing keeping them. Being resilient comes with seeing the “what if”. Aaliyah’s thought is that of a person that sees the bigger picture, help someone else to move on. See, she has her rock, she has the person that showed her even through her own doubt that he would be there, he would protect her. Not all victims will get that, Aaliyah knew this much because if it weren’t for Elijah, King (aka Lee) would have sold her back into what he rescued her from.

6. Much of the content of the book was fairly graphic. Did you find that difficult to write and research?

It was hard, it made me cry at points, completely breakdown in others, and wanted to throw the entire storyline out. That’s when it hit me, if I can have these feelings, if I can go through the thoughts and visuals of being sold off, raped, and drugged; why not show others that this is real. That this really happens to people and it’s not all flowers and unicorns. Life is hard, it’s breathtaking, unbearable, scary, the thought itself is scary and deep down I hurt. I hurt in a place that I want others to feel. I want others to feel as hopeless as I did when I was writing, rewriting, and reading. I want others to get into this fight and help because the hurt deep down is too much to bear for one person.

7. How much research did you do into the topics of human trafficking, foster care, mental health, childbirth, and drug addiction before beginning your project?

I started research on prostitution, that’s when my eyes were wide open for the first time. It took me a few months to do the research needed for human trafficking and about a month to speak to some people that are in the field of prostitution, and how they got to where they are today.

8. In your opinion, how can the public work to end human trafficking?

Speak up, stop minding your business, be observant of people and vehicles that are not normally there. Our biggest issue in society is that we moved away from the term, “it takes a village to raise a child.” If you’re not willing to be that voice, I understand. There’s a website www.wearethorn.org it’s ran by a group of individuals that are passionate about helping those abused. If fighting against human trafficking is too much, donate to the organization above. I am not affiliated with this organization in any way, but a portion of my earnings from Queen’s Innocence will be donated to help them in their quest to make the World a tad bit better.

9. How long did it take you to write Queen’s Innocence?

With research and mental breakdowns, it took about ten months. I actually started this book and a few others on Facebook. I thought it was something different and wanted to pull people together by offering parts of my books for free.

10. What do you want readers to take away from this book?

That human trafficking is real. It can take place in the hood, the suburbs, and even those places where millions are spent just on lawn care. There’s no monetary gauge on where and who can be taken. I don’t want to put fear into people and make them not want to do things, I just want people to be more mindful of their surroundings, mindful of the children that may yell out for help. Don’t mind your business, let your voice be heard, and possibly save a life.

11. Do you have any plans to continue Aaliyah’s story?

As of right now, I don’t plan to continue Aaliyah’s story. I want to leave her off as being an inspiration to others, a victorious survivor.

12. Readers might think that Aaliyah has allowed the negative parts of her life to take over the rest, for example when she recounted the rape and subsequent abuses at her wedding speech. What are your thoughts?

We grow by our mistakes, by our journey no matter how bumpy it is or terrifying the truth is, we grow. When there’s something to this magnitude, talking it out is the best way. Others wouldn’t be able to know they aren’t alone if Aaliyah doesn’t speak on it. Her pain can be someone else’s salvation.

13. What books, if any, do you have planned to tackle next?

I am looking to release Married Assassin on June 2nd during Bookcon. I will be at the event for a workshop and a few panels but I will not be on display this year.

Overall, I found this book to be engaging and raw. It was difficult to read at times, due to the harsh subject matter, but I find that that’s what makes it an important work. While parts were dramatized in a “Lifetime Movie” way that made them almost unbelievable, the themes were universally understandable across the board. I recommend this book to any reader over the age of 18 who wants to learn more about clawing your way back to the light.

To keep up to date with all D. Odell Benson’s work, order one of her books and learn more about her, please visit her at any of her platforms:

Irresistibly Yours

Just found a new series that I am in love with after the first installment. Sure, it’s a little unbelievable at times, but what good romance novel doesn’t stretch the truth? Introducing book one of the Oxford series, Irresistibly Yours by Lauren Lane.

Heat Level:❤️❤️❤️❤️

Genre:Contemporary Romance

Overall Rating:6/6 Glass Slippers

Cole Sharpe has been a freelance writer for Oxford Magazine for years, so when a head sports editor spot is up for grabs, he thinks he has the job in the bag. Not only does he want the position, he needs it, as he alone is supporting his brother. But one day, while working on a baseball piece, a girl catches his eye. She’s not the blonde bombshell he usually goes for, in fact, she’s the exact opposite. Between the hotdog in her hand, her interest in the game, and unveiled interest in who takes the field, Cole thinks he might be in love with the mystery woman in the stands.

Enter Penelope Pope. Penelope leaves her old life behind to start fresh in a new city, and hopefully with a new job. While she’s perfect on paper, she worries that the “good old boys club” might be hard to crack at Oxford Magazine. Cole has an in, is extremely likable, and even she has to admit it’s difficult to find fault in her competition.

Tom boy Penelope and cocky Cole have their work cut out for them as they find they have more in common than just a talent for sports writing. But as things heat up on the field for baseball season, things get even hotter between the two writers as they try to fight their growing feelings without fighting each other in the process.

Ugh, this book was adorable. Penelope was sweet and Cole was likable, but both were human. Their budding “relationship” seemed real enough to be believable and it was easy to commiserate with both Cole’s difficult family life and Penelope’s weakness for a certain ex-fling. I was rooting for them the whole way though, even when I thought Cole was being too harsh or Penelope too dramatic.

I highly recommend Irresistibly Yours to all lovers of real romance.

Secrets and Charades-An Audiobook

I love audiobooks and listen to them all the time. They’re great for when I’m in the car, cleaning, or laying out in the summer. So when a big time narrator named Meghan Kelly released another historical romance, I jumped at the chance to give it a listen. But before we get into Secrets and Charades, written by Cindy Ervin Huff, let’s get to know Meghan. Meghan is a natural performer. She made her rounds through the high school drama and choir scene and went to college to hone her craft. While it wasn’t what she expected, she couldn’t leave the entertainment world completely behind.

After working with a talent agency in New York City, she moved to the Detroit area, where she became a talent agent and worked her craft for six years. While it was rewarding, it was often difficult and she found her true passion in voiceovers, which later led her back onto the stage as a singer.

Now she is no stranger to the world of voiceovers and began her audiobook narration career five years ago. She looked into ACX, or Audiobook Creation Exchange, and booked her first gig, now boasting over two hundred audiobooks on her resume. Although that might sound like a piece of cake, think about your average audiobook. Think about the thirteen hours of flawless narration you’ve been enjoying, the character voices, the polished tone that brings a story to life…all that takes hours to create.

She begins by searching the ACX platform, looking for a good fit for her talents. Once she’s found one, she retires to the custom home studio her husband built for her work. Then begins the difficult part of her job, getting a perfect read. Each hour of narration takes about six hours of work. This includes the pre-reading, voice prep, recording, proofing, and mastering. Not only is she the voice of the audiobook, but she is the editor and main promoter as well.There is still joy in what she does, as she adores historical romance and fiction. A love passed on to her from her mother, it is what ultimately led her to Secrets and Charades, a sweet historical, western romance with more than one hidden agenda and man in disguise in its pages. Download Secrets and CharadesHEREShop her audiobooks HEREVisit her website HERE

Genre: Historical Christian Western Romance/Mystery

Heat Level:❤️

Story Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Jake is a cowboy in every sense of the word. He works hard on his piece of land, tending to the cattle and raising his wild niece Juliet. Between keeping his ranch hands in line, turning a profit on his herd, and the limited number of eligible women in his corner of the desert, he’s out of luck when it comes to love…until a letter answering his matrimonial ad changes everything. Evangeline is a no-nonsense doctor In Missouri that is far less interested in marriage than most women her age. She’s content to tend to her patients and recover from a small scandal that hit her medical practice. But her niece Maggie has other ideas. Maggie, pretending to be Evangeline, answered an ad for a wife in the matrimonial times and had been corresponding with a man named Jake for quite some time before coming clean to her aunt. Initially scandalized, Evangeline soon thinks that maybe a marriage of convenience and a fresh start is just what she needs to shake off her past. Besides, she believes the Lord works in mysterious ways and perhaps marrying Jake is all in the plan.

Her new home is desolate, warm, but far from the conveniences she has grown up with, and armed with her hefty dowry, she settles into life at the ranch. But when it comes to Jake, she’s not entirely ready to begin her widely duties and puts the fate of the marriage into God’s hands. But aside from the physical aspects, Evangeline is hiding many secrets from her new husband and isn’t sure if he will even want to keep her when she finally does come clean.

While they sort out their life together, cattle’s thieves roam the area, taking not only their livelihood, but sense of security. Bandits are not unheard of and two-faced ranch hands complicate matters when secrets become unraveled. As time goes on and her feelings for Jake deepen, Evangeline must both come clean about her past and keep her new home from falling into ruin. Okay, so I’ll start with the story first. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Because there was no physicality or overt romance scenes, the plot had to carry the book completely. In that, it did not disappoint. It had everything you would expect in a western, and more. There was the fallout from the civil war, cattle thieves, racist shop owners in a dusty town, men on the run, and the ramifications of women’s rights and breaking the glass ceiling of what is expected of a woman and a wife. As a historian, the story was vastly believable as well and I didn’t find any inaccuracies that might ruin it for another history buff.

The bulk of the book relied on Christian values, from the themes of forgiveness and grace to the cornerstones of Evangeline and Jake’s marriage. While I normally do not read Christian books, it’s nice to have a clean read that one can share with Grandma without feeling the need to skip Sunday dinner out of shame.

As for the narration, I was pleased as punch (whatever that means!) at how Meghan handled things. Her voice was clear and sharp and she gave life to each character as she spoke. You could always tell when Jake was calling out from the barn or Juliet was speaking about her beloved dog, even without using “he said/she said” after every sentence. You would never know she was a one woman show, recording and editing herself. Overall, I highly recommend Secrets and Charades in audiobook and highly highly recommend Meghan Kelly as a narrator. Remember to visit her website HERE and see what’s next on your Audible list.

Here to Stay

Smell that? It’s the scent of hay, horses, leather, the mark of a well-done western historical. For the first time in a while, we’re actually getting a historical to review! Breaking the contemporary streak is Kristine Raymond with Here to Stay, Hidden Springs Book 1.

Genre: Western Historical Romance

Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

When Sam Mackenzie takes a job putting up fences at Kate Ryan’s farm, it’s not just the pay and promise of a hot meal that makes him want to work her land, it’s her. Strong willed, determined, and not too hard on the eyes, she’s not afraid to work alongside the men and show them she’s not just some little lady. She’s unlike anyone he’s ever met and before long, he finds himself wanting to blur the line between business and pleasure.

Kate is a woman in a man’s world and she can certainly hold her own. But not everyone in town is convinced she’s as nice as she comes off. She has money, but not a husband, and everyone thinks she has more than a few secrets hidden up at her ranch. Little do they know, they’re right, and Sam’s about to find out if her hidden past is too much for him to carry…especially when it resurfaces in the worst way possible.

As you know, I’m a historian with a degree and everything. I struggle to enjoy a historical book when timelines don’t add up and there are things like lightbulbs decades before their invention. But I didn’t have that big of a problem with Raymond’s novel. Some parts were “modern” in the sense that their conversations contained phrases that weren’t part of the American dialogue before the 1950’s, and Kate’s complete independence was sometimes a little too much for that time period, but things like that are easy to overlook when you’re enjoying the book. It had the feel of the late 1800s, and to me, that’s more than enough.

I liked Kate and Sam together. Their romance was strained at times, but is there such a thing as a bump-free road to love? Some might say there is, but a drama free read is hardly interesting. You want them to talk things out, to come clean, to share the parts of themselves that no one else can touch. They’re flawed, but it makes them human, and the same can be said of the side characters that added levity at some points and drama in the next. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and recommend it to fans who like a little history and a lot of sex with their cowboys.

As a rule, I always warn when there is rape in a book, and this one does have a nonconsensual scene and is a plot point that is discussed multiple times. Still, justice is eventually served and the assailant does get what he deserves.

Bet Me

Jennifer Cruise is a big name in the romance world. It’s almost weird that I haven’t read anything by her before. So on a whim, I picked up Bet Me, a contemporary romance stand-alone that promised a good time.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level:❤️❤️❤️❤️

Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Min Dobbs is a woman who lives by the rules. Her job as an actuary means that she’s a pro at breaking down what can and will go wrong, something that seeps into her love life. She’s recently been dumped by David, a man who was perfect on paper, but behind the scenes, he was a little too interested in having her lose weight and getting her into bed than he was getting to know the real her. While a breakup is never fun, Min has the extra pain of being dateless to her perfect sister’s wedding, something her judgmental mother will never let her live down. She never expects to be picked up by the handsome Cal Morrisey one night at the local bar, especially as she thinks she’s a little too “fat” for a guy like him.

Cal has a reputation as a bad boy, a guy that leaves a girl when she decides she loves him. He’s not a mean person, just emotionally stunted, which is why he’s intrigued when a guy he knows named David makes him a bet. David gives Cal one month to get prim and proper Min into bed. The number on this bet? Ten thousand dollars. There’s a bit of a communication breakdown between the guys, but Cal finds that he’s drawn to the self-proclaimed chubby girl in the flashy shoes. He finds himself shedding his tough facade around her and figuring out for himself what in the world would really make him happy.

The pair bonds over chicken Marsala, he bugs her to not dress like she hates her body, and she makes him think about why he’s so against opening up. The push and pull sparks a friendship that bothers David and Cal’s most recent exgirlfriend, who in turn bond over splitting them up, dispose the fact that Min and Cal make it clear to everyone that their relationship is strictly platonic. As the end date of the bet draws near, the cast of characters is drawn into a tangle of secrets, sexual tension, lies, malice, and the sinful Krispy Kreme donuts that may throw an entire wedding off its tracks.

Overall, I liked the book. Min was cute and sassy and Cal was a meathead with a heart of gold. I thought his obsession with her shoes and toes was a little weird, but foot fetishes aren’t my thing, so I can’t exactly hold that against anyone. They had a nice back and forth that was pretty realistic. But the most realistic thing about this book was Min’s feelings about her body and what she should look like. We’re not given an exact number on how much she weighs, but her concern over fitting into her bridesmaid gown and never cooking with butter is relatable. There have been times in basically every woman’s life where she felt less than, and it was nice to see Min’s growth throughout the book.

Parts were funny, some were sad, others were straight out of everyone’s life story, down to the one friend who believes in fairy tails and the other who has no interest in being tied down. Sure, the whole book could have been sorted by a good chat between the MCs, but what’s the fun of a romance without a little drama?

The Enchantress

After my last dabble in fantasy, I needed a pallet cleanser with a new witch-like woman to bring some magic into my bookshelf. Enter The Enchantress by James Maxwell, The Evermen Saga Book 1.

Heat Level:❤️❤️

Genre: New Adult Fantasy/Adventure

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Ella and Miro are orphaned siblings, raised in a world governed by runes, a substance that has the power to both kill and create, an an emperor. While Ella goes to school to become an Enchantress and learn how to create the simplest of spells and cast the ones which might win the ever-present war, Miro trains to be a Blade Singer, the protectors of the realm. As they work on their craft, they begin to wonder the truth about their parents and where they came from.

Each country has a lexicon, a book of spells and runes that govern each country, which are almost constantly at war. Some live by fire and rock, others use theirs to create skyscrapers and walls. When the one in Ella’s is stolen, the newly made Enchantress needs to find the book and renew the magic within before the spells in her country fade and her people fall at the mercy of the emperor’s troops. Meanwhile, Miro roses through the ranks as his superiors either fall in battle or are taken over to the dark side.

They separately travel their world, gaining her skills, new allies, and learning more about the runes within the lexicons, and their own pasts…while trying to stay alive. This book was like Game of Thrones Jr. it had the same world building effect, but no dragons as of yet, and had a new kind of rune magic I honestly had never seen in a book before. The magic wasn’t all encompassing, it had time limits and blind spots that made it so no one was an all-powerful Enchanter or Enchantress. Their world was a delicate one that constantly needed to have its magic renewed and the ones on the edge of society that lived entirely without runes were seen as weak, although sometimes they were the strongest of all.

The only flaws I found with this book were that the twists were pretty predictable and both siblings were instant masters of their craft. Like a college student fresh outta class is going to be the president of Apple? Well, that’s what happened to Ella. And is a simple private in the Army gonna be made a General in a matter of months? Miro was. That’s the thing with some YA and NA books. The stars are usually the chosen one, the only person who can save the human race, the hero of the Hunger Games. Still, it was nice to see a male and female duo that weren’t romantically involved in saving the word and got matching word counts from both POVs.

Dark Witch

I’be only read a few Nora Roberts books in my life, but the title Dark Witch, book one in The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, caught my eye. I’m a sucker for witchcraft and immediately began reading.

Genre: Contemporary Adventure Romance

Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Overall Rating: 3/6 Glass Slippers

The book opens with the tale of Sorcha, the first dark witch. Her husband is off fighting while she cares for home and hearth in ancient Ireland. She protects her children and forest cabin from an evil sorcerer named Cabhan with the help of magic. He wants her power and as he gets closer to his goal, Sorcha makes the ultimate sacrifice and pours her magic into her three children, knowing that they and their descendants may have to defeat Cabhan once and for all.

Generations later, an Irish-American woman named Iona sells her worldly possessions and moves to Ireland to find herself. She seeks out her distant cousins, who welcome her with open arms. In the span of a few days she gets a home with them, a job at a horse stable that she loves, and the truth about who she is. Iona learns that she tales her grandmother would tell her of magic are true and her cousins help her to hone her powers as Cabhan grows stronger. He knows the three O’Dwyers are once again together and he wants to claim their magic for his own.

On top of learning witchcraft, Iona makes friends and a life for herself in Ireland. She also meets a man, Boyle, who is not only the rugged Irish cowboy she craves, but also her boss. While they fall into each others arms, dating a witch is hard work, even for a man who has been raised with the knowledge that magic is real.


Okay. So, I really wanted to love this book. I immediately loved Sorcha and wanted to know more about her. How did she get her powers? Why did she live in the woods while the people at the castle welcomed her magic? She was vibrant, strong, and I wanted to read her life’s story. But instead, I got Iona.

A self-proclaimed blabbermouth, Iona was a constant over sharer who would meet someone one minute and tell them her sexual history and daddy issues the next. While I assume readers are meant to find her dramatics and inability to listen to such direction as, “meditate and learn to control your powers so you can actually not die when you go exploring in the dangerous places we told you not to go to,” relatable, I found her annoying. At times, I wished Cabhan would just eat her, or whatever he wanted to do, or just scare her a bit more so she would slow her roll and learn how to not be an idiot.

Besides the fact that every other character but Iona was fun, lovable, vivacious, and actually someone I’d want to read about, I thought this book was not not as good as the early Nora Roberts I have read. For example, the plot holes surprised me. The O’Dwyers used their magic and brewed potions openly, but the government hadn’t stepped in to study them in a lab? The fact that no one seemed to care that magic was real made even Harry Potter seem more realistic. And where has Cabhan been all this time? Sitting at home watching reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, waiting for Iona instead of just picking the O’Dwyers off one by one years before. It made the crux of the story seem rushed and ignored.

At some points, I was even reminded of other stories she’s written, as if certain parts were recycled for Iona’s story. Overall, it isn’t something I’d read again and I’d only go on to book two since Iona is not the star. But I’m in no rush to continue the tale of the O’Dwyer cousins and can not recommend this book.

Hard Lesson

It’s been a minute since we last posted a book review, so I broke the silence with Hard Lesson by Savannah Skye. It had a colorful cover and the promise of some rockstar fun.

Heat Level:♥♥♥♥♥

Genre: Contemporary Rockstar Romance

Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Cherie is not only the social media person for the band, but the little sister of one of the member’s named Rory. The fact that she’s so close to the brother who raised her makes her hopeful entanglement with a certain person a little sketchy. But she’s been hung up on Dev for far too long and has come up with a plan to get him out of her system for good.

Rocker Dev has only recently noticed Cherie. But since she’s his best friend’s sister, he has to stay away. She’s worth more than the one night stands he’s famous for, but like he says, he isn’t a forever kind of guy. When Cherie, thinking she doesn’t have the edge to seduce him, asks him to give her lessons on landing a man, he’s surprised. But when someone else starts zoning in on Cherie, he might have to break his own rules.

Dev comes up with “lesson plans” to teach Cherie the art of kissing and seduction and they promise complete secrecy surrounding their little classes…except for her bff Gina who thinks that Dev is nothing but trouble for the virginal Cherie. There are spa days, pep talks, new clothes, and a spark between them that just can’t be denied.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a great take on the rocker romance where the girl isn’t just some lucky groupie, but someone with shared history and an actual initial interest in the man in question. The build up to the saucier scenes are great, and the pace doesn’t leave you bored. It’s a great one sit read where you’ll both admire Cherie for her bravery and curse her for playing with fire. But with a leading man like Dev, could you blame her?

The Secret Life of Lords

It’s been ages since I’ve reviewed a historical romance. For some reason, it’s more contemporary pieces that come through, but I’m glad I broke the slump with The Secret Life of Lords by Elf Ahearn.

Heat Level:♥♥♥

Genre: Historical Romance

Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Lady Claire is more than startled when Viscount Flavian reappears back into her life after two years of pained silence. He swears he sent word, but no letter ever came into her hands. She’s wary about welcoming him back into her life. When she visits at his home and things began to go horrifically wrong, she wonders if there’s more sinister things at play than just broken hearts and memories of the past.

Flavian doesn’t feel that he’s right for Claire, although he wants nothing more than to be the man by her side. Between his less than average mother, the secrets his estate holds, and his playful ward, he’s unsure if the bright ray of sunshine that is lady Claire is enough to brighten his halls. The fact is that his ward Arabella is too ill, even for Claire’s skills as a healer, and he can’t imagine drawing her into the figurative, and literal, mess. But sometimes it takes a strong woman to make a man admit that he needs more than a prayer to keep things going.

The imagery in this book made it so you could smell the dried lavender and feel the silk slip through your fingers. It’s clear that Ahearn did her research, as the terms used and scenes painted are true to the times. As a historian by degree, I appreciate that she took her due diligence while writing this book. But the facts don’t overpower the story where you’ll laugh at the side characters like Mrs. Gower, lust after Flavin, and root for Claire as she comes into her own as she navigates the cruel world around her. The Secret Life of Lords is a must-read for all historical romance fans. The only thing that got me was the fact that this is book two in the series. But no matter, reading out of line has never killed anyone!