The Next to Die by Kevin O’Brien (Quick Review)

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Next to Die by Kevin O’Brien (Quick Review)The Next To Die by Kevin O'Brien
on August 2, 2016
Source: Publisher
three-stars

Everyone has something to hide . . . The virile, all-American husband. The brainy golden girl. The happily wed bi-coastal couple. Someone is watching . . . Someone who has uncovered their darkest secrets. Someone who is hell-bent on making them pay for their sins. No one suspects the truth . . . Now there is no escaping the shadowy jury that watches their every move. Infiltrates every part of their lives. Stalking. Judging. Condemning. Punishment will be swift, severe, and final.

What really grabbed my attention about The Next To Die was its synopsis. I am a serious sucker for mystery thriller stories in audio that leave me guessing until the very end, and that was the vibe that the synopsis gave me. The crazy thing is, the story delivered on the mystery part, but throughout its story I felt like I was listening to a Gregory Peck like mystery movie.

The Next to Die’s tone was not how I imagined it would be based off its synopsis. It seriously had the feel of an old mystery/thriller set in 1950s and while there’s nothing wrong with that I just had a hard time falling into the story. This, though, could’ve either fallen to the narration (even though I think Joe Barrett did a good job acting out the story), or the actual writing of the story (even though the writing style was very believable and engaging). I don’t know, it could very well have been a mix between the two.

What I found myself liking about The Next to Die as a whole was the different yet connected storylines for all the different characters. The mystery was really intriguing and the characters were so unique that you both don’t know who to root for and who not to get too attached to.

Hard Mated by Jennifer Ashley (Quick Review)

Hard Mated by Jennifer Ashley (Quick Review)Hard Mated by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #3.5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on August 20, 2012
Pages: 160 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
four-stars

A short novel of the Shifters Unbound series. Spike, a wildcat Shifter and the champion fighter of Shiftertown, is stunned when Myka, the best friend of a dying human woman, announces that Spike has fathered a cub. What's more, the mother is giving the boy to Spike to protect and raise.

Myka, who'd been raised by an abusive stepfather, is not sure that a wild fighter named Spike is the best man to bring up the cute little jaguar cub. She goes to Shiftertown to check out Spike, and finds that the man behind the name is a lonely Shifter who's lost most of his family and is a fierce caretaker to those he has left.

Spike is torn between the cub and his duties as tracker to the Shiftertown leader, and begs Myka, the only person who understands, to help him. He starts to like the sassy Myka, a horse trainer who's not afraid of working with animals, even if they're wildcats who turn into humans.

When Spike's job puts his cub and Myka in danger, Spike is forced to choose between those to whom he's pledged his loyalty and his need to protect the woman and cub he's come to love.

After I finished Tiger Magic by Jennifer Ashley, I knew that I needed Spike’s story ASAP. Thank goodness Ashley released Hard Mated in a box set with two of her other stories for 99c because that meant that I no longer had to wait a year and a day for it to become available at my library.

In reading about Spike first in Tiger Magic and again in Guardian’s Mate I knew that he was a badass, but it wasn’t until I read the opening scene in Hard Mated that I was able to glimpse the magnitude.

Hard Mated, again, showed a lot of the prejudices of the shifters in these Shiftertowns. Almost all throughout Hard Mated Spike and Liam really butted heads, but it was mostly because of Liam’s actions towards Spike. Spike, other than his actions when the old leader of the region was in power, he has never given Liam cause to distrust him or for him to only be seen as muscle without a brain, yet Liam treats him as such.

Myka was a very likable character, and I’m sure that if Hard Mated was longer her character would’ve blossomed more, along with Spike’s son, but beggars can’t be choosers lol. Even though it took Myka  a minute to warm up to Spike when she did eventually fall for him she fell hard, about as hard as Carly did for Tiger.

While Hard Mated wasn’t a perfect read it did give me everything I could’ve hoped for for Spike’s story. I wanted more (which will always be the case when it comes to characters like Spike and Tiger), but I was pleased with what I got.

About Jennifer Ashley

NY Times Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley writes historical and paranormal romance and historical mysteries, as Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James, and Ashley Gardner.

The Purest Hook by Scarlett Cole

The Purest Hook by Scarlett ColeThe Purest Hook by Scarlett Cole
Series: Second Circle Tattoos #3
Published by Swerve on May 3, 2016
Pages: 273 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
three-stars

Can a love built on secrets survive?

Rugged, hot, and rock hard, Dred Zander is exactly the type of man that normally sends Pixie running. Not dreaming about running her hands down his washboard abs...and lower. The lead singer and guitarist for the band Preload embodies trouble behind his quick smile and guarded eyes, and Pixie left trouble behind her years ago along with the name Sarah Jane Travers and the pathetic trailer her mom called home. With her abusive past in her past, she has a new life, a new family at Second Circle, and a dream of opening her own business. She needs capital and time. What she doesn't need is a tempting long-haired rocker or the paparazzi that follow him around.

But Dred has other ideas. Pixie's sweet hazel eyes, purple hair and kaleidoscopic tattoo of exotic flowers that swirl up her arm haunt his dreams, and he knows she wants him too. He just has to convince her. But as a juicy exposé threatens to expose their pasts, and a blackmailer terrorizes their present, Pixie and Dred have to decide what really matters and fight like hell to keep it.

The Purest Hook by Scarlett Cole started off awesome, for some reason that I cannot name, that opening scene had me riveted. But, let me backtrack a little bit, I picked up The Purest Hook for a number of reasons, but the two that were the most convincing were the price tag and the cover, everything else that I learned about its story was just icing on the cake. It was because of the way that The Purest Hook started off that the feeling of good things to come starting pinging all over the place, but that feeling quickly died when Pixie and Dred became a couple. Weird I know, but let me explain.

My least favorite category/theme in the sub-genre contemporary romance are the rock-n-roll/musician stories. I couldn’t tell you why this is, but it’s just something about musicians and how they’re portrayed in romance that just makes me look at them sideways, although I have encountered a few authors who have become the exception.

The Purest Hook doesn’t fall into the exceptions category, unfortunately. Dred came off more humble than a lot of rock stars I’ve read about but there was still something about him that made me hold off in giving my full acceptance of his character. I also appreciated Pixie’s laid back behavior when she was around Dred and that she didn’t let her attraction to him make her dim witted, but at the same time I felt like she was constantly punishing herself by not realizing that she was worthy of love whether it came form Dred or Cujo and Trent, although I understood the fear and guilt she carried.

After the promising beginning I really wished for a promising ending, but other than the twist at the end I was left feeling ‘meh’ about the entire story of The Purest Hook. As for the possibility of reading anymore Scarlett Cole stories, that would be a definite yes, but only for Trent and Cujo’s stories.

Dirty by Scott Hildreth (Quick Review)

Dirty by Scott Hildreth (Quick Review)Dirty by Scott Hildreth
Series: Biker MC Romance #3
Published by Self Published on January 16, 2017
Pages: 322 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars

LEX - The victim of a human trafficking ring, I was confined to a tiny bedroom with seven other women. The conditions were horrific. They’d taken my freedom, my clothes, and, eventually, what little hope I clung to. Then, one night, we heard gunshots. Prepared for the worst, I stood with my eyes fixed on the door, ready to meet my fate.

And he opened the door.

He saved me from the monsters. Then, he simply walked away.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have though that one day I would save him from his.

CHOLO – My focus was the Motorcycle Club, boxing, and work. I’d never been on a date. I guess it goes without saying that I’d never been in love, either. I had my share of sex, but my relationships always ended when the night was over. That all changed after I rescued her.

I wasn’t trying to be a hero, but she saw me as one. She said I saved her from the monsters.

Want to know the truth?

She saved me from mine.

On my gosh, my bleeding heart! Forget what the title says and whatever assumptions you might’ve come up with in your head about Dirty, trash them because you’ll be 100% wrong.

After reading Rough I with admit to prejudging Cholo, other than some of the things he said I didn’t know much about his character. In finishing Dirty I found that I love his character more than PeeBee’s, and I didn’t expect this in the slightest. He made me melt.

Cholo was so amazing as a hero that there was not one thing I would modify or wish differently upon his character. If ever there was a perfect man for Lex, Cholo embodied that.

Lex was a freaking survivor. All through Dirty I, along with Cholo, kept waiting for the moment when she would crack but it never came. Her inner strength and maturity ends up making her the easiest heroine you will ever root for, and again there’s nothing I would change about her character.

If you don’t read any other story by Scott Hildreth I would seriously recommend Dirty. I will caution you, though, to go in with an open mind and heart to gain the full experience. Just try it.

About Scott Hildreth

Born In San Diego California, Scott now calls Wichita, Kansas home. Residing in Kansas with his wife, Jessica, and six children, he somehow finds twelve hours a day to work on his writing. A hybrid author who has published more than two-dozen romance and erotica novels, his three book series through Harlequin is due to start release with the first book in summer 2016.
Scott has spent his entire life pushing boundaries, and his writing is no exception. Addicted to riding his Harley-Davidson, tattoos, and drinking coffee, he can generally be found in a tattoo shop, on his Harley, or in a local coffee house when not writing.
Loyal to the fans and faithful followers who allowed him to make writing a full-time career, Scott communicates with his followers on Facebook almost daily. He encourages his readers to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Rough by Scott Hildreth

Rough by Scott HildrethRough by Scott Hildreth
on December 11, 2016
Pages: 306 pages
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars

Tegan Raccini's heart has been hardened her parent's divorce, and by the recent loss of her bad boy biker lover to a life-long prison sentence. She isn't bitter; in fact, she's rather upbeat. But, she simply doesn't trust men.

When she causes an accident with a motorcycle on the freeway, she's immediately attracted to the handsome biker, but knows she can't stand another heart break. Even though she's unemployed, she agrees to pay for the damages, hoping to never see him again.

To earn the money for the repairs to his motorcycle, she accepts a job as the in-home caregiver for an elderly man who is confined to a wheelchair.

There's one problem when she shows up at his home.

A BIG problem.

He's the biker's father.

Since I’m still early into Scott Hildreth’s Selected Sinners series it took me a minute to remember the storyline for his Fifth F*ckers MC series. But let me be clear…I knew who PeeBee was, I just had to put that out there. In knowing this small (monumental) piece of information was really all I needed to know to dive into Rough blindly.

As I was getting into the story of Rough and trying to fall back into this world, things from Hard started to surface for me. Once I got past this point and kept reading I felt that I needed to brace myself, for what I couldn’t tell you. Despite this doom cloud that was over my head I found myself really enjoying Rough more and more with each page turn, I will admit to ignoring the warning from before because the feel and the things happening within the story just weren’t adding up.

When the heart breaking event occurred I wasn’t ready! I had been lulled into a false sense of security and I just wasn’t ready for all those emotions to hit me right then (dang your writing Hildreth!). Since I witnessed PeeBee’s transformation page by page I really didn’t know how he was going to react to this event, was he going to stay true to the path he was on or was he going to derail? At this moment anything was possible, the same could be said of Tegan who throughout the pages of Rough emerged from the shell she had placed around herself because of past experiences. Hildreth didn’t leave us wondering for long though, and the way both PeeBee and Tegan pulled together shows you that they are solid on all fronts.

Inner dialogue about the ending:

What?! That’s it?! It can’t just end like that, I want more!!!

Nope, nope, nope, no way will a Hildreth story have a ‘normal’ conclusion. I should’ve known after reading his MMA series and the two stories I’ve gone through in his Selected Sinners series that there’s nothing normal about Hildreth’s writing style, you just follow along and hang on for the ride.

The half star taken off was only because of PeeBee’s attitude and language in the beginning of Rough. I know I’ve read worse in Hard but it was just the manner in which he said all he said to Tegan that made me wish she had kneed him in his junk during that first meeting just as she did in the second one.

When all was said and done, though, I had a smile on my face a mile wide and was wiping tears of both sadness and contentment from my eyes. Rough was simply amazing.

About Scott Hildreth

Born In San Diego California, Scott now calls Wichita, Kansas home. Residing in Kansas with his wife, Jessica, and six children, he somehow finds twelve hours a day to work on his writing. A hybrid author who has published more than two-dozen romance and erotica novels, his three book series through Harlequin is due to start release with the first book in summer 2016.
Scott has spent his entire life pushing boundaries, and his writing is no exception. Addicted to riding his Harley-Davidson, tattoos, and drinking coffee, he can generally be found in a tattoo shop, on his Harley, or in a local coffee house when not writing.
Loyal to the fans and faithful followers who allowed him to make writing a full-time career, Scott communicates with his followers on Facebook almost daily. He encourages his readers to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.