~*ARC REVIEW ~ Sergio: A Dark Mafia Romance, by Natasha Knight

#dark #mafiaromance 

Book Blurb

Coming April 23rd

I’m the first-born son of the mafia king. The favorite. Destined to rule, I’m a dangerous man, a ruthless one. But in my world, you have to be.
Then Natalie stumbles into my life. Wrong place. Wrong time.
Twice, fate put her in my path.
Twice, fate placed the innocent lamb at the mercy of the monster.
I gave her a chance to walk away. Told her it would be better for her if she did.
But she didn’t listen.
And now it’s too late.
Because I’m not good. I never wanted to be. And I won’t let her go anymore. See, I’m not the hero. When I touch her, it’s with dirty hands.
I know my reckoning is coming though. I know I’ll burn for the things I’ve done, the sins I’ve committed. And I don’t deny hell is where I belong, but I want my time first. I want my time with her.
She’s mine.
Forever.

My Review ~ 5 stars

Heartbreakingly Beautiful!

Having read Natasha Knight’s Salvatore, which also tells the story of the Benedetti Brothers, I knew full well what to expect with this read, yet wondered if I was up to it. After some days of procrastination, I put on my big girl pants, girded my loins and dived in. Well let me tell you, the author has TOTALLY SLAIN me with Sergio and Natalie’s story, but I am so glad that I have read it. This dark and intense alpha deserved his story and his legacy.

In classic Natasha Knight style I was drawn into the read from the start. Once again the author effortlessly transported me to the turbulent and violent life of the mafia world in which Sergio, as his father’s heir, is very much a part. It is bloody and vicious and enemies lurk waiting for a chance to strike and exploit any weakness.

Natalie and Sergio are drawn together like the proverbial moth to the flame and their chemistry is palpable, reflected in every look, every touch and every word uttered between them. The author has a unique way of writing her alpha males and the dark, tortured character of Sergio is the perfect foil for Natalie’s inner strength and innocence. Destiny brought them together not once, but twice and their story is a beautiful one, but there are shadows which persist and grow alongside their love. The story is both heartbreaking and beyond beautiful and even as I sensed the ever present darkness draw in, I could not stop reading until the conclusion.

I am however flailing in its wake, overcome with emotion. I know I will have to pick myself up, but what to read next? Sergio is an intense read that will pull at the heartstrings and will remain with you.

Recommended for lovers of dark romance and tortured heroes, especially if you love mafia romances.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, an ARC of this book was give to me  for the purpose of  fair and honest review.

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*COVER REVEAL* – Sergio: A Dark Mafia Romance, by Natasha Knight

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Synopsis

Coming April 23rd

I’m the first-born son of the mafia king. The favorite. Destined to rule, I’m a dangerous man, a ruthless one. But in my world, you have to be.

Then Natalie stumbles into my life. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Twice, fate put her in my path.
Twice, fate placed the innocent lamb at the mercy of the monster.

I gave her a chance to walk away. Told her it would be better for her if she did.
But she didn’t listen.
And now it’s too late.
Because I’m not good. I never wanted to be. And I won’t let her go anymore. See, I’m not the hero. When I touch her, it’s with dirty hands.

I know my reckoning is coming though. I know I’ll burn for the things I’ve done, the sins I’ve committed. And I don’t deny hell is where I belong, but I want my time first. I want my time with her.

She’s mine.
Forever.
No matter what.

Author’s Note: Sergio is a steamy standalone romance set in the Benedetti Mafia world. Themes are dark.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that.

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*REVIEW* ~ Deadly Lies (DI Mariner #1), by Chris Collett

#crimedrama #policeprocedural

Blurb

Journalist Eddie Barham is found dead in his home. A syringe is in his arm and a note by his side reads, ‘No More.’

Open and shut case of suicide? Not for DI Mariner. Hours before, he saw Barham picking up a woman in a bar. And then Mariner discovers Barham’s younger brother, Jamie, hiding in a cupboard under the stairs.

Jamie is the only witness to his brother’s death, but his severe autism makes communication almost impossible. Mariner is determined to connect with Jamie and get to the truth. Is the journalist’s death related to his investigation of a local crime kingpin?

What other dark secrets does Jamie hold the key to and can Mariner keep his relationship professional with Barham’s attractive sister, Anna?

In a nail-biting conclusion, Mariner races against time to prevent more lives being lost.

Perfect for fans of Peter James, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson.

My Review

A Cracking Crime Drama – 5 stars

Deadly Lies by Chris Collett is a cracking character driven crime drama which had me guessing until the thrilling denouement. The book introduces the reader to DI Tom Mariner, the central character in the ensuing series, and can be read as a standalone. It is the first book I have read that is billed as a Police Procedural, and I was unsure as to what to expect. What I did find was that I was very quickly sucked into the suspenseful plot and the relationships between the chief protagonists.

Although the death of the journalist Eddie Barham in his home at first appears to be an open and shut case of suicide, DI Mariner is determined to leave no stone unturned. He focuses his investigation on not only the woman who he saw the deceased pick up at a Birmingham bar but also on attempting to communicate with Jamie Barham, Eddie’s severely autistic younger brother, who was found locked in a cupboard at the scene.

The latter part of his investigation brings him into contact with Anna, Jamie’s sister, and the very personal connection they forge adds further tension to the novel. Both have baggage from their past and I found their ‘will they won’t they’ relationship particularly well portrayed by the author.  DI Mariner’s relationships with his colleagues are depicted in a realistic way and I found him to be a fascinating albeit flawed character. The novel is full of suspense as the investigation leads Tom Mariner into the underbelly of the city of Birmingham and to adopt some unexpected and often unpalatable leads involving drugs, prostitution and criminal gangs. I enjoyed the numerous twists and turns as he strives to solve the case.

One of the big pluses in the book for me was the complexity and humanity of the main characters, who due to their various foibles came across as very believable. It also examines the challenges faced by those with autism and their families.

All in all an enthralling start to the series. The author has created a fascinating character in that of Tom Mariner. I am curious as to how his crime solving journey and his personal one progresses and will be reading other books in the series.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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http://www.chriscollettcrime.co.uk/

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*REVIEW* ~ Zenka, by Alison Brodie

#blackcomedy #drama #romance

Blurb

Devious, ruthless, and loyal.

Zenka is a capricious Hungarian with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will make Nicholas into the sort of son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked: How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son? And is Zenka really who she says she is?

My Review ~ 5 stars

Sheer brilliance – do yourself a HUGE favour and read this now! TOP READ

Zenka is a book like no other I have reviewed this year – a brilliant read and a guarenteed pick me up! One minute I was laughing out loud, the next I was cringing at the desperate straits and misunderstandings that befall the characters. Throughout it all Zenka, who acts as both the muse and the catalyst for the plot, entertains the reader with her wild and outlandish actions. The novel contains madcap and side-splitting antics galore, contrasting starkly with a host of gory and violent scenes.

The plot explores the very worst of the human condition – greed, deceit, violence and the abuse of trust, and also the very best – love , friendship , honour and loyalty. This dichotomy plays out in a deliciously devilish exposé that sweeps the reader and characters along into a vortex of black comedy and emotionally charged scenes. The novel delves into family, friendship ties and romance and  culminates in a heartfelt ending which expertly resolves the disparate plot strands.

I just loved the pairing of the mild mannered  and gentle nurse Nicholas and the fiery and unpredictable Zenka, the Hungarian pole dancer and friend of the gangster Jack. The couple are brought together, at Zenka’s insistence, when Jack, to whom she owes a huge debt, finds out that he has a son from a former lover. Zenka is determined to bring father and son together and to transform Nicholas into a man worthy of entering a life of crime.

The plot delves into what motivates us all and also poses the question of whether a leopard can change its spots – can the wimpy Nicholas become an alpha male worthy of his gangland dad and conversely can Jack renounce a life of crime for the son he never knew he had? If Zenka succeeds will she like the man Nicholas has become? Moreover how will Nicholas react when he finds out who is dad really is? And what will his response be when he learns of Zenka’s deceit when he has fallen in love with her? The result of all these shenanigans is life-changing for the main characters and those within their orbit. Indeed, The supporting cast, all of whom are beautifully portrayed, have their own trials and tribulations which are woven masterfully into the story.

Zenka, which would make an excellent film/TV drama, is a must read. It also has a seasonal flavour, making it a fantastic Christmas read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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Link to website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/#!the-double/c1253

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*REVIEW* – Hiding in Plain Sight, by Lucy Felthouse

#romance #espionage #romanticsuspense

Adult content

Book Blurb

Mallory Scott is an espionage operative, working for the British government. She’s travelled all over the world, often going undercover and infiltrating criminal organisations in order to extract the intelligence needed to dismantle their operations and bring the perpetrators to justice. Given her usual targets are terrorists, people-traffickers, drug-traffickers and arms dealers, her latest assignment should be relatively simple. A small group of Brits is raking in serious money in the diamond-scamming business—and although their MO is theft and forgery, rather than hurting people, they still need to be stopped. But up until now, they’ve proved elusive—no one can catch them in the act, or find a shred of evidence against them.

That’s where Mallory comes in. She follows the group to Amsterdam, planning to get her claws in to one of the gang. Luck is on her side, and within twenty-four hours she’s lunching with Baxter Collinson, the youngest—and most handsome—diamond thief. What she’s not expecting, however, is to get on with him quite so well. Attraction bubbles between them—and for once, on Mallory’s part, it isn’t an act. For the first time in her career, Mallory struggles with what she must do.

Can she ignore her heart for the sake of her career?

My Review – 5 stars

Fun and sexy romantic suspense!

A super romantic suspense from Lucy Felthouse. Mallory’s work as an espionage operative is often dangerous and she fully expects her latest assignment, that of gathering evidence to take down a group of diamond thieves, to be a doddle. She has absolutely no qualms about using her feminine wiles to entrap one of the gang’s members, the young and handsome Baxter Collinson. All goes to plan except she makes an immediate connection to Baxter and begins to lose her heart in the process… For the first time she feels guilty about the role she has played in a criminal’s impending arrest and incarceration and she is torn.

I won’t delve any more into the plot but suffice to say I LOVED the unexpected twist. Do the couple have a future? How will Baxter view Mallory’s deceit? Can Mallory continue to maintain her professional detachment towards the very man who has made her question her actions?

I adored Mallory, a strong woman and a consummate professional, dedicated to her work as an undercover agent – she reminded me of a female James Bond as she enjoys her job and has a healthy attitude when it comes to sex! As for Baxter, he is both SO sexy and cheeky and has a fantastic sense of humour – it is no wonder Mallory falls for him. I really felt for him when he realises that Mallory deliberately orchestrated their relationship.

The characters are realistic and I easily identified with their emotions – I particularly loved the banter and the scenes between the main couple. It’s also got plenty of smexy and sizzling scenes which the author excels at.

Recommended for readers of romantic suspense who enjoy a read which contains some sexy and explicit scenes.

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk

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*REVIEW* ~ Blaire Dark Romance (Part 1), by Anita Gray

#darkromance #suspense #psychological #bdsm

Book Blurb

BLAIRE: part 1 in the Dark Romance Series

Bought. Conditioned.

My name is Blaire. I’m head of security to a man who controls the Russian underworld in Europe. His name is Maksim and he’s my master. He bought me ten years ago and conditioned me with brutality to worship and protect him. And I have protected him. I’ve slain everyone who has tried to do him harm. Everyone but a man he loans me to; a man who threatens to break me and everything I believe in.

You’re going to need a strong stomach and a strong heart to follow my story, because take my word for it, it’s no fairy tale.

My Review

Totally Amazing Dark Read! – 5 stars

What can I say? I was GLUED to this AMAZING dark, psychological read. I am a self-confessed book whore when it comes to dark  reads and I put this up there amongst the best. It has an original plot line and in Blaire and Charlie the author has created a truly awesome couple – their relationship is complex and intense and the scenes between them range from deliciously dark to sweet. I need to point out that it contains some brutal scenes of violence, physical and sexual in the book (dubious and non consent, bdsm, torture and abuse) which are not for the faint hearted. 

Blaire is one of the most kick-ass and lethal females I have come across of late yet she is so vulnerable. I wept for her as the plot unfolded and little by little we leared about her history and Maskim’s role in it. The way the author drip feeds this information adds to the suspense and I was gob smacked when I learned about her past.

I ADORED Charlie – just what is his game? What hold does he have over Maskim? Can Charlie protect Blaire or is he just exploiting her too? Will Blaire overcome Maskim’s conditioning or is it too ingrained in her psyche? Will Charlie succeed in breaking her hard exterior to reveal the woman beneath and how will this impact on her? Will his kindness save her or lead to her destruction? I was fascinated with the psychology of the relationships in his book and if you love dark romance as much as I’d encourage you do add it to your ‘to read pile.’ I’m relieved that part 2 of Blaire’s story is out at the end of this month so that I can see what happens next.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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*REVIEW* ~ The Vodka Trail, by AA Abbott

#crime #thriller

Book Blurb

Orphaned and destitute as a teenager, Kat has made a new life for herself in London. Now she’s determined to reclaim her father’s vodka business in the former Soviet Union.

Birmingham businessman Marty wants to stop her. That alone isn’t why Kat hates him – she blames him for her parents’ deaths. But when she’s taken hostage by freedom fighters, only Marty can help her survive.

My Review

~ Slick and Entertaining  ***** (5 stars) ~

The Vodka Trail is a slick and entertaining crime thriller, with believable characters and plenty of plot twists, taking place in Birmingham, London and the former Soviet Union. It is the second book in the Trail series (the first being the Bride’s Trail), but can easily be read as a standalone, for although it does feature some characters from the first novel, it contains a brand new plot.

Kat travels to the former Soviet Union to reclaim her family’s vodka business. At the same time Marty, a Birmingham businessman,  also finds himself there on what is to turn out to be an ill-fated business trip. The two protaganists have a history going way back, to when Kat was a child, and they are both as stunned as each other when they discover that they are both held captive by freedom fighters. They know that their situation is precarious and that they will be lucky to escape with their lives. Kat in particular finds that she has to rely on Marty to maintain her sanity and recognises that the man she blames for so many past events in her life may be the one man who could save her life.

As Kat and Marty spend time in captivity together they are compelled to confront events which took place in the past, little realising how much of the past and present have collided in their current predicament. Their situation also impacts on family and friends in the UK and it is an anxious time as they await their, fate hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst.

The read is a realistic and harrowing portrayal of kidnapping and of the contrasting lives of those who live in the former Soviet Union and the UK. Not only was I on pins to see if Kat and Marty would survive their ordeal, but also how they would endure their close proximity given their animosity towards each other. Scenes expertly pan from their desperate situation to the lives and motivations of their captors and friends and family (including Kat’s fiancé) in the UK. Their existence is far removed from the shenanigans of some characters and the contrast makes for an entertaining read. I enjoyed both the two main characters as well as the insight into the political situation which has prompted their kidnapping.

The author has a gift for scene setting and I particularly liked her descriptions of Birmingham and London’s business community and those of the former Soviet Union, which I found very insightful. I particularly enjoyed the complex relationship between Kat and Marty and how this develops throughout the novel.

A super crime thriller, which is a thoroughly entertaining read.

PLEASE NOTE: The book is available in e-book and paperback. The author has published this series in a dyslexia free format. See the author’s blog post Fun, Fast Thrillers and Dyslexia Friendly Too

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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http://aaabbott.co.uk/