**RELEASE BLITZ & ARC REVIEW** ~ Brake, by Skye Callahan

Brake, Book 3 in The Redline Series Now Available!
Dark Romantic Suspense Novella Serial 

Adult/18+ Read

There’s no stopping as the

Brake

bitter feud between brothers, Colt and Devlin, speeds out of control.

From Colt’s pawn to Devlin’s captive, Aubrey is caught even deeper in their pact to destroy one another. Imprisoned in darkness, she fights for her life–and her sanity. Her only hope is a cocky and sadistic car thief who is already wrestling with his own demons.

Colt swore he’d never end up in this place again. That he’d never be held captive to heroin or rendered helpless by his brother to watch as another life is destroyed. He’s ready to tear the city apart to find Aubrey, but that’s only if his own mind doesn’t tear him apart first.

Lines have been crossed. Promises broken. Souls shattered. And the worst has only begun.

Note:
If you’re looking for rainbows, butterflies, and happy endings coated in chocolate and caramel, turn back now! This story deals with dark themes and intense situations that aren’t suitable for sensitive readers. If you’re looking for an intense roller coaster of emotions and situations that will warp your sense of right and wrong and drag you through the debauched underworld of crime and deceit, then you’re in the right place.

This is a work of serial fiction, so it will be released in distinct parts with no resolute ending until the end of the series.

.Buy it now

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Haven’t started the series yet?

The redline series tease

Take advantage of this special opportunity to get a Limited Edition Boxed Set of Ignition and Torque on iBooks and Amazon for FREE!

Only available until October 31!

“WOW! This is a dark, erotic ride into the underworld of drugs, sex, exploitation and crime. I love it!” (Reading Keeps Me Sane)

It was like a rollercoaster: quick, sharp turns, lots of flips and it ended too soon! So sit down, power up and be prepared to have some naughty fun!!” (Eye Candy Bookstore)

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Skye Callahan 

Skye

Skye Callahan is the bestselling author ofIrrevocable a dark romance that ran away with her emotions and led her on a whole new writing journey. She enjoys exploring the darker sides of life through her fiction, whether through paranormal creatures or the depraved underbelly of human nature. Her other works include the follow up to Irrevocable, Bend Don’t Break, The Redline Series, The Fractured Legacy Series, and Bound and Unbroken.

Her love of reading and writing started at a young age and she has been blessed with a family that continues to support her dreams to be a full-time writer. She has lived in Ohio all of her life, where she enjoys taking long walks through cemeteries with her husband (when the insane Ohio weather permits), studying local history, and trying to make peace with the neighbor’s cats.

Where to stalk Skye:

Amazon Author Page

My Review

Dark, Twisted and Intense FIVE STARS! *****

Skye Callahan’s The Redline Series is one hell of a dark romance! It is a dark and twisted ride ruled by lust, power-play and revenge, where Aubrey is but a pawn in a fight between two warring brothers intent on destroying each other. Colt has sworn to protect Aubrey from Devlin in return for the unlimited use of her body for his intense and kinky sexcapades. The last instalment, Torque (click on the book title for my review) finished on a major cliff hanger as the hapless Aubrey had been taken captive by none other than Devlin.

In Brake Aubrey’s sexual slavery to Colt has been replaced by the horror of Devlin’s captivity and her life and sanity are both on the line. Aubrey’s predicament is an ugly one and let’s just say that Devlin does not have her long term future in mind…. Instead, she is merely a tool to use to attack his brother and I read with bated breath to see if her destiny was to become mere collateral damage.

This instalment contains some shocking revelations about Colt’s backstory, which help explain why he is the damaged man he is and why he strives to stay emotionally detached. For much of the read Colt is powerless as he has no idea where Aubrey has been taken. He is totured by guilt and trapped within the world of his dysfunctional family who seem intent on his destruction… His only relief is that of drugs which he finds harder and harder to resist.

He fears for Aubrey’s life and sanity in Devlin’s hands. I will not give anything away, but suffice to say that Devlin is one sick bastard. Although Colt is far from her avenging knight on a white charger, he is the only hope she has, but will he rescue her before it is too late? And what will he find remains of the Aubrey he knows? Expecting the worst, whilst hoping for the best, I was nevertheless gobsmacked by what transpires in this read and I want MORE! Indeed, I am jumping up and down in anticipation of the next instalment!

This high octane dark romantic suspense is recommended for lovers of dark romance.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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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Milk – Blood by Mark Matthews **REVIEW**

Milk-Blood - Amazon new eyesBlurb: Lilly is ten years old, born with a heart defect, and already addicted to heroin. Her mother is gone from her life, and there are rumors that she was killed by her father and buried near the abandoned house across the street. The house intrigues her, she can’t stay away, and the monstrous homeless man who lives there has been trying to get Lilly to come inside.

For her mother is there, buried in the back, and this homeless man is Lilly’s true father, and both want their daughter back.

Review

Milk – Blood is a completely unique horror, mixing the physical tension of fear, dread and violence with psychological and social concerns of poverty, drug abuse and social care surrounding a motherless young girl, Lilly, who has been struggling with a terrible illness from birth and later comes to learn the true fate of her mother as well as becoming reliant on heroin.

There is a sense of darkness and eeriness in the setting alone, with the story based on a rundown street in Detroit in a poverty-stricken area where virtually every other home is boarded up, the homeless roam the road in need for shelter and crime and drug use is always an issue. Lilly has to walk down this road on the way home from school every weekday evening, with the dark house across the street and a strange, creepy homeless man calling to her. She is teased by school kids and returns home to be ignored regularly and yet still dealing with her illness and pain. And yet these latter issues are nothing compared to the horror she is to encounter deeper into the story.

I found the opening chapters alone of particular interest as Matthews has written the same scene but from each point of view, i.e. the mother’s and her partner’s. This enables the reader from the offset of the story to empathise as much as possible with both sides. I found these chapters, although very tragic concerning the death surrounding the mother, very beautifully written when it came to the partner taking care of the very ill newborn. Such a caring and gently written sequence is rare in many horrors. It is because of this that I believe Milk – Blood begins like a thriller which later develops into a horror.

To use a child, especially one so young and addicted to heroin, I thought was daring of the author in this type of horror and yet it plays out really well. There were moments earlier on in the story that I couldn’t quite comprehend the direction of the story, however these passed very quickly and as the reader continues the story opens out into a great psychological horror that will not disappoint the reader! Due to the content I would recommend that the reader is of mature age of at least 17yrs.

The homeless guy in the boarded up house across the street is also one that has his demons (and for me could have easily been a development of a scavenging character from one of Matthews’ previous books, On the Lips of Children). For he sees and hears more than you would expect. Whether it is partly due to his drug intake or a ‘gift’ he has it adds a deep sense of grittiness, mystery and fear and the reader cannot help but long Lilly to have nothing to do with this character. Of course, Lilly might just get sucked into some inevitable danger as the reader is pulled into the horror too.

Mark Matthews has written Milk – Blood in a clever manner, being able to use some personal experiences and developing them into a suspenseful horror. And not all meets the eye to begin with but as the story wraps up (which it does superbly well) the reader is treated to a little more and realises that there certainly is a purpose for every character mentioned! Despite there being many horrific and tragic scenes, the real horror is where the story takes us – the end result.

This is written in a fantastic way and I love how the reader has no sense of the bigger picture until the conclusion! Although my personal favourite book of Mark Matthews is On the Lips of Children, this one is very close, using a blend of horror from On the Lips of Children as well as the social and dramatic elements of the author’s Stray. (The links of Stray and On the Lips of Children will take you to my previous reviews and some background info on Mark Matthews with On the Lips of Children review.)

A copy of Milk – Blood was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Milk – Blood is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Milk – Blood was recently released in June 2014. The cover design is from Kealan Patrick Burke of Elderlemon Design, and the story was edited by Richard Thomas, Editor in Chief at Dark House Press.

The term upon which the title is based, “Milk-Blood” was made famous in the Neil Young Song “The Needle and the Damage Done.” A companion piece featuring a character from Milk-Blood, The Damage Done, is available for free on Amazon and has been receiving tremendous reviews.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

 

 

 

Stray by Mark Matthews

StrayA Gritty, Realistic, Touching and Emotional Journey (Recommended for more adult readers (17yrs+) due to the subject matter.)

Book Blurb: Therapist Tomas Cleaves is many years sober from his addiction but is now losing his mind. There are voices in his head and the occasional seizure, and then his wife has a miscarriage on the same day his client dies of a heroin overdose. Tom becomes certain that the addicts he treats must have infected the womb of his wife.

Lost and bitter after the miscarriage, Tom is in desperate need of a client who can give him some hope.

James White is one such client — a newly orphaned alcoholic dead bent on drinking again until he gets discharged and finds himself rescuing lost strays at the next door animal shelter. Can James find a reason to live by rescuing the throw-away pets of the city? 

A gritty novel with an edge yet surprisingly gentle and sweet, Stray will take you through the dog fighting dens and crack houses of Detroit where Stray souls can find connections in the most unusual of places.

Review

In between the fantasy, paranormal and romance reads I always enjoy a book that brings me back down to earth. Even though still a fictional story, Stray is a little more realistic, focusing on the unfortunates that are too easily pulled down into drug and alcohol addiction. However, amid the darkness and despair of some, Stray also offers hope and a brighter side with some very sweet, emotional and touching moments.

The story opens up following the Tom’s life, along with some of his clients. Tom constantly beats himself up. He’s trying his best to counsel his clients and guide them to a life of sobriety, yet he can’t control them. At times it seems that there is no hope for some of them. During the tragic times Tom tends to blame himself and links these moments with his wife’s miscarriage, thinking maybe if he hadn’t let his clients down the miscarriage wouldn’t have happened. The affect that this has on Tom’s state of mind is quite concerning. The voices in his head become more frequent and there are times when the reader may question whether Tom himself will remain sober or not.

Clearly there is a significant psychological element to this drama with Tom’s voices and seizures, the effect that the death of his clients have on him and his wife’s miscarriage. As well as the way in which love affects him – love for his wife, unborn child, clients and even those poor strays from the animal shelter opposite the treatment centre. It is these thoughts and feelings that help the reader to relate to the characters.

I was a little confused to begin with as it appeared that some areas of the story were a part of Tom’s memory as he reminisced, and then the reader would be brought back to the present. As the story continues it all becomes clearer and we follow each character’s life which later leads to a dramatic turn of events.

Although quite a serious read there are some heart-warming moments that provide the reader and some of the characters hope for a better future and faith that they can rise up from the rut they are stuck in by staying sober and rebuilding their life with work and relationships. James is a great example of this and my favourite character.

James leaves therapy and could go down either of two paths. He could return home and return to his addiction or he could explore a new life. After hearing the dogs in the animal shelter near to the Treatment Centre, he decides to take a look. In doing so he meets Rachel (Ra) and learns of a job vacancy that surely he’d be suitable for. During James’ time working for the animal shelter the reader has an incite into similarities between the strays and that of an addict. The stray dogs are occasionally re-homed, but many are given an injected drug to end their struggle.

Ra is another of my favourite characters. She is a saviour without realising. She helps rescue the strays of the city, including James. Is there hope for a little romance here? And in many ways, Tom’s character is similar to Ra, in that they both try to save lost souls by re-homing or therapy but sadly very few seem to move on to a better life. Stray is a perfect example of how a life can save another, whether it be through friends, family, children and/or indeed pets and animals.

One of my favourite aspects of Stray is the way in which each character’s story is connected to another. Some connections are more subtle than others but many are connected to Tom, Treatment Centre and/or the animal shelter and pet dogs that some of the characters have or have had.

Stray opens the mind to the ideas that some addicts may have – if things go wrong it must be their fault. It can appear to some that they have high ego’s in thinking that the world evolves around them by always thinking they are at the fore of all problems, and yet in contrast, they don’t deem themselves worthy. It’s a vicious circle, a dark rut that many find impossible to break free from. Stray shows the ups and downs -addiction at it’s worst and those that have beaten it.

Mark Matthews, a therapist himself, has written with delicacy and care. The dark moments are written in such a way that the reader is completely aware of the scene, however Matthews has written so carefully as to not horrify or appal the reader. I congratulate the author on writing in a very sensitive manner. For what is such a serious subject matter, Stray is quite refreshing at times albeit gritty and realistic.

A copy of Stray was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Stray is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler

16691515[1]-001Fast and Frenetic Coming of Age Story for Ages 14+

A Reader’s Review was lucky to be sent two proof copies of this forthcoming release, to provide an honest review. The book is scheduled for publication this coming May. Both Caroline and I have reviewed the book, outlining our different opinions and perspectives on the story for our readers to compare.

Tina’s Review (scroll down for Caroline’s review which follows on from this).

Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler is a fast and frenetic coming of age novel that will appeal to many readers. It centres on a girl band Crush, who wins a competition to go to Los Angeles, with the opportunity to make it big on the music scene.

The book opens with a bang, on the aftermath of a shocking murder. It then rewinds to eight months earlier, to St Gabriel’s Sixth Form, London, where we witness a disparate group of girls come together, at the suggestion of fellow pupil, Harper McKenzie, to form a band. Their aim, in which they are successful, is to win Project Next, a television talent show with the dream prize of going to LA to win the final heat of the competition at the end of the summer and secure their rock and roll future.

It soon becomes clear however, that Harper’s main motivation for creating the band and winning Project Next, is the desire to be reunited with bad boy Rafe Jackson, who lives in LA and whose father Peter is involved in the competition. This creates a fair amount of friction from the start and plays a key role in the development of the plot. The girls face a world of limousines, designer clothes, personal stylists, parties and temptations they have never experienced before. They must also strive to ensure that their ability to make music remains at the forefront of their minds, when struggling with a host of competing issues, including drug addiction, body image, alcohol, sex and the trials of young love. There are also a number of secrets kept by some of the characters, which combine with a series of events which lead to the dire consequences at the conclusion of the book.

Lucy, the drummer in the band, is the central character, although we also get to know the trials, hopes and dreams of her four friends, Harper, the lead singer, Toni, the bass player, Robyn on guitar and Iza on piano. The personalities of the girls vary, but all have their own personal demons to battle with whilst they are on the cusp of adulthood. Lucy, the most grounded of them all, strives to keep the band together and prevent it from self-destructing in the face of the mounting pressures of making it big in Hollywood. The friendship between Lucy and Harper, which has its ups and downs,  is one of the main themes of the plot.

There are a number of supporting characters, such as Rafe, Harper’s love interest, and others, including Jason, the band’s manager, Alexander, the band’s music producer and Tomas, who deals drugs. A romance between one of the secondary characters, Skye and the minor character Cesar pulled at my heartstrings a great deal.

When I picked up this novel I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, simply because I am not a big fan of celebrity culture and TV talent shows. However, the focus is very much on the characterisations and the evolving plot; the trappings of wealth and celebrity culture serve to bring the issues facing the central characters into sharper focus. Also Bridget Tyler writes in such a way that I was quickly drawn into the world she creates. I developed a great deal of empathy for the young women and the other characters she portrays, in what I found to be an emotional and entertaining read.

The author is a screenwriter and I think this comes across in her writing in a positive way as it swiftly draws you into key scenes which highlight the world the girls find themselves in and the group dynamics at play. Every scene counts and the novel could quite easily be made into a film or TV series. Such is the richness of the tale, there is plenty of scope for the author to pen further novels, based on the characters in Drummer Girl. I do hope that she writes a follow up, if only to expand on a burgeoning romance for Lucy, which is introduced at the conclusion. Whilst I would recommend this novel primarily for teenagers or young adults, I feel that adults too would also enjoy it as it deals with universal issues that affect people of all ages in an exciting and engaging plot that keeps you guessing.

Reviewed by Tina Williams, A Reader’s Review Blog

Review below by Caroline Barker, A Reader’s Review Blog

Teenage girls, music, competitions, friendships, romances, alcohol, drugs and a whole load of other trouble is what ‘Drummer Girl’ is from beginning to end. I can see this being a really popular novel, especially for those between the ages of 14 and 18. It is a coming of age story where the characters want popularity, success and romance. However, they all soon discover that life has its fair share of danger and there are some adult themes covered, such as drugs, alcohol and young girls being taken advantage of.

Lucy, Harper, Toni, Robyn and Iza are Crush. The band enters a contest, Project Next, similar to that as The X Factor, and after winning the semi-finals in London they are given the chance to go to Hollywood for the summer to compete in the final. This alone causes family rifts and after reaching L.A. there is a great deal of pressure for the girls to not only work hard, but to party hard too.

Lucy Gosling, the ‘Drummer Girl’, is a nice character. At the age of 17 she is doing well at school with ambition to go further at Oxford. However, joining Crush and entering Project Next with her school friends is a dream come true. She is a clever, sensible teenager that craves fun and excitement with the hope of fame and success. Her only real problem is her best friend, Harper McKenzie.

Harper is an American girl – the other members of Crush are from London – and she can think very highly of herself and will do almost anything to get what she wants. She is the lead singer of the band. There is some history between Lucy and Harper as Harper and her ex-boyfriend, Rafe, caused a great deal of trouble for Lucy. Trouble that Lucy’s parents could not forgive Harper for. I found Harper to be a very irritating character and I could not warm to her at all.

Lucy begins to get suspicious of Harper’s reasons for forming a band and competing as when they arrive in Hollywood they soon meet up with Rafe and his new girlfriend, Skye. Is Harper still in love with Rafe? Is this the only reason why Harper set up Crush? Will more trouble lie ahead?

The introduction of the story begins with Harper’s body floating in a swimming pool surrounded by her blood. We then go back to the previous eight months that lead up to her death and begin with the band forming and competing in Project Next.

During the beginning chapters of ‘Drummer Girl’ I found the story to be unfolding quite slowly, and with Harper being so annoying I found it difficult to carry on reading. However, I did persevere and once the band reached L.A. I found that the story quickened it’s pace and the reader was introduced to more characters and a darker plot. I then needed to carry on reading to find out what had happened to Harper and to follow the girls’ adventure throughout the Project Next contest.

I have mixed emotions about this novel. On the one hand, if reading this book as a young teenager I think this book is a good read with friendship troubles, romance and the dream of becoming a rock star. You are just beginning to understand the dangers in life and this book is an introduction to some of them.

However on the other hand, from an adults point of view, there are moments when I feel that some issues are too adult for it’s audience but written in an almost nonchalant way. For example, when Harper’s body is dead in the swimming pool, at the beginning of the novel, Lucy is looking at the colour of her blood and thinking that Harper would have liked that colour nail varnish! I thought a teenage girl would freak at the image of her best friend’s body, lying lifeless in front of her. I also feel that more thought has gone into keeping the atmosphere of this book light. If this is the case, then maybe the drugs, alcohol and other adult themes shouldn’t be mentioned.

On the whole, ‘Drummer Girl’ is a good Hollywood Dream story, aimed mostly at teenage girls, with some fun characters and is a light-hearted read with some darker topics woven in. It can be likened to High School Musical, mixed with The X-Factor with the added bonus of real adventure and great ordeals. For fans of the novel, it would definitely be interesting to follow Lucy to the next stage of her life as she is a great role model and character.

Thanks to Templar Publishing for providing A Reader’s Review with Bridget Tyler’s novel, ‘Drummer Girl’ in return for an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Cover art by Will Steele

Templar Publishing Website