Scarred

Tough Enough (Tall, Dark, and Dangerous, #2) by M. Leighton Review

   Tough Enough by M. Leighton 2 Stars 

There was a time when I had everything–a wonderful family, a bright future. Love. But all that was taken away in a single night, torn from me like flesh from bone. Since then, I’ve hidden away in my second-choice job as a makeup artist. But I prefer it that way, actually. I’m comfortable in the shadows, where no one can see my scars.

Kiefer Rogan literally took my breath away the moment I met him. MMA champion-turned-actor, notorious playboy, charming to a fault—he’s everything I vowed to avoid.

But he just wouldn’t stop until I opened up and let him in. Maybe I should’ve tried harder to resist him. Maybe I shouldn’t have fallen in love with him. Because I, of all people, know that everyone has secrets. Scars. And that they’re usually ugly and painful and destructive to the people we love most.

I just never guessed that they could be deadly, too.

 

Review

In order for a romance to work for me, I have to connect with the characters. I don’t always have to like them but I have to think they are interesting.

I didn’t like the hero. He was no attuned to the heroine. I didn’t care for the heroine either as she was really judgmental and I was stuck in her head.

They could have both grown and it would have been a more enjoyable book as the writing is well done but they didn’t do that with any compelling elements and too slow for me.

So, I didn’t care about them in the end.

Embattled Minds (Lost and Found #2) by J.M. Madden Review

   Embattled Minds by J.M. Madden  3 Stars!

Zeke Foster has little to no experience with women over the past couple of years, after being injured in Afghanistan. Brutally scarred, he has no expectation that he’ll ever find a woman capable of accepting him the way he is. But he can’t help but be enamored of Ember, the waitress of a local watering hole.
Ember Norton’s life has turned into one devastating catastrophe after another. When the scarred soldier with the kind eyes brings some security to her life, she’s afraid to trust her luck. She’s been self-sufficient for a long time. But his wounded soul calls to her and she finds herself falling for him.
In spite of the secrets he continues to keep.

Review

The portrayal of PTSD mirrored differently in several characters is very engaging in this romance.

The heroine crush on the hero and struggle with her loving but troubled father makes her endearing.

The hero has self esteem issue that while reasonable are a bit one note.

I like this book slightly better than the last one as it was more character driven which I prefer.

Warriors’ Providence (Cadi Warriors Book 2)

  Warriors’ Providence (Cadi Warriors Book 2) by Stephanie West 3.5 Stars! 

Providence worked hard to become one of the first women to join her pararescue squad. It was difficult being one of the guys and yet not, all at the same time, but she was up for the task. Besides, there was nothing more satisfying than helping your fellow man, it was what she was born to do. Never in a million years did Providence expect to find herself abducted from a routine mission off the Florida coast by…ALIENS.
Dagaa and Madhava, once enemies, became fast friends after a centuries long civil war. Both of them were beyond ready to see Cadi enter a new era. But now they face a new battle, convincing all of Cadi to embrace and rescue the Toufik, their former slaves, from a dying planet. It wasn’t going to be an easy task. Infighting threatened their hard won peace and put Cadi at risk from a new foe.
With so much at stake Madhava and Dagaa are blindsided when they find a fiery-haired human female on their enemy’s ship. Providence’s bold and loving nature awakens a side that both warriors had long since forgotten. The only problem, can Dagaa and Madhava share her affection, and can Providence withstand the love of not just one, but two overprotective warriors. Only fate knows a warrior’s providence.

 

Review

This is a fast paced action filed romance with Demon Aliens and a great heroine. It is fun ride through a culture in the midst of a shift after years of civil war.

We get a gruff and grumpy hero and a sunny flirt of a hero for our highly accomplished para rescue heroine. The scene where she kicks slaver butt is everything.

It is a good love story and a nice move forward in the series.

Pursued (Brides of the Kindred, #6) by Evangeline Anderson Review

  Pursued (Brides of the Kindred Book 6) by Evangeline Anderson 2.5 Stars

Elise is fractured inside, stained by a past she refuses to remember.
Merrick is scarred both inside and out, a half-breed with a brutal background, at home nowhere in the universe.

Now they are tied together by an unstable bond which could kill them both.
Their journey will take them to the lawless planet of Rageron—the wildest of all the Kindred worlds. There, in the deep blue jungles of an alien world, Elise must bare her soul and relive the horror that nearly killed her. Can she and Merrick make each other whole or will Elise run from her pain?

If she does, Merrick cannot help but chase her…Elise is being Pursued.

 

Review

The basic romance here between two very wounded people is engaging. I like the heroine doesn’t just magically get over her past.

However, she does a lot of stupid stuff.

The book gets a bit tedious after a while when the characters stagnate.

There are also too many characters that don’t have meaningful contributions to the story.

So, I want to like this series but it isn’t working for me.

All These Pieces of Me (The Stables, #1) by C.E. Kilgore Review

All These Pieces Of Me (The Stables Book 1) by C.E. Kilgore

Emma sees the world inside out and looks right past the physical scars that Brandon had begun to think would be the only thing the world would ever see. Set in Dallas, Texas, this is a mature adult Contemporary Romance series with BDSM elements and atypical themes, including physical disfigurement, Autism, and OCD. Each book will be a complete story, no cliffhangers.
Brandon
To say that I’m ugly is like saying a cemetery is quiet. Okay, maybe parts of me are attractive, sure. I’d gotten more than my share of second, hungry glances from women at clubs. Then I’d turn to the other side and they’d get a nice big glimpse of Quasimodo. Only the desperately drunk or the ‘I can fix you’ chicks took a third look. Not Emma, though. She looked right at my scars and didn’t miss a beat. The typical stares from folks noticing my face just blend into the background noise as I try to comprehend this odd little woman. She’s still and quiet, clutching her teddy bear like it’s nobody’s business. And maybe it’s not. Maybe least of all mine.

There’s more there, I’m sure. Way more. And for the first time, I think I’m going to actually put in the effort to find out what, because I think it may just completely blow my sorry world apart.

Emma
The guy walking in front of me is seriously massive. I’d heard that everything is bigger in Texas, but this is absolutely ridiculous. There’s also the matter of his face. He has me both ready to swoon and run screaming in the same crazy second. I’m still not sure which of those options my body has decided on. I think the jury is still out on a lot of things to do with my current state of affairs. I wish I could talk the way that I think instead of stammering through life like a little girl who holds onto a damn teddy bear and continues to obsess over the color pink. I can’t, though. My brain just doesn’t work that way. His gentle brown eyes put me at ease for some reason I haven’t quite worked out yet, and I really want to know his story.

Scars are just part of life and we all have them. Most of us are lucky, though, and have scars we can hide deep down inside. Most of us aren’t forced to wear them on our face.

Review

I like the parts of the book that are Contemporary Romance and the Erotic BDSM Romance parts are way less intersting.

The heroine and hero are pretty tortured in different ways and the heroine’s autism plus their backstory make enough of a conflict.

A crazy unrealistic BDSM club and interfering friends make what was an interesting romance about two people who need self acceptance and to trust tank for me.

Brukr (Dragons of Preor, #8) by Celia Kyle and Erin Tate Review

2.5 Stars

He’s willing to lose his honor to claim her, but first he must save her.

The Preor emperor bestowed honors on warrior Brukr sen Zak’lu centuries ago—honors he does not deserve. Since then, he has fought to prove himself worthy of the emperor’s support. He works to protect and care for the females within Preor Tower no matter how difficult they make his task. One female constantly disregards orders and makes his duty nearly impossible. Hannah—with her flowing hair, teasing smiles, and generous curves—torments him with what he cannot have. He aches for her like no other, his dragon rages when he leaves her side, but without the Knowing stretching between them he cannot claim her. Or can he?

Genetic modifications have changed Hannah’s appearance, but they can’t change her past. To atone, she steps into the spotlight as a spokesperson for Cole-Daven and moves into Preor Tower. Every day she struggles to convince other humans to accept Cole-Daven’s treatment for Pol Mutation. She also fights her attraction to one specific alien Preor. They’re not mates, but everything in her craves the large, muscular, deliciously tempting dragon shifting warrior.

With her exposure to the public, Hannah now has humans after her. Some want to possess her, others want to torture her, and many want to kill her. That is unacceptable to Brukr and he will tell them so… with his war blades.

Review

There is everything to like about this hero. He is steadfast, respectful and protective.

The cause of his self esteem issues could have been revealed much earlier in the look so that we could see the hero work through them. As it is, they are just annoying angst.

I like the heroine as well until I find out her secret and reasoning for a set of things and then I am just annoyed as all get out. It would have been a much more intersting read if she just trusted the people she had every reason to trust and then the story could have been about dealing with her stuff.

There is a plot twist that is interesting but not enough to save the book for me.

There is just too much energy in the wrong places.

Ravage (Scarred Souls, #3) by Tillie Cole Review

3 Stars!

Is finding one’s true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?

Taken as a teen, prisoner 194 was stripped of his name and freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless machine. Even as he tries to fight his captors hold on him he knows that obedience is the only way to save his sister, who is the one person that keeps him from turning into a monster.

As a young girl Zoya Kostava barely escaped the brutal attack that killed her entire family. Now twenty five she lives in secrecy. That is until she hears her brother also survived and is living with their greatest enemy.

Zoya risks her safety and anonymity to find the brother she thought dead and is captured by a beautiful, brutal man. A man who both captivates and scares her, in him she sees a soul as lost as her own.

They both have so much to lose will they be able to save each other…and survive.

Review

This addition to the Scarred Souls series and goes right off the rails as the hero actually hurts the heroine. I will admit to skipping those scenes. I just couldn’t take it.

To be clear, he is drugged and compelled but … ewww.

So, this world still has me watching it and the move forward it the arc of the series is a good one as two brothers trying to save their sisters from this horror show are pitted against each other.

The heroine, Zoya, needed more development to get me to complete buy into why she forgives and loves the way she does but Cole does a good enough job that I hang in there. This is another look at conditioning vs the human spirit.

The hero has been brutalized and is brutal but he is super compelling as more and more of who he is revealed. The revenge in this one is great and we are all set up for the next book.

I am ignoring the mob stuff because except for the very good writing of the two previous heroes working to take their places in the family and the death match awfulness, we don’t really get to see the heroes doing those awful things to anyone we don’t think has earned it.

The last scenes of the book wen Valentin is treated with value are kind of great in a dark dark way.

Reap (Scarred Souls, #2) by Tillie Cole Review

3.5 Stars

Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva’s obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act, or live for himself; he’s his master’s perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six-foot-six, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and unrivaled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, who rules the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.

Talia Tolstaia dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life. She dreams of another life–away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father and from the brutality of her work at The Dungeon, her criminal family’s underground death-match enterprise. But when she stumbles upon her family’s captive who is more monster than man, she starts to see the man underneath. A powerful, beautiful, damaged man whose heart calls to hers. But sacrifices must be made–blood for blood…life for life…souls for scarred souls…

 

Review

In this second installment of the Scarred Soul series, we get the story of Zaal. Zaal is way more intersting that Talia but thats okay.

All the elements of the first book are here but thankfully with less sexual violence (though there is enough). You need to read the first book to be really compelled by this book.

This book is a lot of about healing. It is sweet and compelling in the middle of all the over the top and brutal world building.

The heroine does some dumb things but she is steadfast.

You want Zaal to have a better like and you want Luka (from Raze) to complete his healing as well.

The romance is a fated mate/star crossed piece but again the world building really strengthens every aspect of the book.

 

Riot (Scarred Souls #4) by Tillie Cole Review

4.5 Stars!

BRUTAL. INTENSE. PASSIONATE. THE WORLD OF THE SCARRED SOULS.

They call me 901. I am a monster, a killer, a champion. In the blood pit I am a god. I have no name, no family, and no identity. When master says fight, I fight…until I am the only one left standing. I have one goal, to fight so well that I am freed. I don’t need friends, I don’t need women. They are weaknesses. I am strong.

Until I see her. She is gorgeous and kind and off-limits to me. She was stolen as a child to be the worst type of slave and now master wants her. What he wants, he gets. With a smile, she melts my brutal heart. I have never wanted anything more.

I need to make a choice. Freedom or Love. I cannot choose wrong.

Review 

Okay, this addition to the Scarred Souls series is crazy dark. Dark. So much sexual violence to the heroine and this has been her life. They drug women to need sex and they are all in the hands of a sadist.

This is an underground death match gladiator slave systems.

Despite the horror of this world and some parts I could barely read, this is by far the best book of the series.

Again, the world building is pitch perfect. The love story is compelling and real. The issues of overcoming conditioning powerful.

Then, there is the sweet revenge and a visit from the other heroes to make this world burn. Good stuff.

This is the couple I most believe in because they are the most lost and then come to see each other.

The epilogue piece is wonderful.

Read the rest of the series first!

I was given this book for my honest review, so there you have it!

Raze (Scarred Souls, #1) by Tillie Cole Review

 

4 Stars!

TO TAKE BACK LIFE, ONE MUST FIRST FACE DEATH…

Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge… bloody, slow and violent revenge. Revenge on the man who wronged him.
Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Red’ bosses of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it’s a virtual prison. Her father’s savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring-The Dungeon-ensures too many enemies lurk at their door. She dreams to be set free. Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. While working for her church-the only reprieve in her constant surveillance-Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone.

He’s a man beyond saving. But Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man… … this man they call Raze

Review

I don’t usually read dark romance. I can’t get past the violence and immorality (meaning the lack of value of life and dignity).

However, I have been reading some really dark stuff of late. Maybe as an escape from my own dark days? Not sure.

This book succeeds for me because the world building is excellent. I believe in the horror of this underworld. This is just the ways things are. The “goodness” of the hero is in juxtaposition to the the truely evil slavery that he inhabits.

Usually, I dislike mob romance. Here, the sexual violence to the heroine that goes on outside the world that the hero has been forced to inhabit but in the New York’s Russian Bratva is a horror show. Her father stands by. Everyone stands by, It is not okay. And nothing ever happens about it. I hang in there because the sexual violence is not sexualized (the reader is no expected to aroused) though complexly Cole does show that pleasure can come from even such demeaning and brutal treatment as body do what they do. She also explores how the heroine as been conditioned to think she is saving this insane man she is engaged to (not the hero).

I should not be okay with it and I am not. Yet, I sucked into the world watching because these rules are not rules I agree with but Cole builds a cohesive world. It would make me happier in this book or in the future books that the heroes who know how wrong that kind of treatment is make change in the culture. This doesn’t not happen in this book.

There is a hyper masculinity that is amped up even more with the drugs given to the hero and one of the many villains of the piece. Yet, the hero never acts on the heroine in brutal ways.

It is also clear that she saves him. This might be a kind of fantasy of woman as redeemer but it is clear that he needs her. She rescues him.

The book becomes about conditioned ways of thinking and behaving and love of course.

There is revenge which is very satisfying and hope. I like the hero a great deal. The family dynamics. It is all riveting.

I went on to read the other books in the series and they are all good. They are especially good as a series where every piece falls carefully into place to avenge and overcome and heal yet each couple has a complete story of their own.

I don’t hold to the idea that I am substituting myself for the heroine or that I am in love with the hero so I can enjoy this book as a carefully built exploration of characters, relationships and a world,