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The Girls Across The Bay (The Knox and Shepphard Mysteries, Book 1) by Emerald O’Brien – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

The Girls Across The Bay (Knox and Sheppard, #1)The Girls Across The Bay by Emerald O’Brien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girls Across the Bay is the first of the instalment of the Knox and Sheppard series. It’s a mystery/thriller that follows the lives of two foster sisters, their careers and how they are merged together under some tragic circumstances. This was a detailed read and I loved how much we were thrown into the characters and their world. Although a longer read, I found I couldn’t put this down and finished it in one Sunday-afternoon sitting. If you love a good mystery and strong family ties, this is definitely the book for you!

This is one of those books that had me hooked from the moment I read the blurb. Not only was it creepy, it also mentioned two of my favourite careers to read about: detective and journalist. Don’t ask me why, but I just love characters in these lines of work; I find them so interesting and fun to read! With Grace and Madigan also being family, I knew this was going to be a book I would enjoy. And the story did not disappoint. While it took me a while to get my head around the logistics and connections of the plot, I can’t deny that I was hooked on the story from the very beginning. The elusiveness of Grace and Madigan’s past is enough to keep you interested but throw in a murder, some romance and colleague rivalry, and you have the makings for a really entertaining read. Seeing Grace and Madigan battle with their colleagues was one of my favourite parts of this book, even if it was a little frustrating at times!

The murder of a local women is the heart of the story and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? The investigation of the crime was actually really well paced and well written. It didn’t drag on for too long, nor did it feel rushed and unnatural, which can often be the case with mysteries when they are too romance heavy. I liked the twist of having Madigan’s journalist career involved in the investigation, too, as this offered a different perspective to things.

If you can’t already tell, I really enjoyed this book. After being in a bit of a reading slump, this has definitely peaked my interests and got me back into a reading mood, especially for mysteries. This was a fab start to a new series and I know I will be buying the rest of the books. Thanks to the author for such a great read!

Review by @ashleighw

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Michael’s Heart by Lori Thomas Harrington – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Michael's HeartMichael’s Heart by Lori Thomas Harrington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael’s Heart by Lori Thomas Harrington is an emotional contemporary romance read. The author uses music perfectly to tell Colbie’s traumatic yet hopeful story and share her life with us. I really liked this read and have already recommended it to a friend!

This is one of those ‘journey’ books. We follow Colbie through so many significant events in her life that you’re really able to connect with her. After a tragic accident leaves her fighting for her life, Colbie learns that there is more to death than so many people believe. While I know many people fell for Michael as soon as we are introduced to him, I’ll admit it took me a little longer; he just seemed too perfect! Their instant connection was fun to read and when Colbie was miraculously brought back to the real world, I could feel her pain at losing Michael so quickly. So when she meets Will and his daughter, things get complicated. And oh man, did I love this! This is not you typical romance read and I think that’s what made it so refreshing and addictive. I ended up reading this in one sitting, as I just couldn’t bear to leave Colbie and her struggles alone!

Music plays a huge part in this story. If that’s your kind of thing, this is a must read. I love a music-based romance, but this exceeded all my expectations. Colbie is linked to music so deeply and this connection is really what drives this book. There is so much emotion packed into such a short read that you need to be prepared for some ups and downs. When the truth is finally realised at the end of the book prepare yourself; I was a real mix of emotions! I loved the author’s writing style and will definitely be looking at more of her work. If you like your romance with added music and hope, this is for you!

Review by @ashleighw

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Steele Resolve by Gwyn McNamee (The Hawke Family Book 6) – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Steele Resolve (Hawke Family #6)Steele Resolve by Gwyn McNamee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Steele Resolve is the sixth and final instalment of the Hawke Family series. Returning to New Orleans and the world of the Hawke’s always has me excited, but there was something extra intriguing about this story. Following the Hawke’s enemy, Luca Abello, was something I was both intrigued and nervous about. After everything his family has done to the Hawke’s, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with him or his life. How wrong could I be?!

Our connection to the Hawke’s isn’t just through Luca. The other part of the book is written from Byron’s point of view, a long-standing employee and friend of the Hawke family. I immediately liked Byron and connected with his character. He’s open, honest and loyal and an all-round good person. This left me wondering even more about how someone so kind-hearted was going to find a connection with Luca. Well, it turns out Luca isn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, I ended up rather liking him, too! Luca has spent most of his life lying and putting up a false-front, so seeing him be so raw and real with Byron was so much fun to read. They really had an instant connection, and while this isn’t everyone’s favourite thing to read, I really felt like the chemistry they had was real and believable.

As with every Hawke Family instalment, this book had its drama and danger. The ‘oh my god’ moment in this book really took me by surprising; I actually had to stop and re-read to make sure I had read things correctly. It was such a shock and so unsuspecting, I loved it! But by far, my most favourite part of this book was the epilogue. No spoilers here but it was so so beautiful. It is, 100%, a very satisfying ending. For a series I love so much, this was a great addition and such a wonderful way to end things; what a bittersweet read!

Review by @ashleighw

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Tainted Saint (The Hawke Family Book 5) by Gwyn McNamee – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Tainted Saint (Hawke Family #5)Tainted Saint by Gwyn McNamee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fifth instalment in the Hawke Family Series, Tainted Saints throws us straight back into the dark and mysterious mafia world of New Orleans. We’ve come to love the Hawke family and each time we get a new glimpse of their world I can feel the anticipation and excitement building. Tainted Saint was no disappointment and I loved learning more about Caroline and Saint. This is a great instalment to the series and another five star read!

During the previous book, Building Storm, I really became interested in Caroline’s character and learning more about her. She comes across as quiet and shy, so I was waiting for someone to bring her out of her shell. Queue Saint, and what a wonderful job he did. From their very first, secretive, meeting during a rather intimate party, the chemistry between them had the book on fire. My eyes couldn’t read quick enough to get to the next sexy scene as the two of them have a connection that is just so addictive. This book also has its fair share of drama, which is expected when it comes to the Hawkes. As usual, they can’t help but insert themselves into something dangerous, which is the very reason we love them so much.

Tainted Saint proves that series can continue to be just as good at book five as it was at book one and two. I love the Hawke family and I know so many other people do, too. I’m so excited for the next instalment; bring on Luca!

Review by @ashleighw

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Bedlam (Twisted Hearts Love Story Book 1) by Autumn Sand – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Bedlam (A Twisted Hearts Love Story, #1)Bedlam by Autumn Sand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bedlam is the first of the Twisted Hearts Love Story series by Autumn Sand. This story promises it all; danger, deception and a forbidden love affair. If this doesn’t make you want to jump straight into the book, I don’t know what will. While I love a romantic thriller, I’m not always one for the darker reads. Something about Bedlam had me hooked before I’d even started and I’m so pleased it did. This was an exciting and addictive read that I cannot recommend enough.

From the very beginning of Bedlam we learn everything is not as it seems in Anaya’s life. While it might appear she has the perfect set-up, nice apartment, designer clothes, this is far from the truth. Her relationship with her long-term boyfriend has all but fizzled out, but how do you end things when before-mentioned boyfriend is the head of a mafia empire? A mafia romance you say? Not quite! Ignacio, or Iggy, is anything but the warm, romantic type. His scenes with Anaya were always difficult to read and very disturbing. His hold over her is strong, but she still manages to form friendships and a career outside of her life with him. It’s her career that throws her in Tony’s path. Now he is a man worth talking about! Tony and Anaya immediately have an intense connection and sparks fly. Unlike her and Ignacio’s scenes, I loved reading the scenes between Anaya and Tony. They were hot; so prepare yourself for some very believable chemistry.

Before you start reading Bedlam, be warned that there are some serious triggers. This is not an easy-to-read book, so be ready for some really uncomfortable reading. Right from the start we are exposed to some deeply sad events and it only gets worse as the story moves on. This book is filled with deception, danger and lies so expect everything that comes with those labels. However, this story is also hopeful and there are some really lovely scenes. While most of these are between Anaya and Tony, look out for some unexpected scenes with Fred; my favourite character!

Bedlam is both the book I was expecting, but also full of surprises. It is darker than I thought it would be but also has some lighter, touching moments. I read this in one sitting; yes, it really is that addictive! For anyone who loves a mafia or dark romance read, I would recommend this in a heartbeat. I can’t wait to read more of this series!

Review by @ashleighw

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The Billionaire and the Therapist (Clean Billionaire Romance Reads #1) by Kim Koby – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

The Billionaire and the Therapist (Clean Billionaire Romance Reads, #1)The Billionaire and the Therapist by Kim Koby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first book in the Clean Billionaire Romance Reads, The Billionaire and The Therapist follows John and Natalie as they explore a new relationship under some difficult circumstances. This is a quick read that satisfies your sweet romance craving perfectly.

We meet Natalie at a crucial point in her life. Still living with the fear from a recent tragic event, she has changed her whole life to try and help her feel safe again. Finally settled in Texas, things really kick off when she accepts a job proposal from billionaire, John. He is the perfect mixture of alpha-businessman and kind, sweet-hearted father. Him and Natalie have an instant connection, mostly through their shared determination to help manage his daughter’s PTSD. There is a lot of love in this book and that is what makes it such an enjoyable read. This book doesn’t have lots of steamy romance scenes, but it delivers believable love in many other ways.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet read. With the perfect balance of drama and love, this book hits all the right spots. It sets up the rest of the series perfectly and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Review by @ashleighw

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Luke (Dark Water Security #1) by Madison Quinn – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Luke (Dark Water Security #1)Luke by Madison Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Luke is the first instalment of the Dark Water Security series. A contemporary romance that deals with some dark and disturbing issues, it had me hooked from the very first chapter. While it’s a lot darker than I normally go for, I absolutely loved this story and the characters we meet. Luke and Emily have a connection so strong that it’s believable, despite this being a short and intense read. If you like your romances with added danger, this is a must read for you.

The book opens in a dark place, with Luke held prisoner at the hands of a violent and unrelenting monster. Forced to fit for his life, Luke has all but given up hope of ever escaping. So when his rebellion causes an innocent, fifteen-year old girl to join him in captivity, he puts every last ounce of strength in finding a way to free them both. Ten years later and Luke has made a life himself. A distinguished army service and now running a private security firm, the last thing he needs is to be thrown into the past. Seeing him work with Emily again is so addictive. I was hooked on reading their scenes together and seeing the chemistry fly. Emily is a very different person to the one he remembers, and seeing her so strong was empowering after everything she has been through.

If fear and danger is what you’re looking for, this book ticks all of the boxes. It starts and ends with Emily in hot water, so be prepared for a rollercoaster read. The story deals with some difficult themes, so expect some hard to read moments, especially at the start of the book. The author writes these really well, being respectful but realistic at the same time. Like I said, this is darker than I normally read but I absolutely loved it and will definitely be recommending it to others.

Review by @ashleighw

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Building Storm (Hawke Family Series #4) by Gwyn McNamee – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Building Storm: (A Hawke Family Novel) (The Hawke Family Book 4)Building Storm: (A Hawke Family Novel) by Gwyn McNamee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Building Storm is the fourth instalment of the Hawke Family series. Every book in this series has brought the drama and this one is no exception. I am a huge fan of this series and the characters it has created, so to say I was excited for this read is an understatement. This book has it all: drama, sexiness, love and a huge amount of emotion. I loved this story and think it is the perfect ending to the series.

At the end of the previous book, Stone Sober, I wasn’t sure how Storm was going to cope. I was excited to read her story but also nervous, as I knew it was going to be an emotional journey. Not only was she dealing with a tragic loss, she was also coming to terms with the new, difficult, relationship she has wit her brother Stone. This was one of the things I was most excited to read about, as I really couldn’t see how she would be able to forgive him and move on. Her relationships with all of her family and central to this book and I loved seeing the whole family together, especially with the inclusion of new boy, Landon! He is exactly what Storm is trying to avoid and yet the instant connection they have is crazy. He is so intense and it completely throws her, which was so much fun to read!

Aside from all the drama with the Hawke family, which there is an abundance of, Landon brings his own problems to the table. We learn pretty early on that he has some serious issues with his dad, but we don’t learn the truth of it for quite a while. I loved how well this was drawn out, as the little hints along the way had me guessing what had happened. There is a pretty dramatic ending so I won’t ruin it for you but it is the perfect conclusion to this series. I am gutted that it’s all over!

This series took me completely by surprise. From the first huge plot twist in Savage Collision, I found myself hooked on these characters and their lives. Storm’s story really hit me in the heart and I have grown to completely love her; is she allowed to be my favourite female character? This is a must read for fans of this series. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Review by @ashleighw

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The Something Series (Box Set Books 1-3) by Aubrey Bondurant – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

The Something Series - Box Set Books 1-3: (Tell Me Something, Ask Me Something & Bet Me Something)The Something Series – Box Set Books 1-3: by Aubrey Bondurant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Something Series boxset contains the first three instalment of Aubrey Bondurant’s Something series: Tell Me Something, Ask Me Something and Bet Me Something. Each story follows a different couple but all revolve around the same friendship group. Set in stylish cities across America, New York City and Las Vegas to name just two, all three of these books are exciting, glamorous and addicting reads. One of my favourite series EVER, I cannot recommend this boxset enough.

If the previous statement didn’t give it away, this review is definitely a little biased. I absolutely love this series and have done from the moment I started reading Hayley and Josh’s story in Tell Me Something. Those two characters, and their dramatic storyline, pulled me in from the very beginning and before I knew it I was hooked. While Josh isn’t the easiest person to love, including for Hayley (!), seeing these two grow closer over the course of the book was so much fun. Being the first couple of the series, they have a special place in my heart and in the series itself; they are the originals! So when I started Ask Me Something, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive. How were Sasha and Brian going to live up to my expectations? Quite easily, as it turns out, and soon I was obsessed with them, too. This book definitely had a more grown up feel and I loved reading about to adult characters with powerful, high-level careers. The dynamic between the two was so interesting and their passion and charisma was hot. I loved how Brian both pulled Sasha out of her comfort zone and made her feel safe. A lot of love for these two!

Of all the books in the series, Bet Me Something has a special place in my heart. Colby and Kenzie are younger characters who are still trying to figure stuff out, which makes them so much more relatable for me. Another bonus is the friends-to-loves storyline, as this is probably my favourite romance genre. I love the whole ‘childhood crush’ thing Kenzie has for Colby and found myself screaming at Colby to finally admit his feelings for her. This is the perfect angsty read that the series was missing and I have to say, is probably my favourite.

If you’re not already convinced, this is a must-read romance series. I can’t remember how many people I have recommend it to and they have also said they love it. Once you’ve started this series you won’t want to stop, so the boxset is the perfect introduction; trust me, books four and five are just as good! I will never stop re-reading this series and honestly cannot recommend it enough.

Review by @ashleighw

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Beats of the Heart (Lyrical Odyssey Rock Star Series #1) by Charli B Rose – Review by Ashleigh Whitwell

Beats of the HeartBeats of the Heart by Charli B. Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beats of the Heart is the first in an exciting contemporary romance duet. Set in the crazy world of the music industry, we meet two young lovers as they try to maintain their relationship amidst the madness of a rock stars life. This book easily swept me off my feet and I was lost in the story almost instantly. If you like your musical reads with added heartbreak, this book is definitely for you!

Although only a short read, Beat of the Heart packs A LOT in. The heat and passion starts immediately and doesn’t let up. I loved both Izzy and Dawson and the innocence and purity of their relationship. In the blurb this book promise a best friends-to-loves romance, and although we didn’t really get to learn much about that in the book, I love the premise behind it. This book delivers a beautiful love story in the little pages it has and I cannot fault the author for this. Izzy and Dawson’s relationship feels real and believable, which can so often be missed by authors. I connected with the pair and found myself really wishing for their happiness. Whilst there won’t be any huge spoiler here, I will say that you need to be prepared for some shocks. The end of this read was a killer, especially as part two isn’t out yet!

Simply put, I loved this little read. It was thoroughly satisfying and has left me very happy on Wednesday evening. I cannot wait until the next part is released (I need it now!) and will be telling lots of people about how good this read is. If a romantic, music read is what you’re looking for, Beats of the Heart will perfectly hit the spot!

Review by @ashleighw

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