Review: Bane by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

One of my favorite tropes is the wounded hero who is self-aware, even as he repeatedly messes up his life. Roman ‘Bane’ Protsenko is one of those guys. A mixture of cocky and resigned to his choices, he’s a prostitute, hired by rich women to satisfy their needs, but he’s also a businessman, he runs a protection racket, and lastly, he surfs. Naked. There isn’t much this guy won’t do to make his mark on the world. You’re probably thinking what an unappealing chap he is, and to some extent, you’re right, but he becomes sympathetic. He’s funny, too, in a way, and ballsy despite his sad background.

His redemption comes when he happens across Jesse Carter. This woman has been through the most awful, traumatizing events (trigger warning for rape), and doesn’t go out anymore, except to her therapist’s. She’s anxious and scared, taunted, unsupported, and wounded beyond help. Her despairing step-father hires Bane to bring her out of her shell. [Read more…]

Joanna’s Favorites of 2017

With so many great and excellent reads published this year, I had a hard job settling on a short list. Some of my favourite authors have been knocking it out of the park with their releases, and I’ve made brand new finds who I’ll one-click forever.

How about you? Found a book that’s given you joy? Let me know.

Burn For You by J.T. Geissinger

Chef Bianca Hardwick goes head to head with rude, gorgeous and damaged Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux in this tale set in the Deep South. It’s all accents, sumptuous recipes and fiery tempers, with a dollop of an arranged marriage. And I adored it. [Read more…]

Review: Scandalous by LJ Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

Last I heard this book wasn’t coming out until next year so when I got notified, I one clicked the sucker faster than the speed of light. This is the latest in the series that brought you the filthy-mouthed Hotholes, and this edition offers Trent Rexroth, single dad and last man standing. He’s bad tempered, morally dubious and likes to hurt the women he sleeps with. No sweet kisses from this guy. The only people he cares about are his immediate family and his three friends who he runs a highly successful business with. But it’s the fifth partner in the business who’s causing him trouble. As well as the guy’s eighteen-year-old daughter. [Read more…]

Review: Sparrow by LJ Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

You may have noticed my fangirling over this author, and when I heard she had an arranged marriage tale, I leapt on it. I love her Sinners of Saint series, and she has a talent for writing guys who are so bad, so awful to their heroines, that you want to beat them with their own shoes for being so despicable.

Well, this guy takes the biscuit. Troy Brennan is a mobster. Mr Fixer, as he’s known, and where his father was a Boston big shot, after his death his son is a feared and respected replacement. Troy doesn’t run gangs or drugs, instead he works for other mobsters and cleans up problems they have.

Sparrow Reynes is problem for him. For spoilerish reasons he has to marry her, and the book kicks off at the preparations for their wedding. Sparrow has no idea what’s going on. All she knows is Troy has picked her as his bride, despite them having zero conversation or knowledge of each other, and she had to go through with it because her father is under his control. Truth is, their lives are more intertwined than she knows, and that all comes out in the wash. [Read more…]

Review: Tyed by LJ Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

This is the tale of Blaire and Tyler. She’s an unhappy and directionless college student, and he’s the super hot Mixed Martial Arts fighter she is assigned to interview. Except Tyler never gives interviews, and they don’t get off to a good start.

Blaire does not enjoy college. She failed the first year of her communications degree, and even though she’s now closing in on graduation, she spends much of her time zoning out in class and smoking joints with her best friend, Shane. [Read more…]

Review: Ruckus by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

Ooh, I’ve been looking forward to this book. This author writes the best alpha a-holes, who I love to hate before I learn to love.

We’ve worked our way to the third of the Hotholes, and Ruckus, or Dean Cole is the a-hole in the frame. In book one, Vicious, he was dating Millie, who ends up with Vicious, the psychotic leader of the rich-boy gang. Yet even as Dean and Millie were an item, he loved someone else. Her younger sister, Rosie LeBlanc.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about inter-family dating, but my concerns went by the by pretty quickly, with some great background building to their romance, and also the time that passes in the tale. Add to that the fact Dean slept with pretty much everything that moved in the eleven years since he and Millie broke up, and the sister connection is pretty weak. [Read more…]

Review: Defy by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

This novella is the tale of Melody, a twenty-six-year-old teacher who falls for Jaime, her eighteen-year-old student. It’s unapologetically instalove on Jaime’s behalf (and instalust on Melody’s), and I was interested in whether I’d feel icked out by the abuse of power and age difference between the two. I’d met Jaime in book one – Vicious – and here I found myself warmed by just how dedicated a hero he is in his own story.

Melody hates her job. She was meant to be a ballerina but a bad leg break put paid to her career. Teaching literature is her alternative but she isn’t very good at it and her students don’t pay any attention to her. Apart from Jaime Followhill. The six-three blond man-bunned stud is all about the teacher. He stalks Ms Greene until he finds a way to blackmail her into seeing him. She puts up a feeble resistance – based mainly on the fact his mother is the school principal – but they end up in bed together (I say ‘bed’ but it is mostly other places). [Read more…]

Review: Vicious by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

Baron Spencer Jr is a nasty piece of work. His family owns half the town of Todos Santos, including the mansion Emilia (Millie) LeBlanc’s parents are servants in. At age eighteen, Baron, known as Vicious, is a right handsome little terror. He’s a trust fund baby with zero respect for anyone, throwing wild parties at the mansion with his crew, the Four HotHoles (weirdest crew name I ever heard), and lusting after Millie whilst hating on her too. She hates him right back, but as the Help, won’t tell him where to go, else her parents lose their jobs. [Read more…]