Review: Hideaway by Penelope Douglas

Reviewed by Joanna

This book has been eagerly anticipated by yours truly for two years, since the first in the dark romantic suspense series—Corrupt—knocked my socks off. So first, I should start with my standard Penelope Douglas warning. This is not a sweet and kind lovely story. It’s mean and brutish, with guys being horrible to girls, physical threats, rape threats, slut shaming and worse. The theme of these books is around the psyche and its link to the inner animal, with pursuit and aggression a key part of the route to love (for both the hero and heroine). If you can handle that you’ll happily drown in the oodles of tension and sexy atmosphere.

Now buckle up and I’ll tell you all about Kai and Banks. [Read more…]

Review: Next to Never by Penelope Douglas

Reviewed by Joanna

This is a warm up book to get us ready for the next generation of the sexy stars of the Fall Away series. Quinn is the much younger sister of Jared, Madoc and Jax, and lives under a regime of stifling overprotectiveness (from these guys? Can you imagine them letting a guy near her?). This seventeen-year-old is just waiting to fledge, and she knows the direction she wants to fly. Three years ago, family friend Lucas left town, taking her heart with him. He was fond of her, but at twenty-six they were never a match. He went to work in Dubai, and they lost contact. [Read more…]

Joanna’s Favorites of 2016

I joined the team of Red Hot Ladies in January and challenged myself to expand my reading choices past my usual go-tos. I’ve had my eyebrows raised and I’ve found writers I will love forever, from long-established authors to newbies who’ve contacted us at the blog and offered their work.

Throughout the year I’ve been editing my own novel, which is my new favorite and never ending pastime. Seriously – help, I can’t stop. Much respect for my co-reviewers, who published, drafted and dreamed big their own books this year – you guys rule and your work is sublime. On with my other favorite reads from the past twelve months:


Magic Binds (Kate Daniel #9) by Ilona Andrews

I’m pretty sure this novel will be on Jen’s list too. I love this series and rate this book as one of their best. The development of the relationship between Kate and Roland, her doting/murderous father, is fascinating. Curran made me laugh out loud, as did the side characters just being their excellent selves. The story is fast paced, compelling and tense, with little let up, and the world of post-shift Atlanta is just as awesome as it ever was. [Read more…]

Review: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

punk-57Reviewed by Joanna

Every time a book is released by PD it goes straight to the top of my reading list. With a fierce love/hate relationship between two hot protagonists, dark, suspenseful writing that slowly exposes the story, No Way moments, and tension that sucks you in, Punk 57 did not disappoint.

Misha and Ryen are pen pals, picked for one another by their unwitting fifth grade teachers (Misha is a boy, Ryen is a girl – their teachers didn’t understand names can be multi-gender), and they kept a seven year relationship via mail. Their close bond got them through tough times, relying on a pact never to look each other up on social media. One day, at a warehouse gig Misha’s band is playing (they’re 17/18 now), he finds himself face to face with a girl called Ryen. Knowing it can’t be a coincidence, he hits up his phone and, yup, confirms this beautiful girl is his Ryen. But as his attention is diverted, something awful happens elsewhere and Misha’s life is destroyed overnight. [Read more…]

Review: Aflame by Penelope Douglas

aflameReviewed by Joanna

This book is a big deal to fans of the Fall Away series. If you haven’t read book three, Falling Away, look away now.

We good? Okay. So Jared left Tate – shock, horror after how obsessive he was over her, and she over him, but stuff got real and he walked away.

As series followers will recall, Jared went into a military academy to make something of his life. Tate’s plans to become a doctor meant he didn’t want to be the unsuccessful husband she was embarrassed by. But our boy hated the academy and in a terrible scene in Falling Away, Tate found this out when his brother, Jax, yelled it at him. Families, smh. This caused a big fight and everything went wrong. [Read more…]

Review: Falling Away by Penelope Douglas

falling awayReviewed by Joanna

This is the third book in the Fall Away series, and I still can’t get enough. We kick off with K.C. walking in on Jax having sex with a couple of women. She’s shocked but then realizes how much she’d like to be the girl on the bottom and she bolts. Jax pursues her and they share a moment, but she shuts him down. She’s a year older and has a stick up her jacksey about a whole load of things. But I mean, to be fair, however attractive he is, he’s just been ‘there’ you know. I don’t blame her for not wanting to jump on right away. [Read more…]

Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas

rivalReviewed by Joanna

Woo! I love this series – it’s my kind of heaven to find a great character set and get to see them paired off. This book is all about Madoc, the other bully from the first Fall Away novel, and Fallon, his stepsister who’s back in town.

Fallon and Madoc didn’t grow up as siblings so that’s good and non-icky, but they did live in the same house in their mid-teen years and the inevitable happened – they gave their virginity to each other. They were rivals who fell in love but stuff went wrong and as Fallon later puts it:

“From your lips I was torn.” [Read more…]

Review: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

corruptReviewed by Joanna

Go big or go home. This dark tale concerns Rika, a young woman growing up in small town America, and Michael, the angry alpha she comes up against (pun intended). Rika spend more time with her boyfriend’s family than her own, as it’s just her and her mother, and mother is mostly wasted. Michael, her boyfriend’s older brother, both fascinates and terrifies her; she’s been in love with him for years, yet he’s never noticed her. [Read more…]

Review: Until You by Penelope Douglas

until youReviewed by Joanna

This is a retelling of the steamy Bully novel, this time from Jared’s perspective. Bully is about the relationship between a guy and girl who were best friends at age 11, enemies at 14, and become lovers at 17. (It’s set in the last year of high school, so the steaminess is okay.)

Jared is the bully to start with and Tate is his victim. Then she comes back from a year away in Paris and won’t take his crap anymore. She owns him, and they come together like two wrecking balls. It’s not sweet and high-schooly. It’s sexy and a little bit dark and I can’t get enough of this series.

Now I don’t mind a retelling of a good book, if it’s done well. This is. There’s a lot more extra content and the perspective is so different. Some scenes we don’t see, some we get a totally different view on, now we don’t have Tate’s assumptions and reactions. [Read more…]

Review: Bully by Penelope Douglas

bullyReviewed by Joanna

If you’re a sensitive soul who doesn’t like people being mean to other people by way of foreplay, then don’t read this book. If you like a tortured anti-hero who is too cool for school, sexy as hell and twisted by a terrible experience, then you really oughta read this book.

Tate has just returned from a year in France and is back in her original high school for her last year. Before she left, she was the victim of a campaign of petty bullying by her former best friend – Jared. [Read more…]