Book Review: Hot Shade, by Tamara Lush

Just how much trouble can a crush lead to? We find out in Tamara Lush’s new adult romance Hot Shade. Young journalist Skylar Shaw is about to find out. While covering the story of a plane crash on a Florida beach, Skylar meets the handsome, mysterious young Italian man who rescued the survivors – and is hooked.

Luca Rossi has been hiding at his uncle’s house in Florida, trying to escape the ghosts of his past. Exposing the mafia’s secrets back in Italy ended his own career as a reporter, and he has been in fear for his life ever since. Romance was the last thing on his mind, until he met the attractive young reporter who seems just as interested in him as he is in her.


Hot Shade cover

Cover of Hot Shade. Image via Amazon.

Even though both Luca and Skylar know that it would probably be better if they stayed away from each other, they just can’t seem to. Soon they both grow attached to one another, and gradually each one reveals their secrets to the other: Skylar divulges her past abusive relationship with an older man, and Luca finally tells her why he has left Italy to hide in the United States. But Luca’s past comes back to haunt him, and it could not only endanger him, but the woman he has grown to love. And as the suspense builds, the two of them have to turn to each other. Skylar is no damsel in distress, and she is as protective of Luca as he is of her, even when things grow to be life-threatening.

Lush draws on much of her own personal experience as a journalist in Florida, and she uses the setting to her advantage. The characters’ romantic relationship progresses naturally; even though they intuitively know that it would be better for the both of the to stay away from one another, they decide to become involved anyhow, just for a little bit. And of course their attraction develops into deeper feelings, though both are a little hesitant to tell one another about them. As attracted as she is to Luca, Skylar is very reluctant to jump into a relationship or even a fling with him. Luca is very understanding of Skylar’s cautiousness, and he does what he can to make her feel comfortable with pursuing the relationship. And Luca is hot…and such a great guy (no alpha male/abusive boyfriend tropes in this!). And the sex scenes! Can we say hot, and full of enthusiastic consent? Which is a HUGE reason for anyone who is specifically looking for romances with hot, consensual sex scenes to check this book out!


Book Review: The King and the Courtesan, by Angela Walker

Angela Walker takes the trope of alpha male billionaire plucking a girl from the gutter and introducing her to a life of riches and turns it on its head in her debut novel The King and the Courtesan.

Melissa Thatcher is a drug-addicted prostitute living in the Metro slum of Zinya City. Her life looks pretty bleak, until Ezekiel, one of the city’s leading drug dealers, approaches her with a proposition: if she becomes his escort, he will change her life forever. That means living with hi I his posh apartment in a better part of the city, access to money, new clothes, trips to places she only dreamed of visiting, and an endless supply of the substance she abuses. Melissa figures that it can’t be as bad as the life she’s currently leading, so she accepts the proposition. Little does she know that things won’t all that Ezekiel has promised they will, not by a long shot.

King & the Courtesan cover

Cover of The King and the Courtesan. Image via Amazon.

Ezekiel is ruthless and extremely calculating, traits that have only helped him to keep a grip of iron over his drug empire. All of the people in his employ are somehow indebted to him, to the stylist who takes care of Melissa’s wardrobe to the upstanding bodyguard who is working for Ezekiel in exchange for money for his wife’s cancer treatments. Ezekiel soon has Melissa in his stranglehold, and she is careful not to cross him, until she finds out how dangerous he really is when she breaks one of the many “rules” of their business arrangement. She becomes desperate to escape him, but she knows that only one of them will make it out of the arrangement alive, and she fully intends to live.

Walker is brutally honest about the realities of sexual trauma, addiction, poverty, and what constitutes abuse, even though she avoids explicit depictions of sex. We are able to understand the effects of such things on not only Melissa, but on others around her. In other works, Melissa’s situation might be romanticized, and Ezekiel, who came from a horrible family life as well, would have been seen as a tortured hero who can somehow be redeemed by the heroine. Walker is careful to avoid glamorizing the situation; she shows Ezekiel to be exactly the sociopath that he is. There is no way he can be redeemed because he does not view himself as being in the wrong.

Melissa’s situation also allows herself an opportunity to think about what it is she wants out of her life and she finds out that she is a much stronger person than she ever believed she was. She is a survivor, and somehow we know that once she is out of all of this, she is going to be okay.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Book Review: Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish, by G. G. Andrew

Nora Travers has spent her last few Halloweens working in a haunted house, playing witches and zombies and practically every monster in between. But she can’t always hang up her costume and take off her makeup after she gets home from work. Nora sometimes considers herself a monster of a different kind, one that many of us encountered, known as the “mean girl.” She is at the point in her life where she realizes that she was very horrible to a lot of people…and she regrets the way she treated them and feels genuine remorse for the things she did.

Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish cover. Image via Amazon.

Cover of Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish. Image via Amazon.

When horror blogger Brendan tours the haunted house she works at, she’s shocked when she realizes that he’s the geeky boy she tormented in junior high….and that he has become so hot. She’s determined to give him the scare of a lifetime so that he’ll give the haunted house a good review on his blog…until she realizes that he finds her just as attractive as she finds him.

Without divulging who she is, Nora flirts with Brendan, and he flirts right back. She finally decides that she needs to reveal who she really is…even though he might never have forgiven her.

Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish , by G. G. Andrew, is a funny, smartly written new adult novella about the second chances we so seldom get when we grow up and realize what we could have done differently and what we can do to make up for it. And sometimes the monsters that we’re most afraid of aren’t the make-believe ones, but the ones we try to run from within ourselves.