Allison’s Adventures in Underland – C. M. Stunich

This book is suitable for 18+ due to mature content.
Allison’s Adventures in Underland – C. M. Stunich

Um. Um. Um. Are you reading this? If you are, I need your help.

I was at a party; I was running; I fell. And get this—this is the part you'll never believe—I fell down a rabbit hole. Like Alice in those old books.

Except in those books, there wasn't blood everywhere. In those books, the characters weren't all male, attractive, and interested in me. Forget everything you know about the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the March Hare …

This isn't Wonderland; this is Underland. Violence, sex, drugs, and magic … that's all there is in this place. There's me, Allison, and there are the men that want me, the enemies that hunt me, and the darkness that's quickly rolling in.

And only I can stop it. So if you're reading this, will you help me? Please. I just want to escape this place and go … home.

ALLISON'S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND (Book 1 of 3 in the "Harem of Hearts" series) -- is a full-length reverse harem/new adult/dark romance novel, a gritty retelling of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". Don't expect a children's tale; these characters are nothing like their more innocent counterparts. This book contains: drugs, cursing, violence, sex ... and love found in the darkest shadows.

Allison's Adventures in Underland by C.M. Stunich
Series: Harem of Hearts #1
four-half-stars
Genres: Dark, Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eBook

This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read in the best way possible. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I’ve been hearing about this story for a while (considering it’s been out since last year) and just didn’t get to reading it until recently. Honestly, I wish I had read it earlier just so I could’ve gotten in on the hype sooner, but then again, would I have blogged about it at that point? Possibly not. And this is definitely a good one to blog about.

I’ve always been a big Alice in Wonderland fan, and that includes several of its many adaptations. I’m also a huuuge fan of C.M. Stunich. In fact, her Rock Hard Beautiful series was my first ever reverse harem read, and in my opinion, she pretty much sets the bar for a good reverse harem story. So, with that said, here’re my thoughts on Allison’s Adventures in Underland 

First off, Allison is a snarky, sarcastic, somewhat tomboyish young adult who I immediately related to. I may not be quite as outspoken, but I definitely found a bit of a kindred spirit in Allison, lol. Part of what I loved about her is that she questions things that normal heroines readily accept in most romance novels. She’s not a pushover and just because she’s told something is acceptable doesn’t mean she’s on board with it, and no one is making her do something she doesn’t want to do. Also, she’s constantly wondering what Dee is talking about, which are some of the funniest interactions in this story. Case in point:

“That’s the problem with assumptions,” Dee says, whistling as he starts off down the path. “They make an ass out of you and shins—two of which we all have.” He pauses for a second before turning around to look at me. “Unless of course you’re an amputee which then you could have one shin or none shin and then the only person that’s an ass is you.” I just stare at him because, like, what the fuck is he saying?

Allison discovers she’s the Alice–something pertaining to a prophecy that you either believe or you don’t, though considering she actually makes it to Underland (formally Wonderland), then you better start believing. In short, the Alice is supposed to save Underland and restore it to its former glory. Where Wonderland was bright and beautiful, Underland is dark and full of drugs, sex, backstabbing, and murder. This certainly isn’t a book for the faint of heart, and the characters are definitely not the ones we all grew up with.

There are assassins, a shapeshifting jabbberwock, a shapeshifting bandersnatch, a perpetually high butterfly, and many other odd characters that take the originals and twist them into some very intriguing concepts.

I don’t want to say too much about this book because I essentially went in blind and I feel like that’s probably the best way to read it. There were so many clever twists added to this story, as well as some great sexual tension and chemistry. So far, Tee and Dee are my favorites, but I’m excited to get to know the other characters more in the next book (due out this year! Yay!).

Just like most of her other novels, I adored this book. It’s different and it’s raw and gritty and definitely won’t be liked by everyone, but if you have a bit of an open mind and aren’t afraid to try something new, give this strange story a shot. You just might enjoy it!

 

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four-half-stars

Sunshine and Bullets – CoraLee June

This book is suitable for 18+ due to mature content.
Sunshine and Bullets – CoraLee June

Sunshine.

It’s a nickname I haven’t heard since I lived on Woodbury Lane, where the houses were pretty but the secrets? Deadly. It was a pet name known only to the Bullets. Rough, violent, and ruthless, they laid claim to the town — and my heart.

I wasn't supposed to fall for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks—especially not four of them. But they were the only ones who understood that sometimes hell hides in plain sight.

I was the girl with all the conveniences a privileged upbringing could provide. The world only saw two loving parents and a pristine home life, but I knew the truth. And it was going to get me killed. So, I disappeared, from everyone and everything I’d ever known. I changed my name and my appearance, but the scars I carry, they’re still the same.

The Bullets are all grown up now, too — a crime boss, a pro fighter, a bounty hunter, and a federal agent. Life took them in different directions, but they once shared the bonds of a brotherhood forged under the harshest conditions. Together they were fearless. Brutal. Unstoppable.

I'm praying they can find that unity again. If I'm going to survive this, it'll take everything they have. Because that's the thing about running from the past.

Eventually, it catches up to you.

Sunshine and Bullets by CoraLee June
Series: The Bullets #1
five-stars
Genres: Romance, Dark, New Adult, Reverse Harem
Pages: 297

You know those books that get under your skin in such a way that you swear you can feel the words etching themselves on your soul? That’s how I feel after reading Sunshine and Bullets.

This was one of the most intense stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It was devastating and heartbreaking and sexy and so deliciously angsty, I couldn’t put it down.

Summer–AKA Sunshine–is inexplicably drawn to The Bullets; a group of three tight-knit guys who are from the wrong side of the tracks. Gavriel, Blaise, and Ryker all love her in their own way and do everything in their power to protect her while they’re together. Then there’s Callum–the sexy young cop who’s working for her dad. He’s five years older than her and the other guys and he vows he’ll wait for her.

Sunshine loves them all and can’t bring herself to choose just one of them. When something major happens that makes her feel like she has no other choice, she runs without a backward glance. Five years of radio silence later, they find her. But the men they are now? They’re so different from the boys she once knew. They’re harder, rougher, more damaged and broken. Without her, their bond has been frail at best, and when she reenters their lives, they’re terrified she’ll bolt again–even if some of them *cough*Ryker*cough* are too stubborn to show it.

Emotions run high and hormones run rampant among the five. Sunshine is honest in her desire for all four men, and while most are desperate to make the unconventional relationship work, Callum needs a little convincing. He’s always played by the rules and The Bullets do anything but. Gavriel is quick to take control of the situation, and–well, you’ll have to read to find out. 😉

Sunshine has been through hell and back in the five years she’s been away from her guys. To say her life has been rough is an understatement. Gavriel promises to protect her–for a price–and she has to learn to trust again after being alone for so long. The transition isn’t an easy one, and it takes her some time to finally feel as if she can open up and tell the guys the truth; the reason why she left them and never looked back. And let me tell you; it’s a pretty damn good reason. No matter how much you want to hate her for taking off without any explanation, you have to admit that as a young seventeen-year-old girl, she was scared and felt she had no choice. I can’t say I would have done any differently than she had.

While this is definitely a dark book, the characters are written so well. You can’t help but fall in love with each of them for different reasons. And Sunshine is written beautifully–she’s a perfect mixture of strength wrapped up in fragility. Her reactions and what I can only describe as PTSD symptoms were so honest and believable without being over-the-top.

 

If dark romance is your thing and you’re okay with multiple love interests, then you definitely need to check this book out! I’m going to be [not-so] patiently awaiting the next novel, on pins and needles to discover what happens next. Five stars for this baby.

 

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five-stars

Soulless Nights – Virginia Johnson

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

Soulless Nights by Virginia Johnson
three-stars
Genres: Romance, Dark
Format: ARC

28943216**Trigger warning: themes of sexual abuse, sex trafficking and homelessness**
BLURB
Deep in the city, where we’ve been taught to avoid the dark corners and alleys, monsters lurk within the fragile cracks of our human emotions, waiting for the chance to break in.
With the loss of his grandfather, William runs to the streets without family or the knowledge of wealth he’s left behind. Spending years begging for food and money, William has learned the secrets that the city keeps hidden, making him one of the most versatile detectives the department has ever seen.
Losing the love of his life, with nothing more than a letter saying she’s sorry and spending five years tracking her, William has learned that she has entered the world where sex and money can make you very successful or may very well kill you in the process.
Kathryn has spent seven years on the streets, leaving behind her addicted, abusive mother and her sexual predator boyfriends. William proves to be the light she’s been longing for but when darkness shadows the truth she’s left to return to the streets in hiding with fear of the lies she’s faced with.
Kathryn must decide, work for Xander and sell her soul for sex, or face the demons of her past and hope William understands she has never forgotten him.
(Blurb and photo taken from the Soulless Nights GoodReads page)

This book made me sick. And before you take that to mean that it wasn’t a good read, let me assure you: it was. The story was incredibly compelling and sucked me in immediately, but the subject matter had me so angry and feeling so heartbroken for these women in the sex trafficking that it was difficult for me to get through. There were certain parts of this book I really had to muddle through because there are a few explicit and abusive sex scenes that made the reading process almost too much to bare. I love the heroism in this novel and the way these two characters reunite, but the getting to that point was gruesome, heart wrenching, and extremely difficult to “witness.”

Virginia Johnson most definitely is a good storyteller. She has a good story in her mind and she recites what is inside her head quite well. The delivery of the story could use a little work, but I’m not complaining. There are a few editing mistakes that made the story a little distracting, though not enough to keep me from reading. I found it difficult to make it through at times; certain parts seemed to drag and give a bit too much information, while others almost skimmed past what seemed to be important parts of the storyline and I felt like I was missing something (though that could be due to the fact that I do most of my reading at night while rather tired).

All in all, I wouldn’t say I necessarily enjoyed the read, as that seems too nice of a word for a subject so harsh–but it was a good story. The ending is left wide open for a sequel, which I will probably be reading to get the rest of these characters’ stories, but I do think there is potential for a good story worth telling here.

If you can get through the abusive nature of sex trafficking, then I suggest you decide for yourself whether you think the story is worth reading or not 🙂

You can get your copy of Soulless Nights here!
I was provided a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

three-stars

Ocean by Jo Raven

Ocean by Jo Raven
Series: Damage Control #5
five-stars
Genres: Romance, New Adult
Format: eBook

oceanBLURB
I thought I was a normal kid once. Do normal kids have to beg from door to door for food? Not sure. It wasn’t always that bad, I guess – and then it was. Really f***ing bad.
I tried to protect my younger brother from the fallout. Lied to him about how bad things were.
But it wasn’t enough. And when the accident happened, he blamed me, like everyone else.
I’m guilty of many things. He’s right about that, at least. So d**n guilty I’m sure everyone knows and will call me out on it.
Except they don’t. Nobody does, except my brother.
Not even Kayla, sexy and sweet and coolest girl ever, who keeps buying me coffee and trying to read my future. But my future isn’t in the g*****n cards, or even in my hands. I don’t see a future. I deny fate, but fate has me pinned like a moth and won’t let me walk away.
Won’t let me escape.
And yeah… you know you’re losing grip when the girl you want reads your palm and you’re scared to hell of what she’ll see and of the pain you can tell is coming.
**WARNING** This book is NOT for the faint of heart. If you have issues reading about abuse (physical or mental), then please DO NOT read this book. 18+ for sexual content, language and violence.
(Photo and description from the GoodReads page)

I’m a huge fan of Jo Raven’s. She is one of those authors I one-click immediately, even before reading the premise of the book, just because I can almost guarantee I’ll like it since she’s the one who wrote it. I certainly wasn’t disappointed in this book. I’ve been following the lives of the Inked Brotherhood and Damage Boyz for quite some time now and feel pretty invested in these characters, and Ocean has always been a mystery. There was always something beneath the surface that had me scratching my head in wonderment. Thankfully, we get some answers in Ocean that explain more than I expected.

Per the very apt title of Damage Boyz, Ocean is very notably damaged like the rest of his “brothers” in his workplace. Thinking he is someone unworthy of love, Ocean spends his time wallowing in guilt and self-hatred. He works hard to help his undeserving mother get through her sickness, and he is desperately trying to piece his relationship with his brother, Raine, back together.

Kayla is a unique soul following the sound of a drum only she can hear. She loves fashion and colors, and is very into tarot cards and the answers she hopes to find in them. Kayla doesn’t believe love exists. She’s spent all her life watching her parents go through a loveless marriage and she doesn’t want to end up like them, so rather than take a chance and try, she has stayed away from relationships altogether. That is, until she meets Ocean. There’s just something about him that makes her want to delve beneath the surface and get to know who he is underneath his fun-loving and tattooed exterior.

The two watch each other from afar for some time before one night when Ocean takes Kayla home after having too much to drink and sparks start to fly. Next comes a tumultuous relationship with more ups and downs than a roller coaster. When they realize they’re falling in love with each other, they have a choice to make: stay where it’s safe, but live a sad and lonely life, or risk having their hearts broken, but possibly have the love they’ve always desired.

Ocean is a beautifully flawed love story that will tear at your heart and leave you breathless and rooting for these two people who you can’t help but love. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the romance/new adult genre with a bit of edge. And if you do read it, be sure to tell me what you think 🙂
Get your copy here!

five-stars

The Torment of Rachel Ames – A Novella by Jeff Gunhus

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

Suffering from writer’s block, novelist Rachel Ames escapes to a lake cabin to calm her mind and regain a sense of herself. The location is perfect. Isolated. Beautiful. Inspiring. It even comes with a good-looking landlord who shows an interest in her. But she can’t shake the sense that something terrible has followed her to the lake, something just beyond her consciousness, something out on the edge where the sounds of a raging fire and sirens linger whenever she slows down to listen. Determined to make the cabin work, she tries to settle in and give her new life a chance. But when strange things begin to happen around her, she wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. As the darkness that’s followed her manifests itself in inexplicable ways, her concept of reality is stretched thin and she realizes nothing at the lake is what it seems. As she fights to survive with her sanity intact, she understands too late that the location she’s chosen for herself is far from perfect.

The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus
five-stars
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Romance, Dark
Format: ARC, Paperback

I should begin by being completely frank: the genre this book falls under is not my preferred genre in the least. While I love thrillers in the movie genre, I tend to gravitate more toward romances in the book genre. Yes, there is an underline of romance in this novella (and yes, I am woman enough to admit that it thrilled me), the actual story is what kept me reading. In fact, once I started reading, I could not put it down.

Rachel is a tormented soul (hence the title), and the journey she begins at the lake is not only enticing and shocking, but it’s completely unnerving–and at times, downright frightening. Throughout the entire story, I was wondering right along with Rachel what secrets the cabin at the lake were hiding, and whether or not she could trust anyone. Honestly, I didn’t want to trust anyone in this story because I had no idea if I could or not! And the thing is, I absolutely loved the suspense! The whole thing played out like a movie in my mind. Gunhus has an incredible way of writing; he knows exactly how to describe each scene with an imaginative amount of detail and understanding.

This is a psychological thriller that will appeal to lovers of books of all genres–take it from the romance junkie! I cannot get this story out of my head (trust me, I mean that in a good way) and I’m dying to read the rest of his works now. I am so glad I found this novella!

Get your copy here!

five-stars

Sleepy Hollow: An Ingenius Retelling From Katrina’s Point of View

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

Katrina’s still haunted by her encounter with the Headless Horseman - the night he beckoned to her. Now he has risen again, slashing heads and terrorizing the quiet countryside.

Her only joy during this dismal darkness comes when Ichabod Crane, a gorgeous young man from Connecticut, moves to Sleepy Hollow and their attraction turns to romance.

When the Horseman marks Ichabod as his next victim, Katrina, despite dangerous efforts to save him, sees no other choice than for them to flee.

But the Horseman awaits. Now it’s up to her to sever the horror and alter the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow by Dax Varley
Series: Sleepy Hollow #1
five-stars
Genres: Romance, Dark, Paranormal, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook

To be honest with you, I have very little knowledge of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, other than that of the infamous Headless Horseman and the names Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel. I knew bits and pieces of the story, mostly from Tim Burton’s take on the story in the 1999 film Sleepy Hollow, along with the few episodes I’ve seen of Fox’s popular television show of the same name. Neither of these adaptations compare with Dax Varley’s novel, written in the first-person in Katrina Van Tassel’s POV.

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(Cover picture taken from the Sleepy Hollow Amazon page)

This is such a refreshing take on a legend that has been retold many times in many different ways. Varley brings life to a story that could be considered beaten to death, particularly shedding a new light on Katrina Van Tassel–a character on whom I had previously viewed as a spoiled socialite, intent on flirting with any man who showed her any ounce of attention, and playing the damsel-in-distress nonsense to new lengths to the point where she comes across as childish, selfish, and incredibly spoiled. While Varley’s Katrina is certainly rich and somewhat spoiled in her own right, she is certainly able to hold her own. Though she makes some questionable choices throughout the novel, her intent behind them is generally mostly pure. It is clear her relationships to her friends and family are very important to her, albeit to a fault in some circumstances. Katrina is independent, unwilling in any form to settle down, until meeting the strange and mysterious Ichabod Crane.
Ichabod Crane is the town’s newest teacher. He is highly educated and a firm believer in a new way of teaching the children, which catches the unwanted attention of the town’s council. He is everything a stodgy town set in its ways doesn’t want: energetic, eccentric, prone to trying new things, implementing a new curriculum, and a strong desire to teach the town’s slave children. He has quite an interest in the supernatural, particularly ghosts and witchcraft. Ichabod is not entirely likable to the “higher ups” of Sleepy Hollow, but he certainly catches the eye of a few young women; Katrina Van Tassel being one herself.
The events that transpire after the arrival of Ichabod Crane kept me highly intrigued. Not only was this book thrilling and at times quite mysterious, it was also quite romantic, exciting, and well-versed in the supernatural. I was actually sad for this story to end as I felt there was so much more to tell, which is probably why this is only the first book 😉 And let me tell you–I cannot wait to read the second! If you’re looking for a novel centered around romance, superstition, and the supernatural, look no further. This is a fun take on a story we’ve all heard in one way or another, and I couldn’t be more impressed with Dax Varley 🙂 I am definitely a new fan, and I will be reading more of her writings!

Click here to get your copy!
GoodReads
Author’s GoodReads Page
Sleepy Hollow. Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, and Miranda Richardson. Paramount, 1999. IMDB. Web. 2 November 2015.
Sleepy Hollow airs Thursdays on Fox.

five-stars

The Darkest Frost, Pt. 2

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

ATTN: THIS IS NOT A STANDALONE. This is Volume 2 of a 2-part serial. Please read The Darkest Frost, Volume 1 first. Volume 2 begins where Volume 1 left off.

----------------------------------------------- The job seems simple enough at first: go undercover and catch her best friend’s killer. But psychic detective Denieve Knight gets more than she bargained for when she enters Dr. Braeden Frost’s estate as a “housekeeper.”

She's supposed to be sleuthing, not falling under the spell of the enigmatic doctor and his irrepressible, hellion of a brother, Xavier.

Now after two months of working for the man known as “Dr. Death,” she's entangled in a web of secrets and lies. Each discovery only leads to more questions. Though faced with declining health and a storm of confusing feelings and simmering passion for both brothers, Denieve is determined to uncover the truth---consequences be damned. Yet the truth may prove deadly once she discovers just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

The Darkest Frost, Vol. 2 by Tanya Holmes
Series: The Darkest Frost #2
five-stars
Genres: Romance, Dark, Paranormal, New Adult
Format: ARC

IMG_5792
(Please keep in mind that this is the SEQUEL to The Darkest Frost, so if you haven’t read that, go BACK and READ IT NOW. Go ahead. I’ll wait…)
Okay, did you read the first book? Good. Now grab a cup of coffee and settle in… 😉
Wow. After finishing the second (and final) installment of The Darkest Frost, I am breathless. These books are the exact storyline I didn’t know I needed; there is mystery, romance, suspense–all centered around a paranormal universe the author carefully constructed and made not only extremely fascinating, but also highly believable.
While I absolutely love the paranormal romance genre and have read many, I have never read one quite like this. The main storyline is so unique and entertaining, I found myself glued to the words, eagerly awaiting what would happen next! This book (as well as its first part) is also filled to the brim with excitement and twists and turns around every corner. I found myself thinking I had it figured out one page, and by the next I had no idea what to think until the truth was finally revealed. I wasn’t sure who to trust, whether or not the characters were truly authentic, or if I was merely being paranoid 🙂
This book is not for the faint of heart, and I loved being able to continue guessing all throughout! Not to mention, the men are sexy as hell, the intimate scenes are incredibly hot, and the heroine of the story is so likable and bada** at the same time, you can’t help but love her!
So, if you’re looking for a paranormal romance unlike anything else you’ve read, filled with humor, twists, hot love scenes, a bada** heroine, mystery and intrigue…look no further!
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Mysterious, steamy and captivating. THE DARKEST FROST, Vol 2 by Tanya Holmes is now LIVE! Don’t miss out on the amazing conclusion to this epic Gothic Romance. Grab your copy today! 
⇉ Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1U3jFgS
⇉ Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1MlxJOy
⇉ Paperbacks: https://www.createspace.com/5672986

five-stars