Review // Secrets of Shooting Star Lake by Susanna Strom

May 30, 2023

Secrets of Shooting Star Lake by Susanna Strom

"My happy place. My safe place.
But more than that, you're my home."

────── ♔ ──────

Secrets of Shooting Star Lake by Susanna Strom

Secrets of Shooting Star Lake by Susanna Strom

My Rating - ★★★★
Standalone - Black Rock Guardians #1
Release - June 27, 2023
Genre - Paranormal Romance
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - descriptive with a few scenes
Format - eARC provided by the author
Length - 326 pages

Fighting primal instinct is not for the faint of heart…

All I needed from the wickedly smart pastry chef was the land that would give my pack an advantage in the upcoming war.

I never expected to need her.

But Marit Hagen is my fated mate. Every fiber of my being is telling me to claim her.

It doesn’t matter that it’s forbidden. It doesn’t matter that choosing her could cost me everything. Even my life.

All I know is what I feel in my soul.

She’s mine.

I thought the isolated cabin would be a perfect place to recover from my latest romantic disaster.

I was wrong.

Turns out the woods are full of supernatural creatures who want something from me. And one of them wants all of me.

Sexy werewolf Adam Landry says I’m his soul mate.


I’m willing to accept the existence of shifters and a potential paranormal war. But I’ll never believe in eternal love.

No matter how much he makes me wish I could…

My Two Cents

I love when a new-to-me author gives me a book that seems to check all of my boxes!
❥ instalove/fated mate vibes
❥ Protective hero and compassionate heroine
❥ lovely side characters
❥ Tons of love and heat

At first, I found Marit to be a bit abrasive, despite understanding why she was rude and aggressive with Adam, however, she quickly grew on me. Once she gave herself a break, her character showed me she was full of such strong emotion, more than capable of being an equal to Adam. And Adam… I wasn’t even surprised by how much I enjoyed this character.

The author did an amazing job of weaving together the new connection growing between her characters, a sense of doom for the pack, and a bit of mystery. I was able to answer some of my questions pretty quickly, but I did not expect some of the twists and I loved that. I appreciated being surprised, especially when I thought I had things all figured out.

There was so much warmth between all of the characters. I found the expected spice between Adam and Marit, but their relationship, no matter how quickly they got there, was also full of so much heart. And the side characters, including her cousins and his, made me want even more. I’m hoping they each get their own story and that the subplot gets resolved in the books to come.

The Author

With the publication of Pandemonium, Susanna Strom is branching out into an entirely new variety of romance. Susanna loves to read—and write—stories full of complex characters who find love, hope and connection while navigating through a challenging new world. Pandemonium is her first foray in apocalyptic/dystopian romance, but it definitely won’t be her last. Susanna lives in the beautiful Pacific NW with her husband and two very spoiled cats.

Visit for more information

Review // Special Kind of Twisted by Lani Lynn Vale

May 26, 2023

Special Kind of Twisted by Lani Lynn Vale

Admitting to someone that you loved them made you vulnerable.
Admitting to Davis that you loved him made you crazy.

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Special Kind of Twisted by Lani Lynn Vale

Special Kind of Twisted by Lani Lynn Vale

Standalone - Gator Bait MC #6
Release - May 23, 2023
Genre - Contemporary Romance / enemies to lovers
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 4 out of 5 / a few descriptive scenes
Format - eARC provided by the author
Length - 248 pages

He had a way of pulling everyone into his darkness. Then, to make matters worse, he convinced you that you liked it there.
Kyle Davis—ex professional baseball player and current felon—loved Sara, his best friend. Strictly platonically, of course. He’d do absolutely anything for her, even put up with Greer, Sara’s other best friend.
What she was not was Kyle’s best friend. Or any friend at all, to be honest.
In fact, they couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, let alone breathe the same air for any length of time.
Then something happens, forcing the two of them to work together to keep Sara blissfully unaware of the danger Greer’s in.
They come up with a plan. Sara doesn’t need to know.
What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
The funny thing is, Sara knows all. Sara also knows the two of them are destined to be with each other.
She only has to convince them of it first.

My Two Cents

4 "Bickering is their love language" stars

I've been very interested in learning more about Kyle Davis for what seems like forever and I'm so glad I finally got my hands on his story! He's so busy protecting everyone else, I wanted to see him get a bit of that security himself. And I can't imagine a better life partner for him than Greer.

At first glance, they seemed like oil and water. Aside from sharing a best friend in Sara, they had nothing in common.

A ton of stolen glances and moments later, Greer seems to be in danger and Kyle's protective instincts kick in for someone who he always believed was his enemy. I loved the forced proximity aspect of this story and how it made these two finally acknowledge how deeply they cared for each other. I also absolutely adored how them becoming something more than frenemies didn't detract from what they had already built as a relationship. Just because she was his girlfriend didn't make her immune to pranks and deliberate attempts to stir up her temper.

I'm in love with the way the characters in this series love each other. And although Greer was new to the circle, she fit in just right and I was so excited for these fictional people.

I don't know who the next story in the series is about. I'm determined to enter each book as blindly as possible. It's been a great strategy so far, however, if it's not about Sara and the delicious sheriff, Sunny... could it be about the mysterious Folsom and the equally mysterious Kobe? I'll definitely be staying tuned to find out!

The Author

Lani Lynn Vale is married to the love of her life that she met in high school. She fell in love with him because he was wearing baseball pants. Ten years later they have three perfectly crazy children and a cat named Demon who likes to wake her up at ungodly times in the night. They live in the greatest state in the world, Texas. She writes contemporary and romantic suspense, and has a love for all things romance. You can find Lani in front of her computer writing away in her fictional characters world...that is until her husband and kids demand sustenance in the form of food and drink.

Visit for more information!

My Most Favorite Reads of 2022

May 13, 2023

It's May. I know. I'm so freaking late with this list, but I'm going to blame it on how discouraged I've felt reading this year. While 2022 wasn't the BEST reading year of my life, I did find some really great books and new-to-me authors to fall in love with and to share with you.

Here goes...

Contemporary Romance

Dark Romance

Fantasy Romance

Paranormal Romance

Romantic Comedy

SciFi Romance

Urban Fantasy

Have you read any of these books or have them on a list? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it!

I wish everyone the best that 2023 has to offer — may all of us continue to be healthy and safe this year!

xo, Natalie

Review // Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

May 12, 2023

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

I could never match the strength and bravery of Mercy Madness.
No one ever could, and no one ever will.

──────────── ♔ ────────────

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

Spark of Madness by Brynn Ford

Ember Glen #1
Release - July 21, 2022
Genre - Dark Romance / dystopian, forbidden
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 5 out of 5
Format - ebook borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Length - 320 pages

Mercy is a sinner, and Arlo is no saint

MERCY - For years, I've served the men of Ember Glen. I've endured their depravity because it's required. But when the most vicious man in our village decides to target me during a purge, I have to make a choice…

I can kneel and serve…
or I can run and become a sinner.

I choose sin…
I choose to run.

Only, I didn't expect another man to chase me…
I didn't expect the harrowing punishments he'd make me endure once I was caught…
And I certainly didn't expect to find passion for him.

The man who calls me a sinner sets my soul on fire.

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

REVIEW ~ 4 stars

Let me start off by saying THANK YOU to Jessica @Chatterbooks Book Blog, From her rave review of the series, I knew I had to give it a try. Dark romance, dystopian society, strong heroine, horrific experiences, sinners and servants… Spark of Madness has all of that and more.

I admired the heck out of Mercy. She seemed to be the only one who questioned her place in life. She was the only one who spoke up for how wrong things were. Why were men allowed to subjugate, abuse, and generally mistreat women with no consequences? Why were women punished for questioning or refusing the status quo? She was a warrior for her people, even if they couldn’t see or acknowledge it.

After recently watching The Handmaid’s Tale, I couldn’t help drawing parallels, but at the same time, this story is so different. The construct of this society is also mired in twisted religion, women are oppressed, meant to be seen and to serve, not to have thoughts or feelings or to be heard. Select men are chosen to rule over everyone and each caste has a certain set of rules they must follow. In that vein, Arlo reminded me of Nick, in that he lives in the society and, until meeting Mercy, he believed in the principles of that society. However, he starts to question himself and those around him. While he first tries to rationalize it, it seems he’s coming to accept that something’s wrong with what he was forced to believe.

Arlo isn't a hero in my eyes... yet. But with the way this author writes, I can easily see her convincing me to like him.

My thoughts for the rest of this series:
- Killian must die. The elders must die.
- I think that the idea of no world beyond Ember’s Glen is a lie. I think normal society exists and this cultish environment exists outside of accepted society. I hope Mercy burns down this place and finds a new home in the real world. That would be my hope for her happy ending. I’m not sold on that ending being with Arlo, but I’m guessing the next two books will work to change my mind.

──────────── ♔ ────────────

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

Blaze of Misery by Brynn Ford

Ember Glen #2
Release - October 20, 2022
Genre - Dark Romance / dystopian, forbidden
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 5 out of 5
Format - ebook borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Length - 404 pages

She's destined to die, yet she consumes my every waking thought.

I'm struggling against everything I've been taught to believe.
I'm falling for a sinner, and my passion for her is destroying my world.

As Mercy endures untold torment at the hands of my brothers, my soul splinters, breaking in ways I didn't know were possible. I want her so much it consumes me. I need her so much that I'd burn for eternity in exchange for a single moment with her...if only I could sell my soul to spare her life.

The fear of her looming death begs my mind to open, and all I want is a world where she lives.

Absolution. They could etch the word into my skin, and still, it would never find me.

The trials for my soul begin, but they aren't truly meant to save me.
Nothing can save me from the way I've been broken by the men of Ember Glen.

The man who hurt me the most is also the man whose touch sets me on fire. Arlo Rainn hasn’t earned my thoughts, my attention, or my desire, yet he possesses me entirely. My feelings for him strengthen as we explore our forbidden passion, and as he comes to know me better, he begins to see the world through my eyes.

My warden's perspective is shifting, and I fall deeper into the madness of my need for him.

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

REVIEW ~ 5 stars

I couldn’t sleep from reading and wanting to continue reading this book. I’m freaking hooked and can’t wait to see the next hurdle Mercy must pass. This woman is so strong, full of compassion, with a certain sweetness and softness I find so endearing. The warrior within her is blazing through and I can’t wait to continue to see her fight.

I still think Killian has to die. This dude is cruel and deserves punishment that meets his crimes and actions. Death is the only solution.

I’m not sure how I feel about the other members of The Control. Owen seems to be reasonable (if a lot delusional), Wesley seems to take pleasure in being cruel (and yet try to appear kind), Ryker seems to be a determined Killian follower (like that guy needs anyone to encourage his wickedness), and the other member I don’t even remember. I hope Theo is a help rather than a hindrance in the rebellion to come.

I wonder where the missing pages of Mercy’s mother’s journal are. Who made sure she found the journal in the first place? And what do those pages have to say?

I’m curious about what exists outside of Ember Glen. I’m sure it’s a futuristic version of our society and I hope I get a chance to see Mercy thrive in the freedom of it.

──────────── ♔ ────────────

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

Embers of Mercy by Brynn Ford

Ember Glen #3
Release - March 31, 2023
Genre - Dark Romance / dystopian, forbidden
POV - Dual 1st person
Heat - 5 out of 5
Format - ebook borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Length - 356 pages

Death has always been chasing me, and I fear it's finally caught up.

If this trial doesn't end my life, it will surely take my mind.
And nothing could have prepared me for the despair yet to come.

Though everything seems hopeless, my love for Arlo remains constant. A part of me wants to give up and fade away with him. But secrets are being kept, and though I never expected to live long enough to learn the truth, a brewing rebellion might be the end of it all.

If Arlo and I are going down in flames, at least we can burn Ember Glen down with us.

The end of everything approaches, and I've never felt so lost.

I'm sickened by the trial Mercy is forced to endure.
If I could complete it in her stead, I would trade places with her in a heartbeat.

I can't do anything for her, and it wrecks my soul. My sanity is shattered, and I lose all control. And though my actions draw death nearer, its imminence inspires boldness. When we finally discover the truth, we have nothing left to lose.

One way or another, Mercy and I will end this—either everything will change, or we'll leave this place burning in our wake.

Ember Glen Trilogy by Brynn Ford

REVIEW ~ 4.5 stars

It's the last book of the trilogy and it gave me almost everything I could have wanted in an ending.

❥ bring on the rebellion
❥ let all castes unite
❥ Kill all those who NEED to die
❥ a happy ending for those who definitely deserve it

I'm being intentionally vague, but my only issue with this final book was that I wanted more. I wanted to spend time with Mercy and Arlo as they enjoyed their freedom. I wanted to really know what life was like for them away from Ember Glen and I wanted more justice to be found.

You know me... I'm a greedy goose.

If you love dark romance with horrific elements, situations that really push your boundaries, and love that shines a bright light through the darkness, then you NEED this series on your to-read list.

Review // Edin by Lily Mayne

May 06, 2023

Edin by Lily Mayne

"You're just... good, Edin. Kind. And generous, and selfless. And you..." I flushed, feeling exposed. "You make me calm. You soothe me."

────── ♔ ──────

Edin by Lily Mayne

Edin by Lily Mayne

Standalone - Monstrous #2
Release - May 19, 2021
Genre - M/M Fantasy Romance / forced proximity
POV - Single 1st person
Heat - 5 out of 5
Format - ebook borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Length - 410 pages

I was just a boy when the monsters rose on earth, forcing humans to flee to the coastlines and live in cramped, dirty, military-controlled cities. I enlisted as soon as I could to escape.

Now, I’ve been in the military for twelve years and have the scars—and missing body parts—to prove it. As a hardened soldier who’s spent his fair share of time out in the Wastes—the dangerous place where monsters roam free—I didn’t think anything could surprise me anymore.

But then circumstance forced me together with a big, annoying purple monster who’s arrogant and bossy and pushes all my buttons in the worst—and best—ways. I need his help, and I hate needing anyone’s help. But the more time I spend with him, the more I realise that maybe there’s more from him that I need. And that he might need things from me too.

But I’m still a soldier. I still have responsibilities. It doesn’t matter how I feel about Edin, because we can’t be together. It’s too dangerous.

That doesn’t stop me wanting him, though.

Find it here: Goodreads * Amazon

Edin by Lily Mayne

My Two Cents

4 "I love Edin so much!!" stars

I didn’t like this one as much as I did the first book (Soul Eater). I loved Edin. I loved him from the first time he was introduced through Wyn. I knew I’d love him more in his own book and I did. He was such a happy go-lucky male, but he also had so much depth to him. A tragic past weighed heavily upon him, however, he was still able to find and inspire hope, feel deeply, and, in many ways, honor his people.

Hunter was hard to like. It took most of the book for me to change my mind about him. He was selfish and self-serving. I get that he was desperate to save his friend, but even he recognized that he wasn’t being a good person. I believe Edin deserved so much more from him, right from the start. Here’s this overgrown alien who stops to help you, puts himself in danger for you, cares for you, etc. He gave far more than what he got.

I was so happy to see Wyn and Danny again and for some more justice to be served. Bye bye Mallory lol.

Edin and his purple c*ck ruled the show and I enjoyed how Hunter found a new part of himself. He loved submitting sexually for Edin. In the end, they were well-matched and I'm actually looking forward to seeing both of them again in the books to come.

Have I mentioned how in love I am with the fan art for this series???

Edin by Lily Mayne

Edin by Lily Mayne

The Author

Lily Mayne writes what she loves to read: achingly sweet yet gritty romances against unusual backdrops—dark, futuristic, dystopian and more.

She enjoys reading and writing (duh), cooking and baking, watching terrible horror movies and many other hobbies that would have potentially made her an ideal Victorian maid. Just a really lazy one.

She currently lives in the UK with her husband and several fluffballs, who like to make a lot of noise while she’s writing.

Find out more here:

April 2023 Bookish Recap

May 05, 2023

Hello hello and welcome to another recap!

I had to continue my mental break from all things internet, which included my blog and my social media. I've been crocheting and spending time with my kids—activities that are certain to jolt me back into a better head space. And honestly, I'm feeling a lot better. So hopefully this means you'll be seeing me again all over your blogs, pages and feeds.

As you can guess, April was not a great reading month for me, but here's what I've got...


Total Books Read: 4
Total Pages Read: 1425
Genres: Contemporary (2), Dark Romance (2)
From my TBR: 1
Avg. Rating: 3.63

All the Books

There weren't any real standouts of the month, however, the book I'd recommend is:

Tattered by Devney Perry

Added to my tbr

Book Haul

I haven't bought any books in a while. And lucky for me, most of the books I've added to my TBR are in Kindle Unlimited.

I can only hope my May reading is so much better than what I've been going through for the last several months. And I hope you find only the best reads!

Talk soon,

xo, Natalie