September 2021 Bookish Recap

October 05, 2021

Hello again! Can you believe we've already made it through September? Seriously, how is time moving so quickly right now?!

Again, I spent this month reading quality over quantity. Actually, I've read a ton of ARCs, which is so freaking cool because it's been a while since I've gotten any of those.

So here's what my September was all about book-wise:

Best Books

I got to read some amazing books, several of which were worthy of all the stars, however, the ones I loved most...

And yet, all of the books I read were great (some absolutely awesome) and they were...

Pure Requiem by Aja James
Jerk It by Lani Lynn Vale
Pure Destiny by Aja James
Inmate of the Month by Lani Lynn Vale
Dirty Gambit by Airicka Phoenix
Saving Silver by Xavier Neal
Coldhearted Bastard by Jenika Snow
Immortal's Honor by Rebecca Zanetti
The Killer's Vow by Aria R. Blue
The Boss by Melanie Moreland

Book Haul

No physical copies this month, but I did indulge in some of the ebook deals I shared on my blog. All books were $2 or less!

I also got the Fall in Love book bundle that had a limited time release.

Added to my tbr

Now here is where things start getting interesting. One of my goals this year was to read more of the books on my reading list and to resist adding too many more. I'm failing people!! At least, I failed this month. Who knows when I'll ever get to read these, but authors need to slow the heck down so I can read all of the books!!

Reading Stats

I read a total of 3756 pages across 13 books AND all of the books ended up being ones I'd recommend. I actually requested or was approached for ARCs, which made for a welcome change this month. So here's how I did:

What Else?

Absolutely nothing. I'm still trying to find the energy to post consistently. I'd like to get back to doing the Top Ten Tuesday posts (I really miss that community). And I'd love to try another reading challenge. Or I might just keep doing whatever it is I am (or am not) doing right now. Maybe I'll surprise you.

What are you looking forward to for October? I hope it's as incredible as we deserve it to be!

Talk soon,

xo, Natalie

Release Blitz // Coldhearted Bastard by Jenika Snow

Title: Cold Hearted Bastard
An Underground Kings Series Standalone
Author: Jenika Snow
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Release Date: October 5, 2021


From USA Today bestselling author Jenika Snow comes a full-length gritty mafia romance that blurs the lines between right and wrong... and love and hate.

He didn’t have a heart... but he wanted hers.

All I knew about life was anger and violence. Pain and suffering. Kill or be killed.

I was a “fixer” for the Ruin—a syndicate for the Bratva, Cosa Nostra, Cartel, and any other organized crime faction that dealt in the darker, crueler aspects of humanity.

I was a free agent who was called upon to do things weaker men didn’t have the stomach for.

And when you surround yourself with death for long enough, soon, you didn’t remember what it felt like to be alive.

And then I saw her. She was a fragile little thing who tried to be strong. But I could tell she’d seen too much horror in the world, too much of the ugly within people. I should have stayed away. I’d only bring her farther down into the darkness.

But for the first time in my life, I felt a stirring in my chest, this protectiveness and possessiveness toward another living person. And it was painful. It made me feel alive.

Lina tried to hide how broken she was, but I was an old friend of being ruined. She held secrets I’d find out. Because for the first time in my miserable life, I wanted something for myself. I felt something more than apathy and indifference.

I wanted to possess the innocence she clung to. I wanted to break it open and consume it for myself.

I could look into her too trusting blue eyes and knew I’d maim for her. I’d kill for her. And that became our truth when her past finally came back for her, when my present tried to destroy her.

They thought they could take the one thing—the only thing—I’d ever wanted for myself. They were wrong.

When I looked at her, I felt some of the monster that made me who I was retreat back to my black soul. He’d never leave... but he’d share the space.

For her.

A complete standalone novel in the Underworld Kings series.

My Review




He had me off the ground and spun around so fast I grew dizzy. And then my chest was pressed against the boxing ring rope, Arlo’s massive body against mine, every inch of him burning me where he touched.
“You should get your money back if this is what they taught you.” I could hear the teasing, annoyed note in his voice, and my own irritation rose.
“You’re bigger than me, stronger.” I turned my head to the side so I could look at him, but that was a foolish move, as it brought our mouths dangerously close together. “I don’t have my pepper spray, and I don’t have the added benefit of fearing for my life and getting that kick of adrenaline.”
My breath caught, my lungs tightening, when this dark, strange look covered his face.
“You should be afraid right now, moy svet.” His words were low… deadly. “You should be more afraid of me than anything else in the dark.” He leaned in an inch. “If you knew who I truly was, you wouldn't be so close to me.”
I looked down at where his hand gripped the rope on either side of me, the tattoos on his fingers sneaking up the back of his hand disappearing and going up his wrist and forearm. I’d never been one to think tattoos were attractive, but on Arlo, it made him brutally beautiful to me.
“You’re so tiny, moy svet.” He made a low, gruff sound and pushed away from me. I closed my eyes and breathed out just as he said, “Again.”
And so for the next several hours, I sparred and grappled with Arlo until I was sweaty and sore, more tired than I’d ever been, but had never felt more liberated in all my life.


Starting out as an avid reader, Jenika took up penning her first story and published it in 2009. Since then, she’s written books in just about every trope and sub-genre in romance.


Review // Scarred by Ari Reavis

October 04, 2021

Scarred by Ari Reavis

"Let yourself fall apart if you need to, and I'll be here to help put you back together when you're ready."

────── ♔ ──────

Scarred by Ari Reavis

Scarred by Ari Reavis

Release - October 20, 2021
Genre - Contemporary Romance / instant connection
Dual POV - 1st person
Heat Level - 4 out of 5 / several scenes
Format/Source - eARC provided by the author
Page Count - 202
Publisher - Indie

It’s the scars of the past that keep us from seeing what the future could hold.

Liam has scars that remind him daily why he refuses to allow love into his life. What good is it when it only leads to anger and hatred later on? But then he literally bumps into someone who makes him wonder if there is more to life than reliving the pain of what he’s been through.

Some scars are easier to bear than others.

Nia can’t look in the mirror without being reminded of what she’s endured. She carries the past with her like a living darkness wherever she goes. When she meets someone who looks beyond her scar, she dares to hope for a future she never thought possible.

But the past never stays dead for long.

When the ghosts of the past come back to haunt them both, can they make it through together? Or will the fear and uncertainty tear them apart before they can find happiness? The past and present collide and they’ll have to fight for each other if they want to have a future.

Find your copy of Scarred by Ari Reavis on Amazon

My Two Cents

I consider every book by Ari Reavis to be a comfort read. While no two stories are alike, and each one gives me a unique experience, they all read like I'm coming home.

After meeting Liam and then Nia in Imperfect, I didn't think I needed more. I was cool with what I knew. Then I picked up this book and realized how necessary their story was. How else was I going to fall in love with them?

Both characters had traumatic pasts, things done to them that affected how they went about their daily lives, and yet they thrived. Neither of them hid or fell apart. And together... they created something magical. Liam and Nia were such wonderful, kind, compassionate, patient, and understanding characters. I felt their pain, their confusion, their fears, their blossoming love, and all of their joy.

I love when an author can give us something so stunningly beautiful out of the ugliness that created deep emotional and physical scars.

About the Author

Ari Reavis is a wife and mother of five. Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, she enjoys staying in, devouring books and watching movies. Her kids are running around, her husband is trying to show her martial arts moves, and she's trying to write. Her day in a nutshell.

Visit for more information

Review // Chalk Dirty To Me by Lani Lynn Vale

October 02, 2021

Chalk Dirty To Me by Lani Lynn Vale

I reached forward and threw myself into his arms, wrapping my own around his neck, and place a very thorough kiss on his lips.
He returned the kiss, being careful not to pen me in with his arms, and instead rested his hands just over the tops of my hip bones.
He may not know what happened to me, but I suspected he had a hunch something had happened to explain why I was skittish.

────── ♔ ──────

Chalk Dirty To Me by Lani Lynn Vale

Chalk Dirty To Me by Lani Lynn Vale

Standalone - Madd CrossFit #3
Release - October 5, 2021
Genre - Contemporary Romance / instant connection
Dual POV - 1st person
Heat Level - 4 out of 5 / slower burn / a few scenes
Format/Source - eARC provided by the author
Page Count - 262
Publisher Indie

Two years ago, Cannel Crow experienced the worst day of her life. She was taken from a supermarket, and forced to spend a year with a man that treated her worse than a neglected, chained up dog.

One year later, she’s saved by a shadow organization that believes the law is a joke, and the only person you can count on is you.

After another year, she finally realizes the law’s limitation firsthand when the man that bought her from human traffickers, and then forced her to comply to his every whim for a year, is given a plea bargain for names of others in the operation.

Knowing that her abuser will spend the rest of his life in the lap of luxury under an assumed name, Cannel spirals.

At least, she begins to.

Then Wilhelm Schultz, call me Will, walks into her narrow world, larger than life, and changes her reality between one breath and the next.

The abrasive, larger, gruff police detective sees the world in black and white. There is right, and there is wrong.
Until he falls for a woman that needs him to see shades of gray.

The second he sees the world like she needs him to, there’s not a single thing on the planet that’ll stop him from fighting for her.

Not even the oath he swore to protect and do no harm.

Purchase Links

Chalk Dirty To Me by Lani Lynn Vale

My Two Cents

After the brief glimpse I got of Cannel in Conjugal Visits, I knew I wanted to know more about her story. Who took her? How was she treated? Was she healing? And would she ever forgive Toot?

I wish I could say that what happened to Cannel wasn't pretty, but I can't. Here I am again, hoping that LLV would dip a toe in the dark side. However, the author did give enough of a hint to make me feel for the girl. Whatever she experienced had traumatized her. She was a changed woman who wished to erase the abuses she suffered. She didn't even believe she would ever find happiness again... and then she met Will.

It only took a moment for Will to know that something bad had happened to Cannel. In that same moment, he knew that he would stand in the way of anything and anyone who even thought about hurting her. He wanted to be her hero and I've gotta admit, he most definitely was. He was patient and understanding and gave her everything she could possibly wish for. He became her happy place.

"I need slow."

His eyes shifted to something between interest and regret. "I can do slow."

Aside from some drama (I see you, Brianna) and an unexpected suspenseful element (I can't be the only one who thought it was weird, right?), the romance that developed between Cannel and Will was smooth and breezy. I loved their banter, their natural ease with one another, their love. These stories are like chocolate cake to me — I CAN'T RESIST!!

Check out the previous books:

No Rep by Lani Lynn Vale Jerk It by Lani Lynn Vale

About 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!