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BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY + INTERVIEW – Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill

Here is my review for this wonderful might be the best in the series, yet!  Be sure to also check out my interview with Chloe Neill and the two giveaways below!

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY + INTERVIEW – Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe NeillDark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11)
by Chloe Neill
Add to: Goodreads

“If you touch her again, come near her again, I will tear you apart with my own bare hands, Master or not.”

There are so many things I love about this series. So many things I hold back after finishing a book because, really, how many times can you repeat all the same things you love about a consistently excellent series? I always do a mini-review, letting people know the main reasons I loved the story, and I hardly put all I truly feel into the review. Well, 7 mini-reviews later and I think it’s time I finally let all these built up emotions out-this book was excellent and people deserve to hear about it.

Ethan sighed. “It has nothing to do with pretty.”
“Not according to your brain,” I agreed. “But once again-”
Ethan held up a hand. “No need to repeat the point.”
“When I’m four hundred, do I get to date a twenty-five-year old?”
Ethan narrowed his gaze. “If you date anyone other than me at any point in your hopefully long and fruitful life, there will be trouble for both of us.”

I keep saying that these stories continue to get better, and it’s true, mostly, but there is something refreshing about a more sinister plot. Like, it’s known that when you pick up a Chicagoland Vampires book that there will be a mystery to solve, Ethan and Merit will have to conquer a new threat to their relationship, and there will be lots of love and snark exchanged between them. It’s a fact. It’s an inevitability. And I always get so excited to pick up the next new story. But this time there was something new. Sure, there’s always something new-But not like this.

Never has there been something that made me feel so icky about what could happen to Merit-or Ethan, for that matter. But when the return of an old figure from Ethan’s dark past reemerges, things begin to get….foggy. Merit’s defenses are down, Ethan isn’t (and can’t be) quick to save Merit, and no one can understand why, or how, this person is getting past their wards on the house. How does one protect another person’s mind? Is there even a way? And what happens when Ethan isn’t there to break the trance, and the next time he’s too late? What then?

There was nothing equivocal in his gaze, in the steadiness of his green eyes. “He was my nightmare, Merit. You are my miracle. He will not touch you again. Yes?”

Ethan, as always, was beyond words. He is so loyal to Merit and would do anything to keep her safe. And when Merit has a close run-in with this dangerous and mysterious enemy, it guts him that she recoils from his touch. She becomes withdrawn and so unlike herself, leaving everyone scrambling to keep the wards in place…even when there isn’t a break-anywhere in sight. It makes him moody, protective, possessive, and more than a little bit nervous (Waaaaiiittt, yeah, my bad he’s always like that-but, hey, it was a little more intense this time). Ethan likes to be in control, to be the alpha, to know he’s keeping the love of his life (and his house) safe. So, when bad things begin to surround his house, he’s more than unsettled.

“I like to think I’m more than the sum of my training.”
“You are,” Luc said. “There’s at least some hot beef or deep dish in there.”
“I am also more than Chicago foodstuffs.”
Ethan grinned at Luc. “Pumas? Diet Coke? Smart-assery?”
Luc snapped his fingers, pointed at Ethan. “Yes. And, like, three percent medieval literature.”
“You’re both hilarious. Really and truly. Comedy geniuses.”

And Merit. I adore this girl. She’s snarky, she’s funny, and she always has the best comebacks-I could be best friends with her. And, to top it all off, she can take care of herself. It’s not often you find a female lead with all the bells and whistles. But in this story, Merit feels violated, like she can’t defend herself even in her own home, in her own apartments, and with the man she loves sleeping right beside her. It’s a new kind of challenge for her and she spends the book doing everything she can to defend herself with no way of knowing what will work and when he’ll strike next….and what he’ll do to destroy the forever relationship she and Ethan have worked so hard to build.

Which was why Ethan returned to the apartments to find Mallory and me lying on the bed, television on, pooched stomachs taking a much needed breather.
“Oh, this is quite a sight,” Ethan said with obvious amusement, then spied the empty box of Mallocakes. “A vampire and sorceress done in by chocolate snack cakes.”
“Mallocake ‘splosion,” Mallory said weakly. “Pew, pew, pew.
“I think there’s one left.” I moved just enough to skim fingers against the box, tip it up. “Yep. One. You can have it.”
“Wait,” Mallory said, and put a hand on my arm while she deliberated, as if there was a chance she might be able to squeeze in one more. “No.” She waved me off. “I can’t. Go ahead.”
“This scenario isn’t really selling the Mallocake concept to me,” Ethan said.
“We’re having girl time.”
“Not the girl time I prefer to imagine, but so be it.”
“Perv,” Mallory said with a grin, rolling off the bed and trundling toward the door. “I’m going to roll myself downstairs.”
“Take care,” Ethan said. “And thank you for the ward.”
She burped indelicately.
“And that’s our powerful sorceress,” Ethan said, locking the door behind her.

I think the reason I liked this story so much was because of how it all progressed. There was a lot more action and it mixed really well with the banter and strategizing. I am so picky when it comes to this and I couldn’t have been happier with how it was all handled. There wasn’t a moment when I was bored or rushing to get past anything-every moment was important and every moment mattered. It was fast-paced and the love scenes were electric. Every minute was a rush as we tried to catch whoever was behind the sinister threats and when they were trying to defend the house. And, as always, the humor helped get us through every single moment.

I looked up at him. “Are you wooing me?”
“I’ve been wooing you since the moment our eyes locked on the first floor of this house.”
I gave him a flat look. “No, that’s when you accused me of being spoiled.”
“Details,” he said lightly, mouth drawn into a crooked grin.

So, I know that I gush a lot about these characters, but they are very dear to me and I am fully invested in whatever may happen to them. I want nothing more than for the prophecy to come about and for happy things to occur regularly for Ethan and Merit. Their love is tangible and it leaps off every page-every look, every touch, every embrace-they were made for each other. I cannot wait to see where the rest of the stories go, because this series has my heart. If you haven’t tried, you need to go and start these books now. You won’t regret it!




Very rarely do we get the opportunity as readers to get inside the mind of our favorite authors, but Chloe Neill has offered to answer a few questions for the blog tour! Take a peek at what she had to say:


1. Just as your books inspired other authors to write, what authors inspired you to write?

When I started writing, I’d been reading a lot of Rachel Caine, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, and Stephanie Laurens, among others. I really loved reading stories in series, because you got to know the characters, the setting, and the little inside jokes and references that really made the book feel like a comfortable place to rest.

2. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Emotional upset?

Action scenes are definitely the hardest for me to write, so the last scene I usually write in the book is an action scene that I’ve put off. 🙂 It’s difficult for me to imagine a three-dimensional fight, and then translate that into words for the two-dimensional page.  Banter is the easiest thing–I can write characters chatting all day long. But it doesn’t make for a very interesting scene.

3. Which of your Chicagoland Vampire characters would you most like to spend extended amounts of time with?

Probably Merit. I think we’d get along very well.  Or Damien, because I think he has a lot of interesting stories to tell. 🙂

4. If you could cast Ethan and Merit in a Hollywood adaption of your books, who would you choose to play their

David Beckham isn’t an actor, but he’ll always be Ethan for me. I don’t really have a specific girl in mind who epitomizes Merit, so I’m certainly open to suggestions!

Thanks for having me today!




I am so honored here today to be able to represent one of the most hilarious, sexy, and addictive series I’ve ever read. Not often do I, or we as a blog, stick with such long series. But since the beginning, Ethan and Merit have stolen my heart and and I am so happy I came across this wonderfully delicious series. If you have never read these stories, that’s a shame. But if you’re even a little bit curious, pick up the first book in the series, Some Girls Bite, and I swear you’ll be enthralled from page one. Thanks so much, Courtney Neill!


Dark Debt will be available on March 3rd.

Preorder Here on any of these sites!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Powells | Books-A-Million | Audible |Kobo | Indiebound



Us Star-Crossed Ladies are ecstatic to have a special little giveaway of our own, courtesy of Chloe Neill! Hurry and ENTER TO WIN!

Packet includes:

    • Cadogan House cotton tote bag
    • Cadogan House keychain
    • An autographed international Chicagoland Vampires or Dark Elite novel
    • Swag, including Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks and pens, and Cadogan House lanyards

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter the Dark Debt Grand Prize Giveaway, which runs February 23 through March 6 on Chloe’s web site.

What is the Grand Prize Giveaway prize?

      • An engraved Cadogan House medal necklace
      • A Kindle Paperwhite
      • Cadogan House cotton tote bag
      • Cadogan House keychian
      • Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks, pens, and lanyard


And here is a full list of all the other blogs participating on the tour:

Week One

Monday, February 23 – Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life | Lore Lush Books
Tuesday, February 24 – Star Crossed Book Blog | Little Miss Book Addict’s House of Books
Wednesday, February 25 – Once Upon a Twilight | Krista’s Dust Jacket
Thursday, February 26 – Goldilox and the Three Weres | Angel’s Guilty Pleasures
Friday, February 27 – Feeling Fictional | Rabid Reads

Week Two

Monday, March 2 – Booklovers for Life | Bad Bird Reads
Tuesday, March 3 (Release Day) – Saucy Wenches Book Club | Nomi’s Paranormal Palace | Fangs, Wands & Fairy Dust | Vampire Book Club
Wednesday, March 4 – Ceres Book World | Book Infatuation Reviews 
Thursday, March 5 – Consummate Reader
Friday, March 6 – Little Read Riding Hood | Three Chicks After Dark

2015 Favorites from a Series

2015 Favorite Series.13 We are ecstatic that we get to share our lists of favorite books in a series with you! Below you will find our fabulous list that includes all of our favorite series that we read in 2015!  Even though we read them in 2015, they could have been released in a previous year.  Click our reviews to learn more about each book, or click on the cover to purchase a copy.  We hope you find some new books to add to your to-read list.
♥ The Star-Crossed Ladies  

Group Favorite Series (2+ of us ♥ed)

Jen (new) & Chelsea (re-read)

the hunger games suzanne collins
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review
catching fire suzanne collins
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review
mockingjay suzanne collins
Jen’s Review
Chelsea’s Review


Chelsea & Anna

i hunt killers barry lyga
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
game hunt killers barry lyga
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
blood of my blood barry lyga
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review


a drink before war dennis lehane
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
dennis lehane darkness, take my hand
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
dennis lehane sacred
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
dennis lehane gone baby gone
Chelsea’s Review
prayers for rain dennis lehane
Chelsea’s Review


pines blake crouch
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
wayward blake crouch
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review
the last town blake crouch
Chelsea’s Review
Anna’s Review



Jen’s Favorite Series:
sins & needles karina halle
Jen’s Review
karina halle shooting scars
Jen’s Review
Bold Tricks Karina Halle Arttists Trilogy
Jen’s Review


The Immortal Rules Julie Kagawa
Jen’s Review
the eternity cure julie kagawa
Jen’s Review
the forever song julie kagawa
Jen’s Review


Broken Skies theresa kay
Jen’s Review
fractured suns theresa kay
Jen’s Review


the return jennifer armentrout
Jen’s Review


Chelsea’s Favorite Series:
dairy queen catherine gilbert murdock
Chelsea’s Review
the off season catherin gilbert murdock front and center catherin gilbert murdock


dorothy must die danielle paige
Chelsea’s Review
the wicked will rise danielle paige
Chelsea’s Review


an ember in the ashes sabaa tahir
Chelsea’s Review


scarlet a.c. gaughen
Chelsea’s Review
Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
Chelsea’s Review
lion heart a.c. gaughen
Chelsea’s Review


unwind neal shusterman
Chelsea’s Review
unwholly neal shusterman
Chelsea’s Review
unsouled neal shusterman
undivided neal shusterman
Chelsea’s Review


white cat holy black
Chelsea’s Review
Red Glove holly black
Chelsea’s Review
Black Heart holly black
Chelsea’s Review


wild things chloe neill
Chelsea’s Review
blood games chloe neill
Chelsea’s Review
dark debt chloe neill
Chelsea’s Review


brandon sanderson steelheart
Chelsea’s Review
firefight brandon sanderson
Chelsea’s Review


the wrath & the dawn renee ahdieh
Chelsea’s Review


angelfall susan ee
Chelsea’s Review
world after susan ee
Chelsea’s Review
end of days susan ee
Chelsea’s Review



this is not a test courtney summers
Chelsea’s Review
please remain calm courtney summers
Chelsea’s Review


Anna’s Favorite Series
prince of thorns mark lawrence
Anna’s Review
king of thorns mark lawrence
Anna’s Review
emperor of thorns mark lawrence
Anna’s Review


finnikin of the rock melina marchetta
Anna’s Review
froi of the exiles melina marchetta
Anna’s Review
quintana of charyn melina marchetta
Anna’s Review


injustice gods among us
Anna’s Review
injustice gods among us tom taylor  


deadly class reagan youth
Anna’s Review
Deadly Class, Vol. 2 Kids of the Black Hole by Remender Craig loughridge Deadly Class, Vol. 3 The Snake Pit by Rick Remender


joe abercrombie the blade itself
Anna’s Review
A Darker Shade final for Irene
Anna’s Review



We hope you enjoyed our favorite series that we read in 2015 and that you found some fabulous new books to read!
If you want to check out more of our favorite books click to find out about our:
2015 Favorite Singles ✩✮✩ 2014 Favorites from a Series ✩✮✩ 2014 Favorite Singles.



FRIDAY STARS–Your Weekly Must Knows 02/27/15


Friday Stars

Click book covers for ordering.


We’re having a special little giveaway of our own, courtesy of Chloe Neill!  Enter to win a Cadogan House cotton tote bag, Cadogan House keychain, An autographed international Chicagoland Vampires or Dark Elite novel, Swag, including Chicagoland Vampires bookmarks and pens, and Cadogan House lanyards! Click Here


Enter to win $20 Amazon Gift Card (INT) or Paperback Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland, Paperback Sucker Literary Volume III by Kacey Vanderkarr (US only) Click Here





Just Finished and Loved

Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill – 5 Stars! This book was excellent and people deserve to hear about it. In the 1st book, Some Girls Bite – Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.  Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Lord o the Manor Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude? and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war and there will be blood. Chelsea’s Review


Just One Night (Sex, Love & Stiletto #3) by Lauren Layne – 5 Stars! This was an adorable friendship to lovers story. And when you became entangled in the heart of it all, it took an amazing turn into something that was raw and emotional. Definitely a must read!  Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But when Stiletto’s fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: Her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favor of a lifetime from the one man who’s always held her heart. Jen’s Review


Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers – 5 Stars! Venomous, tortuous, and pulse-pounding, this subtle book sneaks up on you and sinks it’s claws into your soul.  Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of theFearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first. Chelsea’s Review


Please Remain Calm (This is Not a Test #2) by Courtney Summers – 5 Stars! It was very raw and heartbreaking, causing me to cry more than once-and this novella was, like, only 100 pages. I was shocked. Sequel to This Is Not a Testwhere it’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, herworld collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?Chelsea’s Review


King of Thorns #2 & Emperor of Thorns #3 by Mark Lawrence5 Stars!  The ending was epic and satisfying and above that, surprised me. Hours after finishing it, I find myself both happy and disturbed, truly amazed.  In Prince of Thorns #1: When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. At thirteen, he led a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king… It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him—and he has nothing left to lose. But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining? Anna’s Review #2 &  #3

Reading Next

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – We’re all reading this next week and can’t wait to start!
“What do you want from me?” he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.  Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.
In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.


Upcoming Releases

The Trouble with Love (Sex, Love, & Stiletto Series #4) by Lauren Layne –  (Releases 3/03) As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.  After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.


The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski(Releases 3/03) In The Winner’s Curse #1 Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.  They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.  Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires #11) by Chloe Neill (Releases 3/03) This book was excellent and people deserve to hear about it. In the 1st book, Some Girls Bite, Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.  Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Lord o the Manor Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude? and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war and there will be blood.


BOOK REVIEW – Crossing Hearts (Cross Creek #1) by Kimberly Kincaid

BOOK REVIEW - Crossing Hearts (Cross Creek #1) by Kimberly Kincaid

I signed up for the Cross Creek Series Tour because not only did Kimberly Kincaid's books sound amazing, but she’ll be attending RT this year. After reading the first book in this series, I’m not only super excited to meet her in person, but I can’t wait to read the next two standalone books in this series! So check out my review below, see what the other books are about and enter a fabulous giveaway! Enjoy!!

BOOK REVIEW – Crossing Hearts (Cross Creek #1) by Kimberly KincaidCrossing Hearts (Cross Creek #1)
by Kimberly Kincaid
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.

Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.

But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?


Crossing Hearts was sweet, sensual and such a fabulous second chance romance.  The way the story evolved reminded me of honey slowly pouring out of a jar. It was beautifully slow and mesmerizing.  While Emerson and Hunter met again, right from the start, we got little pieces of their past here and there.  And we didn’t fully learn all there was about Emerson and Hunter until further into the story. As someone who is more of a fast paced kinda girl, I found myself loving every single second of it!  So if you adore small town stories, sexy cowboys and strong females then definitely give this one a try!

He’d forgotten her once. He could damn well stick to forgetting her again.

Emerson and Hunter dated in high school, and they were so serious that Hunter even proposed to her.  She not only turned him down, but left the state for college, leaving him with his heart completely shattered.  Twelve years later, Emerson left her high profile career, her NFL boyfriend and was back in their tiny town as a physical therapist.  And Hunter was about to be her very first client!

“I’m even wondering what if right now. Like what if”— he paused, but just long enough to fully face her on the bench, letting his opposite hand trail up the outside of her arm—“ you let me get closer to you.”

While they tried their hardest to have a professional relationship, over time chemistry started to appear.  Not only was their friendship still there, but their past was definitely not buried.  Their old emotions were just begging to be released.  It slowly started to come out in their physical therapy sessions, their little town’s festival and it got to the point that there was no way they could ignore it any longer.  The sexual tension between the two of them was so hot. And when they finally caved, ohhh the sex scenes were even hotter!

“Hunter,”she whispered, her breath hot on his hand, and just like that, he was done waiting. He’d wanted his mouth on hers for twelve goddamn years. He might be light-years away from playing it safe right now, but he didn’t even want to wait another twelve seconds.
He just wanted her.

I found myself easily obsessed with Hunter.  He was strong, caring, determined, a hard worker and such a good guy.  As someone who usually prefers the bad boys, I was shocked how hard I fell for him.  His feelings were so real, and I loved watching him struggle between caring for Emerson yet being guarded because of their past.  And while I liked Emerson, it took me a little bit longer to warm up to her.  You see, she could be so stubborn at times.  She didn’t want anyone to know her medical condition, let alone help her in any way. But over time, Hunter started to wiggle his way into her heart, and I found myself caring for Emerson too.  I so wanted them to make it this time around, and I found myself rooting for their HEA!

“Don’t worry. I’ve got you, Em. I won’t let go.”
As he settled against the bedsheets with her nestled in close, Emerson realized that when she was in Hunter’s arms, she didn’t just feel normal.
For the first time she could remember, she felt whole.

In Crossing Hearts, you definitely feel all of the small town charm.  And on top of that, I loved Hunter’s family!  His dad and two brothers worked with him on their farm, and I adored how true their family dynamics felt.  Yeah they had some problems, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out in the future books, but I loved learning about all of them.  And I loved even more how Emerson fit so effortlessly in with Hunter’s family. Scenes that just involved them eating dinner together, always felt like so much more.

“I don’t think I realized it until now, but what I’ve been waiting for is you. It’s always been you. And this time, I’m not letting you slip away.” – Hunter

Crossing Hearts had a ton of character and soul.  I absolutely adored this book, and I’m so excited to read the rest of Kimberly Kincaid’s books.  The next two books in this series are Hunter’s brothers stories, and I can’t wait to dive into them!

*ARC kindly provided by Inkslinger in exchange for an honest review*


Additional Standalone Books In The Series:


Cocky farmer Eli Cross plays twice as hard as he works. When his latest stunt drums up a heap of negative PR for the family farm, he grudgingly agrees to play host to an ambitious New York City photographer. Her feature on Cross Creek could be just the ticket to show the country what the Cross brothers do best…which is more problem than solution for Eli.

Scarlett Edwards-Stewart has photographed everything from end zones to war zones. She’s confident she can ace this one little story to help her best friend’s failing magazine. At least, she would be if her super-sexy host wasn’t so tight lipped. But the more Scarlett works with Eli, the more she discovers that he’s not who he seems. Can his secret bring them closer together? Or will it be the very thing that tears them apart?




For Owen Cross, the only thing that matters more than family is farming. As the oldest Cross brother, the land is his legacy, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make Cross Creek a success—including hiring local widow Cate McAllister to manage the bookkeeping tasks that are growing in his office like weeds. Cate’s as pragmatic as she is pretty, and she rattles his hard-fought composure at every turn.

Cate had known a lot of things about her husband before he died three years ago in a car accident, but how much debt he’d gotten them into wasn’t one of them. She needs her job at Cross Creek, even if her boss is both gruff and gorgeous. But Owen’s a family man, through and through, and the last thing Cate is interested in is anything—or anyone—with strings attached.

As Owen and Cate join forces to right the farm, they discover there’s more to the other than the surfaces shows, and that passion can be found in unexpected places. Can Cate heal from the loss of one family to gain the love of her life? Or will the past prove too much for the promise of the future?


Amazon * Barnes and Noble * iBooks * Kobo


Excerpt for Crossing Promises:
Cate dragged a hand through her hair, her gaze moving over the boxes in disbelief. “Let me see if I’ve got this right. You don’t do any of your bookkeeping online. At all?”

“We do. Just not a lot of it,” he amended. The Cross men lived to work the land, not the ledgers. Sure, their current system was a little time consuming, but it wasn’t totally ineffective. Cross Creek had been running on it for decades. “We have software right here on the computer.” He paused to pull up the program they used for much of their bookkeeping before adding, “It’s just that none of us are great at using it.”

“So I see,” Cate said after a quick perusal over his shoulder.

Irritation splashed through Owen’s chest. “Our books aren’t that bad.”

The parting of her lips said she was primed and ready to take him to the mat on that count, and damn it, he really didn’t have time to argue with her. “Look, I know it’s going to take some work to get things running smoothly in here.”

“It’s going to take a lot more than that,” she murmured with a shake of her head, and just like that, Owen’s patience redlined.

“Can you do it, or should I find someone else?”

Once again, his words came out gruffer than planned. But before he could even think of cooking up an apology, Cate’s arms had snapped across the front of her sweater dress to form a don’t-mess-with-me knot that was far, far more of a turn-on than it had a right to be.

“That’s what you hired me for, isn’t it? To manage your books effectively?”

“Yes,” Owen answered carefully, still caught between the desire to be annoyed, the desire to apologize, and, well, just plain desire.

“Well, then. Since I have my work cut out for me with a chainsaw, I suppose I should get to it,” Cate said.

After a quick internal debate, Owen nodded. Brash or not, he needed her. More than he cared to admit. “Okay, then.”

She answered by way of pushing up her sleeves and sliding an elastic from her wrist to secure her hair in a knot at the crown of her head. Even with the more casual edge, the powder-blue dress still hugged her curves, her calves flexing and releasing as she moved from one stack of boxes to the next in her heels, and he cleared his throat.

“Just so you know, we’re pretty casual around here. You don’t have to look nice.”

Cate’s cheeks flushed a shade of pink that, while highly pretty, didn’t bode well for him in the mending-fences department. “Good to know,” she said, and holy hell, why did his mouth refuse to cooperate with his brain around this woman?

“Not that you don’t look, uh. Fine like that. All I meant was, you don’t have to get dressed up. Jeans are okay.”

She stared down at the toes of her shiny black shoes, but only for a split second before meeting his stare with her own. “Got it, Casanova. Is that all?”

For just a heartbeat, Owen was tempted to say no, to dig deep into his Neanderthal brain for the right words to tell her she actually looked fucking beautiful. To surrender to the hot demands coming from both his chest and his cock, and cross the room to impulsively kiss her sexy, sassy mouth.

But this was Cate McAllister. His buddy Brian’s widow. He shouldn’t think she was pretty. He shouldn’t wonder if the skin on her shoulders bore the same provocative dusting of freckles as the neck she’d just put on display. And he damn sure shouldn’t be turned on like floodlights at the fire in her eyes that he’d never quite seen before, but seemed to somehow fit her perfectly.

So, he simply said, “Yes. That’s all,” and walked out of the room.



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Cross Creek Series Tour:

About Kimberly Kincaid:

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2015 RWA RITA® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.        

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BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads


Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.


“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

It’s been so long since I’ve really sat down and wrote a review about a book that really mattered to me. Since I’ve had all this (all day)(endless) morning sickness, I’ve been pretty bleak about my outlook on reading and if I’d ever want to again-I know, right? Ridiculous. As if I’d ever give up my one true passion. But it’s been a long road…and when I saw Kaz on the horizon, I knew it was my time to reintroduce myself into the book community.

“Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch, Brekker. You have to be the craziest bastard I ever met.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

As everyone knows, Six of Crows has been my favorite read this year (yes I was late to the party). No, I haven’t had the longest, most prosperous reading year of my life (that was last year, boo), but when a book truly stands out, you simply don’t forget it. And so here was my baby boy, his final book coming up at the speed of light…and I knew I wouldn’t miss it for the world. But with that comes a lot of expectations.

Kaz had tapped his crow’s head cane on the flagstones of the tomb floor. “Do you know what Van Eck’s problem is?” 

“No honor?” said Matthias.
“Rotten parenting skills?” said Nina.
“Receding hairline?” offered Jesper.
“No,” said Kaz. “Too much to lose. And he gave us a map to what to steal first.”

For one….this is Kaz. You fuck up Kaz? I fuck YOU up. So…this author had a lot of hype to live up to in my pathetic world of nausea and the occasional regurgitation of Blue Raspberry Mr. Misty Floats from Dairy Queen. And not only did I have that larger than life hype in my head, but this was the FIRST BOOK to bring me out of my endless woes of re-reading and missing out on countless new releases. To say I was nervous would be an understatement.

Jesper tapped his fingers restlessly on his thighs. “Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?” “So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”

So. Was it worth the hype? Was it everything I ever dreamed of and wished it would be? Was everything as perfect as the first? No. I’m sorry, but the answer is an absolute no. And I keep asking myself, if you didn’t love it as much as the first, if you have qualms about the integrity of the novel and all of the characters…why the 4.5 stars? Are you rating this so highly because you love Kaz more than you love the air you breathe? Or is it simply out of loyalty to your love of the first-Possibly your favorite book of all time under Hunger Games? And the truth of the matter is, I can’t answer that question. I really can’t. But what I can answer is this: No matter whether I believe this wasn’t what it could have been or whether it was and I just missed the party…I always, always rate with my gut. And my gut won’t let me rate lower than 4.5.

Kaz had rescued her from that hopelessness, and their lives had been a series of rescues ever since, a string of debts that they never tallied as they saved each other again and again. Lying in the dark, she realized that for all her doubts, she’d believed he would rescue her once more, that he would put aside his greed and his demons and come for her. Now she wasn’t so sure.

And every single one of my best friends, ask any of them (Harriet, Anna, Jenny, Jen, etc.) will tell you I do NOT lie on my ratings. They come from deep in my heart and I wouldn’t be able to stand it if I rated something less/more than what it deserved. So, I think I made it clear that, while I’m a tad confused on what made this click for me, I am set in my rating. If anyone is even still around I guess I’ll get to my thoughts on the book now.

“If you don’t care about money, Nina dear, call it by its other names.”
“Kruge? Scrub? Kaz’s one true love?”
“Freedom, security, retribution.”
“You can’t put a price on those things.”
“No? I bet Jesper can. It’s the price of the lien on his father’s farm.” The sharpshooter looked at the toes of his boots. “What about you, Wylan? Can you put a price on the chance to walk away from Ketterdam and live your own life? And Nina, I suspect you and your Fjerdan may want something more to subsist on than patriotism and longing glances. Inej might have a number in mind too. It’s the price of a future, and it’s Van Eck’s turn to pay.”

This book…..this book was not what I expected-both good and bad. Because, really, what did I even expect? I knew the first was out of this world creative, that nothing could compare….yet I longed for it to. Second books and third books are almost never my favorite…but I yearned for something better. And, while I didn’t get that, I did get a lot of things I was missing in the first. They weren’t as beautiful, far-fetched, as magnanimous as I had hoped, but they were there, and they were flawed…and how can I complain when I got my (cough) sweet Kaz to show his barest emotions, his most broken self to the only one left in the world he loved. I mean….Jesus. My heart couldn’t take any more. No, I didn’t get a full page proclamation of love-sorry to disappoint those who wanted that-but we did get the Kaz flair, the Kaz way of showing how much he cares, how loyal he is. And, frankly, despite what I had thought before…it was more than enough for me. This book was flawed. The crew was flawed. And Kaz was flawed….and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Around Pekka, he lost the shape of who he was—no, he lost the shape of who he’d fought to become. He wasn’t Dirtyhands or Kaz Brekker or even the toughest lieutenant in the Dregs. He was just a boy fueled by a white flame of rage, one that threatened to burn the pretense of the hard-won civility he maintained to ash.

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The beginning started out just as I’d hoped it would-right where it left off, give or take a week. They have very little time to get to Inej and free her from that bastard Van Eck, and Kaz (just a warning, this review is centered around Kaz so….yeah, sorry) is a man on a mission-A deadly mission. Everyone is battered and bruised, dedicated to the cause of getting their Wraith back, no matter what happens. After all, she has saved their lives countless times.

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But, here lies my largest issue: The POVs at the beginning. I’m sorry, but why do we have to wait one billion chapters to get into Kaz’s twisted head??? That pissed me off-No, the story wasn’t bad without it, but, for me, this felt odd. In the first book, he and Inej were the main POVs and I, quite frankly, liked it that way. In this one, it was all Wylan, Jesper, Nina, Matthias, etc..and THEN Kaz. And THEN Inej. I didn’t like that and it immediately put a sour taste in my mouth-NOW, I will just say this…it didn’t effect that much, I just was a pissy pink elephant about the whole thing. And, frankly, I thought the pairings at the beginning of the book were odd. I can’t explain it…it just didn’t feel right. Everyone was around, but I definitely was missing something. (TO HARRIET-Don’t worry, Kazzy bestie, he was not missing from the story, don’t misunderstand me).

“My mother is Ketterdam. She birthed me in the harbor. And my father is profit. I honor him daily. Be back by nightfall or don’t come back at all. Either of you. I need crew, not sentimental nubs.”

Now, while it didn’t effect the story…I do think it effected the intensity of Kaz’s character. This is why I LOVE him, okay? So when he is stifled by A) too much action (am I really stating this as a problem?) and B) No time in his mind I definitely noticed it. Which I guess brings me to the negatives, since this seems like the appropriate timing of both my review and the book: The middle. So many books effect me this way, even some of my absolute favorites, and I guess I just hoped that since book one had literally no slow parts, for me, that it would be the same here. But it was almost an opposite effect: There was literally so much going on at one point, that my mind couldn’t take it. Anna said it best: We missed the strategizing, the camaraderie, the banter, the scheming, and there was literally no time to do that. The weakest point for me, and where I lost interest for about 7%, was part three: Brick by Brick. This happens in many books, like I mentioned before, but I was hoping it wouldn’t here. And it ended quickly-it won me back almost right away-but it took a minute, and that scared me. I will say, though…it had one of my top three favorite Kaz quotes in the whole book-EEPS. That has to count for something!!

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So, with that doubt in my mind, which saddened me greatly that I had to consider that gap at all, I was suddenly more apprehensive of the rest of the story. Would it even out? Would I get my big declaration? Would I get the Kaz I had loved from story one? Well…not everything was what I’d expected, but there were some parts that were more, and that excited me so much I could barely contain my giddy glee. There are literally so many moments I could touch on, so many scenes I’ll never forget…Brutality, courage, loyalty, respect, love, betrayal [by the author] (sorry lady, but you definitely tried to pull a fast one on me I don’t know if I’ll ever agree with-at least how it happened).

He reached out and took Nina’s hand. Wylan suddenly felt he was intruding on something private. “I am grateful you’re alive,” he said. “I am grateful you’re beside me. I am grateful that you’re eating.”
She rested her head on his shoulder. “You’re better than waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips. “Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”

You think you have it all figured out, that everything is finally going to go as you had hoped from the very beginning, and then out of nowhere there’s yet another curveball thrown your way. And while that worked extremely well for the last half of the book, I must say it was sometimes a misfire in the beginning parts of the book. Like I said, I LOVE this series, but it wasn’t without it’s flaws and I feel the need to talk it out on this page. Yes, I’m rambling, but it’s how I’ve always done reviews so…

His eyes scanned her face as they always had, closely, hungrily, snatching at the details of her like the thief he was—the even set of her dark brows, the rich brown of her eyes, the upward tilt of her lips. He didn’t deserve peace and he didn’t deserve forgiveness, but if he was going to die today, maybe the one thing he’d earned was the memory of her—brighter than anything he would ever have a right to—to take with him to the other side.

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Okay, forget it, I’m just going to touch on what I care about most and then I’ll end the suffering that is this repetitive review: Kaz. Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz Kaz KAZ. How do you like me now, computer??? I swear, it keeps putting that damn red squiggly line under his name and, since I’ve mentioned him like 100 times, my screen is completely reddish-IT’S A NAME, DAMN IT. LEAVE ME ALONE. Anyway, I digress. Kaz has stolen my heart completely with his brutal truths, cutthroat way of life, ABSOLUTE LOYALTY, his cunning, his scheming face, his cane, his gloves, the phobia he was stuck with because of his unfortunate circumstances…..the list goes literally on and on. And that’s why I was so angry that he was such a small part, I felt, in the beginning. Wasn’t he the main character? He and Inej, mostly? Wasn’t he the reason they even existed, this crew? Well, I didn’t care about them, any of them, like I did him, so that was hard for me to swallow. So when he got back to normal (and his chapters came more frequently), perhaps even more brutal than before…it was like coming home.

The silence between them was dark water. He could not cross it. He couldn’t walk the line between the decency she deserved and the violence this path demanded. If he tried, it might get them both killed. He could only be who he truly was—a boy who had no comfort to offer. So he would give her what he could. “I’m going to open Van Eck up,” he said quietly. “I’m going to give him a wound that can’t be sewn shut, that he’ll never recover from. The kind that can’t be healed.”
“The kind you endured?”
“Yes.” It was a promise. It was an admission.

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It’s true that most of my expectations centered around Kaz, Kaz and Inej, and him getting everything his poor heart deserved (revenge included), but I still know what a good, COMPLETE story is so shhh. I am happy with his chapter closing the way it did, with more to come for him and his eventual (I hope) complete happiness…and I do believe Bardugo finished his story in a way that was completely believable. I did want bigger, grander things for him-But the story ended in the way I think it was meant to, mostly. There’s plenty more I could wish for and plenty more I could say…but I’m happy leaving his story here. I love him. I adore him. No one compares to him. End of story.

Inej thought of Kaz’s pale trickster hands, the shiny rope of scar tissue that ran atop his right knuckle. Van Eck could break every finger and both of Kaz’s legs and he’d never say a word, but if his men stripped away Kaz’s gloves? Inej still didn’t understand why he needed them or why he’d fainted in the prison wagon on the way into the Ice Court, but she knew Kaz couldn’t bear the touch of skin on skin. How much of this weakness could he hide? How quickly would Van Eck located his vulnerability, exploit it? How long until Kaz came undone? She couldn’t bear it. She was glad she didn’t know where Kuwei was. She would break before Kaz did.

This book was far from perfect…but it made me happy. It had pain and torture and brutal moments that any sick bastard like me would lap up happily in each and EVERY story….but it also had its moments I wish were better. It’s a fine line between obsession and sanity, loving a book and its characters too much for my own good. So I will take this as a win-I just know it could have been even better. Less plots upon plots, a little less confusion around the middle because so much was going on (not always a good thing), and the fact that all this made me care less about certain things…these are the issues I had that I wish didn’t exist. But the fact remains: Bardugo rules. Her characters will stay in my heart forever. Kaz can literally get out of ANY situation….and I am at peace with where this story went. I could be happier….but at least this isn’t one of my final book Chelsea fails that happen so frequently. No Mourners. No Funerals.


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Buddy Read with my LOVELY SNAKE-YAY!! We’re BACK! Well…at least for Kaz 😛

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