Tag Archives: Made Me Gasp

Review: Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Make You Mine by Jackie AshendenMake You Mine by Jackie Ashenden
Series: Nine Circles #2
Published by Macmillan on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Gothic, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
In the Nine Circles Club, one lucky man gets more than his share of money, power, and women--until he meets a beautiful opponent who plays in the name of love...in Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden.He's raising the stakes.International playboy Alex St. James always plays to win. Whether it's betting on a high-stakes card game--or bedding a high-class socialite--the gorgeous world-class gambler knows how to beat the odds using his brains, his body, and a whole lot of charm. But there's one woman who's immune to Alex's bag of tricks--which makes her the perfect challenge...and the ultimate prize.She's going all in.Once a special operative in her native Russia, Katya Ivanov knows what kind of man Alex is. As his personal bodyguard, she's seen him seduce the richest women, place the riskiest bets, and break the hardest players. But to even a score from her past, she's willing to take a gamble on her reckless boss. Even if she has to pretend to be his lover. Even if he drives her mad with desire. And then she never wants this dangerous game to end...

This review may contain spoilers for MINE TO TAKE, the first book in the Nine Circles series. You could try to read MAKE YOU MINE as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

MAKE YOU MINE is the second book in Jackie Ashenden’s romantic suspense series Nine Circles, telling the story of how another member of the “bleeped-up billionaires club” finds his own true love when he least expects it. And while the first book MINE TO TAKE was a great introduction to the Nine Circles world, MAKE YOU MINE took off like a rocket from where that story left off and didn’t stop until I was breathless and crying for fictional characters like they were actually real.

Alex St. James has tried to protect himself and everyone else in his life by pretending not to care about anything except making money and pleasures of the flesh. Caring nearly killed him once, and he refuses to be vulnerable a second time. But when he needs his lovely bodyguard to be his pawn in a plot for revenge against the man who changed his life forever, Alex discovers that not only does he care, but that being cared for in return can be the greatest strength of all.

Betrayed by family and country, Katya found work as a bodyguard to an American billionaire playboy while waiting for news about the missing man she’s promised to marry. She is paid to protect his body, but it’s his soul that she worries about. As Alex’s plan unfolds, only Katya’s unswerving loyalty and Alex’s last shreds of humanity stand between them and the loss of everything they both hold dear.

One of the things I love about Jackie Ashenden’s stories is how her characters always pull at my heartstrings so brutally that I sometimes have to put the book down, but never so much that I won’t immediately pick it back up again. And then just when I think it’s reached the lowest point of what could possibly happen, she hits me with one more punch that leaves me both reeling and begging for more. in MAKE YOU MINE, Alex and Katya burn up the page every time they are together, even while a terrible menace hangs over them for most of the book. And as they each reveal their closest secrets to each other, that menace seems less threatening if only because they know that nothing can really hurt them as long as they have each other. The suspense plot brings them together, but it’s their romance that propels the book and that’s what makes it a romantic suspense I can wholeheartedly recommend. And with the overall Nine Circles storyline still unresolved, I’m even more eager to read YOU ARE MINE than I was to read this book.


Review: Make It Right by Megan Erickson

Make it Right (Bowler University, #2)Make it Right by Megan Erickson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

After a year when I’ve declared so many romance tropes and subgenres off my reading list, only to be shown how good they can actually be, it should have been no surprise that I would find a book so wonderful that it redeems the one subgenre I’d sworn off for good: New Adult. But make no mistake, MAKE IT RIGHT by Megan Erickson is the one New Adult romance that I truly believe even those weary of that subgenre could enjoy reading.

Although MAKE IT RIGHT is the second in Megan Erickson’s Bowler University series, it works quite well as a stand-alone story. Starting the series with this second book might even provide an advantage to the new reader, since the story revolves around the redemption of a much reviled character from the first book, MAKE IT COUNT.

Max Payton is infamous among his college friends for the rotten way he treated his last girlfriend, Kat, and how before that, he’d slept with the high school girlfriend of his best friend Alec. Now that Alec and Kat are a couple, Max must content himself with the occasional nightly pickup of whatever women are still willing to throw themselves at him. But when Lea Travers shows up one night at the local convenience store where Max is slightly drunk and feeling down about his life, he realizes that this girl is someone he’d really like to be the true version of himself with, just for once.

Lea doesn’t have the long history with Max from high school like her friends do, but what she’s heard about him is all bad. Still, she sees something genuine behind the jerk facade he puts on for everyone, and as events on campus conspire to bring them together, it’s obvious that the attraction is mutual. What both she and Max eventually discover is a deeper connection that could heal the invisible wounds they both carry inside. But can it survive the mistakes they’ve both made and their unshakable assumptions about loving and being loved?

So many New Adult books make the mistake of fetishizing tragedies in their relatively young characters’ pasts, but in MAKE IT RIGHT, this is never a problem. The perfect tone is set from the start, and what makes us sympathize with the characters is constantly balanced with moments of humor that are never out of place. Max is much more than what he shows to the world, and we see his troubled home life from his point of view, even as its effect on his behavior is made all too obvious as the story unfolds. Lea, too, has endured both physical and psychological blows that would be daunting for a person twice her age. But the histories each brings to this new relationship are presented matter-of-factly, with no superimposed drama to forcibly wring the last bit of sentiment out of readers. This careful balance between lightheartedness and deep emotion is what I find missing in so many New Adult romances, and its presence here is one of the big reasons I loved Max and Lea’s story so much.

The other great feature of MAKE IT RIGHT for me was how the author always kept me guessing as to how events would play out, while always ensuring the necessary groundwork had already been laid for what would happen next. Even when I was able to predict the nature of the inevitable Big Misunderstanding, I was still surprised by the series of events it triggered, leading all the way up to Max and Lea’s happy ending, blowing away every assumption I’d had up until then. Ultimately, neither Max nor Lea should have ever trusted each other to be the person they needed, but when they took that leap of faith, I took it with them, and was rewarded with one of the best romances I’ve read this year.

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