Category Archives: Bantam

Review: The Truth About Him by M. O’Keefe

truth aboutTitle: The Truth About Him by M. O’Keefe
Everything I Left Unsaid Book Two
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, Suspense
Length: 337 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

For fans of Christina Lauren and Jodi Ellen Malpas comes the next novel in M. O’Keefe’s breathtakingly sexy series about a woman called into a journey of the heart, body, and soul.

We played our roles, told each other lies.

But now Dylan is no longer just a mysterious deep voice on the other end of the line. We’re face-to-face and our relationship is very, very real.

We still have secrets—but so much is crystal clear:

The thrilling danger.

The raw, naked desire.

The need to keep feeling the way he makes me feel. Forever.

Dylan is putting up walls, trying to keep me safe, but he can’t shut me out. He has seen my darkness and rescued me. Now it’s my turn, if only he will let me.

Review:

In The Truth About Him, the second novel in M. O’Keefe’s two book series Everything I Left Unsaid, the cliffhanger from the first installment is quickly resolved but there is plenty of peril ahead for Annie McKay and Dylan Daniels when someone from his past unexpectedly re-emerges.

When the previous installment ended, Annie’s past finally caught up with her with a very unexpected arrival. With her situation becoming more precarious with each passing second, a dramatic turn of events quickly closes the chapter on this part of her life. However, before she and Dylan can move forward with their budding romance, Dylan’s previous connection to a motorcycle club brings danger to the people around him.

With her past finally resolved, Annie really comes into her own during The Truth About Him. She is more confident and she does not hesitate to voice her opinions. She does not let anyone (including Dylan) make her decisions for her and although she sometimes is a little too stubborn, it is quite refreshing watching her stand up to her friends and neighbors. Annie is also willing to take a risk when it comes to matters of the heart and she does not hide her feelings from Dylan.

Dylan is still working to make peace with his somewhat dysfunctional family life. All of his secrets are finally revealed but forgiveness remains elusive. He remains uncertain about a future with Annie but despite his best efforts to stay away from her, he finds it impossible to resist their attraction. When things become rocky between them, Dylan makes a conscious effort to stop running from his problems and only then does he make progress conquering the lingering demons from his past.

While Dylan and Annie are more honest with each other in this installment, their relationship gets a little lost in all of the drama from Dylan’s past. There is still plenty of unadulterated lust between them and their sex scenes remain extremely erotic. However, the storyline takes on a suspenseful element once Dylan is reunited with a couple of people from the motorcycle club and there is quite a bit of danger surrounding everyone as this part of the plot plays out. In the midst of these story arcs, Dylan’s relationship with his father remains contentious and he is slow to relinquish his anger or offer forgiveness for the series of events that occurred between them several years earlier.

For the most part, The Truth About Him is an engaging and satisfying conclusion to the Everything I Left Unsaid series. The novel is well-written but the storyline is a little busy and somewhat slow paced. The main characters are fully developed and mostly sympathetic. All of the storylines featuring Dylan and Annie are completely resolved, but there are a few story arcs with secondary characters that leave a lot of unanswered questions. Hopefully M. O’Keefe has plans for future novels which will bring closure to these dangling storylines.

Read my review of Everything I Left Unsaid HERE.

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Filed under Bantam, Contemporary, Erotic, Everything I Left Unsaid Series, M O'Keefe, Rated C+, Review, Romance, The Truth About Him

Review: Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe

everything unsaid Title: Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe
Everything I Left Unsaid Series Book One
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Fans of Jodi Ellen Malpas, K. Bromberg, and Joanna Wylde will be unable to resist this sexy, deeply intimate tale of a woman running from her past, and the darkly mysterious man who sets her free.

I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.

And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.

His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.

Review:

Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe is a scorching hot journey of healing and sexual awakening for lead protagonist Annie McKay. This first book in a two part series is a poignant and heartwarming romance that is quite captivating and will leave readers impatiently awaiting the release of the final book in the series.

Fearing for her safety, Annie flees from her Oklahoma farm and makes a new life for herself in a rundown trailer park in North Carolina. Almost immediately upon her arrival, she answers a cell phone left by the previous occupant and she is instantly enthralled by the voice on the other end. Their flirtatious conversations quickly turn erotic and with Dylan’s encouragement, Annie begins to explore her newly awakened sexuality.

Annie’s sheltered upbringing left her vulnerable and lacking confidence. She made a decision she soon came to regret but seeing no way out, she slowly but surely gave up pieces of herself in order to keep the peace. When things finally come to a head and she truly believes her life is in imminent danger, Annie works up the courage to leave. With no real plan in mind for her future, she is content to remain at the trailer park where she not only feels safe, but tentatively forms the first friendships of her life with her neighbors.

Dylan is quite enigmatic and his life remains shrouded in mystery. He enters Annie’s life at a time when she is ripe for change and although some of his requests are clearly out of her comfort zone, she refuses to let her unease stop her from acquiescing to his demands. Annie’s explorations of her sexuality are the impetus for changes in all areas of her life while the growth of Dylan’s character remains rather limited due to the narrow scope of their relationship.

Dylan and Annie’s relationship is very unusual and for much of the novel, it remains rather superficial since neither of them is willing to reveal their secrets to one another. There is no denying the sexual chemistry between them and the sex scenes are blistering hot. However, their relationship lacks an emotional depth since neither Dylan nor Annie reveals anything of importance until nearly the end of the novel.

Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe is a sexually charged novel of self-discovery and it is quite fascinating watching Annie gain confidence and become more comfortable in her own skin. The overall storyline is refreshingly unique and the characters are multi-dimensional and quite appealing. The novel comes to a rather dramatic conclusion that will leave readers anxiously awaiting The Truth about Him, the final installment of the two book series.

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Filed under Bantam, Contemporary, Everything I Left Unsaid, Everything I Left Unsaid Series, M O'Keefe, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthy

place wellTitle: A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthy
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Historical (60s), Literary Fiction
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Late October, 1962. Wes Avery, a one-time Air Force tail-gunner, is living his version of the American Dream as loving husband to Sarah, doting father to seventeen-year-old Charlotte, and owner of a successful Texaco station along central Florida’s busiest highway. But after President Kennedy announces that the Soviets have nuclear missiles in Cuba, Army convoys clog the highways and the sky fills with fighter planes. Within days, Wes’s carefully constructed life begins to unravel.

Sarah, nervous and watchful, spends more and more time in the family’s bomb shelter, slipping away into childhood memories and the dreams she once held for the future. Charlotte is wary but caught up in the excitement of high school—her nomination to homecoming court, the upcoming dance, and the thrill of first love. Wes, remembering his wartime experience, tries to keep his family’s days as normal as possible, hoping to restore a sense of calm. But as the panic over the Missile Crisis rises, a long-buried secret threatens to push the Averys over the edge.

With heartbreaking clarity and compassion, Susan Carol McCarthy captures the shock and innocence, anxiety and fear, in those thirteen historic days, and brings vividly to life one ordinary family trying to hold center while the world around them falls apart.

Review:

In A Place We Knew Well, Susan Carol McCarthy whisks readers back to a tense (and somewhat forgotten) time in American history. The Cuban missile crisis takes center stage in this drama featuring the Avery family and it is a fascinating blend of fact and fiction that is quite riveting.

Gas station owner Wes Avery has a comfortable life in south Florida but once he notices unusual activity at McCoy Air Force Base, he is struck with a feeling of foreboding. A trip out to the air base coupled with some pretty reliable rumors confirms his worst suspicious: something big is happening. That something turns out to be the Cuban Missile Crisis and this tense situation plays out during an equally anxious and difficult time for his family and their rather idyllic life comes to a stunning end when the crisis is over.

Wes settled in Orlanda, FL with his wife Sarah after World War II. Having seen the horrific aftermath of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima firsthand, Wes knows better than anyone just how devastating the effects of nuclear war can be. He is understandably concerned about the increasingly frightening situation and he has surprising insight into how events might be playing out behind the scenes. Glued to the TV and the newspapers, Wes’s attention is soon divided between the national crisis and the events occurring at home with Sarah and their teenage daughter, Charlotte.

Sarah is already stressed before the crisis begins and over the next two weeks, she is stretched to the breaking point. Emotionally fragile and prone to bouts of depression, she is increasingly overwhelmed as a hurricane heads their way just as she is preparing for an upcoming Civil Defense presentation. Although thrilled with Charlotte’s nomination to the homecoming court, it also dredges up long ago memories of a dark period in her family’s life.  This downward spiral is further complicated by a commonly prescribed cocktail of drugs and ends in a shocking revelation.

The series of events leading up the homecoming dance is a bittersweet period in Charlotte’s life. At the same time she is falling in love for the first time, her childhood innocence is lost when faced with the looming threat of nuclear attack. Her trust is further shaken when a long held family secret is revealed and she is forced grow up fast when Sarah’s condition deteriorates. In the aftermath, Charlotte re-evaluates her plans for the future, and her life is forever altered and somewhat defined by the events of this two week period.

With A Place We Knew Well, Susan Carol McCarthy brilliantly weaves fact and fiction into an extraordinarily mesmerizing story that is thought-provoking, enlightening and emotionally compelling. The historical aspect of the storyline is well researched and presented in such a way that readers cannot help but experience the fear and emotions of the various characters during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Avery family drama is equally gripping and it is impossible not become invested in the final outcome of the events that transpire alongside the national emergency.  An incredibly well-written novel that I highly recommend.

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Filed under A Place We Knew Well, Bantam, Historical (60s), Literary Fiction, Rated B+, Review, Susan Carol McCarthy

Review: Indecent Proposal by Molly O’Keefe

proposalTitle: Indecent Proposal by Molly O’Keefe
Boys of Bishop Series Book Four
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 370 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Perfect for readers of Susan Mallery and Rachel Gibson, Molly O’Keefe’s gritty and sensual tale of passion and politics features the brother of the heroine from the author’s beloved novel, Never Been Kissed. He’s a driven man who refuses to be distracted—until he meets a beautiful bartender who just may change his life.

With his chiseled jaw and thick blond hair, Harrison Montgomery was born to lead. Four generations of Montgomery men have served the state of Georgia, and now he’s next in line. Harrison, though, is driven to right wrongs: namely to clean up the political mess left by his father’s greed and corruption. But Harrison must first win his congressional bid, and nothing can get in his way—not even an angel who served him whiskey and gave him a shoulder to lean on and a body to love for a night. Problem is, she’s pregnant. Scandal is brewing, and there is only one solution: marriage.

Damage control? Ryan Kaminski can’t believe that a cold, calculating political animal now inhabits the body of the emotionally vulnerable stranger who gave her the most unforgettable night of her life. Really, she doesn’t want anything from Harrison, except to be left alone to have her baby in peace. But Ryan is broke, jobless, and essentially blackmailed by Harrison’s desperate family to accept this crazy marriage deal. For two years, she will have to act the role of caring, supportive wife. But what is Ryan supposed to do when she realizes that, deep in her heart, she’s falling in love?

The Review:

Indecent Proposal is the much anticipated fourth installment in Molly O’Keefe’s captivating Boys of Bishop series. Tantalizing glimpses of Harrison Montgomery in Never Been Kissed (book two in the series) piqued my curiosity about him and his sudden marriage to Ryan Kaminski, so I have been eagerly impatiently waiting for his story. I can honestly (and happily) say it was sooooo worth the wait!!!

Although Indecent Proposal is the fourth book in the series, it can be read as a standalone. Harrison was instrumental in his securing his sister Ashley’s release from Somali pirates in Never Been Kissed and the storylines from both novels run concurrently. Unlike the previous three novels in the series, Indecent Proposal does not take place in Bishop, but Ashley and her love interest Brody do make a brief, but important, guest appearance.

Ryan has no idea who Harrison when he comes into the bar where she works as a bartender. All she knows is he is obviously hurting, and she impulsively spends one incredibly passionate night with him. Ryan really does not expect their paths to cross again, but one unplanned pregnancy + one big mouthed (but well-intentioned) brother = a marriage of convenience for Ryan and Harrison. Strictly a business arrangement, they quickly marry and Ryan is thrust into the limelight while Harrison campaigns for the upcoming election. Their relationship becomes a confusing mess as they present a loving and united front in public but privately, they keep an emotional and physical distance.

Ryan has had a very difficult life and she is not exactly welcomed into Harrison’s family with open arms. She had brief career as a model when she was younger, but after her early marriage crashed and burned, she lost pretty much everything. Most of her family turned their backs on her and she has been living a fairly bleak and lonely for the past several years. She is honest and upfront about her past mistakes and she is genuinely sorry for the pain she has caused. Ryan readily admits she falls in love with ease, but when it comes to Harrison, she is determined not to fall into old habits.

Harrison fiercely loyal to Ashley, but when it comes to his parents, he tries to keep as far away from them as possible. He deeply resents his parents for using him and Ashley as props to advance his father’s political career. However, he believes in the political system and he is committed to fixing the wrongs his father committed while in office. Harrison is sometimes cold and calculating, but with Ryan, his barriers begin to come down. But his fears are difficult to leave behind, and Harrison continually pushes Ryan away.

Harrison and Ryan’s relationship is a rollercoaster of strong emotions and their history of family dysfunction is a huge obstacle they have to overcome. Both of them are trying to protect themselves from further hurt and every time they get close to one another, they immediately begin to shut down.

Since Harrison and Ryan are trying to maintain a physical and emotional distance from one another, there are fewer sex scenes in Indecent Proposal. Their encounters are intense and while they do bring them closer, more often than not, their intimacy is tenuous and unable to withstand the myriad issues they are facing.

Indecent Proposal is wonderful novel of healing for both Harrison and Ryan and watching them overcome their troubled pasts is incredibly heartwarming. The use of the marriage of convenience plot device is absolutely brilliant and Molly O’Keefe does an outstanding job keeping the storyline fresh and unique.

Indecent Proposal is a heartfelt, poignant and sexy addition to the Boys of Bishop series that old and new fans are going to love.

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Filed under Bantam, Boys of Bishop Series, Contemporary, Indecent Proposal, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Between the Sheets by Molly O’Keefe

sheetsTitle: Between the Sheets by Molly O’Keefe
Boys of Bishop Series Book Three
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 370 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Perfect for readers of Susan Mallery and Rachel Gibson, Between the Sheets is Molly O’Keefe’s final book in the Boys of Bishop trilogy, featuring a sizzling romance between a sexy motorcycle bad boy and the girl next door who can’t resist him.

After years of running, Wyatt Svenson has now parked himself in Bishop, Arkansas, trying to do the right thing and parent a son he didn’t even know he had until recently. Over six feet tall and packed with muscles and power, Ty likes to get his hands dirty, fixing his motorcycle at night and keeping his mind away from the mistakes he’s made. Then his pretty neighbor shows up on his driveway, doesn’t bother to introduce herself, and complains about the noise. First impression? She should loosen up. Funny that she turns out to be his son’s elementary school art teacher—and the only one willing to help his troubled boy. Ty needs her. In more ways than one.

Though Shelby Monroe is safe in her structured life, she is drawn to Ty’s bad-boy edge and rugged sexuality. What if she just lets it all go: her worries about her mother, her fear of heartbreak, and her tight self control? What if she grabs Ty and takes a ride on the wild side? “What if” becomes reality—intense, exhilarating . . . and addictive. But Ty wants more than a secret affair. He wants it all with Shelby. But will she take a chance and open her heart? Ty is determined to convince Shelby to take the biggest risk of her life: on him.

The Review:

Between the Sheets by Molly O’Keefe is an intense, heartbreaking and poignant novel that is also insanely hot and incredibly passionate. In this third installment of her marvelous Boys of Bishop series, neighbors Shelby Monroe and Wyatt “Ty” Svenson’s first meeting is a bit contentious. However, they easily set aside their differences for the sake of Ty’s troubled son, Casey. What they find impossible to resist is their sizzling attraction to one another, but when Ty wants more from Shelby than explosive sex, her troubled past makes it virtually impossible for her commit to a real relationship.

Shelby is a likable character but she is so closed off that getting to know her takes a lot of grit and determination.   Everything she is, everything she does, stems from her dysfunctional and abusive childhood. Peeling back her many layers is painful and watching her try to cope with her mother’s worsening Alzheimer’s is beyond heartbreaking. Shelby does not lack sexual experience but since she has never had a serious relationship, she is rather awkward when it comes to flirting and dating. Even after a very public sex scandal, no one sees Shelby as anything but sweet, prim and proper. So the fact that she uses rough, angry sex to cope with her frustrations comes as a huge shock.

Ty is a former bad boy who is struggling to be a good dad to his newly discovered son. Moving to Bishop is supposed to be a clean slate for both of them, but eleven year old Casey continues to act out and Ty is fighting his old urge to run from his problems. Ty is clearly out of his element with Casey but he does not allow his discomfort deter him from trying to get through to his emotionally damaged son.

While Ty is clearly surprised by Shelby’s aggressive approach to sex, he is an eager participant. Their sex scenes are raw and gritty and there is very little tenderness between them. Both use sex as their release valve and escape from real life, but Ty wants more from their encounters than Shelby but she quickly shuts down his efforts to get to know her.  Ty definitely gives more to the relationship than Shelby and no matter how many times she pushes him away, he never gives up hope that things will work out between them.

Between the Sheets is an emotional, complicated and messy romance that is unique and engrossing. Ty and Shelby are complex, vibrantly developed characters whose smoldering attraction leads to fiery, explicitly detailed sex scenes. It is another powerful novel of love and healing by Molly O’Keefe that old and new fans of the Boys of Bishop series do not want to miss.

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Filed under Bantam, Between the Sheets, Boys of Bishop Series, Contemporary, Random House Publishing Group, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Never Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe

never beenTitle: Never Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe
Boys of Bishop Series Book Two
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Bantam
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Perfect for readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson, Molly O’Keefe’s second novel in her exciting new series—The Boys of Bishop—features an irresistible romance and unforgettable characters in a page-turning story that delivers equal parts emotion and humor . . . with a little edge to boot.

As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ashley Montgomery has had enough of her parents’ expectations for her future and is going her own way, volunteering to work at a refugee camp in Africa. But her act of charity turns dangerous when she takes a boat trip and is abducted by Somali pirates. Enter Brody Baxter, who was a bodyguard for the Montgomery family ten years ago and doesn’t think twice about coming to Ashley’s rescue. Handsome and tough, Brody has always done what needed to be done. So he swoops in, saves Ashley, and brings her to a place where she can rest and recuperate without the glare of the press and her demanding family: Brody’s small hometown of Bishop, Arkansas. But Ashley soon realizes that she’s not the only one in need of healing.

Holed up with Ashley in a tiny apartment over his brother’s bar in Bishop, Brody is tempted and torn in ways he never anticipated. Beautiful Ashley, vibrant despite her ordeal, fearless enough to love him beyond his wall of self-punishment, is now determined to save him. But with a little faith and a lot of love, they just may find happiness in each others’ arms.

The Review:

Never Been Kissed is another captivating romance in Molly O’Keefe’s divine Boys of Bishop series. While it is a heartwarming love story between two incredibly complex individuals, it is also a wonderful journey of healing and self-discovery for the characters as well.

When Ashley Montgomery is kidnapped and held for ransom by Somali pirates, her brother Harrison reaches out to the only man he trusts to bring her home: their former bodyguard Brody Baxter. Although it has been ten years since he worked for the Montgomery family, Brody does not hesitate to rescue her from her captors. Needing a secluded place for Ashley to recover from her injuries, Brody takes her to his small hometown, where the two fight their simmering attraction for each other.

When the opportunity arose for Ashley escape the limelight and distance herself from her political family, she eagerly set out to make a difference in a poverty stricken African village.  Her return home highlights the fact that nothing has really changed regarding her troubled relationship with her family. After spending time with Brody in Bishop, Ashley also comes to the realization that her long ago crush on him has deepened into love. She is a strong, independent woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants, but Brody has a long history of avoiding any kind of emotional entanglement. He might be willing to give into his passion short term, but he does not plan on sticking around any longer than he has to.

Brody is emotionally damaged from his childhood and although he loves his adoptive father Ed and brother Sean, he is not willing to risk getting hurt again. He returns to Bishop for short visits, helps Sean out around the family bar and leaves as quickly as possible. In order to protect his heart, Brody never asks for anything that is not given to him and it is heartbreaking watching him keep himself on the periphery of his family’s life. It is a huge step for Brody when he finally admits he wants Ashley, but he refuses to trust that what he has with her will last and he runs at the first sign of trouble.

Ashley and Brody’s relationship is slow growing and full of sexual tension. While at first Ashley is eager to send Brody away, he takes his duty to keep her safe very seriously and he resists her efforts to get him to leave. He is very reluctant to open up about himself, but Ashley manages to sneak past his somewhat formidable defenses. Their resulting romance is sweet and sinfully sexy but Brody refuses to admit that his feelings for Ashley run deeper than desire.

In addition to Brody and Ashley’s storyline, there is a secondary story arc with Sean and his romance with Cora. These two have been locked in an antagonistic relationship since their first meeting and as their interactions become a little less hostile, a surprising attraction develops between them.

Never Been Kissed is a fast-paced and engaging novel with a charming cast of likable characters. The characters are imperfect and dealing with realistic, easy to relate to issues. Ashley and Brody triumph over their individual problems with little angst and although they stumble a little along the way, Molly O’Keefe gives them happily ever after they so richly deserve.

Never Been Kissed is an splendid addition to the Boys of Bishop series and I cannot wait to read Between the Sheets, which is scheduled to release in a few weeks.

Read my review of Wild Child HERE.

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Filed under Bantam, Boys of Bishop Series, Contemporary, Molly O'Keefe, Never Been Kissed, Random House Publishing Group, Rated B+, Review, Romance