Salvaged

Salvaged by Jay Crownover

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

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EXCERPT:

I rounded the corner at the end of my block and came to a halt. The puppy took that as a sign that we were done playing outside and started jumping all over my lower legs and pawing at my shins. He whined at me until I picked him up, and as soon as he could reach my face, his little tongue started darting all over my chin and cheeks. I wondered if he could feel the tension that made my limbs stiff and the anxiety that tightened all my muscles. I felt my breath catch in the back of my throat and there was no stopping my eyes from rapidly blinking to make sure what I was seeing was real and not a figment of my imagination.

He looked like one of those black-and-white art prints that hung in every diner and restaurant I’d ever eaten in. The one that was a throwback to another era when cool was something you had to cultivate and couldn’t buy on Amazon. He was leaning against a black-and-silver car that looked like it should be on the cover of a hot-rod magazine and not parked on a busy and crowded Capitol Hill street. He had on dark jeans and a dark canvas jacket that had the logo of his garage embroidered on the front. His ankles were crossed on the curb in front of him and one booted foot bounced up and down, giving the impression that he’d been waiting for me for a while. His arms were crossed over his chest and his eyes were locked on mine as I stood still, unsure what to do. He had an effortless kind of charisma that radiated off of him. It was equal parts intimidating and irresistible. I was unsure if my feet wanted to rush me toward him or run me as far from him as possible.

The puppy made the decision for me. Seeing another human, and thus another opportunity for pats and rubs, he threw his wiggling little body out of my arms before I could react. He hit the ground with a little yelp and then bolted right for Wheeler. I let out a gasp and took off after him thinking I could catch the end of the leash that was trailing behind him. I didn’t want him to run into the road or veer off into a yard where he didn’t belong. I was light-years away from being able to handle a confrontation with a hostile stranger that didn’t want the puppy in their space.

I didn’t need to worry because Wheeler pushed his long, lean frame off the polished side of the car and reached the scrambling animal within just a few strides. He crouched down as the puppy hurled himself into his arms and scooped the excited bundle up in one fluid motion. Then he was rising back up to his full height, which meant he was towering over me when I made my way over to where he was standing. I was embarrassed at how out of breath I was. I was supposed to be stronger than I was before, but I could hardly handle a little jog up the block or the way my heart raced at the sight of him.

I shook my head and put my hands on my hips as I looked up and into those arctic eyes. He was scratching the puppy under the chin and looking at me from under lashes that had the barest hint of red to them. “Why don’t you have a coat on?”

It wasn’t what I was expecting but his question reminded me that I was cold and that the lightweight hoodie that had the Saints of Denver logo on it wasn’t doing much to keep the bitter chill in the air off my skin. The shirt came from the tattoo shop where both Rowdy and Salem worked and was probably the most exciting garment I had in my closet. It was the only thing I owned that was bright and colorful. I rubbed my arms up and down and fired my own question right back at him. “What are you doing here?”

The puppy barked like he was telling me not to be rude but I was unsettled by Wheeler’s unexpected appearance, and not the typical unsettled that I struggled with because he was a man that I didn’t know. It was the kind of unsettled that made parts of my body I forget could react to an attractive man feel warm and tingly. The kind of unsettled that had me involuntarily leaning closer to him as he started to shift so that he could pull his heavy jacket off one arm without letting go of the dog.

“I wanted to talk to you about the dog. Did you find someone to take him yet?” He shifted the puppy to his now bare arm as I watched the endless amounts of ink that covered his skin move and flex as he shook his other arm free of the coat.

“Uh…not really.” The truth was I hadn’t really put that much effort into finding someone because I didn’t want to let the puppy go. In just a few days I’d grown surprisingly attached even though I knew I wasn’t allowed to keep him in my apartment. I’d already asked since Dixie was allowed to keep Dolly, but the landlord informed they were grandfathered in before the laws surrounding pit bulls in Denver changed. My little guy wasn’t that lucky.

My response made Wheeler chuckle. He stared at me silently as he held out the coat he’d taken off in his free hand.

“Put this on.” I stared at him like he’d suddenly started speaking Russian until he shook the coat again and frowned at me. His voice was serious and left no room for argument when he repeated the command. “Put this on, Poppy.”

 

REVIEW:

Salvaged is the story of two people who have taken the hardest hits in life, and yet come together to heal each other. Poppy was abused and tortured by her ex husband and is still having trouble dealing with people. Hudson was cheated on twice by his ex fiance, who is now in love with a woman and pregnant with his child. The two are so damaged, and yet find comfort in each other.

 

Jay always manages to create fresh and interesting characters that feel real. I loved Poppy and Hudson, they both had such a great journey, together and separately. Two people who needed someone to love and want them for who they are and to be treated with respect. I am so glad Jay wrote this story, it’s for all those people who never thought they would get the love they wanted and deserved.

 

About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked MenThe Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

Website: http://www.jaycrownover.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJayCrownover?ref=hl
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JayCrownover
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Crownover

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Black Hearts

Black Hearts by Karina Halle

4.5 stars!

“Didn’t your father ever teach you that love is what gets you killed?”

Just want to say first off, Black Hearts can be read without having read The Artists trilogy or the Dirty Angels trilogy. I myself (shamefully) have not read the Dirty Angels books or completed TAT and can honestly say I was able to read and enjoy this book just fine.

Black Hearts is the story of Violet McQueen, a young woman in her second year of photography school who is beginning to discover her family is not everything she thought it was. While uncovering secrets she meets a man named Vicente, who has a silver snaked tongue and is obviously interested in her.

But what Violet doesn’t know is Vicente is connected to her parents past, and he already knew who she was when they met. And Vicente finds himself doing something he never expected… falling in love with Violet.

“Everything I know is a lie.”

This was a riveting read from the very first page, I met these characters and I fell into their lives seamlessly. Violet is a character with a sensitive nature, and it makes her more intuitive than others. She knows Vicente isn’t all good, but she decides to overlook it because she’s attracted to him.

I loved reading Vicente, I’m not normally one for mafia alpha males, but Vicente is the exception! While he lives a harsh and ruthless life, there’s a part of him deep inside that is vulnerable and wants to connect.

My favorite part about this book was how it kept me guessing. Guessing at what would come next, how characters would react, and whether things would go as I predicted. A suspenseful read, I think this is a book all readers could enjoy.

“The Bernals aren’t good people. The McQueens aren’t either.”

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Charged

Charged by Jay Crownover

Review:

4 stars!

“It’s better to have nothing with the right person than to have everything with the wrong person, isn’t it?”

Charged is the story of Avett and Quaid, a couple no one expected but one that was explosive. Avett is a pink haired rebellious daughter of Brite, the man Rome bought his bar from in the previous series. Avett has had her low moments but while she was never the good child she never ended up behind bars. Until now that is when her ex-boyfriend drags her into a situation that gets way out of hand. Quaid is the attractive and ruthless lawyer hired to represent Avett.

On the outside Quaid and Avett don’t make any sense; she has a rocker chick look, and he’s the man in the expensive suits. Avett doesn’t want to depend on the lawyer, but as time goes by she begins to realize she needs to accept help in her life and not just from Quaid. Together they embark on a journey of self-realization and discover the person they want to be in their own lives. But that doesn’t necessarily mean reality won’t set it.

“Nothing is guaranteed, especially love, but only a coward doesn’t roll the dice and take a chance on it when it’s right there in front of them.”

First off I gotta say Jay Crownover writes some of the best introductions in her books. Almost every time I read one of her intros I either tear up a bit or am inspired. Sometimes both! Second, I love the way Jay writes her characters. This is the twelfth book I’ve read by her (and I’ve been hooked to her books since Rule came out) and I can honestly say none of her characters ever feel repetitive or the same. On top of that I feel Jay writes some of the best female characters out there, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and showing how those things combined can create a beautiful person. Many of these women in her books I wish were my friends.

This book comes across as an opposites attract story, but I feel it was more than that. This book was more about how we all have so much in common despite what we appear to be to other people on the outside. Avett’s personal journey was one that was tough to go through because for every failure, she brought herself down more than anyone else could. It was a long journey to the point where she felt she deserved to be forgiven for her past wrongs, but it’s one worth reading.

“The fact that when you were a bad person, bad things happened to you and I knew I deserved them all. Every lesson I learned, I held close and let prick at me with sharp barbs over and over again.”

Avett and Quaid had explosive chemistry and the two of them just worked. I normally am not a huge fan of large age gaps but the nine to ten years between them worked fairly well. Avett at this point was done with her crazy years and not acting immaturely in the timeline in the book. Quaid had reached a point in his life and career where he knew what was worth fighting for. He knew when to appreciate a laid back woman and he didn’t place a bunch of expectations on Avett, her just supported her.

The only thing that I didn’t love in this book was there was a bit of instalove and very little angst. I was kind of hoping for more verbal dialogue between the characters but there seemed to be a lot of internal dialogue from both characters instead. And a lot of the time the characters were a bit too insightful than real people would be, saying all the right things at exactly the right time. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book at all.

I think many people would enjoy this book and would enjoy Avett and Quaid. While this book can be read as a standalone I recommend reading the Marked Men series first as well as the two other books in this series as it enhances the experience for the reader.

“I’m glad you finally found you.”

ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

 

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Excerpt:

Avett

“This is a bad idea.” I knew it. I could feel it deep in my bones and the allure of letting go, of doing what I always did, and falling headfirst into disaster, was pulling at me hard. But I was supposed to be changing. I was supposed to actually be sorry, not just saying it and turning around into the next catastrophe. I knew kissing Quaid Jackson was going to lead to all kinds of sorry and sorrow. I knew it as much as I knew I didn’t care and that I was going to kiss him and chase this bad idea until it crashed and burned, like they always did.

“You made a lot of them lately. What’s one more?”

He was right. What was one more? Especially when it looked like him, when it smelled sleepy and expensive like he did, when it felt hot and hard pressed up against me. What was one more awful choice when it came with lips that were firm and demanding as they landed against mine? What was one more when it was attached to rough hands that brushed along my exposed rib cage and paused under the achy swell of my breast? What was one more bad decision on top of all the other ones that had led this particular mammoth-sized bad decision to my door?

I had plenty of time, tomorrow, to do the right thing, but now I was going to enjoy the hell out of the wrong thing as he pressed his mouth more insistently into mine, taking the choice of which came first—the kiss or the story—out of my hands. Maybe that was why I was so drawn to him, so attracted to everything there was about him. He didn’t give me the room or the chance to make any kind of choice, good or bad. He decided and I followed his lead towards victory or towards ruin…and this kiss felt like it had everything in it to ruin both of us.

It was the first time in my life that a bad idea felt like the best idea I had ever had.

 

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About CHARGED:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the second installment in the Saints of Denver series featuring a bad girl and a by the book attorney who could be her salvation…or her ruin.

Avett Walker and Quaid Jackson’s worlds have no reason to collide. Ever. Quaid is a high powered criminal attorney as slick as he is handsome. Avett is a pink-haired troublemaker with a bad attitude and a history of picking the wrong men.

When Avett lands in a sea of hot water because of one terrible mistake, the only person who can get her out of it is the insanely sexy lawyer. The last thing on earth she wants to do is rely on the no-nonsense attorney who thinks of her as nothing more than a nuisance. He literally has her fate in his hands. Yet there is something about him that makes her want to convince him to loosen his tie and have a little fun…with her.

Quaid never takes on clients like the impulsive young woman with a Technicolor dye job. She could stand to learn a hard lesson or two, but something about her guileless hazel eyes intrigues him. Still, he’s determined to keep their relationship strictly business. But doing so is becoming more impossible with each day he spends with her.

As they work side-by-side, they’ll have to figure out a way to get along and keep their hands off each other—because the chemistry between them is beyond charged.

BUY LINKS:

 Amazon ** iBooks ** Barnes & Noble ** Kobo

And don’t miss the first titles in The Saints of Denver Series!

LEVELED

BUILT

About Jay Crownover:

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Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs. 

Links:

Website ** Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

CHARGED Goodreads ** Jay Crownover Goodreads

Built

Built (Saints of Denver #1) by Jay Crownover

4.5 stars!

“After everything the past has tried to bury us under, we owe it to ourselves to be brave, to do more than float.”

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We caught a glimpse of Zeb and Sayer in the Marked Men series, and now we have their full story in a new series! Zeb Fuller has made some mistakes in his life, leading to him doing a turn in jail. Zeb has reformed himself, building up a successful construction business, but it’s hard for people to look past his rough, tattooed exterior.

Sayer Cole is Rowdy’s half-sister who moved to Colorado the second she found out she had a brother. Sayer hires Zeb to renovate her house, and the two seem to spark an attraction. But every move Zeb makes is shut down until he gives up hope of ever wooing the pretty lawyer. Now, the house is complete and Zeb has no concrete reason to stay in Sayer’s life, until he finds himself in a situation where he needs a lawyer. Now the two are working together, and soon Sayer gives into Zeb’s attention. But inside her head is a myriad of issues holding her back, and it’s up to Sayer to overcome them.

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I think my favorite part of all of Jay Crownover’s books is that they make me think. After finishing them, I often find myself reflecting back on them instead of powering on to the next book. Built was no exception, I found my head filled with thoughts of Sayer and Zeb. I was totally enraptured by these two characters, together and as individuals. Sayer is a more complicated heroine with insecurities (which I LOVE), and Zeb has his own insecurities as well. I love stories where the man has to break through the woman’s walls instead of the woman chasing the bad boy.

I loved going through Sayer’s personal journey, seeing the reasons why she was so closed off and how hard she worked to overcome them. I wouldn’t say Zeb helped her get over them but more so was the reason why she fought to overcome her insecurities and issues. Sayer in return helped Zeb realize his worth, that he was a good man deserving of love without judgement. Despite their physical differences, the two were perfect for each other. Crownover’s books contain an excellent theme on how appearance has nothing to do with who someone is on the inside, and not to make snap judgements about someone based on their appearance and to look deeper. And I love how the old series mixed with this new one, it was like visiting with old friends.

I would have liked to see more dialogue and action than inner monologue with the writing. There were times when a character would have an inner monologue and it interrupted a scene, leading me to forgot what was going on or I skimmed ahead to continue the scene and then returned back to read the inner monologue. I would have liked to see more of Sayer and Zeb outside the bedroom, but I can also understand how plot wise that wouldn’t have worked.

Overall I think this is an amazing start to the series and I am dying to read the next one. No really, Quaid and Avett gave me freaking chills in the small amount they were shown together in this book. I can only hope it’ll be explosive in the next book.

“I choose you, Sayer. Lover, lawyer, and all the shit you are in between that, I choose it. I choose us. When you’re ready to accept that, you come find me.”

ARC kindly provided by author in exchange for an honest review