Retreat, by Jay Crownover

retreat

Grade: A

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Roughing It, Hate to Love You, Cowboys, Lumbersexual, Sexual Healing, Romantic Suspense, Strong Female Lead, Fish Out of Water, Horses, Hot Springs, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Ride It My Pony

Shame Scale: I think we are entirely shameless at this point (Garth Brooks link appropriate because this book involves a Stetson hat!)

Fantasy Cast: Alan Powell, Amy Adams

What Does He Taste Like?: Mountains and man

Book Description:


Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.

I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.
My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses. It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.

Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them.
These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.


Mary: Jay Crownover has decided to dip her toes into the Cowboy Romance world and we cannot be more excited about it.

Cleone: Jay seems determined to give us every single male fantasy- hot cop, hot criminal, hot carpenter, hot military men, hot lawyer, hot versions of Trump’s worst nightmare— and now the hot cowboy. Thanks, Jay! You’ve got a golden boner in your future for your gifts to womankind.

M: I love cowboy books, from the super erotic, Stetson hat, vaguely bi-sexual Lorelei James/Maya Banks/Lora Leigh kind of cowboys, to the ultra masculine Kristen Ashley cowboys who are pretty much exactly like her bikers/pimps/bounty hunters/lawmen/fantasyland marauders. I’m pretty much pro-cowboy in all forms. But Crownover’s cowboys lean more towards the gentleman’s undercut, plaid shirt, motorcycle boots, lumbersexual type – and as a Pittsburgh wannabe-hipster mom, that is SO my catnip. So quick, close your eyes and don’t look at the cover, because this book is totally about a hot hipster cowboy and not an aging Joey Fatone.

Continue reading

Raze, by Tillie Cole

Raze 2

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Mortal Kombat, Russian Mobsters, Amnesia, Revenge, Dangerous Criminal Villain, Star-crossed Lovers, Virgin

Shame Scale: Low.

Fantasy Cast:  Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy

Book Description:

TO TAKE BACK LIFE, ONE MUST FIRST FACE DEATH…

Conditioned in captivity to maim, to kill and to slaughter, prisoner 818 becomes an unrivaled and unstoppable fighter in the ring. Violence is all he knows. After years of incarceration in an underground hell, only one thought occupies his mind: revenge… bloody, slow and violent revenge. Revenge on the man who wronged him. 
Kisa Volkova is the only daughter of Kirill ‘The Silencer’ Volkov, head of the infamous ‘Red’ bosses of New York’s Russian Bratva. Her life is protected. In reality, it’s a virtual prison. Her father’s savage treatment of his rivals and his lucrative and coveted underground gambling ring-The Dungeon-ensures too many enemies lurk at their door. She dreams to be set free. Kisa has known only cruelty and loss in her short life. While working for her church-the only reprieve in her constant surveillance-Kisa stumbles across a tattooed, scarred, but stunningly beautiful homeless man on the streets. Something about him stirs feelings deep within her; familiar yet impossibly forbidden desires. He doesn’t talk. Doesn’t communicate with anyone.

He’s a man beyond saving. But Kisa becomes obsessed with him. Yearns for him. Craves his touch. Needs to possess this mysterious man… … this man they call Raze.


Tillie Cole really impressed us with her Hades Hangmen series, so I was super excited to tuck into Raze, the first book of four in the Scarred Souls series: Russian mafia, underground Mortal Kombat fighting, star-crossed lovers, and amnesia. It basically has everything. 

Prisoner 818 (Raze) has been imprisoned in an underground cell in a deplorable Russian Gulag prison/fighting club for as long as he can remember. Like, he literally can’t remember anything before being brought there as a boy years ago; he has been shocked, tortured, and drugged till he had no recollection of his identity. He has been forced into death match fighting, and he is a monstrous killing machine filled with nothing but hate, with over 600 kills under his belt. His only goal is revenge on the man who did this to him; he has a name and an address in Brooklyn carved on the wall of his cell. Raze has no idea about the specifics of why he needs revenge, but the wall says he needs to kill him, so, YOLO. Then one day the prisoners overpower the guards and he escapes. With nothing on his mind but revenge, he heads to NY.

Continue reading

Punching and Kissing, by Helena Newbury

Punching and Kissing

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 43%

Catnip: I’m No Good For You, MMA Fighter, Johnny Castle Complex, Deep Dark Secret, Guilt, Million Dollar Baby, Irish Brogue, Public Sex, Girl With A Hard Knock Life, Gym Shorts Bulge, Dangerous Criminal Villain

Shame Scale: Medium Low. It’s standard romance fare.

Fantasy Cast:  Jai Courtney, Elizabeth Gillies

Book Description:

Unless he can teach me how to fight, I’m dead. But our feelings for each other could destroy us both.

When an illegal underground fight leaves my brother in the hospital, I make a desperate deal to save his life: I volunteer to fight in his place. In thirty days, I’ve got to walk into the ring, a woman in a man’s world…and I’ve never even thrown a punch. I have one chance to survive. I need a badass who can teach me to be as tough as him. I need Aedan O’Harra, the blue-eyed, Irish beast of a man who everyone fears.

But training together means getting close. Every touch of his hands makes it harder to control my feelings. I begin to see the man inside him, the one no one else can. Can I help him break free of the dark secrets that haunt him and can we save each other, or will we both be defeated? Because neither of us is ready for how dark and desperate this fight will become.


Confession. The whole time I was reading this, I thought it was actually by Helena Hunting, who wrote Cleone’s beloved Pucked. I kept texting C things like, “This book is so good! I can see why you love her!” I didn’t actually figure out that it’s by Helena Newbury, who is a completely different person, until about five minutes ago. Sometimes, I’m kind of a moron. BUT. This book was really good! So now there are two Helena’s on our You Can Sit With Us authors list.

Things open up with Sylvie down at The Pit, waiting to watch her brother Alec fight. He’s currently undefeated, but the fights are anything goes till someone can’t get up anymore, i.e. super scary and dangerous. They are down on their luck though, and really need the money to pay the bills.

Aedan is at The Pit to watch the fights – he’s ‘retired,’ but he still gets a rush from watching, and he rescues Sylvie when she gets into trouble with some awful dudes. He’s giant and ripped and super gorgeous, with an Irish brogue to boot, but he’s got a bit of the ol’Johnny Castle complex; firm in his belief that he’s a life-ruiner, he vows to never see her again and disappears.

Continue reading

Dirty Promises, by Karina Halle

dirty promises 2

Grade: A

Doing it at: 8%

Catnip: Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Marriage on the Rocks, Revenge, Mexican Drug Cartels, Hate To Love You, He’s Basically A Criminal, Dangerous Criminal Villain, A Lot Of Blood, Adultery

Shame Scale: I can’t even rate this.

Fantasy Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, young Penelope Cruise

Book Description:

Dirty Promises is the final book in The Dirty Angels Trilogy. While the first two books can be read as standalones, Dirty Promises can not. Reading Dirty Angels and Dirty Deeds beforehand is HIGHLY recommended.

Also, people sensitive to violence and immoral characters who make questionable decisions should refrain from reading this book. The real cartel life is not pretty, not easy and certainly NOT romantic and that is more than reflected in Dirty Promises.

Blood. Sex. Revenge.
It ain’t easy being king.
Drug lord Javier Bernal has sliced and diced his way to the top of the Mexican drug trade, presiding over the country’s largest cartel. But his rise to power comes at a brutal price: the death of his sister, Alana. Devastated and wracked with guilt, he turns away from his new wife, Luisa, forcing their marriage into a steady decline. But it isn’t until she’s pushed into the waiting arms of Esteban Mendoza, his right-hand man, that Javier realizes everything he’s lost.
And it isn’t until he learns the truth about Alana, that he realizes everything there is to gain.
Blood will spill.
Cities will burn.
Heads will roll.
Because Javier will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.
And what he wants is raw, ruthless revenge.
The most dangerous man is the one with nothing left to lose.


Mary: We were having an important Blog Meeting.

drunk alec

drunk amy

drunk lucy

Cleone: We are a PROFESSIONAL blog, so of course our meetings have cocktails! And we were drinking Old Fashioned’s, like Don Draper.

M: We were watching Too Wong Foo and discussing Karina Halle’s upcoming release, Dirty Promises (the sequel to Dirty Angels and Dirty Deeds), and how we needed to get our hands on a copy of the ARC at any cost. So that’s when we decided to drunk message one of our very favorite authors. Cleone wrote a very appropriate and polite request for an ARC. But then I left the room, and she went rogue and closed it with:

 P.S. The original draft of this message was, “Whose dick do we have to suck to get an ARC?”

C: I can’t be trusted, but I’m funny, right? Right!

M: Karina Halle never responded, which, duh, means our hilarious message went to her spam folder, and not that she decided to ignore our way-too-informal-for-a-stranger, totally tasteless email. Please don’t try and convince us otherwise, we live in this place called Denial with #noregrets.

C: It’s pretty here, all of our bad decision bar hook-ups look like Tom Hardy in Denial.

Continue reading

Dirty Deeds, by Karina Halle

dirty deeds

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 34%

Catnip: Mexican Drug Cartels, Dark Romance, Dangerous Criminal Villain, He’s Basically A Criminal, Deep Dark Secret, Gun For Hire

Shame Scale: This is essentially an espionage/action novel with detailed sex scenes, no shame. Maybe be careful that your kid isn’t reading over your shoulder though.

What Do We Taste Like?: Like licking raw coconut

Fantasy Cast: Channing Tatum, Ximena Navarrete

Book Description:

As a flight attendant, Alana Bernal has had her share of suitors. She’s also had more than her fair share of tragedy within her messed-up family. But what she hasn’t had is love. Real, rip-your-heart-out, tear-your-clothes-off, all-consuming love. 

At least that was the case until she met an American tourist, Derek Conway, a ripped ex-soldier with steely eyes and a commanding presence. 

What started as a chance encounter between the two in Puerto Vallarta, a weekend full of hot sex and mindless passion, has led to something more. 

Something deadly. 

Because Derek isn’t the type of man to fall in love. He’s not a man who sticks around. 

And he’s definitely not in Mexico on vacation. 

Derek is a mercenary, a killer-for-hire, a man who does the ugly jobs for the highest bidder. 

Unfortunately for Alana and Derek, the highest bidder has the power to destroy whatever worlds they have created for themselves. 

The highest bidder can destroy everything. 


Mary: This is book two in the Dirty Angels series. It’s a standalone, so you don’t need to have read Dirty Angels first, but we would definitely recommend that you do for backstory – and also because it has the hottest motherfucking drug cartel leader hero in book history.

Cleone: You should definitely read Dirty Angels. Or don’t and let Javier be all mine.

M: Dirty Deeds follows Alana Bernal, Javier from Dirty Angels’ sister, and Derek Conway, the ex-soldier turned assassin who was contracted to kill her.

C: Derek is known in the cartel circles as “The American.” He works for anyone who can afford to pay him and doesn’t ask any annoying like questions, like “Hey, why does this person have to actually DIE, like did he mess up your Netflix algorithm?”

Derek goes to take Alana out with a sniper rifle, but he hesitates seeing her in person. She’s beautiful and full of life, and for just a second he isn’t sure he can go through with it. During that moment of hesitation a car comes whizzing up and hits Alana square on, then whizzes off. Without thinking, Derek peels out after the car assailant, catches up to him, and shoots him in the head. He’s the only one who gets to kill her.

M: #Alpha

Continue reading

Better When He’s Brave, by Jay Crownover

Better When He's Brave

Grade: A

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Hot Cop, Cop and Criminal, Hot Cars, Dangerous Criminal Villain, Bathroom Sex, Hate to Love You, Fake it Till You Make It

Shame Scale: No shame, this is a good one, guys.

What Does He Taste Like?: Warm cleanness that was somehow simply Titus, he tasted like he looked, strong, sure, and potent.

Fantasy Cast: Henry Cavill, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover’s third novel in her sexy, thrilling Welcome to the Point series, a woman’s search for repentance leads her to the one man from her past she can’t forget as they join forces to save their city—and the explosive love neither can live without.

Titus King sees the world in black and white. Right and wrong. Which is why as a teenager he left behind the only family he’d ever known to make a better life for himself. Now a police detective in one of the worst cities in the country, he can’t deny his life has turned into a million different shades of gray. 

The new criminal element in The Point has brought vengeance and destruction right to Titus’s front door, and the difference between right and wrong is nothing compared to keeping those he loves alive. To add to his already strained moral compass, the beautiful and mysterious Reeve Black has made her way back to town, and she might be as dangerous to Titus as the guy trying to destroy the Point because he needs her—in more ways than one.

Reeve knows all about how ruthless this new threat to destroy The Point can be… and instead of running away, she wants to help. She has a lot to repent for and saving the city, plus the hot cop that she hasn’t been able to forget might just be the only way she can finally find some inner peace.

With an entire city poised on the brink of war, Titus and Reeve stand in the crossfire—and it will take two brave souls to fight for the ultimate love.


Cleone: We have been counting down to HOT COP for months, basically since the second we finished Better When He’s Bold. Mary and I are Crownover fan girls and we are of the opinion that she just gets better every book.

Mary: All of her books are great, but I think we fell hard when we hit Nash and they’ve only gotten better since then.

C: She especially got better on the cover for this one:

better 1

M: The Race cover model. Our favorite 80’s frat boy from Revenge of the Nerds. He was an outlier in an otherwise impeccable series of cover boys.

C: We met the main characters in this one, Reeve and Titus, in previous Point books. Reeve was a villianess in Bax’s story and Titus is Bax’s police officer brother. Titus might be the one genuinely good guy in all of the Point. Which is why Reeve goes to him when she rolls back into town with secrets and scores to settle.

M: Also, maybe because she has a teeny bit of a crush on him. As one would. Tall, dark, rough – I’m imagining a little bit of taco meat peeking out of the one-button-open collar of his shirt because I don’t think it was specified and this is my fantasy you guys – and a stickler for The Law. Did this book give me a temporary fixation on Hot Cops and have I spent an inordinate amount of time looking into the feasibility of getting a Hot Cop stripper for my next favorite ladies party? I’m not not saying that.

hot cop

“Open up. It’s the police.”

Back story: Reeve was the one who ratted out Dovie to the really bad guys (not the bad guy she was hitting the sheets with), leading to her kidnapping and torture. So we really didn’t like Reeve. But Crownover is great for a redemption story, and we got on #TeamReeve pretty quickly.

Continue reading

Dirty Angels, by Karina Halle

Dirty Angels

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 68%

Catnip: Mexican Drug Cartels, Dark Romance, Dangerous Criminal Villain, He’s Basically A Criminal, Revenge, Hate To Love You, Stockholm Syndrome, Virgin

Shame Scale: I don’t even know why we’re still rating this. We’re hardly ashamed of anything anymore. No shame, even though the hero is a savage who literally enjoys sawing off people’s body parts.

What Do We Taste Like?: Seductive, more delicious than milk and honey. “I should drink you with my tea in the mornings.”

Fantasy Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, A young Penelope Cruz

Book Description:

For Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to survive. 

When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that threatens her every move. 

Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst way possible. 

As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants. 

That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to take her, keep her, ruin her. 

Unless she ruins him first. 

Some men were born to create empires, some women were meant to be queen. 


Mary: This book was so much fun, you guys. It’s a dark romance, but it’s also really light, if that makes any sense? The hero is a ruthless savage who kidnaps the heroine and literally carves his name in her back, but it was also incredibly funny and sexy. And not in a torture pain sexy way, but in a legit that sex sounds real fun way.

Dirty a 8

M: We met Javier in The Artist Trilogy, and admittedly, Cleone and I were both strongly #Team Cam, but with sympathy for Javier – so I was looking forward to him getting his HEA.

C: Javier is a real bad man, he’s not like villain-lite or a guy who just made some bad choices, he’s damaged and dangerous. He’s everything Dylan McKay claims to be when he says he’s mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

M: This book picks up several years after we last saw Javier. He’s back in Mexico, and is now the leader of a medium sized drug cartel.

C: He has money and power, but not as much as he would like, Javier is looking to move up the ranks and control more of Mexico’s drug trade. Reading these books is making Mexico sound like a really scary place, googling cartel+violence is making it seem even scarier. You might want to safe-search your images if you decide to do that, I don’t know your level of comfort for pictures of corpses on pastoral roadsides.

M: Luisa Chavez is a ex-beauty queen, struggling to make ends meet while taking care of her parents. (Note – googling “Mexican beauty queen” is also a terribly depressing search) One day, Salvador Reyes, the leader of Mexico’s largest and most powerful drug cartel, walks into the bar where she works, asks her some really intrusive questions, and just generally scares the crap out of her.

When he asks her to marry him, she says yes, because it would allow her to give her parents a better life. And also because she’s no dummy. She knows that if she says no he’ll kill her.

Continue reading