Review: Reckless by Sybil Bartel

recklessTitle: Reckless

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Art gallery owner Princess Calandra Sophia Paradis Spiros

The hero: Ex-Marine/Bodyguard Damian Tyler

The blurb: Bodyguard.

Escort.

Bad boy.

I didn’t come from the wrong side of the tracks. I was the wrong side. Every cliché you could think of, my family embraced. The only advantage I had was being the best looking out of all my brothers. Except when I joined the Marines, looks didn’t count for shit downrange.

I wasn’t active duty anymore, and working for the best personal security firm in the business, my looks were getting me in more trouble than they were worth. I just didn’t realize how much trouble until a princess from a country I’d never heard of asked for me by name. Her request was simple—me, my gun, four days and five parties. But she recklessly failed to mention one crucial part of the assignment… pretend to be her new fiancé.

Now she was about to find out how reckless a bodyguard could be.

Standalone or series: This is book three of the Alpha Bodyguard series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: The third book in the Alpha Bodyguard series is about Tyler, whom we’ve met in quite a few books set in this universe previously. He’s one of the younger bodyguards on Andre Luna’s payroll, but he’s ex-military and more than capable of doing his job.

When Luna calls Tyler to his residential building to meet a potential new client early one morning, Tyler’s wary – he’s the only employee who even knows where Andre lives, and Andre never meets clients at his home. When Tyler arrives, he lays eyes on the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. She’s well-spoken and regal, and he soon learns why – she is a princess of a small (imaginary) nation near the Greek Islands, but has lived in the US for years.

She goes by Sophia Paradis, her middle and mother’s maiden names, but her first name is Calandra. She tells Andre and Tyler that she needs private security for a function she’s having at her art gallery the next night because she’s wearing expensive jewellery. Andre and Tyler knows she’s lying about why she needs protection, but she won’t be drawn into telling them the truth. Since she’s offering to pay an obscene amount of money for the job, which Tyler needs so he can buy his mother – a woman who raised him and his four brothers alone after his father died in an accident when Tyler was a baby – he accepts the job.

And falls head over heels in love with Calandra, as he calls her after she confesses she prefers her first name. Tyler’s never believed in love at first sight, but that changes when he meets her. By the end of the day, he has gotten the truth out of her about why she really hired him; she has a stalker, whose behaviour is escalating. He’s also managed to break every rule of the job and has sex with her in her office, crossing the line from client/bodyguard to so much more.

Calandra has never really gotten close to people because the one person she loved most – her mother – died when she was a child, and she’s afraid that people are only drawn to her because of her lineage. She’s afraid to let anyone into her heart again, in case she loses them, too. She’s never been with a man before, and Tyler is an attractive hurricane of a man who bursts into her life and claims her as his. He takes her to have dinner with his family, and meeting his mother and four brothers is both charming and hilarious. There’s also the usual appearances of other favourite heroes – Collins, Talon, Dane, Jared, and my Viking, Neil.

The whole book, apart from the epilogue, takes place over a forty-eight hour period so if you’re not a fan of a hero and heroine who fall in love at first sight, this may not be the book for you. But this author is one of my absolute favourites and I always enjoy her stories, and this one is no exception.

Review: Merciless by Sybil Bartel

mercilessTitle: Merciless

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Brooke(lynn) Barrone

The hero: Ex-Marine sniper/bodyguard Garrett Collins

The blurb: Bodyguard.

Mercenary.

Gun for hire.

I didn’t care what you called it, the end result was always the same.

You paid me for a job, you got results. The Marines trained me to shoot, but life taught me to aim. Working for the best personal security firm in the business was a stepping stone. Put in my time, build the resume, then move on. I didn’t do attachments, on any level.

Until a smoking-hot former one-night stand crossed the street in front of me, holding hands with a kid who was my spitting image. She tried to play it off, deny he was mine. She said she didn’t even remember me, right before she picked her kid up and ran. She thought she’d made a clean escape.

But she was about to find out how merciless a bodyguard could be.

Standalone or series: This is book two in the Alpha Bodyguard series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I have never come across another romance author who can create alphas quite as well as this one. Sybil’s alphas are hot, unrelenting, bossy and dominating. I found Collins to be a little softer around the edges than his fellow bodyguards, but that made him all the more endearing.

The story starts three years ago. Collins is back in Miami for twenty-four hours to see his ailing mother and he drops in to see a friend, Dax Tyler, (the brother of the Tyler who stars in the next book, Reckless) at his bar. It’s there he meets Brookelynn, a homeless, bruised young woman who Dax found going through his garbage. He gave her a job and some food, but she doesn’t talk much.

Collins finds himself intrigued by the woman, and when they hear a loud crash out back, they race out to find her surrounded by shattered glass and injured. It’s clear that she’s being abused by someone, but Brookelynn refuses to tell him anything. Despite the fact he’s about to be shipped out again, he follows her after she leaves the bar and sees she’s staying in some seedy motel and using a rusty bike to get around.

He eventually coaxes her into coming to his condo for a meal, and they end up in bed together. Collins will only be gone for another three months, so he offers her his condo and asks her to stay. To wait for him. However, during the night, the man Brookelynn was running from shows up at Collins’s condo, and Brookelynn feels she has no choice but to go with the man she’s been trying to escape for years – but not after taking the keys to Collins’s car.

Collins is determined to find Brookelynn, and he spends the next year looking. Not even Andre Luna can locate her. She’s a ghost. He tries to forget her, but can’t. Three years later, Collins has left the Marines and is working for Andre in Miami. He’s on assignment one day when he literally walks straight past her – and this time, she’s not alone. She has a small child with her. A child who looks exactly like Collins did at the same age.

Now that Collins has found Brookelynn again, he’s not going to let her go – especially now he knows they have a son. He manages to find out Brookelynn has been living with a man who is known for money laundering for a powerful cartel, and this is the man she was running from when he first met her. Getting her away from Nathan Lewis isn’t going to be easy, but Collins isn’t going to leave his son and the woman he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for three years in harm’s way. Oh, he’s plenty annoyed with her, but when he realises the situation she and their son are in, he knows he has to get her out.

With the help of the always cheerful and flirty Talon, the gorgeously dominant Neil, and a few other familiar faces, Collins manages to extract Brookelynn and their boy safely – but not before he is mortally shot. Once he recovers from his injuries, he stays with them in a safe house where he and Brookelynn must decide if they have something between them worth fighting for.

This book has all the hallmarks of Sybil’s delicious writing – hot bodyguards, strong women, incredibly hot sex scenes, and two characters who have a connection that runs deep. Another fantastic book.

 

 

 

Review: Scandalous by Sybil Bartel

ScandalousTitle: Scandalous

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Actress Audrina “Dreena” MacKenzie

The hero: Bodyguard Tank Gunther

The blurb: Bodyguard.

Babysitter.

Chauffeur.

Not what the hell I thought I’d be doing with my life.

Especially not for a spoiled Hollywood actress on location in Miami Beach. But triple pay and carrying a gun had its advantages. I’d shove away paparazzi and screaming fans for a lot less. The Marines trained me to be Force Recon — intimidation and crowd control was child’s play compared to four tours. This assignment should’ve been easy money.

But the doe-eyed starlet with the perfect ass dragged me down her rabbit hole. Living for the spotlight, she leaked the perfect scandal. I warned her making headlines wasn’t in my job description, but she kept smiling for the cameras.

Now she was going to find out just how scandalous a bodyguard could be.

Standalone or series: Book one in the Alpha Bodyguard series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: There’s nobody who writes alpha males quite like Sybil Bartel, and she doesn’t disappoint with the latest in the amazing universe she’s created. It started with the Alpha Escort series, then moved into The Uncompromising series, and now we have Scandalous, the first in the Alpha Bodyguard series.

Audrina “Dreena” MacKenzie is a famous actress, having made the leap from child star successfully. She’s originally assigned to Tyler, but when he fails to keep her contained as she strips and runs across Miami Beach naked, screaming that she’s drowning, Tank takes over the assignment of protecting her.

Tank Gunther, whose real first name is revealed in the book (and it suits him perfectly!), believes the young woman to be nothing more than a spoilt brat who needs to be kept in line. But as he gets to know her, he sees the real woman underneath… and she intrigues him. She’s hiding something from him, something about her past, and he’s determined to find out what it is. When her agent and publicist turn up to chew her out over her latest little stunt, Tank finds himself defending Audrina (he refuses to call her Dreena) since nobody else seems to.

In turn, Audrina doesn’t quite know what to make of Tank. He’s so very different to anyone else in her life. He treats her as a human being, deserving of respect and loyalty. She’s been keeping quite a few secrets, one of which involves making a new life for herself, and when she finds the courage to follow through she realises that Tank is the only person she has on her side.

They’re drawn to each other, even though they’re very different people in lots of ways. There’s a level in which they understand each other, and that deep-seated attraction rises to the surface, before neither of them can ignore it anymore. However, when Audrina says something on live TV that threatens not only Tank’s job, but could cost Andre Luna his business, she flees.

It takes Tank the better part of two weeks, but he finds her. He uncovers the secret she’s been hiding from the world, and he’s so appalled at what she has endured that he’s determined to make sure she comes back with him to Miami. To him. To stay. So he can protect and, yes, love her for the rest of his life. Even if she does drive him crazy.

Sybil works her magic once again and this book left me breathless for many reasons. Warning: Tank is incredibly dirty, so if graphic descriptions of sex and swearing isn’t your thing, this may not be the book for you. But if you love alpha males, strong-willed females, and a hot and heavy romance, then read this book immediately. And then go back and read all of Sybil’s other books, because you’ve really missed an incredible universe of characters who will stay with you for a long time.

 

 

 

Review: Callan by Sybil Bartel

callanTitle: Callan

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Nanny Emily Faraday

The hero: Callan Anders

The blurb: I was trained to be a hunter. Growing up in the nation’s most infamous, violent cult, my job was simple. Track. Kill. Survive.

And that’s what I did… until our leader threatened to kill his own daughter.

Refusing to watch another senseless murder, I did what I was trained to do. I took his life. Then I claimed his land, and set every member free, including her. I only had one goal left. Find the sister I was told was dead.

But being a hunter in the woods is a far cry from tracking a woman in Miami Beach.

I didn’t find my sister.

I found my stepsister.

Standalone or series: This is book five in The Uncompromising series, but can be read as a standalone. However, it will make more sense if you have read book three, Andre.

The review: If you love alpha males but you haven’t read any books by Sybil Bartel, then you are missing out. Nobody writes alphas quite like Miss Sybil does. While you can read this book as a standalone, it will make more sense if you have read the backstory that was given in Andre’s book.

Callan Anders grew up on a compound (cult) and has been a stranger to the outside world. Once the cult’s leader dies and the cult disbanded, Callan stays behind on the property he inherited. He has ventured out briefly to the outside world, and one year previously, while at the nearby gas station, he saw her. The brunette who has haunted his dreams ever since, the one he calls his angel. She’s the first female in his life that’s ever interacted with him and not wanted something from him – sex, food, protection.

He goes back there every month in the hope of seeing her again, but she’s never there, so he’s written their encounter off but has never forgotten her. He knows her name is Emily, but that’s it.

When the story starts in the present day, Callan has tracked down his biological father. He’s not interested in forming any sort of relationship with the man, whom he believes to have abandoned and walked out on him and his mother, but he wants answers – while cleaning out the compound in the aftermath of the events recounted at the beginning of the book, he discovers he has a twin sister he knew nothing about. Since his mother is long dead, he only has his father to turn to for answers.

When he turns up on Ted Anders’s doorstep, he’s in for shock – Emily is there. She’s one of Ted’s stepdaughters, Ted having married her mother several years ago. Callan is persuaded to stay for dinner by Emily, but only because he wants to be near her. He still feels the unexplainable attraction towards her. Things get awkward and he leaves, but not before making it clear to Emily that they will be seeing each other again.

Emily, for her part, is drawn to Callan like a magnet. She hasn’t forgotten the man she called the gas station sex god, either, and she’s shocked as hell when he shows up on her doorstep a year later. She keeps telling herself that nothing can happen between them because he’s her stepbrother, but he continues to remind her that they are not blood related and he has no relationship with the man who sired him, so there’s nothing standing in their way. After Callan kisses her for the first time, she’s lost.

Trouble strikes when Emily is dragged out to a club by her sister, Phoebe. Emily grabs a drink at the bar and is chatted up by some man, and she suddenly starts to feel woozy. She soon passes out, and the next thing she knows she wakes up in a shipping container.

Callan starts to worry when Emily does not respond to his texts, and with the help of Andre they ascertain she has been kidnapped by a known human sex trafficker. Emily and other girls are already on their way to Mexico by the time Callan, Andre, Neil and Talon track them down. After a frustrating wait and some double crossing, Callan and co. are able to rescue the girls – including a badly injured Emily, who fought back against her captors and paid for it – and get them out safely.

Once Emily is back on US soil, she is no longer prepared to fight her attraction to Callan any longer and they give in to the desire that has swirled around them since the moment they met. Callan is different to those raised outside the compound; he speaks bluntly and without worry about what others will think, but he is always honest.

I loved this book. I adored seeing the other men make cameos (as they all do with each other’s books) and I loved seeing Callan and Emily’s romance unfold before my eyes. I’m sad this series is over, but am happy to know a new one is coming! This book just proves why Sybil Bartel is one of my all-time favourite romance authors and why she’s now on auto buy; she could rewrite the phone book and I’d want to read it.

Review: Andre by Sybil Bartel

AndreTitle: Andre

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Surf shop employee Kendall Reed

The hero: Ex-marine sniper/Security firm owner Andre Luna

The blurb: The Marines trained me to set my sights and wait for the shot. For eight years, I guarded my brothers and defended my country. Now I protect my clients. My personal security firm is the best in the business because I leave nothing to chance… until a dark-haired, hazel-eyed spitfire crosses my path.

She and her sexy as hell strip tease were supposed to be a one-night distraction. But too late I noticed the branding on her back and my blood ran cold. This woman wasn’t a distraction — she was a death sentence.

Knowing who she was left me no choice. I took her on as my client. But running from her past wasn’t an option. The Marines didn’t train me to retreat. They taught me to engage.
One shot. One kill.

Standalone or series: Book three of The Uncompromising series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: I loved Andre from the moment I met him in the Alpha Escort series. He didn’t seem as serious as the other guys, and was quite a flirt. The heroine is Kendall Reed, who we first met in Talon’s book. She works at Talon’s surf shop as a favour to Candle, the biker in the Lone Coasters MC that our heroes cross path with frequently. Everyone seems to think that Kendall is Candle’s old lady, but the truth is much darker.

Kendall has been looking over her shoulder for three years with good reason: she escaped from the cult she was born into. Her biological father is River Stephens, a sexual predator who fathered all the children born into the cult. He also has a predilection for having sex with all the girls and branding all his flock on their lower back. The government has been trying to get him on something illegal for years, but he’s smart.

Candle, a former cult member who was booted for giving Kendall a flower, helped her get out and has been shielding her from the cult ever since. However, one of the MC members sees Kendall’s brand and, since River Stephens has put a two million dollar bounty on her head (literally), everyone’s after her.

When Andre finds out who she is and what’s going on, he wants to help her. He’s long been attracted to her, but Kendall is prickly. She’s acidic and smart mouthed, and scared to let anyone get too close to her. She knows that her father wants her dead for escaping the cult and doesn’t think anyone can save her, so she pushes everyone away. Except Andre. She’s attracted to him but scared to let him get close in case he’s killed.

Andre doesn’t want to involve anyone else in helping Kendall, not his friends or his employees, but he reluctantly turns to Neil, who then of course brings everyone else on board, knowing they can’t do this on their own. It was nice to see Alex, Jared and Dane from the Escort series, along with the triplets from Neil’s book and some of Andre’s men. Kendall and Talon, despite working together, have never been friends… but it broke my heart to find out Kendall wanted to work for Talon because she knew he could protect her if the cult came for her. She never told him about them or who she was, and there’s a really sweet moment in the book when, after he finds out, he hugs her and tells her he would have protected her if he’d known.

Andre and co decide to storm the compound and offer a trade for the bounty on Kendall’s head. It all goes south, of course, but they find assistance from the man known as Hero. He was Kendall’s first lover, and he also wanted to protect her. She only realised after she got out how much Hero shielded her from River and his vileness. It turns out Hero wasn’t born into the cult, and his birth name is actually Callan – his story is book five in this series.

Kendall and Andre stop denying their attraction to each other, even though Kendall finds it hard to trust him (or trust anyone, really). She’s torn; she wants to be with him, tells him she wants to have his child, but still pushes him away. He understands she’s been conditioned and the last three years have been terrifying for her, on the run with an assumed name, unable to trust anyone and always looking over her shoulder, so he perseveres with her. He makes it clear she’s his woman and he will fight for her. In the end, Kendall is able to stop running, but she needs space so she holes up at a hotel that is right across from Andre’s penthouse. Hero/Callan finds her and tells Andre where she is, and he goes to get his girl. Hurrah!

Review: Neil by Sybil Bartel

neilTitle: Neil

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Receptionist/stripper Ariel(la) Walsh

The hero: Ex-special forces soldier/construction company owner Neil Christensen

The blurb: Ex-Danish Military Special Forces, built like a legend, and uncompromising in every way — Neil Christensen didn’t walk into my life. The Viking-sized warrior crashed it like a hurricane.

The moment he showed up at my strip club, my life fell apart. South Florida’s most ruthless motorcycle gang, the cops, the Feds — they all want something I don’t have, something the Viking took from me.

I thought I could run, but the motorcycle gang caught me. Now the only thing standing between me and an unmarked grave is a warrior I don’t trust.

I’m not afraid to die, but I am terrified of weathering the storm. Because when a Viking decides to unleash his fury, no one is going to come out unscathed.

Standalone or series: Book two in The Uncompromising series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: This is, simply put, one of the best books I have ever read. Neil Christensen is an enigma. Incredibly tall and built, Ariel Walsh nicknames him Viking and it’s apt. He doesn’t talk much, although he can speak seven languages fluently. His face gives nothing away. His demeanour can’t be read. Ariel, a twenty one year old single mother with a two year old son, Conner, is both intrigued and frustrated by him. Conner’s father, Jason, is Ariel’s high school sweetheart and they were happy until he cheated on her and left her for the other woman.

Life has been tough for Ariel; she strips on the side to help pay her rent. There’s little food in the apartment. She’s embarrassed about not being able to provide for her son but bristles when Neil turns up with groceries. He annoys her by refusing to call Conner by his name because he doesn’t want to get attached, but can’t deny the spark when he kisses her. Neil doesn’t ask questions, he makes demands and he expects them to be followed. Ariel doesn’t like being bossed around and she pushes back when he tries to help in his silent, inscrutable way, but as they spend more time together Ariel comes to learn that actions, not words, are what make Neil tick.

Jason gets Ariel involved in a motorcycle club war and she’s frightened for Conner and herself, so she turns to Neil, who also involves Andre Luna (who’s featured in several other books and his own is the next in the series) and several other characters we’ve met before. She loves how he interacts with Conner, speaking to him in Danish. She keeps telling Neil that Conner can’t understand him, but her son does – and this is so spot on because two year olds are like sponges. Neil also helps Jason and his girlfriend, because he knows that Ariel – to whom he refers as Ariella, her full name – wouldn’t want him to be hurt, despite what happened between them. There’s a really sweet scene with Ariel and Jason towards the end that just broke my heart.

You can’t help but feel for Ariel, who’s sassy and strong and sometimes bitchy, which made me laugh because she’s so like a twenty one year old. Neil is much older at thirty four, but the age gap never really felt odd. When Ariel finds out a secret Neil’s been keeping, she’s devastated, even when she learns the reason behind it. But Neil refuses to give up on her, give up on them, and Ariel’s already in love with him so she doesn’t need much persuading to fall back into his arms. The sex scenes were so hot I’m surprised my Kindle didn’t burst into flames!

A really great book that I enjoyed a whole lot. I’ll be adding the paperback to my collection.

Review: Talon by Sybil Bartel

talonTitle: Talon

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Nicole Archer

The hero: Ex-marine/Surfboard shop owner Talon Talerco

The blurb: I surf. I f**k. I pretend to smile.

Two years ago my life was perfect, until it wasn’t. I scattered my wife’s ashes then walked away from the Marines. I didn’t think I had anything left to lose.

I was wrong.

The blonde showed up on my doorstep beaten and stabbed. I did what I was trained to do — I stitched her up. I didn’t have a clue who she was and I told myself I didn’t care. Until they came looking for her.

I swore I’d take my last breath before I let anyone else hurt her, except I didn’t know she was keeping a deadly secret. Now I had two choices, her life or mine.

Marriage and combat taught me the same thing — I was no one’s hero. And I was about to prove it.

Standalone or series: Book one in The Uncompromising series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: This series is set in the same universe as the Alpha Escorts series, so if you’ve read that one you’ll recognise a lot of the same supporting characters in this one.

Two years ago, Talon’s wife, Leigh, died. It isn’t explicitly stated how, but I get the impression she committed suicide. Leigh walked out on Talon one day without explanation, divorced him, and then died. Talon has taken her loss heavily, finding solace in any woman who looks in his direction.

When Leigh died, she left him her estate. He knew she came from money, but he had no idea how much until he inherited it. He had enough to buy a house and his surfboard shop without even making a dent in the money. He has an employee, Kendall, a leather wearing smart mouth with ties to the local motorcycle club. She lives with a high ranking member, Candle, and the rumour is that Kendall is his old lady, but there’s a secret there that isn’t revealed in this book (although I suspect we’ll find out in book three, which is about Kendall and Andre Luna). It sounded to me like Kendall is related to Candle somehow, like his secret daughter. She and Talon don’t like each other and do not get along, but Kendall is the best employee he’s ever had so he keeps her.

One morning, Talon discovers Nicole Archer sitting on a wall across the road. He knows who she is; her boyfriend is Randy, an ex-marine, but no friend of Talon’s. When he goes to see why she’s there, he discovers she’s been badly beaten – broken wrist, fractures, bruises, and a massive stab wound up her thigh. Talon, who was a medic, patches her up and insists on taking her to a clinic. For reasons he can’t fathom, he wants to protect her. She is nothing like his late wife in appearance, but he’s drawn to her.

He’s got nicknames for everyone in his life, and he soon dubs her Siren. He realises that getting involved in whatever’s going on between Nicole and Randy can’t be a good thing, but Talon can’t let her walk away and he’s determined to teach Randy a lesson. Everything goes to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly when it’s discovered that not only is Randy part of the same MC Candle is, but he’s also the president’s son. Randy is trying to get back into the MC after having been thrown out years before and his father wants him to work for it, holding leverage over Randy and Nicole.

When Randy shows up to get Nicole back, she goes with him, despite what he did to her. Talon doesn’t understand why and he fights to extract Nicole from the MC. He doesn’t understand why she keeps pushing him away, and she does, over and over. He thinks it’s because she’s trying to protect him, and she is, but there’s something else he doesn’t know about her. When it comes out, he realises he’s in deep over his head, but he gets involved anyway, knowing it could cost him his life, because Nicole is the first woman who has made him feel anything in a very long time.

Both Talon and Nicole are very complex characters. There were times when I wanted to hug them and times when I wanted to shake them hard. Talon is from the south, so he speaks with an accent and has impeccable manners. Nicole is young and stoic and incredibly strong, but I wish she had just told Talon was she was hiding sometimes. He kept finding out in bits and pieces, and it was frustrating for him (and me!).

This book was all from Talon’s POV, unlike the Escort series which alternated between the leads. I liked this, I think it strengthened Talon as a character, but I would have loved to have had a little insight into Nicole’s mind sometimes. The only thing that bugged me (and it wasn’t enough to detract from the book, but I did notice it a lot) was that Talon called Nicole ‘Siren’ for pretty much the whole book. I can understand him having and using a nickname, but I would have preferred Nicole to Siren nine times out of ten. But that’s just a quirk with me.

As with all of Sybil’s books, there is a lot of swearing and violence. It’s explicit and hard core, and some of the themes might be hard for some readers to digest. But stick with it; it’s a book that will leave you thinking for a long time.

Review: Grind by Sybil Bartel

grindTitle: Grind

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Irina Tsarko Federov

The hero: Ex-marine/mercenary/escort Dane Marek

The blurb: I’m silent. I’m trained. I’m lethal.

My hand skimming down your thigh, my gaze a weapon—I know more ways to kill you than please you.

But you’re not paying for my aim. You’re paying for my control. Bringing you a breath away from ecstasy, watching you beg as I hold back your release, I’ll show you exactly what you’ve been missing. Your hunger is my currency and five thousand is my price. I only have one rule—no repeats, because I’m not for keeps. I’m for sale.

One slow grind and I’ll give you exactly what you paid for.

Standalone or series: Book three in the Alpha Escorts series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: This is the last of the Alpha Escorts series and by far the most intense. Dane Marek is an ex-marine who acts as a mercenary during the day (including killing, if that’s what he’s paid to do) and an escort at night. Unlike Alex and Jared, he won’t see a woman more than once. He just wants the release that sex gives him and if he’s getting paid big bucks for it? All the better.

He gets home early from one of his clients as a hurricane is about to hit Miami, only to find a young, white blonde woman with a Russian accent in his house. She is one of Alex’s clients who needed emergency accommodation, and Alex called in a favour. Dane soon learns who she is: the wife of Viktor Federov, a known Russian guns dealer. Dane also quickly realises what Irina is to Viktor: his submissive. Everyone in the business knows Viktor isn’t able to have sex after an accident damaged certain body parts, but he’s still able to cruelly control Irina, whom he married five years previously when she was eighteen. She did it with the encouragement of her mother and the promise of half a million if she stayed married to him for five years.

Irina had no idea what she was getting herself into when she married Viktor. He treats her as nothing more than a possession, and by the time Dane meets her she’s so conditioned that she does anything Dane tells her to. He’s disgusted by Federov and the hold he has over this beautiful woman, and soon Dane not only finds himself falling under her spell but becomes obsessed with the idea of getting her pregnant.

Irina sees a chance to finally be free of Viktor with Dane, but he’s as damaged as she is. Their relationship is intense and electrifying. There’s also the problem of Viktor. Dane wants to kill him for what he’s done to Irina, and Viktor seems to think she’ll just go running back to him as she always does. But with Dane’s help, Irina is able to break the hold Viktor has on her – but he’s not going to let his prized possession go.

This book was mesmerizing. This whole series was captivating. Recurring characters in these books have their own in another series, which I will definitely be checking out!

Review: Rough by Sybil Bartel

roughTitle: Rough

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: PA Sienna Montclair

The hero: Ex-marine/escort Jared Brandt

The blurb: I’m not your boyfriend. I’m not the guy next door. I don’t even play nice.

My hands twisting in your hair, my whispered demand in your ear—I’m the fantasy you’ll wish you never had.

When I’m through with you, every inch of your body will know where I’ve been. Your only thought will be the insatiable ache between your legs as my name drags across your lips. You won’t crave more, you’ll beg for it. Because I’m not just a cocky smile with military hardened muscles you paid five grand for—I’m the experience you’ll never forget.

One night with me and you’ll know exactly why women pay me to be rough.

Standalone or series: Book two in the Alpha Escorts series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Oh boy. If you thought book one was hot, book two is scorching! Alex, Jared and Dane (book three) are all ex-marines who were involved in the same accident when their Humvee hit an IED. They’ve been home for three years and decided, for different reasons, to become escorts. Alex and Jared are in it for the insane amount of money they make and Dane is in it for the release he gets by having sex with different women.

The books have quite a bit of crossover, with the same characters popping up and the scenes being retold from each hero’s point of view, so it will flow better if you have read Alex’s book first. The three men organise their clients thusly: Alex takes the tame, vanilla ones who just want straight sex; Jared takes the ones who want it kinky and rough; and Dane takes the overflow and will do whatever. Unlike the other two, Dane won’t see the same woman twice.

When Alex finds himself wanting out of the game because of Olivia (in book one), he asks Jared to take on three clients he had booked for a Saturday night. Alex warns that one of the ladies is incredibly shy and that Jared needs to be gentle with her. Jared baulks, because he doesn’t do gentle, but he’s interested enough to set up the date because Alex said she’s young.

When Sienna Montclair turns up at Jared’s doorstep (he never gives out his address, but something about Sienna in their initial contact intrigued him) he’s floored. She’s incredibly young (twenty-four) and absolutely beautiful. He has to wonder why she’s booking an escort; she only saw Alex once.

Sienna works for one of the coaches of the Miami Dolphins, who also happens to be her uncle (although nobody knows that). She got involved with the star quarterback, a big no-no, and although she’s broken it off he won’t take no for an answer. He’s presented her with a ring she doesn’t want. He won’t leave her alone.

Jared wants Sienna badly, but she’s too innocent. She turns up with her red hair and her yellow sundress and he just knows she’s going to bring him to his knees. But something about her invokes his protective side, and as he gets to know Sienna, he wants to untangle the mess with the ex, Dan Ahlstrom. They get into a fight after Ahlstrom won’t stay away, and Jared’s training as a marine means Ahlstrom’s no match. Ahlstrom promptly sues Jared for damages to the tune of twenty-five million, but offers to drop the suit if Sienna goes back to him.

But Sienna doesn’t to. She’s drawn to Jared, even though she doesn’t think she should be. They come from vastly different backgrounds, but they’re intoxicated by each other and the amazing sex they have. Then something happens and Sienna finds out about a big secret her family never told her which threatens to destroy their relationship.

You know what happens in the end, of course – Sienna chooses Jared and he admits he’s in love with her. Everything is sorted out and he leaves the business, just as Alex did for Olivia. Another book that completely sucked me in 🙂

Review: Thrust by Sybil Bartel

thrustTitle: Thrust

Author: Sybil Bartel

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Dog trainer/charity owner Olivia Touissant

The hero: Ex marine/escort Alex Vega

The blurb: I know the game. I know the angle. I know how to make you beg.

My hands on your body, my mouth hovering over yours—I’ll tell you everything you want to hear. Ten inches of real estate never felt so good.

But don’t take my word for it. My client list is long and my motto is short—one single thrust and you’re mine. I’m not good at what I do, I’m fantastic. But satisfaction doesn’t come cheap. So open your wallet and prepare to forget your name. I’m about to ruin you for any other man.

One single thrust and you’re mine.

Standalone or series: Book one in the Alpha Escort series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Whew! This is one of the steamiest books I have ever read. There was something so seductively captivating about it that I didn’t want to stop and I didn’t want it to end.

Olivia Touissant has spent two years trying to get her charity off the ground. She wants to train dogs to help veterans with PTSD cope with civilian life. The cause is close to her heart; two years previously, her unnamed Marine brother killed himself at their father’s grave. Olivia is wracked with guilt because he’d asked her to go with him and she’d turned him down in favour of having dinner with her best friend, Jesse, who she’s been in love with for years.

Alex Vega is an ex-Marine who’s seen things nobody should ever see. So when he comes home, he decides to make a living as an escort. An extremely good one, as his clients – bored, rich housewives – are willing to pay thousands to have sex with him. He hasn’t had sex with a woman who hasn’t given him money for the privilege in three years.

Olivia has arranged an art show in which she gets half the profits of all paintings sold. She’s hired some kennels off her employer and needs the money to finally get her charity off the ground. The evening is going well until Alex Vega arrives with a long time client, and Olivia’s boss – who happens to be another of Alex’s clients – gets into a catfight with Alex’s date. Instead of intervening, he’s just amused, and Olivia’s boss is so annoyed she gets all her friends to cancel their bids on the artwork, leaving Olivia without a dime.

Devastated, she blames Alex for ruining the evening. Since they’re the only two left at the venue, she decides to drown her sorrows with the alcohol she’s provided. Alex is drawn to Olivia for reasons he can’t even begin to fathom, and before the night ends they’ve had hot sex.

They don’t want to like each other, yet their shared experience with Marine life and their unexplainable attraction to each other sees Alex being willing to give up his job as an escort. Olivia is torn between Alex and Jesse, the latter of whom kissed her at the art show and has subsequently declared his love for her and asks her to move away from Miami with him.

Olivia finally has the man she’s wanted for a long time… but can’t stay away from Alex. She has to make a choice. Which man will really make her happy?

This book is not for the faint of heart. There’s plenty of sex and swearing, and it’s all graphic. If you don’t mind that, you’ll love it. Read it, now!