2022 Reading Challenge ~ January’s Completed List, Belle Aurora, Kiersten Modglin, and More- A Quick Honest Review

Belle Aurora ~ The Shot Callers Series

It started with boredom, and I decided to break it by reading a book. So I browsed online and came across Belle Aurora’s work. I wasn’t so sure at first, but I needed to read something new and thought, ‘why not?’. So the first book that caught my attention was Vik: Shot Callers #2.

Synopsis: Nastasia Leokov has loved her brother’s best friend since the very moment she met him. Understanding that she’ll never be anything more to Viktor Nikulin than a treasure to guard, Nas sensibly hides her feelings. But when she makes a brash decision to kiss him, everything changes. That kiss. That hot, explosive, all-consuming kiss. It haunts Vik. And suddenly, Nastasia Leokov isn’t just a teenage mob princess. No. She is his. Undeniably. Indisputably. An unbreakable connection. A hidden relationship. A lifetime of firsts.
And yet, something is missing. Nas desperately craves the one thing Vik has never offered her. His heart.

I picked up this book expecting to feel the passion between Vik and Nastasia…It lasted about three chapters. Although it was an easy read, I didn’t feel quite connected with the characters. Nonetheless, I was intrigued. I completely understood the author’s presentation of these characters chaos because passionate relationships thrive on chaos in the book world. It’s an adventure that gets our hearts pounding as we race through the pages to see what happens next. I kept turning the pages hoping for an explosive moment that didn’t come until the final chapters. Even then, I wasn’t too excited because both Vik and Nastasia lacked communication that, drifted them apart. The rest of the characters were interesting, and I liked that they linked from the previous book, but I wasn’t drawn in.

Recommend: Yes, for a quick read.

Then I was delighted to pick up Lev: Book 1 in the Shot Callers series.

Synopsis: From the moment Lev Leokov spots the young woman hiding behind her hair in the middle of the gentleman’s club, he can’t take his eyes off of her. For the very first time in his life, he is affected. Having been told his entire life that he can’t process or understand emotion, he considers it a big deal. When Mina Harris gets caught red-handed with a wallet that isn’t hers, she falls apart. She’s tired, lonely and hasn’t eaten in days. Lev offers her an ultimatum… A nice warm bed, a hot meal and a job, or the cops. Mina takes her chances with Lev.
After all, a person with nothing has nothing left to lose.

Oh my! I always thought the characters in Vik lacked depth because I wasn’t so sure of how the dynamics came to be. I should’ve read Lev first, but I’m glad I didn’t. When I read Lev, I began to understand their dynamics. I fell in love with Mina and Lev’s characters from their first dialogue, and I was thrilled to see how the Leokov siblings each navigated their journey. I felt the passion between the characters in this book, whether for friendship, love, or crime. The author did a great job presenting Lev’s (dreamy) character, and may I add that the characters I disliked in Vik turned out to be loveable in Lev. For example, Lev and Mina were sickly sweet in Vik, but I understood why they were this way as I read their journey together. Although I witnessed Nastasia’s boss babe attitude creep out in Vik, it was more consistent in Lev that made me like her character better. And finally, I liked Anika in Vik, but her behaviour in Lev lost her some points. Regardless, I’m excited to read more of Belle Aurora’s work.

Recommend: Yes.

Kiersten Modglin ~ The Arrangement

Synopsis: Ainsley Greenburg is a fixer. It’s what she prides herself on. So, when she realizes her marriage is at its breaking point, she makes a decision to repair it, no matter the cost. Approaching her husband to propose the arrangement is supposed to be the hard part, but Peter agrees to the salacious plan almost immediately. The rules are simple:
They will each date someone new once a week.
They will never discuss what happens on the dates.

Soon, though, the rules are broken, turning terrible mistakes into unspeakable consequences. When the only person they can count on to keep their darkest secret is each other, new questions and deceits surface. Can they truly trust the person they share a life with, or will the vicious lies that have mounted over the years destroy everything they’ve built? Once, Peter and Ainsley vowed to stand together forever, but as they push boundaries of deception, suspicion, and temptation, each begins to wonder if ’til death do us part may come sooner than they’d intended.

I’m not a huge fan of domestic thrillers however, I’m glad I chose this book for my reading list. Ainsley Greenburg’s character was solid from page one. This wasn’t one of the longwinded thrillers where couples bicker, fight and eventually kill each other. The Arrangement grabbed my attention from the first chapter. I wasn’t keen on Peter Greenburg and his ongoing issues, but both characters drove the narrative exceptionally well as a couple. The twists kept twisting (the only way I can describe the rollercoaster ride) until the final page, literally leaving me with a gasp at 2 a.m. because I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the family, friendship and work dynamics presented however, I would have liked to see more interactions between Peter and his colleague Gina. Regardless, the book was a thrilling read, and I cannot wait for the release of Book 2 in the series. Love love loved this!

Recommend: Absolutely yes!

Freida Mcfadden ~ Do Not Disturb

Synopsis: Quinn Alexander has committed an unthinkable crime. To avoid spending her life in prison, Quinn makes a run for it. She leaves behind her home, her job, and her family. She grabs her passport and heads for the northern border before the police can discover what she’s done. But when an unexpected snowstorm forces her off the road, Quinn must take refuge at the broken-down, isolated Baxter Motel. The handsome and kindly owner, Nick Baxter, is only too happy to offer her a cheap room for the night. Unfortunately, the Baxter Motel isn’t the quiet, safe haven it seemed to be. The motel has a dark and disturbing past. And in the dilapidated house across the way, the silhouette of Nick’s ailing wife is always at the window. Always watching. In the morning, Quinn must leave the motel. She’ll pack up her belongings and get back on the road to freedom. But first, she must survive the night.

I’m glad I picked this book for my January reading list as the thrilling theme matched those above. Just when I thought I could predict what would happen next, the narrative twisted deeper into chaos. I loved how each character had their backstory yet, was told with a controlled pace. After the first chapter, I thought I would hate Quinn’s character since she didn’t seem strong enough to go on the run, but the author did a good job presenting her journey whilst going back in time with each character’s narrative. The final chapter left me utterly dumbfounded because I had gone through the journey with each character, and not once did I question Greta’s motive. I merely thought she was an eccentric side character until her revelation.

Recommendation: Yes.

I tried to not give too much away from these books as I didn’t want to be a spoiler. So add them to your list and give them a good read if you’re interested.

Until next time.

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