Friday, January 31, 2014

Knowing Vera by Rachelle Ayala

Vera is closed off.  She doesn't want anything serious when it comes to relationships.  She and Zach have been on again off again for quite some time, but when a secret from her past slaps her in the face, she realizes she and Zach can never have a relationship.  With a large black hole in her memory, she can't remember what happened, but she knows there's been a murder, and Zack was the one that had to pay the price. 

Recently, Zach lost his leg in an accident, ending his triathlon career and throwing his life off balance.  The one constant he's had is Vera, but she's become a bit hard to understand.  One minute she's on fire, and the next she's pushing him away.  What's a guy to do? 

As Vera does her best to unravel the mystery and find out exactly what happened in the past, she finds herself deeper and deeper in danger.  Will Zach be able to save her?  Or will she have to save herself?

After reading Hidden Under Her Heart, I couldn't wait to start Knowing Vera.  Rachelle warned me that it was written differently, but I was still anxious.  Even though it was quite a bit different, I still loved it!  Let me tell you why!

We start off with the same characters as Hidden, so we already know Vera.  We know she has a sweet heart but she's rough on the outside and not into a committed relationship.  We know Zach is a pushy player, but a mushy guy when you get down to the center.  This provided a great basis for the book.  Where Hidden was sweet and romantic and very Christian, Vera took a different turn.  Instead of dealing with sweet and Christian characters, we're dealing with sexual and wild characters and the book reflects this.

The sex is a big thing for me.  There are some pretty serious steamy scenes in here, but they don't last too incredibly long and they're tied into the passion and romance.  Instead of using sex to replace those things, she tied them all together, so it has my seal of approval.

What I loved most about the book is that it's such a thrilling ride!  I couldn't figure out the murderer until I read in the epilogue who it was!  Don't cheat and read that first, you Cheater McCheatersons out there!  It'll give away the entire book!  Not only that, from page to page, I had no clue what was going to happen next.  Several times I found myself saying 'Whaaaat?'  because it was such a wonderful shock.  Everyone seems to have a hint of 'bad guy' in them and the way they turn on each other it's nearly impossible to tell who to trust.  Poor Vera!  If I can't figure it out, how can she?!

If you're more into a thrilling read, this is just right for you.  There's plenty of action and surprise.  If you read Hidden, you really have to read this and see where the story continues.  I strongly suggest you read Hidden first because you really fall in love with the characters there. 

Well done, Rachelle!  I can't wait to read more!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hidden Under Her Heart by Rachelle Ayala

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Maryanne Torres is a nurse with a heart of steel.  She's doing well with her 'no sex' bet with her friend, Vera, until Lucas Knight becomes one of her patients.  He's handsome and annoying and won't take no for an answer.  But, will a sinful and rugged past keep Maryanne from allowing herself happiness?

Lucas is a triathlete who trains special needs children for the Olympics.  He's tired of women using him for his body and wants something a little deeper.  He's taken with Maryanne from the moment he sees her, but will his judgmental attitude and temper force her to run away from him?

I normally have a huge issue with reading romance.  Too many authors mistake sex for passion and rooting in the sheets for romance.  Don't get me wrong, it can include that as well, but there's so much more to it.  When I was a teenager, I loved reading romance!  That was back before most romances were actually erotica.  It was back in the day when an author made you feel that special tingle in your spine.  They made you sigh with longing to be in that same spot yourself.  Well, Rachelle finally got romance right!  This is a passionate and romantic book without being ruined by unnecessary and useless sex scenes.  Don't get me wrong, there are some steamy scenes, but they're true to the characters and the plot.  I was able to read this and get that 'romance high' without being turned off by things being taken too far. 

I normally have an issue reading 'Christian' fiction as well.  I'm a huge believer in God and Jesus, but I don't like having religion rammed down my throat.  Most Christian fiction I've read does exactly that.  I'm quoted scripture and told what to believe and how to believe it.  For me, my relationship with God is a relationship, and it's sacred and private.  I want characters I can relate to that aren't going to preach to me.  Rachelle pulled this area off quite well.  The characters are believable and fallible.  They didn't preach to me or tell me what to believe, but they let their own beliefs cause them issues.  Instead of being told what to believe and how to believe it, I was able to take the ride with Maryanne and Lucas and learn through their eyes. 

Now, the action!  Oh my, the action!  We have some really smarmy characters that you are going to love to hate!  As I was reading, I found myself rereading sections because I just couldn't believe things had happened.  It was great the way that it broke up the romance and drama and gave you a chance to stop thinking for a minute and say, 'Oh no!  Seriously?'  It really added to the book a sense of urgency to finish and find out what happened.

If you enjoy romance, action, drama, and being pulled away from your own life for awhile, this is definitely a book for you.  I've already contacted Rachelle to let her know I want to read everything else she has, so be on the lookout for more Ayala reviews! I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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