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by Sasha Leone
Release Date: Available Now
“Ruthless Heir” is the first book in the Ruthless Dynasty series by Sasha Leone. It’s a dark Mafia story that combines themes including enemies-to-lovers, a forced marriage, and some unexpected twists and turns.
In high school, Gabriel tormented Bianca, and when he was gone she was glad she’d never see him again. However, it turns out that they were from rival Mafia families, although only he was aware of that. I don’t want to give away the plot, but when he comes into her life again, it’s for the ugliest of reasons. Although he’s supposed to kill her… he doesn’t. Instead, he feels compelled to abduct her and decides to use her for his own purposes, partially for a power-play he intends to carry out involving other Mafia organizations. Bianca has had a difficult and brutal life, and her reactions and her responses to everything are not at all what you might expect.
This story is filled with violence, betrayal, and behavior no “normal” people would tolerate. You have to remember it’s fiction. Bianca is an atypical leading lady in just about every possible way, but she evolves from a person beaten down by the life she’s been forced to lead, into a young woman determined to take control. Gabriel is always determined to get his own way and will manipulate the world around him to achieve his goals. They are ruthless and bloodthirsty pair, who also happen to be intensely and often inappropriately passionate. They achieve an ending that is happy for them, but not happy for a lot of other people along the way.
The Image of You
by Melanie Moreland
Release Date: December 1, 2022
“The Image of You” is a standalone romance by author Melanie Moreland. It’s a second chance love story that blends some classic romance tropes in a beautiful way that doesn’t just tug the heartstrings, it yanks on them. This is a story that was published years ago when the author was with a traditional publishing house; she added a lot of content and is publishing it herself, the way she wants the story told. I never read the first version, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Adam is a professional journalistic photographer, documenting areas hit by natural disasters and other strife. A mishap lands him in the emergency room, and under the care of Nurse Alexandra. He quickly begins to call her either Ally or Nightingale. They have an instant connection that rocks them both. As they get to know one another, he quickly learns that her life has been full of sadness and emotional abuse, at the hands of her mother and stepfather. The information they both share is heartbreaking. Yet when with one another, each finds happiness… and then a series of unexpected events tear them apart. I don’t want to give much more away about the plot because I think it’s best to let it unfold the way it’s written. I will warn you to have a comforting beverage and tissues nearby, because you truly might need them.
Both characters are multidimensional and feel very “real”, which makes the story hit hard. At different times each is forced to make tough decisions and it makes you think about how we can let other people’s voices in our heads have control over our choices. I knew that would be a happy ending, but their desolation when apart was painfully authentic. The villains in the story are horrific. Other secondary characters are interesting, and some will melt your heart in their own right. Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. The ending was wonderful, and the epilogue couldn’t have been more perfect.
About the Author:
(Excerpt is taken from; https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/alicia-ostriker)
Poet, critic, and activist Alicia Ostriker was born in 1937 in New York City. She earned degrees from Brandeis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Twice a finalist for the National Book Award, Ostriker has published numerous volumes of poetry, including Waiting for the Light (2017), which awarded the Berru Award from the Jewish Book Council, and The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog (2014), The Book of Seventy (2009), which received the Jewish National Book Award. Other books of poetry include No Heaven (2005); The Volcano Sequence (2002); Little Space (1998), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Crack in Everything (1996), which won the Paterson Award and the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award; The Imaginary Lover (1986), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award; A Woman Under the Surface (1983), Once More Out of Darkness (1974), and Songs (1969).