Review: From the Embers by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Eason Maxwell
Heroine: Bree
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 28, 2021
Started On: May 15, 2021
Finished On: May 17, 2021

From the Embers by Aly Martinez is one of my favorite reads from 2021. Discovering Ms. Martinez through her book Release has been a godsend. Stumbling across authors like Ms. Martinez is why I spend countless hours sometimes, looking through title blurbs of authors I have never read before. Books like From the Embers makes all the bad books you come across worthwhile in the long run.

The story begins at the point where the main protagonists, Bree and Eason Maxwell are married to each other’s best friends. Bree a businesswoman prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom of two when their family’s finances had given her the freedom to do so, and Eason, a songwriter whose marriage seems to be on a perilous path all because he was just not doing enough to keep his wife satisfied on all fronts.

All that changes in a heartbeat when an explosion takes the lives of both Bree’s husband and Eason’s wife, leaving them both bereft, hurting, and bewildered in the wake of the heartbreaking loss. Eason might have carried Bree to safety from the explosion, but it is Bree who finally sees him for who he is, as they are both forced to rely on each other to get through the days ahead. However, as these two navigate the circumstances of the new reality that they have been thrust into, dark secrets come to the forefront, threatening to crumble the foundations upon which the bond between Eason and Bree is forged to life.

Bree had never been Eason’s fan – she had always found Eason lacking, all owing to the fact that she had viewed Eason through the lens of her best friend’s viewpoint. All of that changes when Eason becomes her rock in the turbulent times that faces them both, the family they become as they leave the painful night behind them and starts the slow and painful process of moving on.

Both Bree and Eason are wonderful characters; every single character that you come across in the book is special. Kids often have a tendency to annoy me in books – but Ms. Martinez makes it all work, bringing the right mix of cuteness and wholesomeness to the mix. The plot was well done; at first I was a bit skeptical thinking that what comes to the forefront was just too easy – but in the end Ms. Martinez surprised me with the plot twist that brought a different edge to the story as it reached its climax.

Eason was perfect. Bree was perfect. The secondary characters were perfect. This story was nothing short of perfect. Recommended for those who want a story that would sweep them off their feet on a journey that is all consuming!

Final Verdict: Beautiful, surreal, and utterly spellbinding, From the Embers makes for an explosive read in every single sense!

Favorite Quotes

“I don’t hide anything from you.”
“Good,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way.”
My throat got thick, and as hypocritical as it was, I hoped the sweat breaking across the back of my neck and the tempo of my racing heart were both hidden. Her proximity suddenly felt suffocating, which was almost as confusing as it was intoxicating.
Together, we stood there, surrounded by white lights and unspoken emotions. There were gratitude and respect, but most of all, there was love. Maybe not the conventional or romantic variety, but it was there all the same.

“Look, I know this is going to complicate the hell out of things. But being with you is the only thing that feels right in my life. I’m gonna be real honest: I’m mad at them. I’m hurt. I’m embarrassed. And I can’t even begin to imagine the agony that’s going to follow over the next few weeks as we sort this shit out with Luna. But there are two things I know for sure: I want you, Bree, and I’m not waiting one fucking second longer to make my move.”
In one swift motion, I rolled over and tucked her beneath me. Smoothing the wisps of hair out of her face, I added, “I can’t wait any longer to kiss you from head to toe, to make you feel good and know for sure it was because of me.”

After unwrapping her like a candy and sampling the sweetness between her legs, her hands balling the sheets beside my shoulders, I nearly lost my mind.
Just before I tipped the scales out of my favor, she annihilated them altogether by rolling on top of me. “In my dreams, you said I wasn’t ready. But I’m ready, Eason. I’m so damn ready for you.”
She’d had dreams.
About me.

Every day, Eason was easygoing and laid-back, but in bed, he was a completely different animal. He was powerful and strong, almost unyielding in the way he ravaged my body with his. He was bold and sure, confident in knowing everything I needed even before I could anticipate it myself. He was demanding and gentle, but above all else, he didn’t hold back.
Eason gave. I took.
He went harder, faster. I begged for more.

“I swear to God, Bree, your fucking body was made for me.” His hips twisted as he pushed deeper. “I can’t go much lo—”
I silenced him with my mouth on his. “Shhh. Then don’t. Give it to me. Give me everything.”
Breaking the kiss, he went up onto his arm, looked down at where our bodies were crashing into each other, and then pressed his forehead against my shoulder as the most erotic moan rumbled through his chest. “Fuck.”
His heavy weight collapsed on top of me as he pumped and twitched his release. For as ugly and tainted as the world could be, the sight of Eason losing himself in an orgasm would forever be one of the purest and most beautiful things I could experience.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

Review: Reclaim by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Release Series, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Camden Cole
Heroine: Nora Stewart
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 12, 2020
Started On: November 13, 2020
Finished On: November 18, 2020

Reclaim, book 2 in The Release series by Aly Martinez is a story that I have bided my time for since having read the first installment, Release. The first book ends on a note that makes the reader extremely curious about the fate of Nora Stewart, whose past is entwined with the main protagonists from Release and oh so steeped in darkness – but there was only so much that the reader was privy to at that point.

Reclaim takes us to a time when Nora is 11 years old and meets 12 year old Camden Cole for the very first time. A friendship is forged between the two that fateful summer, and while promises were made, Nora believes that Camden broke them, just like her mother who abandoned their family when she was just a mere seven years old.

What happens next is a series of tragic events that leads to disaster of epic proportions, until years later, Nora and Camden’s paths cross again. With the heaviness of words unspoken between them lingering on, of a love that both feels acutely nevertheless, of so much time wasted while Camden had patiently waited for his one and only, I felt a keen sense of loss even when the story was well and over.

While I understood that Nora’s past required her to come to terms with a lot of things, that she needed to forgive herself and love herself enough to be able to have a long-lasting relationship with anyone, I could not quite understand why neither of them wanted to reach out to the other prior to the time period in which the rest of the story unfolds.

Perhaps, this hollow feeling emerged from the fact that I had a particular vision in mind when I thought of how Nora’s story would unfold. Don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy their story for the most part, but I cannot feel sad about the time wasted, when they could have been together and worked through a lot of the issues together. Perhaps this time apart was needed in part for Camden to also be in charge of his destiny for him to be able to finally be with Nora in a most fulfilling way.

Perhaps due to the time factor, and because the story takes place over periods during which there was too much darkness in especially Nora’s life for there to be light, I missed the sexy scenes of passion that should have rightfully existed between the two. In a way that also left me feeling cheated towards the end.

Recommended for fans of Aly Martinez and fans of The Release series who have been dying to read Nora’s story!

Final Verdict: Nora and Camden’s story is one of missed chances and a love that runs so deep, it stands the test of excruciating trials & hardships until at long last ultimate triumph is reached!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you…” Kiss. “…ever think—”
“Mmmm,” she hummed as my tongue teased at her earlobe.
“…about me…”
She shivered in my arms and moved closer until her core found my length straining against my boxers.
I hissed at the contact, barely able to finish my thought. “…at night?”
Her fingers latched onto my hair and she pulled my mouth to hers, hovering mere millimeters away. “You’re the only man I’ve ever thought about.” Her warm breath filled my every inhale. “Every night, Cam.”
I kissed her hard and fast, sealing my mouth over hers as though oxygen were my enemy.
Fuck. Me.

He entered me with a devastating control, the muscles on his back flexing with every thrust. It wasn’t long before he found a rhythm that drove us both wild. He uttered gravelly words into my neck, my name punctuating all of them, and I clung to him, ripples of pleasure building within me.
Unsure how much longer I could hold on, I locked my legs around his hips and urged him deeper. “Oh, God, I’m close.”
“Give it to me, Nora,” he ordered, his rhythm quickening.
My resolve snapped, and with a shattering climax, I unraveled beneath him.
“Yesss,” he hissed. “That’s it, baby. Oh, fuck, that’s it.”
One last drive and he seated himself to the hilt and emptied inside me.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Release by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Bookrelease
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ramsey Stewart
Heroine: Althea Floye Hull
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 04, 2020
Started On: February 28, 2020
Finished On: March 01, 2020

Release by Aly Martinez caught my eye when I was surfing through Amazon, as I usually tend to do when I am on lookout for new books to read. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but I have to admit that it was the cover that drew me to take a look at the blurb.

I love myself a romance featuring an ex-convict, be it hero or heroine, and this one had a lot of other tropes going for it which tend to fall into my favorite zone, and I was sold, despite it being a totally new to me author. Being my very first read from Ms. Martinez, I was pleasantly surprise and wooed in a way that will definitely have me coming back for more where she is concerned.

Release begins with 29 year old Althea Floye Hull (Thea) waiting outside of the prison gates to welcome the release of Ramsey Stewart, the boy whom she had met on the fateful day of her mother’s death, the yin to her yang, her best friend, and the boy who had grown into the man who became the love of her life.

30 year old Ramsey is anything but pleased to see Thea waiting for him to welcome his release. The visceral reaction that he has to her is something he wishes he could do away with, but memories of Thea and what could have been is a luxury he did not allow himself during the 13 years spent in prison. Even though he is ready to experience a woman’s touch and start living life again, Ramsey has made a vow that it would be on his terms, and those definitely do not allow for Thea’s involvement at any point in time.

However, Thea is as equally determined to stick by Ramsey’s side, to show him that they belong together and that they always will. Bit by bit, Thea’s stubbornness and persistence pays off, until the point at which the truth of the night which determined the fate of Ramsey comes to haunt them, with the power to break the fragile bonds that had been forged between the two since his release. It would take Thea a lot more than her desire and love for all that is Ramsey to move forward, which also means Ramsey having to fight his own demons to be worthy of their love for each other.

I loved Release and all that it presented to me as the reader. The past interwoven with the present gave that in-depth characterization to the story which I absolutely adored. Both Thea and Ramsey come from broken homes of its own variety. While Thea’s home may not be described as a typical broken home, it had been one of neglect following the death of her mother. In Ramsey’s case, abandonment and abuse plays its role, and it is by a twist of fate that Ramsey finds Thea on the day of her mother’s passing, which basically saves Thea’s life in more ways than one.

The friendship between the two, the love that had been forged along the way, a love that had changed and evolved into one with adult needs and wants behind it as time had gone by; all of that and more is explored in a way that makes for splendid reading. The surprising twist along the way may in all probability be figured out by most readers at some point in time, but nevertheless the impact it brings to the story and the angst factor it gives was something that I immersed my senses within, and enjoyed thoroughly.

Recommended for those who love romances featuring ex-convict heroes within the friends to lovers trope. My only wish now is to know whether Ms. Martinez is ever planning on writing Nora’s book – I have a feeling that it will be well worth the wait, with a “surprising” hero in the mix!

Final Verdict: Release is the kind of stupendous romance that your entire being welcomes; Thea and Ramsey demands nothing less!

Favorite Quotes

His entire body stiffened at the contact, but his hand kneaded like it’d found its way home. “Fuck,” he groaned, plucking at my nipple through the fabric of my thin bra.
Throwing my head back to rest on his shoulder, I sagged against him.
His arm hooked around my hips, holding me up as he continued his delicious assault on my breast.
“I don’t want you,” he snarled, but his teeth nipped at my neck.
I thrust a hand between us and gave his hard length a pointed rub. “You’re a liar.”

“Last chance,” she murmured.
She could have stood there, holding my gaze, until we both wasted away into the Earth and I never would have said the word stop.
Her smile grew, and then brazen and beautiful as only Thea could be, she dropped her pants to the floor.
Oh, fuck me. Her pussy was bare. Oh, fucking fuck me.
A growl rumbled in my chest.
Do not be rough.
Do not be rough.
Do not be…
I charged forward, our bodies colliding only a split second before our mouths. Her hands went straight into the back of my hair while our tongues tangled in a fiery reunion.

“You’re mine, Ramsey. You can try to fight me. You can hate me. You can lie to yourself for the rest of your life.” She raked her fingernails down my abs before diving into the front of my boxers and wrapping her palm around my shaft. “But wherever you are, however long you are there, you are always mine.” She punctuated it with a hard pull that weakened my knees.
This. Fucking. Woman.
It had been eighteen years since I first saw her at the base of that tree.
And she was right. She had owned me every day since. Maybe that was why I’d never been able to convince her to leave. She wasn’t my Sparrow to free.
I was hers.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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