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The Darkest Warrior

— feeling amazing

My review of The Darkest Warrior! 

 

 

The Darkest Warrior is the story of Puck, who harbors the demon of indifference, and Gillian, a former human girl who was in love with William. Now, I have not read every book in this series, so I have not been as privy to the build up of the Gillian/William love story. This is important because this book ends that idea! For me, it didn't matter because I wasn't that invested in them as a couple (and what little I have gotten on William in previous stories, I was not really a fan of!). Puck's brother has turned into a monster and is destroying their homeland. Puck knows he must fulfill the prophecy and kill Sin (his brother). In order to do that, he needs a wife (enter Gillian) and help from William. I loved Puck. He was so devoted to his brother (before indifference) and that bond was amazing. He put everything before Sin and then Sin betrayed him. Prior to indifference, Puck had imagined having one woman to love forever. It was kind of sweet! Once plagued by indifference, he not only had to suppress ANY emotions, he grew horns and hooves. He became unable to rid himself of the horns and hooves. He still had access to magic though. Gillian had a miserable life. She was sexually abused by her stepfather (and others) until she ran away. She is about to turn 18 and wants to be with William. She loves him and is pretty sure he loves her. But, William has put Gillian firmly in the 'friend zone' and continued to sleep with other girls. Then, days before her 18th birthday, she gets sick and is on her death bed. Enter Puck, to save the day (and her life). This leads to serious changes in her life in many ways. I liked getting to see her come into her own. She needed to feel empowered and free. I actually wanted to see her away from William. I think she was much stronger and braver than she thought she was and used William as kind of a shield. I also think it was critical that she had all that time away from both Puck and William. She learned who she was and really grew up. She was only 18 at the start of the book-while she had had lots of horrible life events, she was still a young girl and not ready for the real world yet. I thought the way Showalter handled the plot to give Gillian some time to grow up was interesting and worked perfectly for the story. As I said, having not invested in the entire series, I didn't have super strong feelings about Gillian and William being together. Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of William anyway, so I actually enjoyed that this book took them on different paths. I loved Puck and thought he was a very well written character. Showalter has a way of taking demons and making them relatable.  

  • POV: 3rd
  • Tears: no
  • Trope: magic, demons, arranged marriage
  • Triggers: [spoiler]As mentioned, Gillian was raped and suffers PTSD regarding intimacy. The rapes are not detailed, but she does have flashbacks of things said to her during the rapes[/spoiler]
  • Series/Standalone: series (you could read this as a stand alone, but it might be a little overwhelming because by this point, there are a LOT of supporting characters from previous books that play semi-important roles)
  • Cliffhanger: [spoiler]spoiler[/spoiler]
  • HEA: [spoiler]spoiler[/spoiler]
[rating-report]

The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, The Shadow Riders series by Christine Feehan, The Dark Kings series by Donna Grant...then you will probably like The Darkest Warrior!  

The Darkest Warrior

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  Puck eased into the room, silent, and padded forward. Wait. Had he remembered to dress today? A quick glance down revealed his sheepskin pants had been torn so much they resembled a loincloth. No matter. Barbarian chic really made his horns pop and fit the whole romance-novel-hero mystique he’d hoped to convey. He might even pass for Prince Charming—well, a prince in need of true love’s kiss. Puck’s pulse points spun into a wild rhythm when he reached the side of the bed and spied his future bride. He wasn’t the only fairy-tale character in the room. Sleeping beauty lies before me. Dark ribbons of hair spilled over the pale pink of the pillow. Her eyes were closed, long black lashes throwing shadows over her cheeks. A rosy flush spread over her delicate features as she parted her lips. Practically begging for my kiss. Focus! Keep this short and sweet. No telling when William would return. “Gillian,” he rasped, surprised by the husky tone of his voice. A sweet fragrance wafted from her. Breathing in, he detected a note of poppiberries, and his head fogged. His blood heated. The butterfly tattoo sizzled on his torso, surely melting his skin. Indifference snarled with more force and slashed at his mind. Trouble brewed. Fortify ice. Regain control. Gillian turned her head toward him and blinked rapidly before focusing on him. Panic filled her whiskey-colored eyes before she looked away—anywhere but Puck. Her mouth opened wide, as if she was trying to scream. Only a squeak escaped. “There’ll be none of that now.” To prove himself harmless, he tucked the covers around her, as he’d seen William do. “I’m not here to hurt you.” Truth. The movement caused the razors woven into his hair to clink together, drawing her attention. Her gaze darted to him and darkened with shock and dismay. He swallowed a curse. Romance novel heroes didn’t usually smuggle weapons in their hair. Must proceed anyway. Puck wouldn’t part with his razors; they were his saving grace. Anytime he was challenged, and had no sword or dagger, he plucked a razor free and started slashing. Tears rained down Gillian’s cheeks, and her chin trembled. So vulnerable. So broken. A pang of...something lanced his chest. As gently as possible, he wiped her tears away. Skin as soft as silk and hotter than the sun. The action helped relax her, even as it hardened muscle after muscle inside him. Her panic began to fade—until her gaze snagged on the loincloth. Or rather, the erection underneath the loincloth. With a whimper, she began to thrash atop the bed in a desperate bid to escape. Thought he would take what she had not offered? Never. “Eyes up here, lass.” Her gaze lifted up, up...she gasped, as if she’d noticed his face for the very first time. Confusion contorted her features before a deeper shade of rose spilled over her cheeks. Did she like what she saw?

Source: http://wp.me/p6sBcu-2Ky

The Darkest Warrior

The Darkest Warrior - Gena Showalter


The Darkest Warrior is the story of Puck, who harbors the demon of indifference, and Gillian, a former human girl who was in love with William. Now, I have not read every book in this series, so I have not been as privy to the build up of the Gillian/William love story. This is important because this book ends that idea! For me, it didn't matter because I wasn't that invested in them as a couple (and what little I have gotten on William in previous stories, I was not really a fan of!).

Puck's brother has turned into a monster and is destroying their homeland. Puck knows he must fulfill the prophecy and kill Sin (his brother). In order to do that, he needs a wife (enter Gillian) and help from William. I loved Puck. He was so devoted to his brother (before indifference) and that bond was amazing. He put everything before Sin and then Sin betrayed him. Prior to indifference, Puck had imagined having one woman to love forever. It was kind of sweet! Once plagued by indifference, he not only had to suppress ANY emotions, he grew horns and hooves. He became unable to rid himself of the horns and hooves. He still had access to magic though.

Gillian had a miserable life. She was sexually abused by her stepfather (and others) until she ran away. She is about to turn 18 and wants to be with William. She loves him and is pretty sure he loves her. But, William has put Gillian firmly in the 'friend zone' and continued to sleep with other girls. Then, days before her 18th birthday, she gets sick and is on her death bed. Enter Puck, to save the day (and her life). This leads to serious changes in her life in many ways. I liked getting to see her come into her own. She needed to feel empowered and free. I actually wanted to see her away from William. I think she was much stronger and braver than she thought she was and used William as kind of a shield. I also think it was critical that she had all that time away from both Puck and William. She learned who she was and really grew up. She was only 18 at the start of the book-while she had had lots of horrible life events, she was still a young girl and not ready for the real world yet. I thought the way Showalter handled the plot to give Gillian some time to grow up was interesting and worked perfectly for the story.

As I said, having not invested in the entire series, I didn't have super strong feelings about Gillian and William being together. Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of William anyway, so I actually enjoyed that this book took them on different paths. I loved Puck and thought he was a very well written character. Showalter has a way of taking demons and making them relatable.

 
  • POV: 3rd
  • Tears: no
  • Trope: magic, demons, arranged marriage
  • Triggers: As mentioned, Gillian was raped and suffers PTSD regarding intimacy. The rapes are not detailed, but she does have flashbacks of things said to her during the rapes
  • Series/Standalone: series (you could read this as a stand alone, but it might be a little overwhelming because by this point, there are a LOT of supporting characters from previous books that play semi-important roles)
  • Cliffhanger: spoiler
  • HEA: spoiler




The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, The Shadow Riders series by Christine Feehan, The Dark Kings series by Donna Grant...then you will probably like The Darkest Warrior!

 


The Darkest Warrior


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image


 



Puck eased into the room, silent, and padded forward. Wait. Had he remembered to dress today? A quick glance down revealed his sheepskin pants had been torn so much they resembled a loincloth.

No matter. Barbarian chic really made his horns pop and fit the whole romance-novel-hero mystique he’d hoped to convey. He might even pass for Prince Charming—well, a prince in need of true love’s kiss.

Puck’s pulse points spun into a wild rhythm when he reached the side of the bed and spied his future bride. He wasn’t the only fairy-tale character in the room. Sleeping beauty lies before me.

Dark ribbons of hair spilled over the pale pink of the pillow. Her eyes were closed, long black lashes throwing shadows over her cheeks. A rosy flush spread over her delicate features as she parted her lips.

Practically begging for my kiss.

Focus! Keep this short and sweet. No telling when William would return.

“Gillian,” he rasped, surprised by the husky tone of his voice.

A sweet fragrance wafted from her. Breathing in, he detected a note of poppiberries, and his head fogged. His blood heated. The butterfly tattoo sizzled on his torso, surely melting his skin.

Indifference snarled with more force and slashed at his mind. Trouble brewed.

Fortify ice. Regain control.

Gillian turned her head toward him and blinked rapidly before focusing on him. Panic filled her whiskey-colored eyes before she looked away—anywhere but Puck. Her mouth opened wide, as if she was trying to scream. Only a squeak escaped.

“There’ll be none of that now.” To prove himself harmless, he tucked the covers around her, as he’d seen William do. “I’m not here to hurt you.” Truth.

The movement caused the razors woven into his hair to clink together, drawing her attention. Her gaze darted to him and darkened with shock and dismay. He swallowed a curse. Romance novel heroes didn’t usually smuggle weapons in their hair.

Must proceed anyway. Puck wouldn’t part with his razors; they were his saving grace. Anytime he was challenged, and had no sword or dagger, he plucked a razor free and started slashing.

Tears rained down Gillian’s cheeks, and her chin trembled. So vulnerable. So broken. A pang of...something lanced his chest.

As gently as possible, he wiped her tears away. Skin as soft as silk and hotter than the sun.

The action helped relax her, even as it hardened muscle after muscle inside him. Her panic began to fade—until her gaze snagged on the loincloth. Or rather, the erection underneath the loincloth. With a whimper, she began to thrash atop the bed in a desperate bid to escape.

Thought he would take what she had not offered? Never. “Eyes up here, lass.”

Her gaze lifted up, up...she gasped, as if she’d noticed his face for the very first time. Confusion contorted her features before a deeper shade of rose spilled over her cheeks.

Did she like what she saw?See full review on The Book Disciple

Blackburn (Special Forces: Operation Alpha)

Blackburn (Special Forces: Operation Alpha) - Brynne Asher Cute overall. I loved the danger in the jungle part, but then the 2nd 1/2 of the book was about Lillian's family drama. It felt disjointed a bit. There were a lot of questions about the jungle part that didn't get answered because the focus became Lillian's family.

Bound

Bound - L.J. Swallow


Bound is book 2 in the series and picks up where book 1 left off. It took me a moment to remember exactly what happened, but once I had a few reminders! Vee is struggling with what she is and dealing with the new world suddenly open to her. She has her first encounter with incubi and it makes her realize she needs to get a crash course in how to handle her new reality.

During the group's continued search for the demon and Vee's attempt to understand her power, Vee is also struggling with her attraction to the guys. There is a paranormal pull to each of them. The guys feel it too, but fight it because they are unsure. Not only does Vee not understand her power, the guys don't really know what to expect either.

The plot of the story is more world building and relationship building so not as action packed. I think this caused me some struggle to really stay in the story at times.

 
  • POV: 1st (dual)
  • Tears: no
  • Trope: reverse harem
  • Triggers: none
  • Series/Standalone: series
  • Cliffhanger: open ended but came to a natural stopping point
  • HEA: unknown




My Pack series by Lane Whitt, Claimed by Gods by Eva Chase, Elements of Mischief by CM Stunich and Tate James...then you will probably like Bound!

 


Bound


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 See full review on The Book Disciple

Power of Five

Power of Five - Alex Lidell 4 stars for the story, 2 stars for the narrator. I can't wait until book 2 comes out, but I will read it, not listen to it.

Guardians

Guardians - L.J. Swallow What is up with the ancient magic? What the hell attacked Joss? Holy Cliffhanger!

Wicked and the Wallflower

Wicked and the Wallflower - Sarah MacLean


Wicked and the Wallflower is a spin off of sorts from Maclean's previous series, Scandal and Scoundrels, but its not necessary to read those books before starting. Felicity, our heroine was featured in The Day of the Duchess, as one of the ladies in a reality tv type competition to be the new wife of a duke. She doesn't win, and returns to her life in the ton as a spinster. However, she wants love more than anything. She wants a man who wants her desperately! Its so sweet of her really and it made me adore her as a character.

Devil's backstory is only partially revealed. It involves his siblings, so more of the story will presumably be revealed in their stories. But, you know he is the illegitimate son of a duke who, with one brother, runs an illegal rookery in Covent Gardens. He is planning to use Felicity in a plot to destroy another brother's plans of marriage and producing heirs.

Obviously Felicity sees Devil as the means to get her married to a duke, with money that could save her family. However, as she spends more time with him, she realizes its not the duke she wants (she never really did WANT him-she needed him and he needed her) but Devil. Devil is attracted to Felicity but he is so hell bent on his plan of revenge he pushes her away.

Felicity is NOT a wallflower at all. She is smart and sweet and so lost. She doesn't understand why her 'friends' turned on her, she doesn't understand why her family is so desperate to marry her off, she doesn't want just any marriage, but one filled with love and desire. She is so incredibly relatable in those ways! While she is 27 in the story, her struggles with friends, family, and love I think resonate with lots of girls of all ages!

Devil was a tougher character to like. His backstory (what we get of it) certainly pulls at your heart strings. But, his need for revenge above all else is difficult. He is willing to ruin Felicity in order to get his revenge. And, since you don't know the entire backstory, you aren't even sure what his brother did that was so bad to bring on this level of hate from Devil.

Wicked and the Wallflower was an enjoyable read that took me by surprise because Felicity is so not a wallflower! She has become one of my favorite characters for sure.

 
  • POV: 3rd
  • Tears: no
  • Trope: marriage of convenience, secret identity
  • Triggers: none
  • Series/Standalone: stand alone
  • Cliffhanger: no
  • HEA: yes




Other amazing regency romances like those by Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Eliosa James, Vivienne Loret...then you will probably like Wicked and the Wallflower!

 


Wicked and the Wallflower


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Prologue

The Past
The three were woven together long before they were aware, strands of spun, silken steel that could not be separated—not even when their fate insisted upon it.

Brothers, born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute to different women. The high-priced courtesan. The seamstress. The soldier’s widow. Born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute to the same man.

The duke, their father, whose arrogance and cruelty fate would punish without hesitation, stealing from him the only thing he wanted that his money and power could not buy—an heir.

It is the Ides of March the seers warn of, with its promise of betrayal and vengeance, of shifting fortune and inalienable providence. But for this sire—who was never more than that, never close to father—it was the Ides of June that would be his ruin.

Because on that same day, in that same hour, at that same minute, there was a fourth child, born to a fourth woman. To a duchess. And it was this birth—the birth all the world thought legitimate—that the duke attended, even as he knew the son who was to be his heir in name and fortune and future was not his own and still, somehow, was his only hope.

Except she was a daughter.

And with her first breath, she thieved future from them all, as powerful in her infancy as she would become in her womanhood. But hers is a story for another time.

This story begins with the boys.
See full review on The Book Disciple

Cajun Persuasion

Cajun Persuasion - Sandra Hill From the synopsis, I expected heavy and dark topics. Those exist, but they are blended with the levity of the secondary characters Hill creates! Some of the people in the bayou are such fun! The love story is interesting as well since its not really expected!

Stray Magic

Stray Magic - Kelly Meding


Stray Magic had me confused initially. I felt dropped into a story in progress, but it said book 1 one of the series. After the first chapter though, I was settling into the story pretty well and found several things I really liked:
  1. Unique world: its modern times but the world knows about shifters and vampires. Our heroine works for an agency that deals with all things paranormal.
  2. Shiloh is tough and spunky. If you like your heroines to be independent and in charge, you will like Shiloh.
  3. Interesting plot! I found I liked the mystery of it all. Who is kidnapping supernaturals? Who is creating revenants? What is up with Shiloh and Vincent? What is up with Shiloh and Tennyson?
  4. This isn't a romance really. There is a boyfriend, and an ex-boyfriend but neither relationship is the focus of the story. I actually found it more enjoyable than I expected to not be reading a straight up romance.

Overall, the story was engaging and fast paced which kept me reading! My initial confusion was quickly passed but I found the ending to be a bit sudden. Stray Magic introduced me to a world that I found fascinating and am curious to see where the author takes the story from here. The blend of magic, mythology, and the paranormal made for a compelling read for sure.

 
  • POV: 1st
  • Tears: no
  • Trope: vampires, shifters, magic
  • Triggers: none
  • Series/Standalone: stand alone
  • Cliffhanger: Kind of; the main arc of the story is resolved but many things are left open for the next book
  • HEA: this isn't really a romance story; by the end, I'm not sure that Shiloh is 'with' anyone anymore




Authors like Dannika Dark, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews...then you will probably like Stray Magic!

 


Stray Magic


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See full review on The Book Disciple

Hunted

Hunted - L.J. Swallow Hmmm I felt this was a bit anti climatic as well. You get some info on the people Vee used to 'know' from her message boards but I am still not sure what that has to do with the dead Fae. And Vee is kind of a let down. She does more freaking out and over analyzing things than actually DOING something useful.
The romance certainly takes a step up, but again, I am not sure I like the direction. Its more like a paranormal NEED to sleep with them than actual love.

The Woman Left Behind

The Woman Left Behind - Linda Howard


The Woman Left Behind is a story that reminds me why I adore romantic suspense! Jina, the heroine, is intelligent and bold. She is thrown into a job she didn't want, but refuses to roll over and give up. Seeing her push herself beyond what she thought she was capable of is empowering. However, Jina never loses her believability. There are times she breaks down and cries and those times remind the reader that she is determined but she isn't a robot. The story is focused on her journey from her cushy desk job to being part of an elite special ops team. I found all of the story to be engaging, even when the tasks seemed mundane (like months of training).

Ace, the hero and leader of the special ops team, is certainly douche-y in the beginning. He doesn't want Jina or anyone on his team. He worries that the addition of a 'geek' would be a liability for his team. He also worries that Jina's presence will be a liability for him because he can't stop thinking about her. However, as long as they are on the same team, she is off limits to him (and the rest of the team!)

By the end, I was totally crying. What Jina endures could have been written in such a way to minimize what happened or given to the reader in a kind of information dump. But Howard gives us the inner and external struggle Jina faces and I simply couldn't hold back the tears of pain and sorrow I had for her character.

Whenever possible, I will always gravitate towards romantic suspense and The Woman Left Behind is one of the books that reinforces why. Well written characters, engaging plots, and real danger and emotions make these stories unputdownable!

 
  • POV: 3rd
  • Tears: yes
  • Trope: special ops
  • Triggers: none
  • Series/Standalone: stand alone
  • Cliffhanger: no
  • HEA: yes but I still would have appreciated an epilogue to give more information about where they all go from the end




The Virtue Falls series by Christina Dodd, The Red Stone Security series by Katie Reus, The Tracers series by Laura Griffin, The Omega Sector series by Janie Crouch...then you will probably like The Woman Left Behind!

 


The Woman Left Behind


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 See full review on The Book Disciple

Ace of Hearts

Ace of Hearts - Chantal Fernando


Ace of Hearts was an adorable read! Erin is a delightful character-she is vivacious and funny. I loved her interactions with all the guys in the MC. I also loved that the story is told entirely from Erin's POV so you aren't really getting the details of the MC. The club isn't the focus of the story and that was a refreshing change in an 'MC romance'.

Erin and Ace are certainly opposites in many ways. She was raised in the country by 2 loving parents. Ace's life is very rough-left home young, sleeps around a lot, willing to do anything for the MC. But, when Erin finds out her dad isn't her dad, she is determined to meet her real father and get to know him. Their interactions were very authentic. He doesn't know how to interact with a daughter and goes about it like he would his MC guys. Erin doesn't really understand the 'rules' of their world and isn't afraid to call them out or ask questions.

Erin and Ace have issues to overcome for sure: first, she is the prez's daughter and 'off limits'. Second, Ace is a manwhore whose past exploits are club girls who are still hanging around. Third, Ace is kind of hung up on their age difference (not that much of a difference though so I'm not sure what that was really about!). Finally, there is a miscommunication. You know this is my LEAST favorite trope, but it actually worked in this story and I didn't hate it!

If you like the gritty, alpha, no apologies type of heroes, you will love Ace. If you like the slightly sheltered, quirky, brave heroines you will adore Erin. Overall, I thought Ace of Hearts was delightful and endearing! I can't wait to read more in the series!

 
  • POV: 1st (Erin)
  • Tears: no
  • Trope: MC club, miscommunication
  • Triggers: none
  • Series/Standalone: stand alone
  • Cliffhanger: no
  • HEA: yes with a cute epilogue




Marked by Drew Elyse, Blaze by L. Wilder, Close Cover by Lexi Blake...then you will probably like Ace of Hearts!

 


Ace of Hearts


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 See full review on The Book Disciple

Shelter for Blythe

Shelter for Blythe - Susan Stoker


Shelter for Blythe is book 11 in the series but its a stand alone. However, we meet Blythe in Sophie's book. Blythe was homeless and living on the street near Sophie's place of employment. Blythe also plays a role in Milena's book; in a way, Blythe is helping the villain of Milena's book. Now, however, Blythe needs help. She is attacked on the streets. Squirrel, aka Sawyer, gave Blythe his phone months ago and they begin a few text conversations. This leads to a budding friendship that changes Blythe's life.

Sawyer is not like the other heroes from this series. He isn't a muscular, isn't as tall, isn't as 'manly' in his eyes. He is a bit self deprecating which was a bit odd. I'm not sure it was bad or good. Just different. Blythe's backstory is sad and fairly typically of many people who find themselves homeless. I thought Sawyer and Blythe were a good match for each other but overall, I felt the story was kind of flat. There isn't much danger or action; the plot mainly revolves around the relationship between Sawyer and Blythe. It wasn't bad, but it was a bit anticlimactic.

Bottom line: I liked the story and was glad to finally get more info about Blythe, but overall it was a little slow.

 
  • POV: 3rd
  • Tears: no
  • Triggers: none
  • Series/Standalone: stand alone within an interconnected series
  • Cliffhanger: no
  • HEA: yes




authors like Kaylea Cross, Maryann Jordan, Sharon Hamilton...then you will probably like Shelter for Blythe!

 


Shelter for Blythe


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See full review on The Book Disciple

Knuckle Down

Knuckle Down - Chantal Fernando Predictable (she is a journalist so you can see exactly what the climax is going to be) and I didn't like Celina and Knuckles as much as Erin and Ace but overall still an enjoyable story. There were still a few surprises at the end that I did NOT see coming.

Torn

Torn - Lauren Dane Torn intrigued me right away because it was a little like a second chance in that the characters knew each other before, but not totally a second chance since they weren't dating before. Its a low angst story which I adore; however, I think it was a little slow because not much happens. Its more of a chronicle of their relationship; again, I appreciated the low angst since both of them have had enough angst in their past, but readers may find this a bit of a slow pace.

Cora and Beau are total #relationshipgoals! They are truly devoted to making each other happy. It was such a pleasant read to see a more mature relationship as opposed to the drama-llama types with miscommunications and manufactured problems. Bottom line, while this might be a slow plot for those who love the angst, its perfect for those who like to see a couple work together on real life issues. Torn will appeal to readers who are sick of new adult relationships that are fraught with immature rubbish.

While this is book 3 of the series, you can read them as stand alones. I haven't read the previous books and it didn't affect my enjoyment at all!