Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Book Review: Found In Bliss by Lexi Blake

Author: Lexi Blake
Series: Nights in Bliss, Colorado #5
Audience: +18
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment, LLC
Release Date: October 9th 2018
My Rating: 4.5 Cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Re-released in a second edition with new content.

Holly Lang has a hard time trusting men. Eight years ago, her husband tossed her aside and took her son away from her. Finding the little town of Bliss has given her a second chance at life, new friends, and sense of belonging. Unfortunately, Bliss also seems to have filled her days and nights with dreams of two beautiful men. She can’t stop thinking about the gentle but haunted Dr. Caleb Burke, and the exotic and dangerous Alexei Markov.

Caleb Burke isn’t your ordinary town doctor, but he’s always dedicated himself to trying to be a good man. His journey to this quirky little town was not an easy one. Some of the stops along the way left him scarred in more ways than one. But when he first sees Holly, it’s like someone threw open the blinds and let the sunlight into his life for the first time in years.

Alexei Markov is nothing like Caleb Burke. Working as a hit man for the Russian mafia, he was forced to do unspeakable things. He suffered through all the moral compromises to fulfill one simple goal, killing the man who murdered his brother. When a mission led him to Bliss, he found something more precious than vengeance. A woman named Holly Lang. Throughout months of living in witness protection, testifying against his former employers, all he could think about was finding his way back to her.

After returning to Bliss, Alexei and his strange new ally Caleb discover that they aren’t the only ones interested in Holly. Someone else is stalking her and appears to want her dead. The only way to discover the identity of the killer is for all three to face up to the secrets of their past and work together to fight for everything they have found in Bliss.
*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way. 

**Disclaimer: This book contains mature content. As a result, my review may contain references to content intended for mature audiences only.

Found In Bliss is everything I could possibly have hoped for and more. You have politicians, assassins and a reluctant doctor, all in one story, and I couldn’t be happier for having read this book. As always, Lexi Blake manages to surprise me in all aspects of this story, so much so that I’m not even sure what I should be waiting for in her stories. That is, possibly, the best thing ever to happen to me with an author I'm already used to.

In this installment of the Nights in Bliss, Colorado series we finally get to understand Holly and Caleb, as well as see more of Alexei. Caleb is a shell of a man, and I finally got to understand why he was so closed off in the previous books, why he kept to himself, and why he was so reluctant to start anything with Holly. We find out a little about his horrific past in the beginning of the book, and then the full story unfolds little by little until he finds the courage to tell Holly and Alexei everything that happened. It’s not a pretty story, to say the least, and he still suffers from PTDS.  He might always have it, actually, and it’s not surprising giving his ordeal. I loved the fact that it wasn’t a woman that got through to him, but a man. There was something about Alexei’s relentlessness and stubbornness that got through to Caleb and forced him to go after what he wanted, which in part was Holly, but it was also life. Caleb is no dummy, he knows he’s not living a full life, and Alexei, with his hard edges and dangerous past, succeeded in doing what no other person before him managed to do: give the doctor a reason to want to live.

Holly is a great heroine. I never managed to get a good grasp on why she was so shy and closed off, but we learn very quickly why that is. The book actually opens with a scene from eight years prior to the events in the story that explains just why Holly is hurt and shy around everyone. Her ex-husband is truly a horrible person and I really hate his guts. Having been forced out of her home, forced to leave everything she knew and loved behind, including her son, she moves to Bliss in an effort to live whatever life she can afford to, while also staying close to her old home in case her son needs her. She also knows she deserves more, and she is willing to try to find happiness. She goes for what she wants, and that’s Alexei and Caleb. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way, but what story is complete without them?

Alexei was the big mystery to me. I had a hard time at first reconciling the gentle giant he is around Holly to the dangerous assassin he can turn into when he feels his loved ones are in danger. But the thing about him that baffled me the most was his willingness to bring Caleb in his and Holly’s relationship. It felt almost like a need he had to have Caleb there, and it went beyond being grateful to the man who saved his life. It all made sense when Caleb told Alexei he was probably seeing his dead brother in the older man and I got it. I finally understood him, his reason for wanting Caleb around. Yes, he feels grateful to him for not letting him die, but he also wants to save the man from himself. It’s truly a beautiful relationship that I absolutely loved reading about.

The element of mystery and danger is added by the presence of a hired killer in town. He was given a target to take down, and while it should be easy to figure out who that target is, I honestly had my eye set on a different person altogether. I can't say it all made sense, even in the end when all the cards are turned and we find out who and why and how, but that may be just because this book comes after Laura and Rafe and Cam's. I feel like any book that comes after that installment has a tough job at meeting the same danger level and I'm kind of okay with that..

Speaking of Holly's son, I absolutely adored Micky. I'm curious to see more of him in the upcoming books, because he needs a good story. And while I hate his dad with everything in me, I ultimately understood why he did what he did for his son, even if Micky himself can't see it now. The pace is pretty fast and the sex is, as expected in a Lexi Blake novel, hot as hell. I enjoyed seeing more of Wolf as well, and I finally made the connection between him and Leo, a character from a different series by Lexi Blake and I can’t be happier! I am very excited to see what comes next in this series.


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“No.” He said the word. He said it a lot, but this time he really, really meant it. Caleb Burke watched as that big Russian stood over sweet Holly, his dark eyes promising all manner of comfort, and he knew he wasn’t ready to let her go.
Of course, he also wasn’t ready to take her.
“No?” Alexei turned to him, seeming to notice for the first time that he wasn’t alone with Holly. Moments before, the Russian had walked into the reception hall where Stefan Talbot and his new wife, Jennifer, were hosting their wedding party. He’d marched in like he owned the place and zeroed in on Holly.
Alexei looked the same as he had months before, but it was easy to tell he’d changed. There was a relaxed set to his shoulders he hadn’t had the last time he was in Bliss. But then the last time Alexei Markov had been in Bliss, it had been as a member of the Russian mob.
“Get your hands off her.”
“My hands are entirely to myself.” And Alexei still had trouble with English.
“Caleb, what’s wrong?” Holly asked, her face turning to him. Wide green eyes stared up at him in confusion. She was so gorgeous. Every time she looked at him, he felt it straight in his gut. And his cock. Damn it. He had to turn away from her.
“You shouldn’t be here.” Caleb couldn’t take his eyes off the Russian. It was nothing less than the truth, though he had selfish reasons for pointing it out. “You’re supposed to be in witness protection.”
Alexei shrugged, his eyes going back to Holly as though her presence was a magnet he couldn’t avoid. “I told you. The trials are over. All the men who worked with Pushkin have been put in proper jails. I finish my testimony last week. I am here today. I am free man.”
Free? After everything he’d done? Alexei Markov had blown into town eight months before as a mobster. Just because he’d turned state’s witness and saved Jennifer Waters and Callie Hollister-Wright didn’t give him a free pass. He tried not to think about the fact that the Russian had saved Holly, too. Alexei had thrown his own body over hers, taking the bullet that would have ended her life. It didn’t erase the crimes he’d committed before. “You killed a bunch of people, and they let you go free?”
“He only killed them to save me, Caleb. And Stef got a couple, too. No one’s talking about putting him in jail.” Holly was already reaching for the Russian’s hands, her face turning upward in greeting. “I’m so happy for you, Alexei. I’m happy they let you come back to Bliss.”
A cloud crossed Alexei’s face telling Caleb everything he needed to know.
“They didn’t let you come back, did they?” Caleb asked. “You’re on the run.”
“No running. I take taxi and then train and then bus. Bus drop off at the Trading Post. It was closed, but Ms. Teeny was kind enough to leave note on door telling me about the wedding.” After his quick explanation, Alexei turned back to Holly. “You look like beautiful doll.”
Caleb grabbed at his tie, loosening it. The damn thing was a noose around his neck. Why had he come to this thing? He should have done what he always did. He should have stayed at home until someone needed him. He should have barricaded himself in his office and stared at medical books until his eyes wouldn’t stay open one second more and he was forced to fall into that hell he called sleep. Yeah, that would have made for a great night. But no, he’d gotten on this monkey suit and headed to the Feed Store Church to attend a wedding, all because he’d wanted to watch Holly walk down the aisle. He’d wanted to see her in a beautiful dress and imagine for one second that she was walking toward him and he was normal. That he was twenty-two again, marrying the right woman this time with his whole life ahead of him.
Not once in that daydream had he included a second man in the scenario, though given where he lived, he should have known that would happen whether he liked it or not.
“Thanks,” Holly said to Alexei, her face lighting up.
Caleb flushed. He hadn’t told her she was beautiful. He’d nodded at her. Why couldn’t he talk to her? He’d been good at this once. He’d gone to parties and balls. Why couldn’t he talk to one small-town waitress?
Because she was the one, but he was too fucked up to deal with it.
“You do look really pretty.” He forced the words out of his mouth. He didn’t say the ones that were locked inside. She didn’t look pretty. She was beautiful. Inside and out. Holly Lang practically glowed in his mind. With auburn hair that curled and caressed her porcelain shoulders, Holly was a vision of everything feminine. She stirred his cock and his mind. He thought about her all the time.
Yeah. He wasn’t going to say any of that.
Holly turned toward him, a vibrant smile on her lips. When she smiled that sunshine-goddess, center-of-his-whole-fucking-world smile, he always thought he would turn into a puddle of goo at her feet. Yeah. That would be really sexy, Burke.
“Tell her more, Caleb. You do well.” Alexei was smiling at him like he was a toddler who’d finally managed to walk.
What the hell was that about?
  NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.


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