Oh, dear readers, I am so excited to talk about this series by Kella McKinnon! A warning before I get started though: this is essentially a serial (two parts to one awesome story), so do NOT start the first book, In Deep, unless you also have In Deeper in your possession. My review will be brief, because I had an opportunity to chat with the author and she was a lot of fun. Plus, the author is doing an ahhhh-mazing giveaway that is going to knock your socks right off! So read on and prepare to be impressed.In Deep, Books 1 & 2 Publisher: Self-Published Source & Format: Review copies courtesy of the author; digital Official Summary BRIELLE What would you do if you met a man that made you burn like wildfire from the inside out? Burn so hot that with one touch you forgot to breathe? And if you knew that he had dangerous secrets? Would you be able to walk away? I couldn’t. As strong as I know I am, I kept going back for more of him. That body… those eyes… I saw him for the first time on my very first day in Vegas, and even then I think a part of me knew, because I couldn’t look away. It was like that moment when you see something flying towards you and you know it’s going to hit you before you can ever move out of the way, so you just watch, transfixed, as it crashes into you. Cristos Vicario: owner of the illustrious Adagio hotel and casino and reputed billionaire playboy. He sure as hell wasn’t what he seemed on the surface. That man had secrets. No one knew what a dark and dangerous world he lived in, and when I finally saw him for what he was, it was already far too late. I found myself inextricably tied to him forever. The course of my life altered. My entire world changed forever as he took away my freedom and gave me the key to my dreams in one fell swoop. How could I have known that the one man who should have been my greatest nightmare would become the one thing I couldn’t live without? And all I had to do was forgive him… CRISTOS I was only living for one thing, one goal, one endgame… until I saw Brielle. And when I touched her, it was all over for me… I just didn’t know it yet. Not until I broke all of my rules for her, one after another, and that still wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted it all. Yeah, what I did to her was pretty much unforgivable. I know that now. Some small part of me might have known it then, too, but it didn’t matter. I had to hold on to her. I would have done anything to keep her… and I did. Now I’ve put her in danger, dragged her into my world, and I don’t know whether to push her away or hold her tighter. Letting her go would be the right thing to do… but every time I try to do the right thing… I can’t. When I take her, it’s always hard and desperate, as if she’ll disappear if I can’t make her feel the same things I feel… if I can’t force her to care about me enough that she’ll look past everything else and see into my heart. Last night, after she fell asleep, still wrapped in my arms, I rested my lips against the top of her head and inhaled the scent of her as she slept. Trusting me, even though she shouldn’t. “I don’t deserve you”, I whispered. “But I want you. God, I want you so badly.”
I found it very easy to like Brie, the heroine. She’s a young woman, finishing up her PhD. I liked that she had her more serious business side when doing her PhD work, but still enjoyed herself in Las Vegas like any young, attractive female would. My absolute favorite aspect of her character was that she still expected to be her own person, even after starting a relationship with the hero. In a lot of romance novels, I feel like heroines get lost in their relationship and everything else falls to the side. Here, it was nice to see the heroine living her own life too. Throughout both books, Brie kept her friends and kept in contact with her brother like a real person would. That realism made her more interesting to me, and it also made it easier for me to stay engaged in the world the author had created.
Criss, the hero, changes a lot over the course of these two books. He’s a man of contradictions – he’s this important, mega-rich casino executive, but he also takes part in some shady dealings and had a difficult childhood. I found him so deliciously complex! He’s got this untouchable executive thing going on, and I didn’t love how heavy-handed he was in some of his business dealings, but as he starts to really fall for Brie, he reveals a sweet, thoughtful side, which was so adorable.
Brie and Criss are super hot together, but I was so happy Brie didn’t give in to him right away and I loved watching Criss be absolutely confounded by it! The Sexy Time was really, really hot and I think there was a good amount of it. The relationship between Criss and Brie was fun to read, although I felt like it developed a little too quickly, with them falling in love over the course of just a few days. But it was obvious how they were perfect for each other.
I really enjoyed this series, but I wouldn’t say that the story line was completely unique. It felt similar to other books that have received a lot of attention over the last couple of years; however, I felt the characters in the In Deep series were vastly more interesting and not just carbon copies of the “sexy billionaire” and “ingénue student” archetypes that are so popular. For instance, I was relieved that Criss wasn’t super dominant or into BDSM. I also loved how Criss had a less than pristine background but was, in his heart, a really good guy and that Brie was dedicated to their relationship while still maintaining her own life and identity.
I really enjoyed these two books and am so thrilled that I had the opportunity to read them. I can’t wait to see what this author does next!Bottom Line
I would recommend the In Deep series to fans of contemporary romance who like heroines who aren’t defined by the heroes, and who like heroes who are more than they may seem. The writing was really great – I was hooked before the end of the first chapter! And don’t forget to get both books at the same time. – In Deep ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and you won’t want to wait even one minute for In Deeper.
Rating: A- (4½ stars)
Wine/Beverage Pairing: A Fizz Noir. Found only at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, it’s a blend of real cherries, fresh lemon juice, cherry vodka, candy syrup, and champagne. Yum!Buy Digital: Kindle Buy Print (Part 1): Amazon | B&N Buy Print (Part 2): Amazon | B&N
Interview with Kella McKinnon
Kella McKinnon: Thank you so much for having me!
Liz: One of the things that captivated me about your book was the location—Las Vegas, baby! On one hand, it has a fun, vacation-y reputation, but it also has a seedier side. So let me start off with this question: Why Vegas?
Kella: Vegas was the perfect location for this story for that very reason. Anything can happen there, right? And tourists probably never glimpse the seedier side that we all know must be there, just below the glitz and glamour.
Liz: Absolutely true! I thought that Brie, the heroine, was a great mix between a serious, career-focused woman and somewhat naïve girl. Is that how you intended her character to be?
Kella: Brie is an ambitious woman with firm ideas of what she wants out of life, and she has been though some tough times. But, she’s also still very young and inexperienced. Despite all that, she knows deep down that life is short and that sometimes you need to take risks and just trust your heart to lead you in the right direction.
Liz: Yes, I loved that about her! And, oh, Christos! So yummy! But he was a complicated guy. There were times I really didn’t like Christos and there were times I loved him. Did you feel the same way as you were writing him, or am I just really fickle?
Kella: Well, I think that knowing his motives all along allowed me to understand where he was coming from. Just the fact that he lived through his childhood and still was basically a decent human being was redemption enough for me.
Liz: Good point! I thought the story was nicely wrapped up at the end of In Deeper but are we going to see more of Brie and Criss? If not, what do you have coming up, or what are you working on now? I want more of whatever you’ve got!!!!
Kella: Brie and Criss are going to live happily ever after for now, but I am working on another contemporary romance, this time set in Alaska. Think hot, axe-swinging woodsman. Here is a short excerpt:
“You were right about the bears”, I said with a small, tear-stained smile.
He watched me for a moment before holding out his hand. “Come on.”
I sniffled loudly. “But the tent…”
He frowned at the tangled mess of fabric and poles. “I don’t think you’ll be able to use it anymore.”
“No… I mean I can’t just leave it here. I need to put it in the trash or something.”
“I’ll come back for it later.”
“Okay. Wait… you’re going to take me back to town, right? I told you I don’t want to drag you into this. I’ll maybe catch the next train.”
“The train only runs on weekends until the summer season.”
“Oh. What’s today?”
“I’m not afraid of being dragged into your mess. I’d kill the bastard that hurt you with my own hands if I had to.”
I looked at him and I saw the cold, hard truth in his eyes. He would protect me… a stranger, and I felt safe for the first time in a very long time.
I started sobbing again. “O…Okay… b… but if I stay at your place tonight, I’ll make it up to you. I… I’ll cook you dinner or something.” I did know how to cook, it was actually one of my favorite hobbies.
He smiled, and I melted a little. “Okay. It’s a deal.”
He grabbed my duffle where I had dropped it when I saw the devastation that had been my tent, and I followed him through the woods again. He turned back to look at me, and the corner of his mouth turned up a little.
“No gun this time?”
I could feel myself blush. “Sorry about that. I didn’t know you.”
“You still don’t.”
That was true, but I was beginning to trust him. He had secrets, just like my ex, but those secrets felt so different. Logan’s secrets wouldn’t hurt me. They would only hurt him. Something inside me was clamoring to find out what they were so that I could keep him safe, too.
Liz: Somehow Alaska always seems romantic to me … and that excerpt sounds great! Okay, personal question time (my favorite)! So I was stalking perusing your website where you tell readers 40 things about yourself. How did you go from working in Biotech with not one but TWO master’s degrees to writing books? Was the transition scary?
Kella: The transition was pretty gradual, because I started staying home and doing part-time work here and there once my second child was born (paying almost as much for daycare as you are earning doesn’t make much sense!). I’ve always loved writing, so when a good friend of mine confided that she had written a romance novel, I thought ‘I could do that too!’
Liz: How awesome that you were able to slowly get into it! So you have honey bees … for reals. What do you do with the honey? What’s the best and worst thing about having bees, like, on purpose??
Kella: My kids would probably eat the honey faster than the bees could make it if I let them. One year I went out of my way to plant lots of flowers that bees like, and one of my hives just up and left! Then the other hive took off a few weeks later. Ungrateful little bees! But the best thing about having them is that they’re so much fun to watch.
This is me putting a new colony of honey bees into one of my hives. They are actually quite docile!
Liz: What?! They left? Not cool! But it definitely sounds like such a neat thing to do! You also talk on your website about your little farm. How fun! And you have an alpaca! Why did you want one? I mean, did you plan to have one, or did he just show up and make himself at home?
Kella: Well let’s face it, they’re super cute! They actually all have different personalities. One of the girls is a total diva that will have nothing to do with anyone, and another is a complete sweetheart.
Here are my three alpacas, from left to right: Karma, Matteo, and Katie
Liz: Wow, I had no idea. Dang it, I kind of really want one now! Everyone interviewed on Kindles & Wine has to answer these last two questions: If you had to choose: Kindle/eBook or print? (Don’t worry, we don’t discriminate on the basis of preferred book format. )
Kella: Is this a trick question? Actually, I thought I would always be a print book girl, but when you read all of the time, those books can sure pile up! And it’s so convenient to just choose a book and start reading it seconds later, or bring several books on vacation and not have them take up any space in your bag!
Liz: So true! The convenience factor is huge! And finally, what’s your favorite kind of wine? Or, if you’re not a wine drinker, what’s your beverage of choice?
Kella: I’m definitely a wine drinker! I have a glass (or two) of red every evening after the kids go to bed. Not sure if I have a favorite, I like to try all different kinds.
Thank you so much for having me, this has been lots of fun!
Other Titles by Kella McKinnon
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In Deep Series Giveaway
To enter for your chance to win, you must:
- Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
- Hit the comments and tell me your feelings on the “sexy billionaire” and/or “naïve student” character archetypes. Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Why?
Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 11:59 PM (CST) and the five winners will be notified via email on Monday, January 26.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Hello everyone! Let me introduce myself. Though I used to work in Boston in the biotech industry, I’m now loving life on a small farm in New England where my husband and I are raising our three children and lots of animals, including goats, chickens, sheep and alpacas. Between taking care of ‘the farm’ and shuttling the kids to dance class and piano lessons, I manage to find the time to pursue my own passion: writing. I relish creating stories and bringing my characters to life on the written page, and each book is a labor of countless cycles of inspiration, frustration and satisfaction. Of course my house is never clean, but a messy house is a sign of a busy mind, right? I’m passionate about the romance genre because of the emotional journey a well-written novel can take the reader on, and my goal with each of my books is to do the same for my readers. I would love to hear from you at my author webpage. You can also find me on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.