Drop of Doubt (The Academy #5) by C.L.StoneDrop of Doubt by C.L. Stone
Series: The Academy #5
Published by Arcato Publishing on January 22, 2014
Pages: 568
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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Sang Sorenson and the Academy boys return to Ashley Waters High School but before they get a chance to even settle in, Sang’s life is threatened by an anonymous caller.

They retreat to the protective walls of the Morgan estate, a safe house for when the boys are under fire. But when new threats can break through those barriers that once kept them secure, it leaves Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke and North rushing to figure out who is hunting them.

But when you’re fighting a ghost who seems to know all your secrets, retreating is no longer an option.

The Academy, Deceptively Strategic

Hair washing; it’s the new sex.

There’s a shift in tone to Drop of Doubt. The first hundred pages had me nostalgic for the prior four books in this series, but nostalgia was quickly replaced with a strong desire to consume this installment down to the last drop. No doubt about it.

Sang really comes into herself in this novel and acknowledges that she is more than her mother’s daughter. Sang is becoming a pro at discovering her strengths and developing them every chance she gets. Dr. Green, Mr. Blackbourne and the rest of our sexy dog group are noticing this tide in Sang’s demeanor. While some of our studs are open to utilizing what Sang has to offer and letting her play a bigger part in the Academy, others vehemently object to it. But nobody puts Sang in a corner. Sang plays a starring role in the dangerous Academy business that takes place in DoD, and she stays one step ahead of the Academy boys throughout a diabolical game of cat and mouse.

C.L. introduces our most curious villain yet in DoD; Volto. This white masked vigilante adds an ingenious layer to The Academy series and gave me the impression that C.L. has just been warming up with the previous four books. She crafts chic-flick like moments interspersed with action-thriller scenes of the highest caliber that truly give this book a cinematic scope.

Volto
Volto

While this addition to the series is not as heavy on the one-on-one time with each guy that we have been spoiled with in the other books, the intimate moments Sang shares with a few of our Academy studs makes up for it. Silas made my belly button blush in this book, and Victor takes a turn at washing Sang’s hair. This act has become a viable replacement for sex. Seriously. This intimate transaction blazes with pent up passion.

Victor and Sang’s connection in this novel is deep. Some girls will be Team Victor all the way after reading DoD, but despite C.L.’s best attempts to make me fall for Victor (aka fire eyes), my heart still burns true for Nathan. Nathan fans might feel a little left out in Academy #5, but will hopefully be appeased with the moments Sang shares with Luke. Luke was the unlikely star for me in this book, and I found myself pining for him as much as I do for Nathan.

I let out a loud sigh and pushed my hand against his chest. “Luke, you’re…”

“Handsome? Devilishly clever?”

I couldn’t find the word I wanted, so I opted for poking at his chest and started walking off.

“Sang?”

I stopped, turning to find Luke right behind me. […] His palm caught my face before I could pull away. His fingers threaded through my hair. Then he released one hand and picked up mine, dropping it on my mouth.

And he kissed my fingertips. […]

He backed his head away, his half-closed eyes met mine. “I need to take you home, and if I kiss you now, I’ll end up keeping you here.”

I’m working on a third possible cast for The Academy. Here’s a teaser:

Luke A#5.1Luke A#5.2

 

Drop of Doubt raised the bar for this series. C.L. Stone has mastered a delicate balance of action-mystery-thriller with titillating yet sentimental romance. Academy fans are in for a sexy and suspenseful turn of events in book five. It’s a pulse-pounding thrill ride that blends Pretty Little Liars style intrigue with intense action sequences paused with seductive encounters.  C.L. indirectly answers a question that I’ve had about someone in this series and I’m curious to know what you thought about it. Please share your thoughts and comments below. I promise not to bite… unless it’s a Full Moon.

You can find my reviews of the previous books in this series here. And hop over to Meredith and Jennifer’s Musings to check out their thoughts on Drop of Doubt. You can check out my short and sweet interview with C.L.Stone about her writing process here.

 

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12 Days of Reviews & Giveaways: Forgiveness and Permission (The Academy #4) by C.L. StoneForgiveness and Permission by C.L. Stone
Series: The Academy Series #4
Published by Arcato Publishing on October 29, 2013
Pages: 534
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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Sang Sorenson’s abusive mother is secure in a hospital, and her father has vanished to a new family of his own, leaving Sang and her sister to fend for themselves. Sang is hanging by a thread, and her only hope is a group of boys she feels she barely knows. She’s never really alone. The Academy team has stepped in, promising to protect and care for Sang. Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke and North take over, showing Sang they can be depended on for anything. But just because the parents are away, doesn’t mean Sang’s life has become any easier. The newfound freedom will have a higher price than any of them had imagined. Principal Hendricks now wants to use Sang to exploit Academy secrets. Mr. McCoy has his own dark plans for her. Enemies are closing in. Sang will need to learn to believe in the boys, and the boys will need to learn to trust her if they want to survive their rivals. And each other. The Academy, Relentless Trust

You can check out my reviews of the first 3 books in this series here, here, and here. You can also check out a feature on C.L. Stone here, and ENTER TO WIN one of her E-books.

Forget the Fifty Shades trilogy. The Academy series will pleasantly torture you into submission.

 

 

“We’re all in together. Now you are, too.”

“Without being in the Academy?”

He half smiled. “You can be with us and not in the Academy. It’s where you are now. Will you please trust us, though? If something bugs me, I’ll tell you. Like I told Kota to not bite your fingers.” He let go of my neck, picking up my hand and letting it hover over his lips. ” This,” he said. “It’s okay to claim little things. We share everything, but we can ask the others to back off of little things if it isn’t a big deal.”

Shortly after finishing Forgiveness and Permission, I went into full toddler mode. I broke down with frustration over having to wait for the next book, and pounded my fists on the table, chanting: “Boys, boys! I need BOYS!”. I’m sure you will be expressing the same frustration after completing this fourth installment of The Academy series. C.L. Stone has me wrapped around her little finger with these books, and I’m not complaining. In my last review of The Academy series, I compared Sang to a kitten. In Forgiveness and Permission, Sang’s claws are out, and she’s turning into quite the Tigress. Being around the boys has slowly infused Sang with the confidence and security she has so desperately needed.  But that’s not all that develops in this book. Sang’s feelings for the boys get bigger and bolder.

As the plot and conspiracies thicken in Forgiveness and Permission, the boys decide Sang needs to learn some solid self-defense. Sparring bouts with Kota, Nathan, and Mr. Blackbourne will leave you breathless. Sang and her sister are on their own at home now, and the boys can safely come and go as they please. Sang has a different boy protecting her every night and these moments feel intimate to Sang, but she’s not sure if the boys feel the same way.

If Sang wasn’t sure of the boys intentions before, she is now. There’s hand holding, date-asking, and a couple of back seat moments in this book that will have you ready to fall out of your chair. North holds a special place in Sangs heart in Forgiveness and Permission, and Sang doesn’t know if she can choose between any of the boys. They all seem to be vying for her attention now, but she doesn’t want to go too far with one only to lose the others.

Rocky romantic feelings and sexy self-defense lessons are not the only things that make this one of my favorite Academy books yet. There are football game outings, nose nuzzling, finger sucking moments, and one hell of a high-school party. Not to mention a few awkward heart to hearts between Sang and the boys. Emotions run high between Sang and North, and things get a little heated. They have a blow-out, and Sang is worried she has lost North forever. But as C.L. states at the beginning of Forgiveness and Permission; arguing can be a sign of affection as much as a hug or kiss. Because arguing can show exactly how much you really do care.

Since Sang is technically already helping the boys out at school with Academy business, she has hope of becoming a trusted and permanent member. Little does Sang know, by the end of this book things might become more permanent than she ever imagined.

Sang’s personal growth and sense of self are evolving. If the boys are constantly protecting her she wants to be able to help out, too. In this book Sang proves her worth, and C.L. Stone ends Forgiveness and Permission on an “Oh, no she didn’t!”, “Thank God she did!” moment. C.L. Stone goes there. She really, really goes there. Of course, you will have to read Forgiveness and Permission  to interpret my last few sentences yourself. ENTER to WIN the first four books of The Academy in E-book format below. The fifth book is due out in January 2014. For now, here’s my second choice of casting for the Academy boys for you to drool over. You can check out my first cast here. Which one do you prefer?

The Academy Boys: Cast #2 

Mr. Blackbourne #2 DR. Green #2
Kota #2 Victor #2 Silas #2
North #2 Untitled Nathan #2
Gabriel #2

Academy_Introductions Academy_FirstDays Academy_FriendsvFamily

F&P Academy

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Friends vs Family (The Academy #3) by C.L. StoneFriends vs Family by C.L. Stone
Series: The Academy
Published by Arcato Publishing on August 27, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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Sang Sorenson is forced to suffer through another of her mother’s extreme punishments. It almost kills her. The Academy boys vow it will be the last. They're determined to keep Sang safe, especially from her own family.

Their solution: complete invasion of her life.

Kota, Luke, Silas, Nathan, Victor, Gabriel and North do everything within their power to show Sang what true loyalty means. It takes more than blood to make a family and they want Sang in theirs.

In this third book of The Academy series Sang experiences a taste of freedom and what it’s like to truly be cared for...to be wanted. Sang learns a bit more about the boys’ broken families and the boys discover more than they could ever have bargained for about Sang’s. The Academy was the answer to their problems. Could it be hers?

Sang’s actions will force her mother to reveal a startling truth. A truth that will change Sang’s life and the boys’ lives in unpredictable ways. Forever.

The Academy, Allegiance

Okay, this review is way over due! I read Friends vs Family back in August, so forgive me if things are a little vague. You can check out my reviews for book one here, and book two here.

If Sang died and was reincarnated, I swear she would be a kitten. She’s been in every Academy boy’s lap, and they can’t stop petting her.

Friends vs Family is true to its name, and in this third Academy book Sang and the boys are determined to work around the BIG BAD WITCH (aka Sang’s mother). After a horrifying, and traumatic ”punishment” inflicted upon Sang , the boys are bringing out the big guns. If Sang has to walk on egg shells around her mother, than they will be there to do it with her, and make sure she is safe from the gauntlet that is her mom’s rath. It’s not just her mother Sang has to tip-toe around, though. Sang’s sister will thoroughly piss you the frigg off in this book, and you will need someone to yell at after reading a certain chapter. C.L. is master of playing with moods and emotions in this book.

With the help of Dr.Green and Mr. Blackbourne,  the boys have devised THE ULTIMATE PLAN for Sang’s safety. She will have one or more of the boys at her beck and call 24/7, whether they are in plain sight, the shadows, or….her attic. It wasn’t until this latest fiasco with her mother that Sang realized just how resourceful the boys and The Academy are. Our studly group of guardians create something special for Sang. It’s like a cocoon of safety, and once you read about it you’ll want to make one of your own. I swear, C.L. Stone took one of my childhood fantasies and made it a reality in this book.

As always, the boys are a solar system around Sang, but this time things are heating up. Forget being a Bird amongst the boy’s Academy dog group. Sang is more like a fire hydrant. The boys can’t stop ”marking” her. The back and forth between Sang and the gang has escalated to delicious new heights. Sleep overs and clothes shopping never made for such entertaining reading until now. C.L. managed to jump out and surprise me around every new corner Sang turns with the boys, and I have a feeling I’m going to need a pillow free room and a cold shower after the next book, Forgiveness and Permission.

Friends vs Family does not disappoint. Dark secrets about Sang’s family and her upbringing are brought to light, and we find out about FAVORS in this installment of The Academy. I also managed to pick up a great recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches in this book. It’s definitely worth your time and money. Besides ”lap” theories, and moments that are intimate without being intimate, this book was enjoyable and entertaining as a whole. It’s clever, and coy, and strange, and EROTIC. The last chapter of this book will make you want to bite more than your pillow, and C.L. clarifies something we’ve guessed all along about the boys and their feelings. I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been carrying a torch solely for Nathan the past two books, but Friends vs Family made me decide to double fist it, and carry a torch for Luke as well. Nathan and Luke don’t just rock my socks off in this book, they get them wet….Ahem…Moving on!

In my last Academy post, I promised to include one of my alternate casts with this review, but I lied. I’m going to include it with my review of book four, Forgiveness and Permission, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

 

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Introductions (The Academy #1) by C.L.StoneIntroductions (The Academy #1) by C.L. Stone
Series: The Academy #1
Published by Arcato Publishing on December 23, 2012
Pages: 280
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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With an agoraphobic mother and a barely-there father, Sang abhors the isolation keeping her in the shadows. The only thing Sang craves is a fresh start and to be accepted as ordinary by her peers, because for her being different meant being cast out alone.

When her family moves to a new school district, Sang infiltrates a group of boys nearly perfect in every way. Grateful for an influence outside of her parents’ negativity, she quickly bonds with the boys, hoping to blend in and learn from them what it means to have a natural relationship with friends.

Only the boys have secrets of their own and they’ll do anything to keep her safe from the knowledge of the mysterious Academy that they've sworn allegiance to. Bit by bit, Sang discovers that her friends are far from the normalcy she expected. Will her loyalty change when she's forced to remain in the dark, or will she accept that she's traded one house of secrets for another?

Meet Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke and North in a story about differences and loyalty, truth and mystery, friendships and heart-throbbing intimacy.

The Academy, ever vigilant.

This sexy book was recommended to me by the wonderful Meredith of Meredith’s Musings. Why did I call this book sexy, you ask? Is it because of the cover? NO. It’s because SEVEN good-looking, sensitive yet masculine males are bound between the covers of this novel. Oh, and there are two handsome male teachers to boot.
Please do not judge this book by the picture on the front! I know, I know. It looks like the cheesy cover of a naughty movie, but this book is as chaste as the sexual tension between Bella and Edward in Twilight.
Our narrator is a 16 year-old female named Sang Soreneson. She has just moved to a new neighborhood with her family, and is about to start a new school. To say Sang’s family is dysfunctional is the understatement of the year. Frustrated and broken by her mother’s crazy and fear filled tyranny, Sang decides to run away. Just for a night. She needs a taste of freedom, and decides she will sneak out, and sleep in a house that is under new construction. It’s at the beginning of this escapade that Sang meets our first of seven, hot  guys.
I’m not usually one to care about secondary character’s in a book. I almost never include details about them in my reviews.  As long as my MC’s are awesome, I’m good. In this book, I am in love with the secondary character’s. They have the presence of ONE, awesome MC.
This appropriately coined first installment in the Academy series is ALL introductions. We meet Sang, her family, and the warm and attractive boys that live near her home. Introductions chronicles Sang’s first experiences outside of her mother’s shadow, and her feelings as she meets and gets to know each boy. The only friction we find in this novel is a run in with some troublesome guys, and Sang’s effort to sneak out and keep her mother from discovering her new friends. Near the end of the novel, we finally get a nod towards an actual plot.
This was one of the most bizarre and addictive books I have ever read. C.L.Stone has mastered the seductiveness of an innocent touch. This story is bursting at the seams with sensations. A hand on the back there, a brush of an arm here, a finger on your hip there….It was intoxicating, and a tease. It was perfect.
Introductions had a few of the same elements that I found so attractive in Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series. Each of the guys in this book are more than just a pretty face. Sang’s character had depth, and I like that the author took her sweet time to develop each person in the novel. No one really feels secondary.
One of my favorite scenes in this book is when Sang gets her hair washed. It’s something so unimportant, yet memorable. Sang shares a defining and intimate moment with each male protagonist. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the books in this series develop. This story had me hooked the whole way through.
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