Tag: romance

Oct 14

He’s a Brute (Tough Love #1)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

He’s a Brute (Tough Love #1)He's a Brute (Tough Love, #1) by Chloe Liese
on May 6, 2019
Genres: Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars
five-flames

Every good scientist knows the second law of thermodynamics: the universe's disorder, entropy, is always increasing. Professionally and personally speaking, Nairne’s familiar with the principle. After a streak of costly fame, now she’s set on saving the world, microscope in hand, and there’s no time for romance. Problem is, when a rude, despicably sexy Adonis shows up to run their board meeting, chemistry and its ensuing chaos become more than a formula—now they’re a burning hot reality.

Mafia prince. Professional footballer. Bad boy demeanor and a reputation for being as talented between the sheets as he is on the pitch. Rumors are the man's an absolute brute. And he turns out to be just as demanding, controlling and vicious in person as he is on paper. The Law of Attraction’s proven true, as Nairne finds herself accepting Zed’s proposal: rough, wild stress release, more orgasms than she can count, and most importantly—no falling in love.

Agreement in place. End date secured.

No attachments. No forever.What could possibly go wrong?Book One in the Tough Love Series—an enemies to lovers, suspenseful romance, full of sexy Italians, bedroom negotiations, feisty heroines, and an ending that’ll both satisfy you and leave you ready for more!

**CONTAINS SEXUAL CONTENT & EXPLICIT LANGUAGE 18+**

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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He’s a Brute was Chloe Liese’s debut novel, and wow did it pack a punch! I did admittedly read these books out of order (read She’s a Spitfire, which is Tough Love #2, first), and while technically that’s fine I would definitely recommend starting with the first book. This is a three book series involving the same couple. I enjoyed the first two books so much that I bought hard copies of all three, even though I had eARCs of the first two!

A lot of reviews said this was a 50 Shades-esque novel. I’ve never read 50 Shades, so I can’t say either way. There is dominant/submissive kinky sex between Zed and Nairne, but it is completely consensual. Zed is rough around the edges, arrogant, and emotionally closed off, but he makes sure Nairne is 100% okay with whatever he does before he does it. There’s a contract and everything.

Things I Liked

  • Consent! Consent! Consent! For this type of kink to sit well with me consent has to figure in immediately, not as an afterthought, and it totally did. Made the steamy scenes even hotter. And they were HOT. Phew!
  • Zed! I like alpha males, what can I say. Muscles and confidence. Mmmhm yes please. Besides being a pro soccer player, he’s also in the ruling levels of the Italian Mafia. Realistic? No. But romances around pro sports players AREN’T realistic, in my opinion, because they are so rare. So it didn’t bother me.
  • NAIRNE. I love Nairne so so much. She’s turned on by Zed’s dominance but she doesn’t let him push her around outside of the bedroom and I am HERE for it. My girl!! Also, she is such a strong person. As a star football (soccer) player herself, she suffered a traumatic injury that left her in a wheelchair. While this understandably caused her a great deal of mental and emotional anguish, she doesn’t let it completely consume her. She struggles – who wouldn’t – but she keeps fighting.
  • The relationship between Nairne and her best friend, Elodie! They have each other’s backs, no matter what. I loved them together so much. It was good to see a book with positive female friendships.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • There was a LOT going on in this book. I think it was because the author is introducing all of this crap that Nairne and Zed have to go through in the series of three books, but it was just like…whoa, Nellie, slow down!!
  • Zed’s older, female mentor/lover. Yick. I know things like that happen, because bad people do bad things…which would have been fine, but I didn’t feel like it was dealt with well. Zed never really did deal with it, and I feel like he needs to because that’s really messed up. Maybe in the later books? I hope so.
  • The whole thing with Nairne’s father was a little too wrapped-up-in-a-bow. It felt completely out of place and unnecessary and unlikely. I was glad it occurred at the end of the book instead of the beginning because I’m honestly not sure I would have finished it!

4/5 stars overall.

I love Zed and Nairne and if you enjoy romance with lots of steamy sex, a little danger, and a lot of banter, this one is for you!

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four-stars

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Oct 07

Magnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Magnetic by Anya J. CosgroveMagnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove
on August 8, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 209
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars
five-flames

Who said life was a fairy tale? Because I’d gladly slice that jerk’s head off.

I’m Vicky, though that’s not really my name.

I never expected to end up half-naked in the woods with my guts hanging out. I didn’t plan to stumble upon the most powerful shifter clan in North America and three of the sexiest men I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Dominic, the fun and reckless new wolf. 

Sam, the hot doctor with glacial-blue eyes.

And Gabriel, the intense, secretive alpha who wants nothing to do with me.

My real name is a one-way ticket back to hell, and my secrets need to stay buried like the girl I used to be.

Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Red Riding Hood—I can be all three.  I can use my powers to earn a place in their werewolf town, away from the bite of my past mistakes. I can use them—and their bodies—to survive.

The only thing I can’t do is fall for them.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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So, I was on the blog tour for this a couple of months ago, but when I went back to copy the review and add it to GoodReads…apparently the review part of my post wasn’t actually there?!? *cue much embarrassment* I’m not sure what happened, but….here it is.

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“I play the cool cucumber, but I’m more of a distraught apple.”

Magnetic is Vicky’s story, a spinoff from the Bloody Hearts series. Vicky is a vandella – a supernatural creature that needs sex to survive. And lots of it. She’s phenomenally attractive (to both sexes, though only M/F relationships are in this book), and amazing in bed…but her heart is bruised and broken from constant rejection of herself. People either at worst call her a slut and a whore, or at best only want her for sex and status. She presents a hard, brittle front, but inside she wants to love and be loved.  I’ll be honest, I thought she was awful when I read her brief part in Shadow Walker, but seeing her entire story was pretty awesome and it totally changed my mind. I’m hoping for a sequel or two!

Things I Liked

  • This book was a HUGE improvement over the only other reverse harem novel I’ve read (which was so horrible I’m not even linking it). The way the author made having multiple lovers acceptable was interesting (i.e., Vicky needs a LOT of sex just to maintain a normal life, one person shouldn’t have to fulfill ALL of her needs).
  • The guys are all different. They’re not identical except for their hair color or height. They have different personalities, different styles, different needs of their own. Oh, and yes, they’re all hot. Which one you like best will depend on your own preferences. 😉
  • There was a plot! This wasn’t just a sex-fest, even though there was A LOT of sex. The whole reason Vicky meets the three guys is because she’s running from a group of vampires that wants to control her and use her.
  • Vicky goes through hell, and yet doesn’t let it break her. She puts up with SO MUCH SHIT, emotionally (especially this), mentally, and physically, and yet she never gives up. She WILL rise, and she WILL get vengeance on the one who most cruelly used her. Yessssss.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • There’s one BIG secret that stays a secret until almost the end, and it just didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. Can’t say what exactly without giving a lot away, so I’m just saying it kind of jolted me out of the story and made me sit there and frown for a bit while I tried to figure out exactly how this could have been such a THING…

Overall

4/5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable, recommended if you’re a RH fan or looking to try the genre.

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four-stars

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Aug 05

The Unhoneymooners

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The UnhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Genres: Romance
Pages: 400
Goodreadsfour-stars
three-flames

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

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“I saw that.”

“Saw what?”

“You checked out my chest.”

“Of course I did. It’s like having two other people up here with us. I don’t want to be rude.”

The Unhoneymooners took a very unlikely scenario and made it mostly believable, funny, and incredibly full of sexual tension. It was hysterical and moved along quickly – I finished it in one sitting on a Sunday! Olive is a very likable and spunky character. I especially loved how comfortable she was with her body, even though she mentions it not being to everyone’s standard of beauty. She and Ethan have clear chemistry and it was hilarious watching them dance around it while having to pretend they were madly in love.

I laughed out loud so many times while reading this. The banter is 100% on point! I kind of wished the incident that incited their intense “dislike” of each other had been handled differently, but you can’t have everything. View Spoiler »

4/5 stars. This is a great read for the beach or any summer vacation. It’s lighthearted and breezy and fun. On the same note, don’t expect depth from it…it’s cute and sweet and left me with warm fuzzies, but no real lasting connection to Olive and Ethan. That’s okay! It did what it was designed to do – entertain, and it did it extremely well. All the unlikely coincidences started to build up after awhile and made me roll my eyes a bit, and Ami (Olive’s sister) seemed more like a caricature than a character in a lot of ways. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it! This was my first Christina Lauren book but it won’t be my last!

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four-stars

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Aug 01

Rock Bottom Girl

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Rock Bottom GirlRock Bottom Girl: A Small Town Romantic Comedy by Lucy Score
on March 8, 2019
Genres: Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars
four-flames

“You may be faking the relationship, but you’re not faking the orgasms.”

Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago. Not much has changed in Culpepper. The cool kids are still cool. Now they just own car dealerships and live in McMansions next door. Oh, and the whole town is still talking about that Homecoming she ruined her senior year. Desperate for a new start, Marley accepts a temporary teaching position. Can the girl banned from all future Culpepper High Homecomings keep the losing-est girls soccer team in school history from killing each other and prevent carpal tunnel in a bunch of phone-clutching gym class students?

Maybe with the help of Jake Weston, high school bad boy turned sexy good guy. When the school rumor mill sends Marley to the principal’s office to sign an ethics contract, the tattooed track coach, dog dad, and teacher of the year becomes her new fake boyfriend and alibi—for a price. The Deal: He’ll teach her how to coach if she teaches him how to be in a relationship. Who knew a fake boyfriend could deliver such real orgasms? But it’s all temporary. The guy. The job. The team. There’s too much history. Rock bottom can’t turn into a foundation for happily ever after. Can it?

Warning: Story also includes a meet-puke, a bouffanted nemesis, a yard swan and donkey basketball, a teenage-orchestrated makeover, and a fake relationship that gets a little too real between the sheets.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I’ve been branching out and reading more romance lately. Partially because I’ve needed fluffy books to soothe my increasingly exhausted brain, and partially because I’m not as cynical about love as I used to be. 😀 I have two absolute musts when it comes to romance –

  • The characters MUST be likable. Not perfect – no one wants perfectly manicured heroes and heroines (or if you do, that’s fine, but not my type of book), we want to be able to relate on some level to the characters! Even in fantasy books, I want to relate to the characters emotions if I can’t relate to the setting or their position in life.
  • It has to be written well – not an overabundance of plot holes, if it’s set in a historical time it needs to be at least SOMEWHAT accurate, if it’s modern day make it relevant and believable.

Rock Bottom Girl knocked it out of the freakin’ park. I am a Lucy Score convert. This book warmed my heart, tickled my funny bone, and gave me all the warm fuzzies (how’s that for using ALL the expressions).

I adore Marley and Jake together. ADORE. And Marley is to date THE most relatable heroine in a romance novel that I’ve ever come across. I got teary at several points because YES GIRL I get you, I’ve been there. Life knocks you down and sometimes it sucks. And then it might just throw you a Jake Weston.

Reasons to Like Jake Weston:
  • Marley never fell out-of-like with him from high school
  • He’s a sexy MF who has actually done something legitimate with his life
  • He cares about the kids he coaches
  • He’s great in bed
  • He’s a dog dad
  • Did I mention he’s a dog dad?
Reasons Marley is THE MOST RELATABLE:
  • She’s in her 30s and to her shock, finds herself crash landing at her parents’ after the end of a long term relationship
  • She’s mildly depressed (see above) and has stopped giving a shit about herself
  • She’s having a slight identity crisis involving her career
  • She loves wine and pizza
  • She loves dogs
  • She has a sex drive!! And isn’t ashamed of it!!
  • She’s also just as clumsy as myself and it makes for some HILARIOUS moments

Also, there’s a goth foster kid, and an entire soccer team of teenage girls. And Jake’s dog. Oh, and there are some STEAMY times. Get the cold shower ready!

Rock Bottom Girl is just so real. I loved it so much. The small town, the work drama, the lovable family. I loved how Marley slowly – with the help of her family, friends, the girls on her soccer team, and yes, Jake – pulls herself up and realizes what she really wants from life, and where she can make a difference. So. Freaking. Relatable.

5/5 glowing stars. This is a stand-alone, but I’ll be looking for more similar books from Lucy Score!

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five-stars

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Mar 25

The Last Wingman Blog Tour!

Book Tours 0



The Last Wingman
Daisy Prescott
(Wingmen #6)
Publication date: March 7th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The Last Wingman is a standalone enemies to lovers romance.

Jonah Kingston is the last wingman standing.
June Moxee doesn’t care if he’s the last man on earth.

I haven’t exactly avoided relationships, but love has never been a priority. Solitude doesn’t bother me and being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. Until she moved to the island and I had to reconsider everything.

June seems content running her yarn shop, knitting with the local church ladies, and avoiding me. She’s a temptress in a hand-knit sweater. And for some reason, she’s not a fan of mine. It might be the tattoos. Or the beard. Or the fact that we’re polar opposites.

A woman has finally caught my attention. Too bad she thinks she hates me. Good thing I’m stubborn enough to try to change her mind.

Goodreads / Amazon

Now on Kindle Unlimited!

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I don’t usually jump into series partway. I’m too much of a completionist. BUT, when I saw the female protagonist for this book is not only a knitter but the owner of a LYS (Local Yarn Shop, for the less knitterly inclined), I just had to check it out. Also, when I read the excerpt below, I burst out laughing and felt an immediate kinship with June. I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book yet (I just got my copy a day ago) but when I do there will be a review forthcoming. In the meantime, enjoy the excerpt and check out the Last Wingman Spotify playlist! Also be sure to scroll to the end and enter the giveaway!

EXCERPT:

An old-fashioned brass bell jingles when I open the door to June’s store. The narrow space is made even tighter by the floor-to-ceiling cubbies that line the two long walls. In the back of the store, a picture window frames a view of Saratoga Passage like a painting.

Tucked in the corner near the window is a comfy-looking wingback chair, and next to it, an oversized basket filled with balls of yarn. The shop is cozy and feminine, comfortable like a sweet grandmother’s house.

A grandmother who listens to “Sex and Candy” on low volume.

Not what I was expecting.

“Hello?” I call from my spot near the door. There’s no sign of June or anyone else inside. Double-checking the door for a Be back soon note and not seeing one, I step farther into the space. “Hello?”

A soft thump followed by more thumps comes from the desk area. Metallic pings and something heavy hitting the floor precedes a feminine voice yelping “Ouch” and “Fuck!”

June doesn’t seem like the type to drop f-bombs. Maybe she’s hired a ’90s-music-loving teenager with a foul mouth.

“Everything okay?” I follow the noise to the partially open door near the register.

“Fine. Fine! Nothing to see here! I’ll be with you in a second. Thanks for your patience.” What sounds like rapid-fire beanbags hitting a cornhole board contradicts her words.

As I see it, I have two options. I can ignore whatever is going on inside the closet and wait, or I can ignore her lie and step in to help.

I go with the second choice.

Swinging the door open, I’m greeted with a scene of colorful chaos. A box balances on its side on the edge of a high shelf, most of its contents now on the floor around June’s feet. She’s keeping the box aloft with both hands, but doesn’t have the height to shove it back into position.

“Here, let me help you.” I step into the small space behind her and reach above her head to stabilize the cardboard container before she ends up concussed.

“I don’t need your help.” Reluctantly, she releases her grip.

“Okay.” Disappointed and a little hurt by her obvious annoyance at my presence, I give the corner a final shove to guarantee we’re out of danger. “You’re welcome.”

“I said I was fine.” Continuing to face the shelves, she doesn’t turn her head to speak to me. In fact, she sounds downright angry.

“Got it. Well, I’ll get out of your way.” Resigned, I decide to abandon my mission and retreat to the safety of my own business, both literally and figuratively.

What happens next is more her fault than mine. Had she used a step stool and not tipped the box over, there wouldn’t be balls of yarn strewn across the floor, creating a minefield. Easily-tripped-over round objects that cause me to lose my balance and reach for the closest available thing to stop myself from landing on my ass.

Unfortunately, I grab June by the waist, surprising her. She’s not prepared to act as my anchor. Unstable, we both stumble backward.

Lucky for June, I break her fall. Unlucky for me, she lands on top of me.

We’ve never even hugged before this moment. I think we might have shaken hands once when Dan introduced us, but the memory isn’t clear. There wasn’t an electric shock when we first touched or met eyes, no love-at-first-sight zings upon initial contact—unlike now when my body is on high alert that we’re not only touching but lying flush against each other.

“I’m so sorry!” June wiggles, her movement drawing my attention to her clothes. How did I not notice she’s wearing a full skirt made of thin material? My imagination easily erases its existence altogether.

“Don’t apologize. This was completely my fault.” My words come out a grunt as I try to catch my breath.

My hands still grip her waist, making this position more awkward by the second. Unbidden, my fingers flex against her softness. Bad idea. Feeling my dick thicken, I tell myself not to move, not to even breathe. Oxygen is overrated.

Shifting on top of me, she bends her knees and gets her feet under her enough to stand up in a single, ninja-quick movement. Instead of waiting for me to stand or extending a hand to help me, she exits through the door and closes it behind her.

I’m left sprawled out on the floor, balls of yarn and possibly a needle poking me in the back. “No good deed goes unpunished,” I mutter to myself as I scramble to my feet. “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

 

Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling Author Daisy Prescott writes romantic comedies about real love.

Love with Altitude, Daisy’s new series of standalone Rom Coms, is set in the mountains of Colorado. The Wingmen books star regular guys who often have beards, drive trucks, and love deeply once they fall. Modern Love Stories feature characters in their thirties and forties finding and rediscovering love in unexpected and humorous ways.

Born and raised in San Diego, Daisy currently lives in a real life Stars Hollow in the Boston suburbs with her husband, their rescue dog, Mulder, and an imaginary house goat. When not writing about herself in the third person, Daisy can be found traveling, gardening, baking, or lost in a good book.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter

 

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Dec 27

Review of A Coastal Christmas

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Yes, it’s after the Christmas holiday, but I have just a couple more Christmas-y book reviews to finish out the season!

Review of A Coastal ChristmasA Coastal Christmas by Kaya Quinsey
Published by Books to Go Now on October 17, 2018
Genres: Modern, Romance
Pages: 58
Goodreadsthree-stars

Author Kaya Quinsey returns with her trademark blend of romance and adventure, in this page turning story about a love to remember and a Christmas never to forget.

Successful broadcaster Jessica Beaton has it all: the perfect New York City apartment, high-flying career, and handsome boyfriend. And with Christmas around the corner, she has her sights set on one thing. A ring.

But Jessica is humiliated when her co-host and boyfriend, Brett Fanshaw, almost proposes to her on-air before backing out, leaving her dumped and embarrassed on national television. In the midst of her heartbreak, Jessica leaves to go home to Pebble Shores for the holidays for the first time in years.

While retreating at her family's seaside cottage to evaluate her life, Jessica finds herself butting heads with Dean Adams, the mayor of Pebble Shores, who isn't thrilled to have the media spotlight shed on their small town. Jessica couldn't imagine anyone being more of a Grinch.Over the Christmas season, Jessica finds herself more enamored with life in Pebble Shores, the community spirit, and to her own surprise, Dean Adams. Can a small-town mayor and big-city broadcaster have the romance that Jessica always dreamed of?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Well, that escalated quickly.

I was expecting a much longer build-up and story, but A Coastal Christmas turned out to be a super short little novella that I read in less than forty-five minutes – perfect if you want something sweet and quick! Just not so perfect if you want something very believable, in my opinion. There is much Christmas cheer for everyone, and a sweet little homey-feeling town. The characters aren’t very well fleshed out, but that is more due to the length of the story than the author’s writing, I think. Jessica and Dean connect on purely a physical level…even though the author has tried to tie in something more to the story, it really just felt like grasping at straws and I think to try to give them a HEA was just a little much. Nothing wrong with a holiday fling! And Jessica definitely needed a good rebound after her boyfriend’s antics on LIVE TELEVISION no less. Sometimes it takes another person to jolt us back into ourselves and what we really want out of life. In Jessica’s case, she suddenly realizes that maybe she’s not as in love with the big city life as she once was.

3/5 stars. Writing was good, the story was just really too short for the author to do the characters and theme justice. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future books by Kaya Quinsey!

Many thanks to the author and Xpresso Book Tours for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

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three-stars

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Dec 19

Review of Newness and Wonder

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Review of Newness and WonderNewness and Wonder: A Small Town Holiday Romance by Alexis Lynne
Genres: Romance
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsthree-stars
one-flame

After her only dream is snatched from her grasp, can she open her heart to something new and wonderful this Christmas?

For years, all Tara Crowley longed for was to return to the simple but happy life she lived on her grandparents’ farm. After years of saving, she finally put an offer on the old place only to have it beaten by an out of towner whose plans for her childhood home are sketchy, at least in Tara’s mind. When she meets the man, however, nothing about him says villain, but will her disappointment and bitter past allow for a future with the one who stole all her dreams?

Justin Hunter gave up his life in Manhattan to give his young sister a childhood free of stress and complications. Fixing up the old farmhouse would give them a chance to bond and build the happy home neither of them ever had. When Justin meets a beautiful artist and loses his heart instantly, “complicated” becomes an understatement. Can he convince her to believe in a new dream, one that includes him and a young girl who needs her?

Spend the holidays in Sylvan Hills, North Carolina, where the scenery is beautiful, the people are quirky, and love finds you when you least expect it.

I was so excited for this novella! I felt like the plotline was going to be super relatable and cute, as I have for years been in love with my own grandparents’ farm that was sold out of the family a few years ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t love this execution of the idea.

First of all, the dialogue is horribly stilted and not at all how people talk – especially not people from rural Appalachia! Not that I’m asking for an attempt at vernacular, but maybe just normal American style speaking? Especially in the first couple of chapters it’s as if the characters have never heard of contractions and the result is so awkward. I tried reading some of the dialogue out loud, wondering if maybe it was just my inward eye being judgy, but nope. It sounds just as bad out loud.

One of the redeeming features – and pretty much the ONLY reason I gave the story 3 stars instead of 2 – is Justin’s relationship with his much younger sister Marley, now under his guardianship. He clearly loves her and is trying SO HARD – too hard – to make up for all the deficiencies in her life both past and present. She is in many ways a typical pre-teen, and I loved her quirky interests and of course her love of books, and the way she tried to take care of Justin, too. Her and Tara’s relationship growth was really sweet, and her tendency to spout off zingers made me snicker a few times. Marley is awesome and I just wanted to scoop her up and give her all the books she could possibly want.

The romance was insta-lovey, but that’s to be expected in a novella. I thought Justin made for an attractive love interest for Tara but again the execution was just…not for me. He seems obsessed with kissing Tara’s hands, even within an hour of them meeting! Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to human contact, but I really don’t like people touching me and have a hard time relating to characters who do it or are ok with it within such a short time of meeting or knowing people. Then there were just some cringe-worthy lines that took all the heat out of the story in places.

Her skirt was short, her sweater tight, and the lighted reindeer antler headband nearly sent him over the edge.

Really. The lighted reindeer antler headband. Dude, what even. I couldn’t take any of their attraction seriously after that, and even the culminating scene fell flat. I was too distracted by picturing her wearing flashing antlers on her head, even though she wasn’t by that point.

Of course, these things won’t bother everyone, and the groundwork is laid for a couple more novellas in the series (Tara has two sisters who both obviously also deserve a HEA), so if the rural community and family farm storyline intrigue you, be sure to check it out.

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three-stars

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Dec 14

A Holiday by Gaslight

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

A Holiday by GaslightA Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews
Published by Perfectly Proper Press on November 13, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 172
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars
two-flames


A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He's grim and silent. A man of little emotion--or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she's ready to put an end to things.


A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn beau isn't as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there's Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What's a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there'll be no false formality. This time they'll get to know each other for who they really are.

I saw this book and wanted it. Instantly. THAT COVER. Who doesn’t want to dress up in a sweeping, rich red gown with Christmas green trim? Clearly I was born in the wrong century. I had never heard of Mimi Matthews and while I am typically suspicious of historical romance books, my lovely experience with Someone to Trust made me willing to give this one a try as well.

The premise was intriguing enough – a woman willing to sacrifice her own happiness for her family, but only so far. Sophie has standards. She is more than fine frills and ballrooms. Mr. Ned Sharpe recognizes that almost at once upon meeting her. Before long he is head over heels – but will he ever find his tongue? Though very short, this story was absolutely delicious. I loved the science brought into it as the characters were discussing Darwin’s then-new theories, loved the descriptions of modernization, and I especially loved the major hat-tip to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which is one of my most loved classic books!

I can totally see Ned as perpetually frowning as Mr. Thornton.

Sophie has just about given up on Mr. Sharpe, but in an effort to please her parents she makes one last ditch attempt to get to know him – just to know him! that’s all she wants! not even to be attracted to him! – and invites him AND his parents to her family’s Christmas party at their country estate. Given their aristocratic status and his family’s merchant background…things may not go as smoothly as could be hoped. But Sophie is determined to try to like the man who is willing to save her family from her father’s ill-advised spending, and what results is a lovely little romance that builds as the two come to understand each other better.

If you’re familiar with North and South, you will definitely see the similarity between Mr. Thornton and Mr. Sharpe, which wasn’t really all THAT obvious until the mother came into play. I loved it. It was sweet, and lovely, and can we have a full length novel with Sophie and Ned?

^From the North and South movie, which was amazingly good and true to the book! I think it might be time for a re-watch.

5/5 stars, because while there isn’t a whole lot here, it seems meticulously researched, the characters are alive and vibrant and seem ready to walk off the page, and, well, they’re just adorable somehow. Also snow and Christmas, because apparently I am ALL ABOUT the holiday cheer this season.

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five-stars

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Dec 13

Review of Someone to Trust

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review of Someone to TrustSomeone to Trust (Westcott, #5) by Mary Balogh
Published by Berkley on November 27, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 400
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars
three-flames

During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.

After her husband's passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snow bank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them for she is nine years older than he.

They return to London the following season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love...

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I picked this up because of the glowing review from Reading Reality. Many thanks for putting this series and author on my radar! I will definitely be coming back when I get the itch for a historical romance again, especially since this was the 5th in the Westcott series. All the previous relationships and people are well explained so that it CAN be read as a standalone, but it really made me curious!

Someone to Trust is the perfect holiday book for the Austen-inclined reader! I thoroughly enjoyed this historical romance, with its unique characters and large, warm, overarching family story. This was particularly refreshing because it was DIFFERENT. Instead of your typical young-couple-meets-and-falls-in-love (naturally with a few obstacles thrown in their way, but nothing they can’t overcome), the heroine is actually a widow, and somewhat old for a Regency era heroine at that. Ok, not just somewhat old, but unheard-of old at thirty-five! And the hero is…twenty-six. GASP!

Elizabeth has been unlucky in love, but she is reconciled to her life. She is still a vibrant, intelligent, warm-hearted woman but has determined that

Contentment would be good enough, even preferable to exuberant happiness, in fact. Happiness did not last. There was more stability in contentment.

I loved Elizabeth so much. She has a backbone of steel and a heart of gold. Despite her misfortune, se is not closed off or unreachable or wallowing. I think it safe to say it is all of those underlying qualities that most attract the young Lord Colin Hodges, much to his own amazement. Colin does not waste much time fretting over what society will think of his inappropriate attachment – no Mr. Darcy scruples here – but determines to win Elizabeth’s heart. Of course, true love’s path never runs smooth, as his own mother (and LORD WHAT A MOTHER) conspires against him, along with the rest of society and Elizabeth’s own belief about herself and what she deserves out of life.

This book is so far removed from what I usually expect from books labeled historical romance. It is full of solid, steady, but also heart-fluttering love. The characters are mature and make decisions that MAKE SENSE, both for the time and for the story. There was none of the ridiculous swooning and obsession that so often marks romances.

4/5 stars, because I did feel that some of the dialogue was really too modern and felt removed from the time period. Didn’t detract from the story itself, just from my absorption in it. Still highly recommend!

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four-stars

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Dec 11

Blog Tour and Review of Fianna’s Awakening

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★½


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Blog Tour and Review of Fianna’s AwakeningFianna's Awakening (Warriors of Myth and Legend, #1) by Ron C. Nieto
Published by Victory Editing NetGalley Co-Op on November 13, 2018
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 308
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadsthree-half-stars
one-flame

Outcast. Betrayer. Chosen.

After five years being a Fianna, Aisling O’Malley still has to prove herself every day. The sins of the father weigh heavily on her shoulders, and no matter what she does, her fellow warriors regard her as the undeserving one. It doesn’t help that one of the four mythical treasures of Ireland has turned up under her nose, leaving her none the wiser. If by any chance the touted Spear of Lugh up for auction is indeed the legendary Spear of Victory, she needs to get her hands on it before anyone else does—and be spectacular enough about it to make the rest of the Fianna forget she almost missed the artifact in the first place.

Exile. Betrayer. Forgotten.

After spending twice as long undercover as he ever lived at home, Ronan no longer knows where he belongs to or where he’s actually exiled from. He can’t return to his people, not unless he collects the four artifacts of power the Tuatha Dé lost when they were forced to leave Ireland, and three millennia after the fact, he’s pretty sure they’re going to remain lost. Except one of those ancient treasures has landed in his lap—or could land in his lap, if he brings himself to work with the spunky young woman who wants to hire him to consult on the Spear’s authenticity.

Can two broken people learn to trust one another? And even if they can, will it be too late to save Ireland… or themselves?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Fianna’s Awakening is the first in an urban fantasy series about the Fianna, a group of people who are chosen to be the guardians of Ireland. Aisling O’Malley is the only – perhaps first – female Fianna, and as such the demands on her are even heavier than most, because she must constantly prove to the others that she is as worthy as they.

Things I Loved:

“I’m fast,” she said. “And strong. And tough, and resilient.” A shrug. “I can tell when danger of the creepy kind is around, most of the time.”

“Danger, but not the spear? So an invincible artifact of untold power isn’t dangerous?”

Well, put it like that and it does sound like I got a malfunctioning superpower…

  • Um, well – Ireland! I might be slightly obsessed. There is a little bit of Irish mythology worked into this book, but none that I was particularly familiar with so I’m not sure if it was made up by the author or just obscure.
  • The magic system is VERY intriguing and I really hope it’s explained in more detail in the next books! Also I want to know more about the process of becoming a Fianna…that was never really explained.
  • Aisling – despite years of belittling and posturing from the rest of the Fiannas, she’s still stubborn as a mule and confident in her own abilities. Hell. Yes. I love strong female characters. By contrast Ronan seems a bit hapless and awkward. I’m not sure he’s the right one for her…
  • The humor!! Oh my gosh, the wry, sarcastic bits got me so much.

Small Complaints:

  • Need. More. Details. I felt like most of the magic and history was only half explained! Like this Sword of Lugh…where did it come from? Why was it made? By whom? I’m aware of the traditional Celtic god Lugh, but the book never really talks about Celtic deities in detail so I’m just…up in the air. PLEASE TELL ME MORE.

“You know, handing out prophecies of doom and gloom and then going skimpy on the details is not an attractive trait.”

  • Romance…where? So Aisling and Ronan apparently had a kind of attraction thing going on, but it was most present in their first meeting and then fizzled. I didn’t feel any kind of chemistry. They’re both extremely interesting characters on their own, so you don’t really NEED a romantic subplot here, but…*points at description and cover* Doesn’t that look romantic to you?

3.5/5 stars. I’ll definitely be giving the second one of this series a shot, because I’m intrigued by how the author is bringing Celtic legends through to the modern world.

1/5 flames. Eh, I would love to see some more sizzle between Aisling and Ronan, but if not, they’re still both interesting characters in and of themselves.

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Author Bio:

Ron C. Nieto is a fantasy and romance author who has been writing in her secluded fortress for the longest time. Recently, she had a talk with her cat and decided that she should share her creations, because it was selfish to hoard them all for herself.

If you would like to know more about her, please visit her website.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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three-half-stars

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