Review: Heat it Up by Stina Lindenblatt

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Heat it Up by Stina Lindenblatt
Series: Off the Ice, Book 1
Publisher: Diversion Books
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance Heat it Up Cover
ISBN: 9781626818743
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Some games are hotter off the ice…

Sofia Phillips feels cursed. Her father cheated on her mother, her boyfriend cheated on her—she’s done with dating. A summer work-exchange program in Finland is the perfect escape. But instead of gaining experience as an athletic trainer, she’s cleaning toilets. Awesome. The trip is a disaster, and even better, she meets Kyle Bennett. In the sauna. Naked.

Sexy hockey player Kyle was the star right wing for an NHL team. But after an accident killed his wife and left him injured, Kyle has appreciated the “therapeutic” benefits of booze and puck bunnies. Now in Finland for the summer, he’s coaching in an elite hockey-training camp for teens. When Sofia's grandmother decides to set her up with a nice Finnish man, Sofia recruits Kyle as her make-believe boyfriend. Neither expects their first kiss to sizzle. And neither expects, while stranded on an island during a storm, to have a scorching night of passion.

But as their charade, and then their attraction, develops into something deeper, the past comes back, threatening to destroy them. They must decide if their feelings for each other are strong enough to survive—or it will be game over.

Heat it Up is a story I wanted to like a lot more than I did. This first installment of Stina Lindenblatt’s Off the Ice series had a lot of potential, but ultimately ranged from cute (if forgettable) to frustrating.

I’m a sucker for a hockey player hero, and even though Kyle is ex-NHL and there wasn’t a lot of ice action, he was the strongest part of the story for me. He’s a widower who married young then lost his wife in a car accident that also ended his career. In the beginning, Kyle is in a downward spiral, drinking and sleeping his way through Finland. Meeting Sofia changes him for the better, and I liked when party boy Kyle went away and the nerdy, physics-loving Kyle came out. He can be incredibly sweet, and my favorite moments of the book were watching him teach children. Sofia, in turn, is a rather lackluster heroine. She possesses a bunch of vague qualities that would have made her a more appealing character if she’d been better fleshed out. However, at best she’s a bland sort of likeable in the beginning of the story, then devolves into the oh-so-annoying “too stupid to live” type of heroine about halfway through the book.

Sofia has trust issues thanks to the men in her life, and she doesn’t want her grandmother to keep trying to set her up with her friend’s son, Joni. Meeting Kyle offers the perfect solution: he’ll pretend to be her boyfriend and she’ll take him around Finland. The more time they spend together, the less either is able to deny their mutual attraction. Yet while Sofia and Kyle are cute together, they never drew me in. In fact, I got a quarter of the way through the book and then put it down for over two months because I wasn’t invested in the story. When Kyle and Sofia do get together, the pace picks up, but unfortunately this is also the point where Heat it Up falters. The burgeoning romance between Sofia and Kyle takes a back seat to a poorly executed love triangle involving Joni, the Finnish boy Sofia’s grandmother wants her to date. It’s clear that Sofia has no romantic interest in Joni, but she has to be the most oblivious person on the planet not to notice Joni’s repeated attempts to win her. Joni’s attempts at sabotaging Kyle and Sofia’s relationship go from mildly annoying to unbelievably irritating, as Sofia continues to be completely clueless – and indeed plays into – Joni’s increasingly ridiculous machinations. Add in a last-minute plot twist that strains credulity and sends Sofia running, and any chance there was of me rooting for her was completely gone.

Heat it Up isn’t altogether a bad read, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’d have loved to see a bit more chemistry between Sofia and Kyle and a bit less pointless drama. Though it ultimately missed the mark for me, the book had potential and I liked Ms. Lindenblatt’s writing enough that I would try another story of hers.


FTC Disclosure: 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.

Review: Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall
Series: Highland Fairy Tale, Book 1
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: Historical Romance Beauty and the Highland Beast Cover
ISBN: 9781250111616
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.

When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.

Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

Dair Sinclair was once a sailor, brave and bold, until he and his cousin were taken captive, his men were killed, and he was forced to watch his cousin be raped, tortured, and murdered. Dair barely survived his imprisonment, but his physical wounds are the least of his problems. People believe him to be mad, and he doesn’t think they’re wrong. His father is determined to heal him, so determined he takes the advice of a healer who says that only a virgin can cure his son.

Fia is the overlooked daughter of the McLeod brood. A childhood accident left her with scars and a limp, and she’s mostly forgotten about, left to tend wounded animals. When she’s offered the chance of an adventure, she takes it, hoping she can help. The attraction she feels for Dair is surprising, as is the fact that, for once, someone truly seems to see her. But Dair’s demons aren’t the only obstacles the two must overcome if they hope to have a fairytale happily ever after.

The classic tale of a beauty who saves her beast is given an eighteenth century Scottish twist in Beauty and the Highland Beast. Lecia Cornwall mixes fairytale romance with darker elements in this fast-paced first installment of her Highland Fairy Tale series.

Fia is a charming heroine with a kind heart and a gift for healing. She’s so sweet, it’s not surprising animals and people flock to her, but I liked that Ms. Cornwall never entered saccharine territory with Fia. She’s got a backbone that goes with the giving heart, making her a heroine you can root for. Dair is a man who isn’t cursed, but rather coping with psychological trauma in a time when no one understood such things. He’s drowning in the past until Fia gives him a reason to look to the future. I liked Dair, was intrigued by the glimpses of his character that we were given, but I never felt I truly got to know who he was as a man. This made it slightly difficult to become invested in the romance; with only one character feeling truly formed, the love story is enjoyable, but never felt like it reached its true potential.

Beauty and the Highland Beast has both lighthearted humor (mostly in the form of Fia’s beast of a cat) and incredibly dark elements, and the two don’t blend together as well as they could or should. Rather than blending the light and the dark, the story went back and forth between the two. Without giving spoilers, I can only say that individually, the brighter moments were charming and fun, and the darker elements were ominous and left me with a vague feeling of disquiet even after all was said and done. In other words, all the right pieces of an engaging tale were there – they simply could have fit together smoother. Still, as it stands, Ms. Cornwall has delivered an enjoyable twist on a fairytale with a likeable hero and heroine and a story where love conquers all. Even though the story was a bit uneven, I liked Beauty and the Highland Beast well enough that I’m looking forward to reading the next Highland Fairy Tale book.


FTC Disclosure: 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.

Cover Reveal: The Deep End by Kristen Ashley

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I became a Kristen Ashley convert last year when I fell in love with her marvelous Rock Chick series. Next year brings with it the start of Ms. Ashley's Honey series, and I cannot wait to enter this incredibly sexy world. I'm thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal for the first Honey book, The Deep End. Scroll down for a peek at the gorgeous tease of a cover and then keep scrolling (if you can tear your eyes away :)) to learn more about The Deep End.



THE DEEP END by Kristen Ashley (March 7, 2017); The Honey Series #1
Enter a decadent sensual world where gorgeous alpha males are pleasure slaves committed to fulfilling a woman’s every desire. At the elite Honey club, no boundary will be left untested, and one’s darkest desires will become a sensual reality.

Olivier isn’t sure what he’s gotten himself into when he joins the Honey Club, only that a dark part of him craves the lifestyle offered by this secret, exclusive club.

When Amèlie invites Olivier to surrender, she pushes him to explore his deepest desires as a submissive. As they grow closer and find themselves falling harder than either of them anticipated, the truth about Olivier’s past could threaten the budding relationship they both long for.

Gripping and seductive, The Deep End is the first book in a sensational new series from bestselling author Kristen Ashley.

Pre-Order The Deep End: Amazon | iBooks | Books a Million | GooglePlay | Kobo


About the author:
Kristen Ashley is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels. She grew up in Indiana, but has lived in Colorado and the West Country of England. Visit her online at www.KristenAshley.net.

Connect with Kristen Ashley: Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Review: Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts

Monday, June 13, 2016

Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts
Series: The Guardians Trilogy, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance Bay of Sighs Cover
ISBN: 9780425280119
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces…

Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star.

Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground…

And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human.

The search for the water star is on in Bay of Sighs. Now that all their gifts are out in the open, Sawyer, Annika, Sasha, Bran, Riley, and Doyle will have to hone their talents and teamwork if they hope to take down an evil goddess who won’t underestimate them a second time.

As our protagonists are hunting for the water star, it’s only fit that the heroine of the story is from the sea herself. And Annika is one delightfully unique heroine. She’s a mermaid who only has three turns of the moon to walk on land and help retrieve all three stars before she must return to the sea. But it isn’t her supernatural status that makes her stand out. Rather it’s the absolute joy that simply radiates from her and how open and giving of heart she is. The world we take for granted is a wonder to her, and even with all that she and her newfound friends go through, nothing can dull the shine of her. She’s not a heroine I can relate to because there is an otherworldly aspect to her perpetually sunny nature. Annika isn’t childlike, but there is an innocence to her that makes others want to shelter her. However, this is a fight where Annika can’t be sheltered, and she does stand up for those she loves. She also isn’t afraid to go for the man she loves. Sawyer is a traveler through space and time, and it was marvelous watching him fall for Annika. Sawyer is a genuinely good man, and though he’s attracted to Annika, he worries he’ll take advantage of her and thus tries to keep her at a distance. He can’t hold out against her for long, and their slide into love is, quite simply, sweet. That being said, there’s a spark, an energy usually present in Nora Roberts’s love stories that was missing between Annika and Sawyer, and perhaps that stems from the fact that Annika is so otherworldly.

Sawyer and Annika charmed me, but as with the first Guardians book, Stars of Fortune, one of my favorite things was watching our six main characters interact with one another. The bonds between these six new friends are every bit as important as the romantic relationships and offer a lot of entertainment. So while Bay of Sighs is definitely a bridge book, where more time is put into setting the stage than seeing results, I still didn’t want to put the book down. And though I won’t spoil what happens, I will say that the action sequences that do appear in the book are exciting.

Bay of Sighs is a comforting read. Like Annika, much of the story is sunny and optimistic, so it’s impossible not to be charmed. So even though it’s not my favorite Nora Roberts book, I still finished Bay of Sighs a satisfied reader. What’s more, the book left me incredibly eager to read the final Guardians tale. Riley and Doyle have been the most interesting, dynamic characters in the trilogy (at least to me), and I can’t wait to see them fall in love in Island of Glass!


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the Penguin First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Hanging by a Thread by Jenna Sutton

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hanging by a Thread by Jenna Sutton
Series: Riley O’Brien & Co., Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance Hanging by a Thread Cover
ISBN: 9780425279977
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jenna Sutton Reading Order

Love is not one size fits all…

Thirty-year-old Bebe Banerjee is desperate to get rid of two things: her fiancé and her virginity. Escaping her arranged marriage might be impossible, but she refuses to give her firsts to an entitled jerk who lives on another continent. Instead, she devises a plan that guarantees another man will get her momentous firsts. But she never imagined that man would be Cal O’Brien, the gorgeous heir to the Riley O’Brien & Co. denim empire…

Although Cal has always been fascinated by Bebe’s brilliant mind and beautiful eyes, he’s never pursued her. She can’t stand the sight of him, and every time they’re in the same room, they end up trading insults. Yet when he finds out about Bebe’s bold plan, he makes his move, unaware of her upcoming nuptials. He promises to make her firsts unforgettable, but he doesn’t know how hard it will be to forget her when their arrangement ends.

Sparks fly right and left in Hanging by a Thread. I was so excited to see Bebe and Cal finally give into their mutual attraction that has long been obvious to everyone but them. Author Jenna Sutton does not disappoint. Bebe and Cal’s story is romantic, sensual, and simply lovely to read.

I absolutely adored Bebe. She is utterly brilliant, but all her life she’s focused her studies and then her work at the cost of her personal life. She’s also someone who has been beaten down by those who should have loved her, and thus she doesn’t see the true value of all that she is (which broke my heart). Yet though Bebe is a bit vulnerable, she doesn’t cave under pressure. When she finds she cannot escape her arranged marriage (for reasons I won’t spoil), she doesn’t meekly give into her jerk of a fiancé’s wishes. Rather, she uses the little bit of time she has to claim her sexuality. She wants to find a man to be her first, but she never imagined that man would be her best friend’s brother…

It’s easy to see why Bebe has been attracted to Cal for years. He’s pretty much the perfect hero. Cal is smart, hardworking, sexy, caring, and heck, he’s even a talented chef – what more could you ask for? I loved the way he was completely gone over Bebe, even before he realized it. The two of them have been circling each other for years, trading barbs to mask the attraction each is too afraid to reveal to the other. When Cal offers to be Bebe’s lover, everything between them changes in the very best way. I loved watching their relationship unfold, because despite their attraction and the deal they make, Ms. Sutton lets things develop organically. While there are plenty of heated encounters in Hanging by a Thread, Cal and Bebe’s relationship isn’t all about sex. Cal doesn’t just want to be her first lover; he wants to be the one to show her a number of firsts. Their romance is a great mix of sensual highs and quietly sweet moments that made me smile more than once.

Normally I’m not a fan of the dreaded “big secret,” in this case Bebe hiding her engagement. However, Ms. Sutton handled Bebe’s predicament in such a way that while it was important to the tale, it never dragged the story down. My only wish is that we’d seen more of the climax of the story, as I think it would have made Bebe’s personal journey stronger. Even with this minor quibble, I adored Hanging by a Thread because Cal and Bebe are just that great together.

Hanging by a Thread is the third Riley O’Brien & Co. book, but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, the O’Brien family is definitely out in full force, much to my delight. The love the characters have for one another in this series – whether it’s romantic, familial, or the love between friends – adds an extra layer to the stories, making them that much more appealing. Even though the final O’Brien sibling has fallen in love, I hope this isn’t the last of the Riley O’Brien & Co. stories, because I’m just not ready to leave this world or these characters behind.


FTC Disclosure: 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.

Jenna Sutton Book Order

Click on series title to jump to a particular reading order:


Riley O’Brien & Co.

Riley O’Brien & Co.

1. All the Right Places
Quinn O’Brien and Amelia Winger

2. Coming Apart at the Seams
Nick Priest and Teagan O’Brien
My Review

2.5. The Perfect Fit
Zeke May and Margo Lange
My Review

3. Hanging by a Thread
Cal O’Brien and Bebe Banerjee
My Review

top


Please note: This page was written by me, so as always, please visit the author’s website for up-to-date, author-verified information as well as for information books that have not yet been included to this list.

http://jennasutton.com/

Review: Foolproof Love by Katee Robert

Foolproof Love by Katee Robert
Series: Foolproof Love, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance Foolproof Love Cover
ISBN: 9781633756489
Release Date: June 6, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Bull rider Adam Meyer put Devil’s Falls in his rearview mirror years ago and hasn’t stopped running since. Now he’s back—temporarily, if he has any say about it. Restless, he finds himself kissing the sexiest girl in town…and agreeing to be the fake boyfriend in her little revenge scheme.

Jules Rodrigez isn’t interested in the role of town spinster. Being seen with a hell raiser like Adam is the perfect way to scandalize the residents, make her ex jealous, and prove she’s a sexy, desirable woman. And if their plan includes ridiculously hot sex—in public, of course—all the better.

But this thing between them has an expiration date. Putting down roots isn’t in Adam’s blood, and Jules’s roots in Devil’s Falls are bedrock deep. He’ll leave, even if it rips out his heart. But this time, he’s not sure he’ll survive it…

Jules is the town good girl, the one who has somehow landed herself a reputation as town spinster, despite the fact that she’s not yet thirty. When her ex walks back into town and expects Jules to throw herself at him, it’s the last straw. What’s a single, cat café owner to do? Pretend her cousin’s wild child best friend is her boyfriend and start a scandal, of course.

Adam is a bull rider who can never stay in one place for long. He’s only back in town to care for his ill mother, and then he’s back on the road and not looking back. But he can’t turn down Jules’s plea for his help. And despite himself, he can’t help but be attracted to the gorgeous, sexy woman who wants to shock the town. But the longer they spend together, the harder it is to remember that this is one relationship can’t last…

Foolproof Love is tons of fun! Author Katee Robert takes the pretend relationship trope and makes it feel fresh and new in this steamy, sweet, incredibly addictive tale.

Jules is easy to adore. She’s got a sunny disposition and owns and runs a cat café, where people can stop in for coffee and cuddle some cats. How sweet is that? Jules loves her café, enjoys making people happy, and has a good life for herself, but she’s not pleased with the label of town spinster that has been slapped on her. She wants to break out of the mold, and Adam is just the man to help her. Adam has grown up thinking he’s the leaving type of guy. He gets an itch under his skin and just can’t seem to put down roots, nor does he want to try. Helping Jules shake things up may sound good at the start, but it’s clear that a pretend relationship can never hold up against the very real pull between them. Their desire for one another is palpable and isn’t something that’s going to burn out by the time Adam feels he has to leave. Jules and Adam have fantastic chemistry and because they’re both so likeable, it’s easy to be caught up in their story and root for them to find happiness. Their romance is both sweet and sexy; Adam is one deliciously wicked cowboy and it was fun to watch him bring out Jules’s naughty side.

Romance aside, Foolproof Love also shines when it comes to friendships. Adam’s friendship with Quinn and Daniel (future series heroes) grounds him and made me eager to learn more about the guys. But it’s Jules’s relationship with her best friend, Aubry, that threatens to steal the show. Aubry is a smart-mouthed, antisocial gamer who made me grin every time she was on the page. She and Jules cracked me up and their friendship was one I could easily relate to.

Foolproof Love is a fast-paced romance that’ll charm contemporary romance fans. Whether you’ve got a thing for dirty-talking cowboys, or just love a sensual and fun romance with characters who are easy to adore, Jules and Adam’s story is sure to entertain. I loved it and I cannot wait to read Aubry’s book, Fool Me Once!


FTC Disclosure: 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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