Monday, February 18, 2019

Review: Moonlight & Whiskey by Tricia Lynne

Moonlight & Whiskey by Tricia Lynne
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984800169
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

When life gives you curves, you gotta learn how to rock them.

Successful businesswoman Avery Barrows likes her dips and curves, but she’s sick of the haters telling her that she should be ashamed of her body instead of embracing it. Determined to send them a big f*** you, Avery resolves to cut loose during a girls’ trip, hightailing her quick-mouthed, plus-sized self to New Orleans. So, what’s a smart woman with a little extra gotta do to get laid in this town?

Not much if you ask Declan McGinn, the lead singer of BlackSmith. Tall, dark, and tattooed, with a body made for sin, Declan prefers his women as curvy as his guitars. Avery’s sharp tongue and keen mind makes him want her even more.

As they burn up the sheets, Avery and Declan realize this is no one-night (or even one-week) stand. But for all of her bluster, Avery isn’t sure she can handle any more rejection. Besides, Declan has demons of his own. Now Avery has a choice to make: play it safe, or place her trust in the hands of a man who’s as tempting as the devil himself.

A take-no-s*** heroine, a rockin’ hero, and the city of New Orleans are the stars of the show in Moonlight & Whiskey. Tricia Lynne’s debut shows she has a lot of promise as an author – the way she writes about NOLA makes you feel like you’re really there. The city is a vivid, luscious character in and of itself and was unquestionably my favorite part of the book.

I really wanted to like Avery and there are some things I really did enjoy about her. Watching her come into her own in her professional life was fantastic and she has some body image issues that make her relatable. But aside from that, Avery is a bit much for me. She tends to go from zero to one hundred in no time flat, she and her best friend can be crass (and it takes a lot to put me off in that area), and she just felt too over-the-top all the time with very few breathers. Declan starts out the book a pretty hot hero (who doesn’t love a hero who’s a bad boy/skilled lover/kind soul?), but the deeper he and Avery fall in love, the more his demons are brought out. There’s a lot of talk of the light and the dark in Moonlight & Whiskey, especially as it relates to Declan, and sometimes I felt like I was getting repeatedly hit over the head with this particular theme.

The romance is filled with erotic moments, but once the book starts travelling down the light/dark path the passion turns into flat-out drama. There are times Avery and Declan work really well together, but I wanted something more substantial than what was given to make me believe in them as a couple given how quickly they fall in love. A lot of overused tropes start appearing as well in the latter half of the book (the big misunderstanding, pushing someone away for their own good, the heroine who is always overlooked yet two very different kinds of guys fall all over themselves for her, etc.). I don’t want to spoil the story, but many of the obstacles in the way of Avery and Declan’s happily ever after don’t feel organic. There’s a certain character’s interference in particular that just felt shoehorned in for added drama and honestly I just wanted to shake all the characters and tell them to calm the f*** down for five minutes. Call it reader preference, but for me if there’s high drama there also needs to be some balance or the characters start to seem immature and the entire reading experience is like being hit by a two-by-four.

As I mentioned before, Moonlight & Whiskey is Ms. Lynne’s debut and while I had issues with the characters and romance, there really are times in the story her writing was captivating. The way she brought NOLA to life ensures that I’ll definitely want to read another one of her books because I’m interested to see how she grows as an author.


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.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Review: The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640636101
Release Date: February 18, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Beneath Lily Layton’s sweet and charming exterior beats the heart of a vixen—one with shocking and scandalous secrets and desires. But as a genteel lady, she confines her forbidden fantasies, like those about her employer’s devastatingly handsome son, to her diary…until she loses it.

Oliver Carlyle, Marquess of Ambrose, has finally found the perfect wife, a woman who will not hide from his dark, carnal cravings. He just needs to figure out who she is. When he has a secret rendezvous with a mysterious stranger, suddenly he starts to believe she might be the author of the diary.

He’s determined to find out who his mystery woman is…

His biggest fear—and deepest fantasy—is she may be the one woman he cannot have.

Lily Layton is a widow twice over who has never known true passion. She’s been taught that what she yearns for is wrong, but that doesn’t keep her from writing down her deepest desires in her diary. It’s a perfectly safe escape…until she loses it.

Oliver Carlyle, Marquess of Ambrose, has decided it’s time to choose a wife. But when he finds a scandalous diary, he can’t get his mind off the mysterious author. How can he pick from the debutantes and titled ladies his mother has picked out for him when there’s a woman in his home who is his perfect carnal match? And why can he not keep his gaze from Lily Layton, his mother’s companion and the one woman at the party he cannot have?

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton is a scorching hot read. Stacy Reid always delivers engaging stories and Lily and Oliver’s romance is no exception.

As individuals, Lily and Oliver are great characters. Together? They’re dynamite. Lily grabbed my heart from the first. She’s kind, generous, and an incredibly talented designer. She’s also the survivor of an abusive marriage. But no matter how her last husband tried to shame her and tear her down, Lily has an unbreakable core of strength. That doesn’t mean she’s invulnerable – far from it. I loved watching Lily grow over the course of the story and I was cheering for her as she fearlessly risked everything for what she wants most. And Oliver is just about the sexiest gentleman you could hope to read about. He’s incredibly sensual and has a code of honor Lily tempts him to break. They fit one another perfectly outside the bedroom as well. But it’d be remiss of me not to talk about how erotic a pairing they are. In their initial rendezvous, neither knows the other’s identity, but that doesn’t tamp down on the heat they generate. Their story is ferociously sexy and only gets hotter as the book goes on and Lily and Olvier become more adventurous.

Class differences aren’t the only thing standing in the way of Oliver and Lily’s perfect happily ever after. There’s a heavy emotional turn Ms. Reid doesn’t shy away from. And here I’ll include a SPOILER ALERT, so please skip the rest of this paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers. There is an incredibly emotional plotline through the course of this story involving possible infertility that anyone struggling with pregnancy or coping with infertility may find triggering. It’s an element of realism woven into the fantasy and my heart broke for Lily more than once. Ms. Reid handles this sensitive topic honestly and I appreciated that, though whether or not the resolution of this plotline satisfies is going to be a matter of reader preference.

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton is sexy as can be, emotionally engaging, and just plain fun to read. I devoured the book in one sitting because I adored Lily and Oliver and their chemistry is phenomenal. I highly recommend The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton to anyone looking for a fast-paced historical romance with well-drawn characters, an entertaining plot, and an abundance of steam.


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.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd

What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd
Series: Cape Charade, Book 2
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781335005786
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Christina Dodd Reading Order

One secret, one nightmare, one lie. You guess which is which.
1. I have the scar of a gunshot on my forehead.
2. I have willfully misrepresented my identity to the US military.
3. I'm the new mother of a seven-year-old girl.


Kellen Adams suffers from a yearlong gap in her memory. A bullet to the brain will cause that. But she's discovering the truth, and what she learns changes her life, her confidence, her very self. She finds herself in the wilderness, on the run, unprepared, her enemies unknown--and she is carrying a priceless burden she must protect at all costs. The consequences of failure would break her. And Kellen Adams does not break.

What doesn't kill her…had better start running.

Kellen Adams has been a victim, a survivor, and a warrior. She’s prepared for anything…except learning that she’s the mother of a seven-year-old that she never knew existed. Kellen doesn’t know what to do with her daughter, Rae, or with Max, the lover she only has fleeting memories of thanks to the bullet in her head that took her memories and left her in a coma for a year. Kellen is floundering when she takes the opportunity for what should be a simple security job. A few days away from Rae and Max may help to clear her head. But when her mission turns deadly, it’s a race through the wilderness and a fight for survival Kellen can’t afford to lose.

What Doesn’t Kill Her is a tense thriller that had me eagerly turning the pages late into the night. I loved Kellen in Dead Girl Running and I continued to do so as I learned more about her. She is so strong, has been through absolute hell more than once, and she never stops fighting. She has looked death in the face but what scares her most at the start of this is trying to navigate the waters of motherhood. Rae is bright, chatty, endearing, and just a fun kid. She’s adorable and Kellen can see she’s a good kid, but she’s having trouble bonding with her. Her reasons make sense and I actually liked that Kellen didn’t instantly bond with Rae, but rather we got to watch their relationship develop. We also get to see how Kellen’s relationship with Max plays out. Even though he’s caring and patient with Kellen, things can be (understandably) bumpy between Kellen and Max because he’s an incredibly loving, protective father who wants Rae to have the mother she yearns for. The romance between Kellen and Max starts out as a slow burn, but when things pick up speed it’s clear that old feelings never died. I loved watching the romantic and familial relationships develop over the course of the story.

Of course, if Kellen, Max, and Rae want to become one happy family, they all have to survive the events of What Doesn’t Kill Her. It’s difficult for me to talk about the suspense element without giving away spoilers, so forgive me for being overly vague. A race up the mountain is only the beginning of Kellen’s problems in this story. She faces multiple threats and horrible odds, is beaten, bruised, and pushed to her limits, but she never gives up. I hated having to put the book down as the tension mounted and the stakes were raised higher and higher.

What Doesn’t Kill Her is the second full-length book in the Cape Charade series and you should definitely read Dead Girl Running before diving into this book. Like its predecessor, What Doesn’t Kill Her is captivating from beginning to end. Christina Dodd knows how to make readers beg for more and – given the cliffhanger ending in this book – I am definitely on the edge of my seat as I wait to discover what happens next.


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.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Review: Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn

Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640637566
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Giles Warrington Hale, Marquess of Ashcroft, was born to do two things. Paint and rut. But lately, nobody but Miss Patience Emery has inspired him. The moment he sees her, he knows he must paint her and have her-- anywhere and everywhere.

After a lifetime of trying to appear smaller, Patience no longer cares what anyone thinks. She’s resigned herself to a life having a man in her dreams only. But when the mysterious Lord Ashcroft approaches her with a chance to act on her bold, scandalous, and depraved desires, she suddenly sees her opportunity to indulge in every wicked fantasy she’s ever had…

A lusty artist meets his match in a confident printer’s daughter in Willful Depravity. Ingrid Hahn has delivered an erotic historical romance with a lot of potential and mixed results.

One of my favorite things about this story was Patience’s self-love. She’s spent her whole life hearing that she should lose weight, that she’d be pretty if only she did, but Patience is happy with how she looks and I loved that. Her confidence only grows over the course of the story and the positivity in this book was one of its best features. Giles, the depraved marquess, is immediately captivated by Patience. It’s lust at first sight for both of them and there is plenty of enjoyable, steamy scenes throughout the book. Yet while the attraction between them is undeniable and I had no problem believing they would risk plenty to have a lusty holiday, I had a bit harder time believing in the love story part of it. There isn’t much romantic development in Willful Depravity, which is a pity. The characters tell us they’re in love, but there’s no real indication of why, aside from a physical attraction. The romance element rang false, and perhaps if the characters had been a bit more layered the actual romance would have worked better.

The road to happily ever after is not an easy one for Patience and Giles. The main obstacle is Giles’s father, whose sneering contempt definitely comes alive on the page. But the man is such a black-hatted villain that he fell flat and I didn’t really buy the somewhat clunky resolution to his plotline. There’s a lot of potential to Willful Depravity, but it did fall short on a couple of fronts. That being said, it’s not a bad book and I really liked a lot of the elements. Patience is a likeable, relatable heroine and Giles is a sexy, fun hero. With characters like that, it’s impossible not to like their story, flaws and all.


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.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis

Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, Book 7
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062741837
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

If you’re planning on falling in love…
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s yoga pants, he’s a suit. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.

you’d better be sure…
Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.

…someone is there to catch you.
Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.

Sparks fly when opposites attract in Playing for Keeps. Jill Shalvis’s seventh Heartbreaker Bay novel has all the humor, heart, and endearing characters you’d expect to find in her books. And when you add in a scene-stealing rescue dog, it’s easy to see why Sadie and Caleb’s book charmed the heck out of me.

Sadie grabbed my heart from the very first page and didn’t let go. She’s a wonderful tattoo artist, she’s strong, independent, and deeply vulnerable. She has a family that doesn’t understand her, and she has scars both physical and emotional that she keeps hidden. Sadie isn’t a perfect heroine – she’s been hurt badly in the past and it’s hard for her to trust, to risk her heart and open up to someone, and that causes her to make mistakes more than once with Caleb. But Caleb has the patience and heart to get through to Sadie. He’s pretty much the perfect hero; he’s got a huge heart, a brilliant mind, and is loyal and protective to the max without ever being pushy. Basically, Caleb is the ultimate book boyfriend. He and Sadie have been dancing around one another for over a year, but each has been holding back. When they co-rescue a dog and decide to co-parent the utterly adorable Lollipop, the barriers start to come down. I loved seeing Caleb and Sadie’s full characters slowly revealed and I’ll leave it to readers to discover what lies beneath the sass and the suits. Their love story is sensual, emotional, and not always easy, but every bump in the road is worth it in the end.

It wouldn’t be a Heartbreaker Bay story without family and friends playing strong supporting roles and I loved both seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones in this story. The bonds of friendship and family are almost as important to Playing for Keeps as the romance and I just adored the quirky cast of characters. So while I finished Caleb and Sadie’s story a well-satisfied reader, their book definitely left me wanting more Heartbreaker Bay stories (Ivy’s in particular).


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

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks

Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks
Series: Accidental Love, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640636941
Release Date: January 14, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

It’s not every day you wake up to a stranger getting into your bed.
Only, he isn’t a stranger at all, he’s my best friend’s hot older brother…and apparently my new roommate.
Having him in my space, driving me crazy, isn’t a problem at all. Nope.
All I need to do is keep control of the situation…


But that’s easier said than done.
Shawn Lassiter is the kind of distraction I don’t need.
First he accidentally gets into my bed, half-naked, the night before my first day at my new job.
Hello, muscles and tattoos!
Then he’s there, in nothing but a towel, making me coffee in the morning.
It’s more than any girl can resist. Right?
But Shawn is off-limits, even if his eyes are saying differently.

Years ago, back when I still had my crush, he destroyed friendships with his reckless playboy antics.
There’s no way I’m touching those perfectly formed abs now. I don't care how nice and responsible he's acting.
I don’t want a boyfriend anyway. That’s what my trusty vibrator is for.
I’m the smart girl—the glasses-wearing, book-reading workaholic. I can totally do this.
After all, it’s only for two and a half months.
I'll be on my best behavior…even if Shawn isn't.

Falling for your best friend’s sibling is one of my favorite romance tropes, which is why I couldn’t resist picking up Wrong Bed, Right Roommate. Rebecca Brooks has kicked off her Accidental Love series with a sexy forbidden romance.

I have the greatest affection for tightly-wound heroines and Jessie definitely fits the bill. She’s driven, obsessively organized, and determined to be successful now that she’s got her chance to get her foot in the door of New York publishing. Jessie does need to learn to loosen up a bit, and that’s where Shawn comes in. Shawn is Jessie’s opposite in most ways and I admit I had a harder time connecting with him. He has been selfish in the past and has treated the women in his life as fairly disposable, but he recognizes his behavior and is determined to turn his life around which I did like. Shawn also has a tendency to be so laid-back that he can be fairly irresponsible, to the point where I had trouble believing the ending of this story. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book, but while there was some genuine growth in Shawn’s character, at times his progress didn’t feel earned. Perhaps a bit more time spent with him might have made him feel a bit more believable by the end.

Lust and close quarters are the kick Jessie and Shawn need to “break the rules” and fall into bed. Their romance was solid and there was some nice emotional development, but it felt a bit flat to me. There wasn’t anything particularly new or fresh about the romance to make it stand out, nor were the dialogue or the chemistry between the leads exciting enough to make me simply sit back and enjoy watching beloved tropes play out. I’ve adored Ms. Brooks’s books in the past and I know she can pack and emotional punch, but Jessie and Shawn just fell a bit short of the mark. All the elements were there and the story was good, but I did finish Wrong Bed, Right Roommate feeling like I wanted a bit more.


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.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish
Series: Kincaid Strange, Book 2
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780345815903
Ebook Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kristi Charish’s urban fantasy series.

Kincaid Strange cannot catch a break. After dealing with a spate of paranormal murders, there’s barely time to recuperate--let alone sleep in--before there’s a new problem in Kincaid’s world of paranormal activity. When her roommate, Nathan Cade--the ghost of a grunge-rocker with a pathological lack of self-control--comes home bound to a dead body, it’s up to Kincaid to figure out how to free him. Ideally before her new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s ghost, discovers that Nate is trapped in the body he’d coveted for himself.

When Aaron, a Seattle cop on the afterlife beat--and Kincaid’s ex--calls her in to help out with a cold case, she takes the chance to mend fences with the police department. The problem: they want to interview Nate’s ghost, which she can’t produce. Then people from Nate’s past start showing up dead, and what’s killing them doesn't seem to be human. And the way it’s killing them is especially brutal.

Nate’s hiding something, but he’s Kincaid’s friend and she wants to help him. But she also wants to stay alive…

Kincaid Strange, the best voodoo practitioner in the Pacific Northwest, has not been having a good time lately. After solving a series of murders that left her physically and emotionally worn out, all she wants is to get back to doing normal séances and zombie raisings. But before you can say “feral zombie,” Kincaid is up to her ears in problems again. She’s in debt to a sorcerer’s ghost, her roommate and best friend, Nathan Cade – ghost of a grunge rock star – is trapped in a zombie’s body, and now her Seattle cop ex wants Kincaid to look into a murder involving people from Nate’s past. It’s more than your average practitioner could take… But Kincaid Strange is anything but average.

Return to Kristi Charish’s fantastical and fascinating world of zombies, ghosts, and ghouls in Lipstick Voodoo. I loved Kincaid’s first outing - The Voodoo Killings - and couldn’t wait to see what happened next for the kickass voodoo practitioner.

Kincaid continues to be a great protagonist. She’s strong but flawed, smart but doesn’t know everything, and when her back’s against the wall, she’ll continue to fight, especially if someone she cares about is in danger. This time around, her irresponsible but loveable roommate, Nate, has gotten her into hot water. Nate is trapped in a zombie body and the clock is ticking for her to figure out how to get him out before Nate burns out. Nate has a fun personality and it’s easy to see why Kincaid adores him, but that doesn’t mean she’s blind to his flaws. Nate’s impulsive nature has gotten him into deep trouble and he’s got secrets Kincaid will have to suss out when supernatural murders strike and it’s clear there’s a connection to him. I loved watching how Kincaid’s mind worked as she unraveled the rapidly multiplying mysteries.

Lipstick Voodoo also brings the return of other fascinating characters. From the powerful zombie Lee Ling to the surprisingly interesting Mork to Gideon Lawrence, a sometimes-terrifying sorcerer’s ghost, there are a wealth of complex secondary characters that round out this story extremely well. I loved delving deeper into Gideon’s character in particular; he’s powerful, dangerous, intriguing, and I very much want to learn more about him. He and Kincaid have an interesting relationship and his insights into Kincaid’s character add to the story.

Lipstick Voodoo is a twisting blend of paranormal mystery, action, and the emotional struggle of a woman caught between the living and the dead. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Ms. Charish deftly weaves all the threads together to create a wonderful, engaging story. If you haven’t read The Voodoo Killings I highly recommend doing so before diving into this book (unless you don’t mind huge spoilers). I finished Lipstick Voodoo a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Charish has in store for Kincaid next!


FTC Disclosure: I received the ebook edition of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and purchased the audiobook edition. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.