Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781101987827
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there's a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment--taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he's at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won't hide the facts of Bo's condition from him or herself. She's suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back--even if it means striking a devil's bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

Ocean Light is pure delight! Life under the sea has not been this much fun since The Little Mermaid. Every time Nalini Singh invites readers into a new part of the Psy-Changeling world, I fall in love all over again.

Bowen Knight – the champion and effective leader of the Human Alliance – is living on borrowed time. The chip implanted in his brain to stop Psy attacks on his mind is failing and will more than likely take his brain down with it. His only shot at survival comes when he is taken to a clinic on Ryūjin, a BlackSea installation deep under the sea. Bo was an intriguing secondary character in the Psy-Changeling series and I’m thrilled that I finally got to read his story. Bo is incredibly smart, deeply caring, and protective. He also carries scars from his past that have made him all-too-aware of human vulnerability to psychic assault. His determination to protect humanity and put them on equal footing with Psy and Changelings may cost him his life, but Bo is the kind of man who will always put himself in the line of danger to protect others from harm. For so many years Bo’s focus has been on learning to defend himself and others, leaving no time for fun. That’s why I found myself smiling over and over as Bo found the playful, fun side of himself with Kaia.

Humans have long been positioned as the weakest race, but Kaia Luna knows that they can be just as deadly. The BlackSea Changelings’ history is filled with harm done to them by humans and Kaia herself has experienced trauma at human hands. Upon first meeting Bo, she’s suspicious of him, but her cousin needs her assistance treating the far-too-attractive male. Kaia’s wariness doesn’t last long and I loved watching her open up to Bo. Kaia is an absolutely wonderful heroine. She’s a chef who shows her love through food and her warm, caring nature simply sprung off the page. She’s the kind of heroine you wish were real just so you could be friends with her (and not just because she makes fantastic cookies). She and Bo are a perfect fit and their romance made me smile and sigh. The proverbial ticking time bomb in Bo’s head isn’t the only obstacle they face. Bo’s a creature of land and Kaia of the sea; finding a happy medium given their lives, obligations, and deep-seated fears isn’t easy. I was rooting for them every step of the way because I liked them both so much.

Ocean Light takes readers deep into the heart of BlackSea territory and I couldn’t be happier. What I wouldn’t give to live on the Ryūjin installation with its friendly, unique characters and fascinating feats of engineering. BlackSea is different from many of the Changeling groups we’ve seen so far not only because of the variety of species, but because they’re spread out across the world. It made for a different dynamic that was fascinating and fun to see. How often would you expect to see a conversation with a whale or shark or a fight with a walrus, all in human form? Every character Ms. Singh introduces us to is intriguing and when you add in a plotline involving the missing members of BlackSea, it’s easy to see why I didn’t want Ocean Light to end.

Romance, action, and a bright, vivid world all make Ocean Light a captivating read. I read Kaia and Bo’s book late into the night until I couldn’t possibly keep my eyes open any longer, only to finish it as soon as I woke up the next morning. Ms. Singh’s writing continues to be incredibly addictive her characters never fail to grab my heart. I loved Ocean Light and I hope to see more of BlackSea soon!


FTC Disclosure: I received the e-book edition of 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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, Book 2
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062448149
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person? Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Rainy Day Friends is one of those books that makes me indescribably happy. It’s romantic, funny, and heartwarming all at once and the characters are sure to capture your heart from the start.

Lanie Jacobs lost her husband…and in losing him found that she was only the first of a number of wives. Anxious and off-kilter, Lanie takes a temporary job at the Capriotti Winery and is immediately embraced by the lively Capriotti family. The Capriottis don’t let Lanie hold herself apart or retreat from the world and their love, acceptance, and pure zaniness help Lanie come out of her shell and find herself again. I absolutely adored Lanie. She’s got a bigger heart than even she knows, and though she’s not perfect she’s a perfectly endearing heroine. She’s also readers’ entry into the wonderful world of the Capriottis, a family unlike any other. The Capriottis are bold and boisterous and oh-so-wonderful. They made the pages of Rainy Day Friends fly by. I loved how they tend to adopt people, welcoming them in from the start and seeing the best in them even when they make mistakes. My favorite Capriotti is, of course, Mark. The handsome single father of utterly adorable twins is a hero who will make you sigh. Mark is sexy and strong, to be sure, but it’s his love for his daughters, the way he puts them first, and the love he has for his crazy family that just pushed him over the edge and into book boyfriend material. Mark has also been burned by love and he doesn’t want to even think about getting seriously involved with someone until his girls are grown. Fate, however, has other plans and it’s easy to see that the attraction between Lanie and Mark is more than mere lust. Their romance is both sweet and sensual and I was rooting for both of them to overcome their fears and risk their hearts on a chance at happily ever after with one another.

Lanie’s life at the Capriotti Winery isn’t all smooth sailing. The arrival of the mysterious River Green leads to complications and the secrets she carries have the power to hurt Lanie. I won’t say more because that would spoil the story, but River was as intriguing to me as Lanie and Mark were. She’s also lost in many ways when she arrives at the Capriottis’ home and her journey was just as engaging as Lanie’s was. River and Lanie’s relationship was every bit as important to the story as the Lanie/Mark romance and I loved that.

Jill Shalvis is a master at mixing humor and heart and Rainy Day Friends showcases her talents perfectly. If you take just the romance or just the friendships in this book, the story is a cut above. But the Capriottis take the book to the next level, making it a vibrant, memorable tale that will warm your heart and leave you smiling.


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, June 4, 2018

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780451490803
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

The Kiss Quotient is a lovely romance that is by turns sexy and sweet. Helen Hoang’s imaginative spin on Pretty Woman charmed me thanks to its wonderfully unique characters. Stella captured my interest from the first. She’s a brilliant econometrician and her honest love and joy for her work was endearing. But Stella is also deeply vulnerable in ways that broke my heart. She feels her Asperger’s impedes her love life and she worries that she will never be good at relationships. Thus Stella embarks on a quest to become better at sex and relationships by hiring an escort to teach her what she wants to know. Michael is the perfect mix of sweetness and sensuality; definitely a swoon-worthy hero. He’s kind, loving, patient, and he sees Stella for the wonderful woman that she is. I really liked that Michael had his own vulnerabilities as well, though I feel like it’d spoil the story a bit to give away his background and his reasons for becoming an escort.

The attraction between Michael and Stella is instantaneous and the sexual tension was fun to watch build. But the best part of the story (for me) was watching Stella and Michael learn more about one another. Ms. Hoang isn’t afraid to let her characters be flawed and their lives messy and that’s what truly makes The Kiss Quotient special. There’s a level of emotional honesty and realism mixed into the fantasy that really captured my attention and had me rooting for Stella and Michael.

Stella and Michael are the heart of The Kiss Quotient, but it’d be shameful if I didn’t mention Michael’s wonderful family. His sisters and cousins are all vibrant characters and the only downside of meeting them is I desperately want their stories (especially Quan’s). I finished The Kiss Quotient a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Hoang has in store for Michael’s cousin Khai in The Bride Test.


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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: The Chateau by Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau by Tiffany Reisz
Series: The Original Sinners, Book 9
Publisher: 8th Circle Press
Genre: Erotic Thriller
ISBN: 9781548681951
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

As the Jack-of-All-Wicked-Trades for a secretive French military intelligence agency, Kingsley Boissonneault has done it all—spied, lied, and killed under orders. But his latest assignment is quite out of the ordinary. His commanding officer’s nephew has disappeared inside a sex cult, and Kingsley has been tasked with bringing him home to safety.

The cult’s holy book is "Story of O," the infamous French novel of extreme sado-masochism. Their château is a looking-glass world where women reign and men are their willing slaves. Or are they willing? It’s Kingsley’s mission to find out.

Once inside the château, however, Kingsley quickly falls under the spell cast by the enigmatic Madame, a woman of wisdom, power, and beauty. She offers Kingsley the one thing he’s always wanted. But the price? Giving up forever the only person he’s ever loved.

Working for a secret branch of the French military by day and seducing a number of women by night may be enough to occupy some men, but not Kingsley Boissonneault. No assignment, no assignation can fill his mind enough to rid him of the dreams of Søren, the love he can never get over. Until, that is, he’s tasked with going undercover and rescuing his commanding officer’s nephew from a sex cult run by the mysterious Madame. Madame’s world is like nothing Kingsley has ever seen. In the château, the women rule and the men serve. And as Madame’s brand of sadism feeds Kingsley’s soul, he’s faced with a choice: he can have everything he’s ever wanted, but the price is giving up forever the beautiful monster who haunt his dreams.

The Chateau is an interesting, evocative read that’s a fantastic mix of dark and light. Kingsley’s journey through the looking glass and into Madame’s world is filled with surprises, erotic adventures, and masochism. The château is a sort of reverse Story of O where the women rule and the men serve them in every way. In many ways it’s a lovely world, with warmth, humor, and sensuality. Madame is a sadist and a master at mind games, and she’s an interesting, well-developed character. It’s easy to see why Kingsley is fascinated by her and why he’s taken with the other women in the house. Whether or not the world Madame has created is what it seems or if there are darker elements at play, I’ll leave readers to discover. I will say that nothing is ever simple and straightforward when you’re playing with characters this clever and I loved the twists and turns Kingsley encounters over the course of the story.

At the center of The Chateau is the story of Kingsley finding himself again. Kingsley is a delightful protagonist. He’s young, arrogant, charming, protective, and funny as hell. He’s strong and deadly, to be sure, but he’s also incredibly vulnerable and I found the contrast appealing. Life in the château holds great appeal for him: beautiful women, the chance of a family, and a masterful sadist who can give him almost everything he needs. The almost part comes in because of Kingsley’s dreams about Søren, the former lover whose hold on him is still strong. I loved watching Kingsley learn more about himself and about his relationship with Søren over the course of the book.

The Chateau is a standalone book set in the world of Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series. I haven’t yet read the rest of the books, but if I wasn’t already planning to I definitely would now because I was so intrigued by Kingsley and Søren’s relationship. Ms. Reisz is a master of pushing boundaries and mixing eroticism with emotion and charm. Her writing is always engaging, so much so that I started The Chateau late and night and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, only to finish the book when I woke up the next morning. So whether you’re a fan of the Original Sinners series or are new to the world, this is an exceptional ride.


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.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Royally Wed by Teri Wilson

Royally Wed by Teri Wilson
Series: The Royals, Book 3
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781501160516
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Teri Wilson’s Royals series returns with this charming and witty retelling of the timeless classic MGM film Royal Wedding starring Fred Astaire.

When Asher Reed, an American classical musician, is hired as a last minute replacement to perform at the royal wedding of Princess Amelia in Great Britain, he’s hoping he can shake his recent bout with performance anxiety long enough to get through the festivities and get his career back on track. Little does he know that his life is about to change forever.

As a guest of Buckingham Palace, he knows he has no business even speaking to the princess, but he’s completely awed by her beauty and more than a little intrigued by her rebellious spirit. Still, he definitely knows he has no business kissing her silly at the fitting of her wedding gown. He’s there to perform, not cause a royal scandal. But when he stumbles upon her groom’s appalling secret, the fate of the princess and the British Crown suddenly rest squarely in his cello-playing hands....

You know those books that instantly make you happy when you read them? That’s exactly what Royally Wed is for me. I absolutely loved this sweet confection of a story; the characters charmed the hell out of me and Teri Wilson’s writing swept me away to a modern-day fairytale for a few hours.

For the first time in his life Asher Reed – considered by some to be the next Yo-Yo Ma – is having trouble playing. Considering he just agreed to fill in for the famed cellist for the wedding of Princess Amelia of Great Britain, this couldn’t come at a worse time. And that’s before you take into account that his ex and his former mentor who she cheated on him with will be there. Asher can’t afford distractions if he wants to pull himself together, and there’s no bigger distraction than the bride herself. Amelia is trying to shake her “Princess Naughty” image and save her family from being blackmailed by marrying a man she doesn’t love (and who clearly doesn’t love her). She can’t afford a scandal and falling for a handsome American cellist would be scandalous indeed…

I adored Amelia and Asher from the start. They’re lovely, charming, endearing characters who are easy to root for. They have fantastic chemistry and it’s easy to see why it’s impossible for them to stay away from one another. Sparks aside, I loved how they became friends as they fell in love; it added to their love story and gave it more depth. While they do fall in love quickly, it works in this case. I honestly had no idea how they’d get their happily ever after and I loved that Ms. Wilson kept me guessing.

Royally Wed is loosely based on the Fred Astaire classic, Royal Wedding. Of all the Royals books, this one is the least like its inspiration (save for one major plot point) but I really enjoyed the nods to the film that I spotted. As with all the Royals books, Ms. Wilson does an incredible job of updating a classic and giving it her own, fresh spin. I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you enjoy contemporary romances or simply want a pick-me-up. Royally Wed is the perfect mix of sweet and sensual, of real emotion and fairytale romance. In short, it’s simply superb.


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, May 14, 2018

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9780399586682
Ebook/Paperback Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Audible

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Next Year in Havana is a gorgeous book. Chanel Cleeton’s writing is lush and lyrical and her love of Cuba and its people shines through on every page.

Next Year in Havana travels back and forth between past and present, the story told through the eyes of Elisa and her granddaughter Marisol. In 1958 Elisa is part of the Havana elite, the daughter of a wealthy sugar baron. She’s kind, smart, and far stronger than many would give her credit for. Elisa isn’t flawless; she’s young, passionate, and makes mistakes, but she’s got a good heart. Through her eyes we see the multiple sides of a Cuba rapidly being torn apart. Not only is Elisa’s brother, Alejandro, part of a student revolutionary group working for a democratic Cuba, Elisa falls in love with Pablo, a revolutionary with close ties to Castro. As her world begins to crumble around her, Elisa’s eyes are opened and she begins to question everything. Her journey is beautiful and sad, but also hopeful. I admit I only have a passing knowledge of Cuban history and politics, and I really enjoyed learning more (and being lead to research more) as I read this story. Ms. Cleeton does a fantastic job of weaving fact and fiction.

In 2017, Elisa’s granddaughter Marisol travels to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes. Marisol’s journey is both similar and different to Elisa’s and I was equally captivated by both. Marisol is a journalist who is eager to see the Cuba she’s heard of in her grandmother’s tales. Life in post-revolutionary Cuba is a culture shock for the Florida-raised Marisol. She learns what Cuban life is really like for everyday people and I enjoyed watching her start to question her own beliefs and become invested in the welfare of Cuban people as she never had been before. Marisol is a genuinely lovely heroine and a great stand-in for an American reader. The revolution, its aftermath, and the effects both positive and negative politics has had on the Cuban people is an important subject and it’s important to note that Ms. Cleeton treats these real-life matters with the weight and respect they deserve.

Internal and external conflicts abound in Next Year in Havana, but the book has a smooth, lovely flow to it. The characters are all well-developed and I cared about Elisa and Marisol’s friends and loved ones. It would be remiss of me not to mention the love stories, because the Elisa/Pablo and Marisol/Luis romances were captivating. All in all, I highly recommend this book. Chanel Cleeton’s writing is phenomenal and I cannot wait to read about Elisa’s sister, Beatriz, in When We Left Cuba.


FTC Disclosure: I received the ebook/paperback editions of 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, May 13, 2018

Review: I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting
Series: Shacking Up, Book 3
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781250183972
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL. HE’S A FIXER UPPER…

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in the Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance―without burning down the house?

I Flipping Love You is the perfect beach read. It’s light and fun with a cast of bold personalities and a sexy romance that’ll leave you with a smile.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Helena Hunting’s books, so I came into I Flipping Love You with fairly high expectations. Confession time: I didn’t like this book when I started it. At first, I found Pierce to be shallow and arrogant, Rian to be a flat character, and the comedic moments weren’t funny to me at all. It wasn’t bad, but the advertised romantic comedy felt more like one of those forgettable romcoms you keep on in the background and forget two minutes after it ends. That being said, I’m so glad I stuck with this book because I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.

After the first third of the book, I grew to care about Pierce and Rian and I loved peeling back the layers of their characters. While he is cocky, Pierce shows himself to be a wonderfully sweet hero with a good heart and a sense of humor. He’s a patent lawyer who wants to get out of the family business but is worried about disappointing his father. It’s clear Pierce is more suited to doing renovations than he is filing patents and I could see why he was so determined to prove that he could make his new career choice work. As for Rian, she is a brilliant and fun heroine whose family history has made her wary of trusting anyone other than her twin, Marley. Her father conned people out of millions before he and her mother abandoned Rian and Marley, leaving them a pile of debt. The two of them have had to work their way up from nothing and now their dream of flipping houses is about to become a reality. Rian’s biggest dream is to buy back and renovate their grandmother’s mansion in the Hamptons and I was rooting for her all the way. Of course, her dream and Pierce’s lead them to be in competition over properties, which leads to some fun moments.

I Flipping Love You starts off with a lot of banter and sexual tension, but when things heat up, the book really hits it stride. Pierce and Rian fit each other perfectly in bed and out and I liked seeing them work together just as much as I enjoyed the romantic storyline. It isn’t always smooth sailing for these two; Rian has trouble letting herself trust in Pierce and there are a couple external obstacles in their way as well. But all in all, theirs is a fun, sexy romance that’s easy to become invested in once Pierce convinces Rian to give him a chance.

I Flipping Love You is the third book in Ms. Hunting’s Shacking Up series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Pierce’s sister, Amalie (the heroine of Hooking Up), does play a small supporting role and I will definitely be reading her book because she was a ton of fun and captured my interest from the start. So if you’re looking for a book to sweep you away to the Hamptons for the summer, this sassy, sunny tale is for you.


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.