Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons, Book 1
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Male/Male Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780399586293
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

A warning to anyone about to start Illegal Contact: make sure you leave yourself time to read the entire book in one sitting. Santino Hassell has a compelling writing style that makes Gavin and Noah’s love story impossible to put down. Even if you’re not a football fan, this is one sports romance you don’t want to miss.

Gavin Brawley isn’t your typical hero. He may be gorgeous and talented both in the bedroom and on the field, but he’s also got a short temper that he lets fly. Add in an attitude and an unwillingness to be anything but straightforward and it’s easy to see why he’s a public relations nightmare. Gavin isn’t wholly the jerk the media makes him out to be, but he’s got a chip on shoulder and the forced confinement of house arrest (even if that house is a mansion) makes him even more irritable. So why did I find him so compelling? What sold me on Gavin from the start – even when he was at his most disagreeable – was that he’s utterly and completely loyal, protective, and caring when it comes to his friends. I loved peeling back the layers of his character and watching Gavin grow and change over the course of the story. He’s never going to be the smiling sports star pictured on your boxed cereal, but he does become an ever better, more well-rounded version of himself.

Noah Monroe is the catalyst for Gavin’s change, and I flat-out loved him. Noah is one of the most relatable protagonists I’ve come across in quite some time. When he applies for the job of Gavin’s personal assistant, it’s not because he’s a football fan or a celebrity-chaser. He’s simply a recent college grad drowning in student loan debt and desperately needs a job. Noah may be smart, no-nonsense, a bit of a geek, and look like a sexy Clark Kent, but he’s also an over-thinker with flaws of his own. Noah isn’t cowed by Gavin’s temper and his straightforwardness with the other man about how he comes across is part of the reason why Gavin starts to examine his own attitude.

Noah and Gavin don’t hit it off from the start; in fact, they piss each other off more often than not. The sparks fly fast and furious and I loved watching Gavin and Noah go from antagonizing one another to respecting each other to becoming more than cranky football star and overwhelmed employee. While there’s definite attraction in the beginning, the romance is a slow burn. I loved that Gavin and Noah actually got to know each other before the love story kicked things into high gear. And when the sexual tension between the two men boils over…watch out, because you’re in for some dirty, sexy fun. I loved these two together, but even after they start to fall in love, you know things aren’t going to be easy. Coming out as bisexual could destroy a career that has saved Gavin, and homophobia isn’t something you can wave a magic wand at and make disappear. I won’t say how things work out, but I will say that the ending of Illegal Contact left me with a huge smile on my face.

Illegal Contact is the first book in Mr. Hassell’s Barons series and I can’t wait for more. Noah and Gavin are complex, interesting characters and their love story is layered, engaging, sexy, and surprisingly sweet at times. I also fell in love with Gavin’s teammates and best friends Simeon and Marcus, and I cannot wait to see what Mr. Hassell has in store for Simeon in Down by Contact. Until I find out, I’m content to keep re-reading Gavin and Noah’s story – their romance is just that addictive.


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.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Review: The Wolf of Kisimul Castle by Heather McCollum

The Wolf of Kisimul Castle by Heather McCollum
Series: Highland Isles, Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781973859741
Release Date: August 14, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Mairi Maclean is kidnapped on her wedding day by the enemy of her dead husband. Taken north to the water-surrounded Kisimul Castle, she is held captive in the name of retribution. But The Wolf of Kisimul Castle soon learns Mairi is not a docile pawn in this game of war between neighboring Scots. Nor will she be frightened into walking down the aisle to wed the fierce Highland chief.

Alec MacNeil is set on revenge. When he finds his enemy dead, he takes his wife to replace the one that was murdered. An eye for an eye. A bride for a bride. But Mairi is more tiger than kitten and refuses to bend to his will. Set stubbornly against one another, the passion that flares between them threatens to tear Alec's strategy to shreds.

Alec MacNeil has a simple plan for revenge: kidnap his enemy’s bride on her wedding day and marry her himself. But Mairi Maclean is no wilting flower. She challenges him, tempts him, and isn’t about to give in and marry some man just because he says so. But even though she’s his captive, it’s not long before Mairi is breathing new life into Alec’s home. And the longer the two of them are around one another, the more difficult it becomes for them to resist their mutual attraction…

The Wolf of Kisimul Castle is one of the most fun books I’ve read in a long time. I can’t count the number of times Mairi and Alec made me grin and Heather McCollum’s writing just plain charmed the heck out of me.

Mairi is a strong, resourceful woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. When taken captive she doesn’t faint with fright, but defies Alec and makes herself comfortable in his dungeon. I loved Mairi’s cleverness, attitude, and warm heart. Kisimul Castle is a dark and depressing place when she arrives and she – along with Alec’s adorable children – turn it into a home. As for Alec, though he’s determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he’s no monster. He’s a kind and loving father and a leader who wants to do what’s best for his people. I adored both Alec and Mairi, which made it easy to become invested in their love story. Their romance is lively and fun; every part of it crackles with energy. The sparks that fly from their first meeting keep flying all through the book which made this a wonderfully satisfying romance.

Some books just make you happy when you read them, and that’s definitely the case for me with The Wolf of Kisimul Castle. This is the first book of Ms. McCollum’s that I’ve read and her style reminded me of vintage Julie Garwood. I couldn’t have been more entertained by Mairi and Alec’s story and I cannot wait to go back and read Ms. McCollum’s first two Highland Isles tales!


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: How to Marry a Marquess by Stacy Reid

How to Marry a Marquess by Stacy Reid
Series: Wedded by Scandal, Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781973859536
Release Date: August 14, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Lady Evie Chesterfield is a darling of the ton who refuses to become engaged. She's been desperately in love with her brother's friend, Richard Maitland, Marquess of Westfall, since forever. But the dark, dangerous marquess only sees her as a friend and refuses to marry any woman. When circumstances change and Evie has no choice but to take a husband, she decides to convince London's most notorious gentleman to marry her by seducing the scoundrel.

Richard Maitland decided long ago that he wanted nothing to do with love. So when the gorgeous, off-limits Evie asks him for lessons in seduction, Richard knows he's playing with fire. Despite Richard's determination to protect her from his dastardly reputation, he is tested at every turn by his need for the infuriating, but enticing, Lady Evie. Before too long he is faced with making an impossible choice…

Since reading the first Wedded by Scandal book, Accidentally Compromising the Duke, I have been on tenterhooks for Evie and Westfall’s story. Stacy Reid did not disappoint. How to Marry a Marquess has it all: bright dialogue, meltingly sensual scenes, and a romance you can root for. I adored it.

What I liked best about Evie and Westfall’s relationship is that it is six years in the making. Ms. Reid takes readers on a journey that starts with a less than glamorous (but quite funny) initial meeting. Even though they’re immediately attracted to one another, the two of them are friends for years before the main story develops. I loved the chemistry Evie and Westfall had both as friends and lovers. The sexual tension was utterly delicious and their dialogue brightened up the page and made How to Marry a Marquess practically speed by.

While it’s clear to everyone that Evie and Westfall would make a great match, things aren’t so easy for them. Westfall’s life took a turn when he found and rescued his illegitimate daughter, Emily. Emily changed Westfall’s outlook on life and his patience for the hypocrisy of high society is limited. The fact that he loves his daughter and the other children he adopted made me melt, but his actions have made him a pariah in society. While he doesn’t care that his name has been dragged through the mud, he’s so protective of Evie that he won’t give them a chance because he doesn’t believe that the darling of society could be an outcast. Westfall’s passion for social reform made me love him, but I did want to shake him a time or two because he makes assumptions about Evie and what she does or does not think. Neither he nor Evie are perfect and that means that – even though they both have hearts of gold – they don’t always say or do the right thing. But even when they screw up, they mean well and Ms. Reid shows us why each acts the way they do. And all the ups and downs are totally worth it because their happily ever after is wonderfully romantic.

How to Marry a Marquess is the third Wedded by Scandal book, but it can easily be read as a standalone. As happened Accidentally Compromising the Duke, I made the mistake of trying to read this story on my lunch break, which was a terrible plan. Ms. Reid’s writing is so entertaining that if you have to put the story down, you’re counting the hours until you can get back to it. I love a good friends-to-lovers story and Evie and Westfall’s is simply fantastic.


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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Changing the Play by Julia Blake


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I love it when I'm aimlessly poking around on Amazon and come across a book that seems right up my alley. That's the case for my Waiting on Wednesday pick this week, Changing the Play by Julia Blake. I love strong, successful heroines and stories where one of the protagonists has an old crush on the other. Changing the Play has both and it sounds like a heck of a fun read. I adored The Governess Was Wanton, which Ms. Blake wrote as Julia Kelly, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how Ms. Blake tackles contemporary romance.

Title: Changing the Play
Series: The Game Changer, Book 1
Author: Julia Blake
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pocket Star
Release Date: August 21, 2017

Book Description (from Amazon):

From award-winning author Julia Blake comes a fast-paced romance that offers the perfect mix of competition and passion in the dog-eat-dog world of professional football and sports media.

Rachel Pollard has never been a push-over. That’s why she’s a superstar in the world of sports management, making a name for herself with a shrewd eye for overlooked talent. She certainly isn’t taking any chances with her latest NFL draft prospect, Kevin Loder, who’s poised to shake up the league. But when Nick Ruben, a tenacious sports reporter who also happens to be the crush who ignored her all through high school, picks up the scent of a long-buried story, Rachel suddenly finds herself playing defense for the first time in years.

Nick usually doesn’t strike out with women, but his always-dependable charm isn’t getting him anywhere with Rachel or the interview he needs to save his job from his network’s impending layoffs. He knows he’s pressing hard, but she’s pushing back just as much—it’d almost be fun if his career wasn’t on the line. But after weeks of begging and finally striking a deal for an exclusive, Nick is surprised to realize he wants their relationship to be anything but professional. Now he has to figure out a way to save his job without hurting hers, and to make the girl he overlooked in high school believe he’s worth a shot at love.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Entangled: Scorched New Releases

Get Scorched with sexy new releases from Lorna James, Tina Donahue, and Laura Jardine!

***

About TWO DUKES AND A LADY:

Charles Ashdown, Duke of Densmore, and his closest friend William Kenwood, Duke of Tennison, love gambling and womanizing too much to ever be ensnared by a debutante. Certainly, no decent wife would allow the debauchery they enjoy. But the only woman they’ve ever loved has returned. Unfortunately, Society, and likely darling Lily, will never accept the sharing relationship they’d like to propose.

Lillian Drew returns to England after her husband’s mysterious death and finds solace with her girlhood crushes, Charles and William. Sure, they’re as unapologetically crass and self-centered as always, but she loves them both. When her dead husband’s creditors come after her, she has no choice but to remarry, though she can’t make up her mind which duke she’ll propose to. With a toss of one of the few coins she has left to her name, she hopes the loser will understand.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

 

***

About WICKED TAKEOVER:

She’s just inherited a tattoo parlor…and the hunk who comes with it.

Lauren’s in a helluva mess. Not only has she lost her corporate HR job, she’s just inherited Wicked Brand, a struggling West Palm Beach tattoo parlor…along with the virile dude who runs it. Lauren’s full-figured, sorta pretty, and wanting him badly. Dream on. She’s here to sell the place as quickly as possible for some much-needed cash and score a new position in the corporate world.

Dante’s sinfully hot with a killer smile and beautifully inked biceps. He sees the heat in Lauren’s eyes despite her conservative appearance, recognizing the dynamite woman she could be if she’d just loosen up and have some wicked fun. Dominance and submission. Making love in a public place. Having her lush body always accessible to and ready for his.

Unwilling and unable to keep their hands to themselves, Lauren and Dante turn to carnal games and seduction. Until lust turns to surprising need and friendship to something deeper that might just change their futures.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

 

***

About SEDUCING HIS TRUE LOVE:

Blaine Richards didn’t believe in love at first sight, even when he met the perfect woman. They had an intense, passionate interlude sixteen months ago…and then it was over. Even after all this time, Blaine can’t forget Cassie Monroe. Now, he’s desperate to get her back.

It’s taken more than a year for Cassie's broken heart to heal, but she’s finally ready to move on…when Blaine comes back to town, claiming she belongs with him.

He challenges her to spend a weekend with him, betting she won’t be able to walk away at the end of it. Cassie finally agrees, determined to prove there’s nothing between them but hot sex.

Only, the erotic, no-holds-barred weekend Blaine has planned for her is enough to make a girl change her mind…

Disclaimer: Contains the following possible trigger: consensual rape fantasy.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Royally Wed by Teri Wilson


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I adore Teri Wilson's reimagined classics. Ms. Wilson does an excellent job of paying homage to the source material while making the story feel fresh and new. I still smile every time I think of Unleashing Mr. Darcy and I sighed over her last Royals book, Royally Romanov. That's why my Waiting on Wednesday pick this week is Ms. Wilson's Royally Wed, a spin on the Fred Astaire classic, Royal Wedding.

Title: Royally Wed
Series: The Royals, Book 3
Author: Teri Wilson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pocket Star
Release Date: November 13, 2017

Book Description (from Amazon):

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....