Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Sprinkled with Love by Jennifer Faye

Sprinkled with Love by Jennifer Faye
Series: Bachelor Bake-Off, Book 3
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

What does one do with a matchmaking cat named Romeo?

Spirited and beautiful, Jillian Parker is one of Marietta’s newest business owners. Still, her mother worries about Jillian’s bare ring finger. So in order to give her mother something else to fuss over, Jillian adopts a cat named Romeo. He turns out to be anything but a docile lap cat.

One snowy night, Romeo makes a break for it. With Jillian right on his heels, they have a near miss with a passing pickup driven by Avery Wainwright, one of Jillian’s closest friends. A rodeo accident has the sexy cowboy returning home to recuperate, and he’s not happy about it.

So when Avery finds himself lassoed into the Bachelor Bake-Off, he turns to the one person who has always helped him out—Jillian. But will teaching him to take chances outside of the show ring have them both discovering that their feelings for each other run much deeper than they ever imagined?

Sprinkled with Love is a sweet story with a lot of potential. There’s a lot to like about Jennifer Faye’s Bachelor Bake-Off story. Jillian and Avery are good-hearted protagonists who are easy to root for, and when you add in a couple of hilarious cats, it’s clear that this story has the makings of a feel-good romance.

When Avery and Jillian are on the same page, Sprinkled with Love made me smile. They have an easy chemistry and a solid history that means their love story should have unfolded in an organic manner. However, while all the elements are there, the story is dragged down by general miscommunication, the dreaded “big misunderstanding,” a lot of unnecessary push-pull, waffling about big life decisions that didn’t always make sense, and an abrupt ending. I was never quite sure what Avery wanted, likely because a lot of the time he didn’t know what he wanted. As for Jillian, she fell for Avery when she worked for him before, but he never made a move on her (which made sense to me, given that she was a live-in babysitter and housekeeper in his employ). That her feelings were hurt made sense, but it felt wrong that she (and others) seemed to blame him because half the town assumed she was waiting for him to marry her back then. Little things like these picked away at my enjoyment of the story, which was a pity because I really wanted to love Sprinkled with Love. With a bit more fleshing out and a bit less back-and-forth and false drama, the story could have gone from ok to great. As it stands, Ms. Faye’s writing has enough charm to make the story entertaining even when I was frustrated with Jillian and Avery. And of course, the story is also buoyed by the antics of the lovelorn Romeo and Marshmallow, the previously mentioned scene-stealing cats. Overall, Sprinkled with Love was a bit hit-and-miss for me, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading more Bachelor Bake-Off books and I will be looking for more of Ms. Faye’s work in the future.


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, February 6, 2017

Monday in Review

It’s update time again :)

Below are the newest reviews I’ve written for Wit and Sin, Joyfully Reviewed, and Romance Junkies. The master list and categorical lists on the right-hand side are updated as well.

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- The Duke (Victorian Rebels, Book 4) by Kerrigan Byrne (available 2/7/17)
- A Spoonful of Sugar (Bachelor Bake-Off, Book 2) by Kate Hardy (available 2/14/17)

All other new reviews:
- Playing the Player (Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 3) by Amy Andrews
- On Broken Wings (Wild Aces, Book 3) by Chanel Cleeton
- Planned Seduction (Seduction, Book 1) by Jess Dee
- Stealing Taffy (Bigler, North Carolina, Book 3) by Susan Donovan
- Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman
- Keeping Faith by Kris Norris
- Wicked in His Arms (Wedded by Scandal, Book 2) by Stacy Reid

Upcoming reviews:
- The Conquering Dark (Crown & Key, Book 3) by Clay and Susan Griffith
- Skies of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 3) by Zoƫ Archer
- The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 6) by Jennifer Ashley
- Wild Man (Dream Man, Book 2) by Kristen Ashley
- Paper and Fire (The Great Library, Book 2) by Rachel Caine
- The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, Book 1) by Genevieve Cogman
- The Masked City (The Invisible Library, Book 2) by Genevieve Cogman
- Wicked Ever After (Blud, Book 4) by Delilah S. Dawson
- Fire Bound (Sea Haven, Book 5) by Christine Feehan
- Bound Together (Sea Haven, Book 6) by Christine Feedhan
- At Last by Addison Fox
- Baking for Keeps (Bachelor Bake-Off, Book 4) by Jessica Gilmore
- His Game, Her Rules by Charlene Groome
- Base Instincts (Demonica) by Larissa Ione
- The Thing About Love by Julie James
- When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries
- The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Book 1) by Sabrina Jeffries
- Archer (Hard Body, Book 1) by Debra Kayn
- The Governess Was Wild (Governess, Book 3) by Julia Kelly
- Midnight Target (Killer Instincts, Book 8) by Elle Kennedy
- Fair Chance (All’s Fair, Book 3) by Josh Lanyon
- Before You Break (Between Breaths, Book 2) by Christina Lee
- There You Stand (Between Breaths, Book 5) by Christina Lee
- Yours All Along (Loving on the Edge, Book 6.5) by Roni Loren
- Break Me Down (Loving on the Edge, Book 8.5) by Roni Loren
- Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, Book 1) by Bec McMaster
- Captive Prince (Captive Prince, Book 1) by C.S. Pacat
- Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, Book 2) by C.S. Pacat
- Kings Rising (Captive Prince, Book 3) by C.S. Pacat
- Raw Desire by Kate Pearce
- Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce
- The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed
- Laugh (Burnside, Book 2) by Mary Ann Rivers
- Beauty’s Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty, Book 4) by A. N. Roquelaure
- Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, Book 1) by Nalini Singh
- Fighting the Fall (Beyond the Cage, Book 2) by Jennifer Snow
- The Angels’ Share (The Bourbon Kings, Book 2) by J.R. Ward
- A Reluctant Betrothal (The Grantham Girls, Book 3) by Amanda Weaver
- Single Player (Slices of Pi, Book 3) by Elia Winters
- Takeover by Anna Zabo

Review: A Spoonful of Sugar by Kate Hardy

A Spoonful of Sugar by Kate Hardy
Series: Bachelor Bake-Off, Book 2
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Tyler Carter is a healthy-eating gym owner who doesn’t bake. When his employees enter him into a bake-off contest to raise money for Harry’s House, an after school space for kids commemorating local first responder Harry Monroe, he needs to learn–fast!

Shy special needs teacher Stacey Allman loves to bake and often dreams of sharing her confections with her uber fit, gorgeous neighbor. So when Tyler sets off his smoke alarm and explains his dilemma, she can’t resist the temptation of playing pastry chef tutor. He offers boxing lessons in exchange. More time together? Yes please.

But when Tyler’s ex comes back to Marietta asking for his help, will it derail Stacey and Tyler’s chance at love, or will it make them see that they’re the perfect fit?

A Spoonful of Sugar is as sweet as can be without ever entering saccharine territory. Kate Hardy has delivered the ultimate feel-good romance, with kind, endearing characters who will have you avidly turning the pages as you root for them to get together.

Stacey is a special needs teacher with a heart of gold. She’s hearing-impaired and having had her self-esteem constantly beaten as a child left its mark on her. Rather than breaking, she’s become a giving person who works tirelessly to help others and make sure that no one is ever made to feel like she was. Tyler, in turn, is a gym owner who carries a few internal scars of his own over a bad breakup. He’s focused on his gym, but when his team enters him in the Bachelor Bake-Off, he knows he’s in trouble. Tyler can’t make a grilled cheese without setting off the fire alarm, never mind cookies, cakes, and pies. When his first attempt at baking (predictably) sets off the fire alarm, it’s his neighbor, Stacey to the rescue. When she agrees to teach him to bake in exchange for boxing lessons from him, it’s the start of a friendship that will fast turn into something more. Tyler and Stacey made me smile more than once as they fell in love. She’s an amazing teacher and a genuinely kind soul, which made her easy to adore. And Tyler…wow. He spots early on that Stacey’s self-esteem isn’t the highest and the way he genuinely compliments her and helps her see how amazing she is just made me melt. As a pair, the two of them were excellent. They had lovely chemistry and were so sweet they warmed my heart.

A Spoonful of Sugar is the second book in the multi-author Bachelor Bake-Off series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, after finishing Tyler and Stacey’s book, I’m definitely intrigued and want to read the rest of the series as soon as possible. As for Stacey and Tyler, they’re a couple I’ll definitely be revisiting when I need a pick-me-up.


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 5, 2017

Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels, Book 4
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250118240
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

He is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners…

Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas. Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that legends are made of. He's the English Empire’s golden son—until fate has its way with him. Cole’s family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor—and desire. And now he’s ready for the fight of his lifetime…

Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience—one that left her a wealthy widow—but she never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her…at all costs

The Duke is dark, intense, and completely addictive. Imogen and Cole captivated me from the very beginning and did not let go, no matter how rocky the road to happily ever after got. Kerrigan Byrne has a gift for penning intriguing, imperfect heroes and heroines, and Imogen and Cole are no exception.

I absolutely loved Imogen. She’s lived a hard life, has known starvation and violence, yet she doesn’t break. She looks for the sunshine in the clouds, and I loved her optimism almost as much as I loved her desire to help those less fortunate. At the beginning of the story, Imogen is a nurse who must spend her nights serving alcohol in a brothel in order to pay off her father’s debts. One night changes everything when Cole, the newly-minted Duke of Talmage, walks in and she finds herself seduced by the handsome, heartbreakingly sad man. Fast-forward to the present (so as to avoid giving spoilers) and Imogen is now a wealthy widowed countess who works hard to give others a second chance and a safe environment. She’s determined to make the world a better place, even though society may scorn her for it.

Surprisingly (for a romance), Cole is one of her detractors. He grew up privileged and was raised with the prejudices typical for his class, and on top of that war and imprisonment have shown him the uglier side of humanity. Even though he’s in the wrong, I liked that Ms. Byrne showed where he was coming from, how his upbringing and the trauma of war (and his PTSD in the aftermath) have affected him. Yes, Cole could be frustrating because he’s so scarred and angry that he can’t see what’s right in front of him. But even though Cole isn’t the perfect hero, I really liked watching him grow as a character and become the hero he should be.

Despite its sensual beginning, the romance between Cole and Imogen is slow to burn. He’s fixated on finding the woman he spent one night with, and it’s no spoiler to say that he doesn’t realize that “Ginny” is Imogen. Thus their love story is more of an enemies-to-lovers one, and it was nice to see them actually get to know one another as they (however reluctantly) fell in love. What took this story down a notch for me was the fact that I felt we didn’t get much time with Cole and Imogen as a couple. With Cole being such a harsh character, I would have loved a few more heartfelt moments between the two, something to give me the sense of tenderness or happiness from a couple in love that I’ve come to expect to see in a romance.

In addition to the love story, there’s a level of suspense in The Duke thanks to a plotline involving Imogen’s stalker. I liked the added element of danger, but as with the romance, I felt the resolution was rushed and I would have liked just a bit more to it to leave me fully satisfied. Even with these few issues, I thoroughly enjoyed The Duke overall. Ms. Byrne is a fantastic writer and I love the complex, interesting characters she creates. Every Victorian Rebels book has swept me away, and The Duke is no exception. I cannot wait to see what Ms. Byrne has in store for readers 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.