Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review: One for the Rogue by Manda Collins

One for the Rogue by Manda Collins
Series: Studies in Scandal, Book 4
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250109927
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

LOVE IS THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF ALL

Geologist Gemma Hastings has no interest in pursuing romance—and no patience for Lord Cameron Lisle, an esteemed fossil hunter who has a way of always honing in on her territory…annoyingly handsome though he may be. But when a shocking attack puts Gemma in very real danger, she may have to accept Lisle’s offers of protection. Even if that means entering into a dangerous flirtation…

Lisle was once amused by Gemma’s dedication to her work. But now that he understands how much he’s underestimated her—a woman whose beauty is matched only by her genius—Lisle is desperate to prove his respect…and prove himself worthy of her. But is he too late? A bitter rival, desperate to steal Gemma’s scientific findings, is still at-large. Can Lisle help uncover the culprit and keep her safe—forever, in his loving arms?

One for the Rogue is a bit difficult for me to review. There are some things I liked about this book. Gemma’s passion for geology and the struggles she faces to be taken seriously are what drew me into the book at the start. And I also really enjoyed the fact that Cam shared her passion and respected her intelligence. At the start of the story, it seemed like this might be an enemies-to-lovers book, but it really isn’t. Yes, Cam and Gemma are at loggerheads in the beginning over something that could have been resolved if Cam had communicated a bit better and Gemma had been a bit more willing to listen. However, a potentially huge fossil find and the threat of a bitter, sexist rival throws our bickering hero and heroine together. Add in some sexual tension and it’s clear that Gemma and Cam are going to be headed down the aisle soon. I liked Gemma and Cam together and it’s clear they fit, but still I thought their romance fell a bit flat. Part of this is due to the lack of character growth; Gemma and Cam begin and end pretty much the same and we don’t really delve deep into their characters. If this were a novella, I might have liked it more because the perceived obstacles to Gemma and Cam’s eventual happily ever after seemed orchestrated to draw out the story rather than organic problems they had to overcome.

Woven through the romance in One for the Rogue is a mystery involving a fossil Gemma discovers. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the fun, but I thought this plotline was the stronger one. Not only does Gemma have to face a jerk of a rival, there’s mystery, murder, and a tiny bit of mayhem. This is where author Manda Collins brings life to the story and keeps the pages moving.

One for the Rogue isn’t a bad book, but for me it was just an OK read. I realized after finishing this book that I had the same issues with it as I did with a previous Manda Collins book I read: the characters were likeable and the story had potential, but it dragged in places and was littered with tropes that didn’t have a fresh spin on them. I think Ms. Collins’s writing style simply isn’t for me, so others might find this story more engaging than I did.


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, 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.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Review: The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780399585326
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they'll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they'll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be--and uncover the specter of a killer who's been real all along...

Return to the dazzling world of Burning Cove, a place of fantasy and glamour…and also secrets and death. I fell in love with the world of Burning Cove in The Girl Who Knew Too Much and my enchantment with the town only deepened in The Other Lady Vanishes. The setting drew me in from the first; the flash of 1930s Hollywood stars meeting dirty secrets, blackmail, and murder is a potent combination. When you add in two engaging protagonists and an intriguing mystery then you know you’re in for a good time.

Heiress Adelaide Blake spent two months drugged and imprisoned in an insane asylum. When she’s finally able to escape, she makes her way to Burning Cove and finds work as a waitress. Though she’s careful, Adelaide’s true identity and knowledge of the experimental drugs that were being tested on her means she has to constantly be on her guard. She’s finally finding her feet in Burning Cove and her tea blends make her a success with locals and visiting celebrities alike. But when visiting “psychic to the stars” Madame Zolanda comes to town, Adelaide’s world is turned upside down. Madame Zolanda’s gruesome prediction sets off a chain of events that involve murder, blackmail, and drugs. Against her will, Adelaide is drawn into the mystery. And one of the few people she may be able to trust is Jake Truett, a former businessman with secrets of his own. The two of them will have to unravel a tangled web of secrets if they hope to live long enough to enjoy the new lives they’ve created for themselves.

Adelaide and Jake are two interesting, intelligent protagonists who are easy to root for. Adelaide has nerves of steel that I admired. She’s been through hell and has not only survived, but has built herself a new life from nothing. I adored her and was delighted to see her find happiness with Jake, a widower with more than a few secrets of his own. Jake is a clever, protective hero who fits Adelaide extremely well. They have solid chemistry and their romance was one you can cheer for.

There’s a lot going on in The Other Lady Vanishes, but Amanda Quick takes her time and sets the multiple stages and players up before drawing everybody in closer together. The story starts off with a bang, then slows down, building up the suspense again as the pieces of the puzzle are laid out then put together. I don’t want to say much about the mystery because that would truly ruin the fun, but I will say it’s well-crafted and engaging. By the book’s climax I definitely couldn’t put it down. My only complaint is that I finished the book wanting more Burning Cove stories. Ms. Quick has created an absolutely fascinating world and I have my fingers crossed in the hope she returns to this place and time again.


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, April 30, 2018

Review: A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides, Book 9
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250121738
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it's the otherway around…

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman's title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There's only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark's future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they've rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

General Mark Grimaldi, spymaster extraordinaire, has worked his way up the ranks and is now on the cusp of obtaining the promotion he has dedicated his life to achieving. There’s just one problem: his superiors want Britain’s new Home Secretary to be a family man. Given Mark’s many connections, securing a wife wouldn’t be a problem…if only he weren’t already married. It’s been ten years since his wife left him and by all accounts she’s been happily living in France. In order to convince her to come back to England and play the part of loving wife, he’ll have to give her something in return. But the bargain these two strike is more dangerous than either could know. For close quarters have a tendency to bring feelings long-buried to the surface, and neither of them wants to admit that perhaps the fairytale picture they’re painting for others is something they want to be real. Can two people used to guarding their secrets closely take a risk and open their hearts for a shot at happily ever after?

I adore a good reunion romance and A Duke Like No Other is an utterly delightful one! Valerie Bowman has a bright, effervescent writing style that never fails to charm me and I couldn’t help but fall in love with Mark and Nicole’s story.

Mark and Nicole’s whirlwind courtship and marriage crashed and burned within months after secrets came to light and old wounds tore them apart. Nearly ten years later they have both changed, but one thing remains the same: the pull between them cannot be denied. I loved the sparks that flew between Mark and Nicole from the very start. It’s clear they’re utterly perfect for one another and their back-and-forths had me grinning more than once. They’re not just smart, they’re clever, and it was so much fun to watch them dance around the attraction simmering just beneath the surface. That being said, they don’t simply fall back into one another’s arms and I enjoyed that too. They were young when they married and I liked that they got to know one another again, to build that solid foundation they didn’t have in the beginning. It isn’t easy for them to get to the “happily ever after” point. Mark has definite issues with the aristocracy due to his upbringing and family history. His feelings tend to color his judgement and it leads him to make mistakes with Nicole. And after having her heart broken once, Nicole is terrified of opening it up again, which contributes to their communication problems. But every bump in the road is worth it in the end and I was rooting for these two to make it.

The romance in A Duke Like No Other was fantastic but it’d be remiss of me not to mention the subplot involving the unexpected death of an aristocrat with close ties to Mark. I enjoy a good murder mystery and I had a great time putting together the pieces of the puzzle alongside Mark and Nicole. Mark’s career as a spy has been well-established over the course of the Playful Brides series (and his investigative skills are clear even if you’re new to the books), but this is the first time you see Nicole’s talent as an investigator. Watching them and their allies interview suspects was fun and the quest to unmask the killer added to the story without taking the focus off of Nicole and Mark. I do feel it important to note that some readers might have an issue with believability in regards to Nicole’s career that began with the Bow Street Runners and grew since then. There are certain aspects of the story that require suspension of disbelief and there are also some more modern attitudes in this book than one might expect to find in a historical romance. This didn’t bother me because Ms. Bowman’s writing style is so breezy that I was happy to go along for the ride and shrug off things that might bother me in another book, but that may not be true if you’re looking for more historical accuracy in your historical romance. Still, if you want a spirited romance with a cozy mystery on the side, you’re sure to enjoy A Duke Like No Other.


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, April 24, 2018

Review: Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd

Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd
Series: Cape Charade, Book 1
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Suspense
ISBN: 9781335144362
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Christina Dodd Reading Order

I have three confessions to make:
1. I've got the scar of a gunshot on my forehead.
2. I don't remember an entire year of my life.
3. My name is Kellen Adams...and that's half a lie.


Girl running...from a year she can't remember, from a husband she prays is dead, from homelessness and fear. Tough, capable Kellen Adams takes a job as assistant manager of a remote vacation resort on the North Pacific Coast. There amid the towering storms and the lashing waves, she hopes to find sanctuary. But when she discovers a woman's dead and mutilated body, she's soon trying to keep her own secrets while investigating first one murder...then another.

Now every guest and employee is a suspect. Every friendly face a mask. Every kind word a lie. Kellen's driven to defend her job, her friends and the place she's come to call home. Yet she wonders--with the scar of a gunshot on her forehead and amnesia that leaves her unsure of her own past--could the killer be staring her in the face?

Everyone has secrets and no one knows that better than Kellen Adams. To say that her life has been turned upside down more than once would be an understatement. But Kellen is a survivor. And for the first time in longer than she can remember, she has a shot at finding home when she takes the job of assistant manager at the Yearning Sands resort. Only on the very day that her bosses leave on vacation a dead body appears on resort property and it’s clear the victim had been murdered. Now everyone around her is a suspect – from the staff to the guests – and Kellen has to put the pieces of the puzzle together before her new home turns into something from a horror movie. And is it the stress of tracking a killer that’s bringing old nightmares to the forefront of her memory or are there more sinister elements at play? Kellen can’t be sure, especially when a potentially vital year of her life is missing from her memory…

Dead Girl Running is a fantastic thriller that kept me up way too late reading. Christina Dodd is in top form in her first Cape Charade novel. It’s an engrossing, evocative, pulse-pounding page-turner.

Kellen is a stellar heroine. She’s been through absolute hell, almost lost herself in the process, and survived horrors that would break most people. She’s not exactly superhuman, but she is an incredibly strong character. I admired the way she built her life back up from the ashes and fully came into her own over the course of the story. She’s got a spine of steel and the visible scars she carries are no match for the emotional ones, but she’s a kind, fascinating character. I loved uncovering the pieces of her past alongside Kellen and my only real problem with Dead Girl Running is that I have to wait for the second book because holy cow, the information Ms. Dodd reveals about Kellen only makes me want to know more.

Mystery and murder abound at what would otherwise be the idyllic Yearning Sands. I’d be doing a disservice to readers to reveal much of the plot because this is a thriller and the excitement comes from looking for clues and watching events unfold. Suffice it to say that there are a few mysteries and they’re well-crafted and interwoven without the book losing its focus. There are also multiple players in this game and Ms. Dodd does a great job of fleshing them out and bringing the world of Dead Girl Running to life. The story itself starts off with a bang and continues to move at a good pace, building intensity until you absolutely cannot put the book down.

Dead Girl Running is the first book in Ms. Dodd’s Cape Charade series and I absolutely cannot wait for more. While this book easily stands alone, fans of Ms. Dodd’s will enjoy the loose ties it has to her Bella Terra Deception and Virtue Falls series. Whether you’re an old fan of Ms. Dodd’s or are diving into her work for the first time, Dead Girl Running is a captivating suspense novel that will leaving you begging for more Cape Charade stories.


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, April 22, 2018

Review: Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Male/Male Contemporary Romance/Mystery
ISBN: 9781459293595
Release Date: April 23, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Josh Lanyon Reading Order

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.

Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.

Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. But as unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

For any book lover, a tour through Scotland where you get to meet one of your favorite authors sounds like a dream vacation. And so it would be for librarian Carter Matheson…if only his ex, Trevor, and Trevor’s new boyfriend weren’t on the same tour. Still, Carter is determined to enjoy the trip, even if it kills him. And it just might. Because this tour destined for the home of famed mystery author Vanessa Rayburn is taking a potentially deadly turn. A fellow tourist has died under mysterious circumstances and the whispers are flying. Suddenly Carter can’t help but put on his amateur sleuth hat. Everyone’s behavior is suspect, even Carter’s mysterious and attractive roommate, John…

Strangers brought together by chance, mysterious deaths, gossip, and a cast of quirky characters far away from home all come together to form a cozy mystery in Murder Takes the High Road. Strains of Agatha Christie float through this tale which was enjoyable, but was missing that ineffable Josh Lanyon spark.

Murder Takes the High Road is a bit difficult for me to review and I spent over a month mulling it over because I don’t really have much to say about the story, either positive or negative. Ms. Lanyon is an excellent writer so this isn’t a bad book by any means. But it unfolds slowly and the sizeable set of characters Carter either chooses to or is forced to interact with aren’t very interesting. They’re like pieces in a chess set, moving across the board that is the mystery and are only of interest when they serve the plot. Because most of them are expendable (in the classic murder mystery way), I didn’t care much about their actions and I was much more interested in scenes with just Carter and John. From strangers to lovers, their romance is one I loved watching unfold. Carter is still dealing with the fallout of his breakup with Trevor, but John is no rebound for him. They have excellent chemistry and I loved them together so much that I really hope there is a sequel to this book because I’d love to learn more about John.

Murder Takes the High Road features an interesting mystery, one that’s slow to build but the payoff is worth it. The mystery does take up more page time than the romance, which isn’t a problem per se, but it did leave me wanting more. I’m a big fan of Ms. Lanyon’s work, so I can’t help but compare this book to others of hers that had more energy and drew me into the story more. Still, Murder Takes the High Road is a solid story and if you’re craving a Christie-type tale this book will serve you well.


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, April 16, 2018

Review: Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
Series: The Honey Badger Chronicles, Book 1
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781496714343
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.

Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up…

Ever since her mother died, Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan’s biggest job has been to take care of her sisters. Easier said than done and that’s before you take into account the three sisters’ no-good father who is constantly screwing up their lives. Charlie has never been able to rely on anyone, but all that changes when she falls – literally – into Berg Dunn’s life. Berg is a grizzly with a heart of gold and it’s in his nature to protect. After their initial meeting, he can’t get the gorgeous woman with a gun out of his mind. Charlie doesn’t like accepting help, but to protect her sisters she’ll do anything and her father’s latest “scheme” has landed them in more danger than before. And though she believes her family is cursed and doesn’t want to bring that kind of disaster down on the seriously cute Berg, she’s about to learn that this determined grizzly will do anything to capture her heart.

Hot and Badgered is totally bonkers, and I mean that in the very best way. It’s bright, loud, and wholly unique with a ton of zany characters who practically jump off the page and a slow-burn romance that made me smile.

I absolutely loved Berg. He’s big, strong, and protective, but he’s also so damn gone over Charlie that he made me melt. As for Charlie, she’s equally strong and just a bit crazy (partly due to being half honey-badger, partly because…well, take a look at her family). I loved watching Charlie and Berg slowly fall in love. I sighed and smiled as Charlie learned she could lean on Berg, that he understood sibling love and loyalty (he’s a triplet), and that he and his family could take on the MacKilligan crazy and keep rolling. Charlie and Berg’s romance slowly built over the course of the story and it was lovely to watch unfold.

I loved every moment with Charlie and Berg, so for me the one downside of Hot and Badgered is that they did at times feel pushed out of their own story. Max and Stevie (Charlie’s sisters) are every bit as important to the story as Charlie. They’re wild, over the top, interesting characters and I can’t wait to read their books. Max and Stevie added a lot of humor to the story, but they were a whole lotta personality and they did sometimes seem to drown out Charlie and Berg, who were the relatively calm voices. And while Hot and Badgered is the first book in the Honey Badger Chronicles, this series is a spinoff of Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series. As I haven’t read that series, the sheer amount of Pride characters popping up pulled me out of the story a bit, especially when it felt like some cameos were shoehorned in. Perhaps if I had an emotional attachment to the characters I wouldn’t have felt that way, so if you’re a Pride fan you might feel differently than I.

The plot of Hot and Badgered is pretty much impossible to talk about because there are so many storylines and characters that there’s no real way to summarize it. Multiple storylines, at least one of which looks to be a series-long arc, action, danger, and a ton of colorful characters keep the book moving at a breakneck pace. In the hands of a lesser author, this book would have spun out of control, but Ms. Laurenston deftly juggles everything in a truly inspiring way. This was my first foray into Ms. Laurenston’s work and I will definitely be coming back for more. If you’re looking for a paranormal romance that’s unique, Hot and Badgered definitely fits the bill.


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, April 15, 2018

Review: The Earl in My Bed by Stacy Reid

The Earl in My Bed by Stacy Reid
Series: Rebellious Desires, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781986680998
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

For years, Daphne Wentworth, Countess Carrington has loved her powerful, enigmatic husband, despite the fact that they married under less than ideal circumstances. But no more. Finally at her breaking point, Daphne intends to create a scandal so big, her austere husband will have no choice but to divorce her. Except everything goes awry when he surprises her with the last thing she expected.

Sylvester Wentworth, Earl of Carrington, has returned to London for one reason—to seduce his wife. After a near-death experience, he is in need of an heir and means to make his marriage a real one. To his shock, though, his wicked, beautiful countess wants the exact opposite, and he must now do everything possible to entice his countess to stay forever.

Sylvester and Daphne haven’t had an easy marriage. Six years ago they met and had an instant connection; one that was spoiled when Daphne’s father threatened to ruin Sylvester’s sister unless the earl came to heel. Since their fateful wedding, Sylvester has pretty much ignored Daphne, and the love she had for him has given way to a desperation to break free from the holding pattern she’s been in for years. Daphne is determined to court a scandal so big her husband will be forced to divorce her. There’s just one hitch in her plan: her husband doesn’t want a divorce.

Having recently escaped an assassination attempt, Sylvester believes it’s time to do his duty and beget an heir. Only Daphne isn’t exactly prepared to welcome him with open arms. For the first time, Sylvester is seeing past his own anger to truly look at Daphne. And he’ll have to do some heavy wooing if he wants to keep the wife he’s only just realizing is his perfect match.

I love good second chance romance and The Earl in My Bed fits that favored trope fairly well. Daphne and Sylvester have been in a strange freeze for the past six years – married, yet not. Sylvester is the only man Daphne has ever craved, but I loved that she didn’t just fall into his arms when he decided he wanted to be her husband in truth. Sylvester has his reasons for having been cold toward Daphne for years. Her father’s machinations nearly cost his sister her life and that’s not something a sibling can look past. Did I want to shake Sylvester for placing blame on Daphne? Of course. But Stacy Reid does a good job of balancing his flaws with strengths. Sylvester is fighting hard to abolish slavery in all British territories, risking his life in the process. He’s not a good husband at the beginning of this story, but he is a good man which means you want to see him succeed. I enjoyed the fact that Sylvester is self-aware enough to realize that he has royally screwed up with Daphne. She’s a kind, patient woman who has reached her breaking point because of him. Their romance in is slow to build, mostly because there’s so much distrust and hurt. I liked that the love story unfolded organically, that Daphne and Sylvester got to truly know one another before things heated up.

The Earl in My Bed is the second book in the Rebellious Desires series, but it can easily be read as a standalone (though it was lovely to get to see Georgiana and Rhys again). I always get caught up in Ms. Reid’s writing and this story was no exception. I finished this book looking forward to what scandals the next Rebellious Desires book has in store for readers.


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, March 22, 2018

Review: The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis

The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, Book 1.5
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062463616
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

After a difficult few years, Tilly Adams is ready for life to start going right. Though she has a case of first-day nerves teaching art at the local community college, she knows it isn’t anything a few snuggles from her rescue puppy won’t cure. Until she sees Dylan Scott again, her one-time BFF and first love sitting in the front row.

Dylan knows he should’ve left well enough alone, but when he sees Tilly living her dream, he can’t help but make contact. Ten years ago, he left Wildstone and everything in it behind, including Tilly. He had his reasons, but now he wants her back in his life, anyway he can get her.

When Tilly agrees to design the logo for Dylan’s new helicopter touring company, it’s business only…until she finds herself falling into his arms once again. Can she possibly open her heart back up to the only man who’s ever broken it? But soon they’re both realizing the truth—love always deserves a second chance.

The Good Luck Sister is a great pick-me-up read. I adored Tilly and Dylan as teenagers in Lost and Found Sisters, so I dove into their story, eager to see what they’d be like as adults.

It’s been ten years since Dylan left Wildstone, breaking not only Tilly’s heart but his own. Now he has returned and the pull between them is as strong as ever. Tilly is understandably wary of letting Dylan in again, but he’s patient and determined to win her trust back. Both of them are a wonderful mixture of strength and vulnerability. They’re also incredibly fun and have great chemistry. The result is a romance that draws you in and I defy you not to root for these two to get their happily ever after.

The Good Luck Sister moves back and forth between Dylan and Tilly’s past and present and the flashbacks might just be my favorite part of the story. Tilly and Dylan were best friends as teenagers and the way that they supported one another grabbed my heart. Dylan grew up with an abusive father and Tilly suffered the devastating loss of her mother. Both of them carry scars that broke my heart, but I absolutely loved how they cared for and encouraged one another. Even though Dylan eventually leaves to make his way in the world and to push Tilly to seize her own chance, it’s clear that these two were always destined to find their way back to each other.

Dylan and Tilly are the heart and soul of The Good Luck Sister, but the supporting cast adds a wealth of humor to the story. Dylan’s friends Penn and Ric are delightful (and I’d love to read stories about them) and fans of Lost and Found Sisters are sure to enjoy an update on Quinn (now pregnant and absolutely zany) and Mick. And of course Tilly has a kooky dog who threatens to steal the show more than once. Jill Shalvis writes some of the funniest four-legged friends out there, so how could I not fall in love with Leo, aka Napoleon (as in complex)? All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Good Luck Sister. It’s a fast-paced, charming read with entertaining characters and a romance that will 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, March 12, 2018

Review: Baking Lessons by Katie Allen

Baking Lessons by Katie Allen
Series: Off Guard, Book 2
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781488081156
Release Date: March 12, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Leah loves everything about her bakery—the heavenly smells, the satisfaction of feeding people and, of course, unlimited cookies. The only thing she doesn’t like is her uptight landlord’s daily visits. Sure, the man’s drop-dead gorgeous, but for someone with an insatiable taste for treats, he’s anything but sweet.

Army vet Hamilton knows he comes off as rigid. He just can’t seem to bite his tongue around Leah—he might be a virgin but he can imagine a dozen better ways to use his mouth. But when the woman he considers absolutely delicious is threatened by an unwanted admirer, Hamilton intervenes, captivating Leah with his softer side.

Now the man Leah couldn’t avoid is swiftly becoming the one she can’t resist. Unrelenting temptation soon overwhelms them both, leading to an indulgence in everything they’ve been craving. But when past actions bring a fallout neither imagined, they’ll be forced to confront whether their affair is half-baked—or something to savor forever.

Baking Lessons is fricking adorable! It’s sweet and fun and sexy all rolled into one.

Leah is a talented baker who is as sweet as the treats she makes. She may tweak Hamilton’s nose as often as she can in the beginning of the story when he’s merely her uptight landlord, but she also can’t resist feeding him. She’s a friendly, funny heroine with boatloads of charm and a good heart. Not to mention her baking skills will make you wish her shop was real. As for Hamilton… Katie Allen made me sigh over him. He’s sexy, intelligent, protective, and incredibly sweet (I know I keep using that word, but it fits this book and its characters perfectly). He’s also so precise in every way and I adored it, even though I could see why Leah wanted to good-naturedly mess with him. But beneath his formal and Thor-like exterior is a socially awkward man who truly has difficulty with things being messy. Leah is the first person he’s ever wanted to “get messy” with, and I loved that she (1) worked to understand him instead of trying to change him and (2) helped him feel safe enough to move out of his comfort zone with her.

The first half of Baking Lessons flies by as Leah and Hamilton tease, flirt, and get to know one another. I can’t count the number of times the two of them made me smile and the way they fell for one another felt organic. There’s no false drama, no game-playing and it was incredibly easy to root for Leah and Hamilton to get together. Once the sexual tension boils over and they hit the sheets (and the shower, the stairwell, etc.) Baking Lessons gets seriously steamy. When Ms. Allen turns the heat on high the book is still fun, but I felt like some of the momentum of the first part was lost. I also kept hoping we’d see more of Hamilton’s background and that we don’t is a missed opportunity. Even with these few quibbles, I adored Hamilton and Leah and their romance was a delight. I’ve never read Ms. Allen’s books before, but now I will definitely keep an eye out for her work.


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, March 5, 2018

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book 5
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780425281314
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok's pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf--but can't stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills--his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker--to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

Charles Cornick is less than thrilled to be left in charge of his father’s pack while Bran is away, but when the wildlings – the werewolves too broken to live safely even among the Aspen Creek pack – are attacked, the Marrok’s absence becomes an even bigger problem. For Charles and Anna are about to discover that the attack on the wildlings isn’t random, isn’t a crime of opportunity. There’s dark magic at play and the clock is ticking. Charles and Anna must use all their power to unravel a plot that could tear the heart of those they hold dear.

Burn Bright is part mystery, part fairytale, part action-packed adventure. It’s imaginative and interesting, as one would expect a Patricia Briggs story to be. I adore Charles and Anna and they are as solid as ever, so any time spent with them is time well spent.

Burn Bright keeps Charles and Anna closer to home and I loved getting to see more of their pack, the interactions among members, and the internal politics. Also, the fact that the newest attack against werewolves is in the heart of the Marrok’s territory gives the threat an added intensity. Characters we know and care about are in danger and it made me incredibly eager to jump into this book’s mystery. The one downside of this story is that – after the initial attack – it does take a while for momentum to build. At times the book seems to meander into side stories, but keep with it because Ms. Briggs makes sure the climax packs a punch. I likely had a death-grip on my book for the last quarter of the story – it was just that exciting. I wish I could say more, but I want to avoid spoilers since every detail plays into the resolution of the mystery.

Burn Bright is the fifth full-length book in the Alpha & Omega series, and you should at least be familiar with the world before diving into this story. As I mentioned before, the relationships and politics of the pack play an important part in this book and that was one of my favorite aspects of it. I really enjoyed getting to see more of characters we normally wouldn’t, like Leah, Charles’s stepmother. She’s not a beloved character, but I liked getting to see a different side of her. Burn Bright is also part of the larger world of Mercy Thompson and fans of that series will likely be excited that this book is woven closely with concurrent Mercy Thompson storylines. As I have not yet read Mercy’s books, I felt like I was missing something; not enough to detract from my enjoyment of this story, but enough to be noticeable. Burn Bright did definitely make me move Mercy’s books up in my proverbial to-be-read pile so that I can go back and more fully enjoy the little things in the Alpha & Omega series I missed the nuances of.

If you’re a fan of Patricia Briggs, you definitely don’t want to miss Burn Bright. Charles and Anna are strong, engaging characters and the world Ms. Briggs has developed is – to put it mildly – seriously awesome.


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, March 4, 2018

Review: The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
Series: The Invisible Library, Book 3
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9781101988688
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Never judge a book by its cover...

Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency to find both Irene and her apprentice, Kai—a dragon prince—and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle...

Irene’s longtime nemesis, Alberich, has once again been making waves across multiple worlds, and, this time, his goals are much larger than obtaining a single book or wreaking vengeance upon a single Librarian. He aims to destroy the entire Library—and make sure Irene goes down with it.

With so much at stake, Irene will need every tool at her disposal to stay alive. But even as she draws her allies close around her, the greatest danger might be lurking from somewhere close—someone she never expected to betray her…

The Invisible Library series has been hit-or-miss for me, and The Burning Page falls into the “miss” category. After enjoying The Masked City as much as I did, I eagerly dove into Irene and Kai’s latest adventure, only to find myself bored for the majority of the book.

The biggest issue I have is that neither the main characters nor the Library itself feel fully developed. I’ve been waiting to learn more about the Library and with the institution under attack by the series’ big bad, Alberich, it felt like the perfect opportunity for insight. Alas, the threat of the destruction of the Library didn’t actually add tension to the story (not once did I actually feel like Irene wouldn’t pull something out of her hat and save the day), nor did it allow readers to go below the surface of the Library’s workings. Alberich throws out some interesting tidbits and there seems to be some internal grumblings among the Librarians, but apparently any new information will have to wait to be explored in future books. As for the characters, both Kai and Vale have grown sort of stale. Kai, who charmed me in previous books, was borderline unlikeable at times and though I allow a lot of leeway considering he’s a dragon (and thus aligned with order), his stubbornness felt like he hadn’t learned anything so far. As for Vale, he still hasn’t risen above a pale imitation of Sherlock Holmes, and when you throw in the painfully awkward forced intimacy between him and Irene, I was just left wanting more. Which brings me to Irene herself. She’s the heart and soul of this series and she falls flat as a character. I don’t need my protagonists to be likeable (she is neither likeable nor unlikeable), but I do want them to be interesting. Irene has unfortunately become a rather generic sort of hero with a possible interesting backstory (presumably to be revealed in future books) who rushes headlong into danger and relies heavily on the Language.

What captured my interest about the first book in the series, The Invisible Library, was the potential in the world. Genevieve Cogman set up a world of infinite possibilities and I was so excited to see what she would do. But the possibilities are largely squandered due to a heavy reliance on the Language, which now seems to be without limits. That’s largely why the stakes feel fairly low in The Burning Page – Irene’s use of the Language seems to fix pretty much everything.

I struggled with rating The Burning Page because it isn’t altogether bad. The beginning and the end are highly entertaining and when Ms. Cogman’s writing is focused she can deliver exciting scenes. But on the whole, The Burning Page felt like it could have been a novella and nothing would have been lost. The story was treading water for most of its length and that just doesn’t make for interesting reading. Even though this ultimately wasn’t the book for me, there’s so much potential in this series that I’ll be giving the next book a shot.


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 25, 2018

Review: Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely

Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
Publisher: Audible Studios / Lauren Blakely Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781977566614
Paperback Release Date: March 20, 2018
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Audible | Amazon | B&N

The first time I met him, his sexy British accent almost talked me into giving him my number on the spot. The second time, he nearly charmed the panties off me with his wit. Then I learned he’s the key to success in my new job in Paris. The man who tempts me into fling-worthy dirty daydreams has turned out to be my personal translator, and his accent is the hottest thing I’ve ever heard.

My mantra is simple — Don’t mix business with pleasure. I do my best to resist him as he teaches me how to converse with my co-workers, navigate the metro and order the perfect bottle of wine at dinner. But I also figure out how to tell the charming and clever man what I most want to say — that I want him to take me back to his flat — tonight.
Except there’s a catch…

***

One more assignment before I take off on my big adventure…
And it involves the toughest work ever — resisting the fetching American woman I spend all my days with. But you know what they say about best intentions. Soon, we’re spending our nights tangled together, and I don’t want to let her go. The trouble is, my wanderlust is calling to me, and before we know it I’ll be traveling the globe to fulfill a promise I made long ago.

What could possibly go wrong with falling in love in Paris? Nothing…unless one of you is leaving.

I am completely in love with Wanderlust. It’s beautiful, romantic, sensual, and fun, with a whole lot of heart. Joy is, well, joyful. She’s immediately endearing and is so lively that she practically pops off the page. She’s the kind of heroine you want to be friends with and she just plain charmed the heck out of me with her attitude, big smile, intelligence, and her love of things like pink doors, hidden angels, and red umbrellas. It’s easy to see why Griffin fell for her and she for him. Griffin isn’t just a sexy hero (though that doesn’t hurt). He’s also playful, interesting, smart, and as likeable as Joy. Like Joy, Griffin is in Paris to start fresh; only he doesn’t plan to stay. He made a promise to his dying brother and fulfilling it means his time in Paris is almost up.

Griffin and Joy hit it off from the start and their interactions made me grin. Because they’re working together (she’s a chemist and he’s her interpreter), they try to resist the pull between them, which made the sexual tension all the more delicious. Their love story is absolutely wonderful because you see them become friends first and the fall from lust and friendship to something more is seamless. When they do give in to their mutual attraction, Wanderlust gets incredibly sexy. In bed and out, Griffin and Joy are a perfect match. Their love story is bright and exciting, but that doesn’t mean it or they lack depth. Both of them are fully developed, well-rounded characters. I feel like there’s no way to do them justice in this review because I cannot adequately express how happy these two made me. Their journey is one best experienced for yourself and I defy you not to fall in love with them.

Joy and Griffin are the heart of this book, but Paris itself is every bit as important to the story. Lauren Blakely does an incredible job of transporting readers to the City of Light – not to the famous sites we all know, but to the smaller shops, alleys, and hidden treasures. Griffin is British and Joy is from Texas, and the fact that neither of them are native Parisians added to the story. I was able to fall in love with Paris alongside Joy and the sheer romance of the setting had me sighing thanks to Ms. Blakely’s writing.

I listened to Wanderlust on audio and I highly recommend enjoying the book this way. Good narrators enhance already wonderful stories and I don’t think you can get much better than Grace Grant and Richard Armitage. Grace Grant perfectly captures Joy’s spirit, but it’s Richard Armitage (also known as John Thornton, Thorin Oakenshield, etc.) whose narration is to-die-for. He not only brings Griffin to life, but his voice is like melted chocolate and makes Wanderlust an aural delight.

I cannot recommend Wanderlust highly enough. It’s an utterly enchanting story with characters you care about and a romance that makes you laugh, swoon, and sigh. This is the first book of Ms. Blakely’s I’ve read/listened to and I cannot wait to glom up her backlist!


FTC Disclosure: This book was purchased by me. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.