Sunday, October 21, 2018

Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780399587689
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Jasmine Guillory is the master of meet-cutes. In The Proposal, a spectacularly awful proposal at a Dodgers game kicks off a sparkling romance between two smart, funny, endearing characters.

Carlos won me over in The Wedding Date and I couldn’t have been more excited for his book. Carlos has a huge and generous heart that made me sigh. And since the death of his father, he is extremely protective of the women in his family. He has a tendency to take over because he wants to take care of people, but to his credit he acknowledges this and works on holding himself in check. Carlos isn’t a perfect man, but he’s as close a knight in shining armor as possible without coming across as cardboard perfect. Nik doesn’t generally need rescuing, but even she has to admit she’s in over her head when her self-absorbed boyfriend surprises her with a proposal on the Dodger Stadium jumbotron. Escaping a stadium full of disappointed fans and a camera crew closing in is made a lot easier with the aid of Carlos and his sister. Nik and Carlos hit it off from the start, but having literally just ended a relationship Nik isn’t ready to jump into another. It was easy for me to fall for Nik. She’s smart, honest, witty, sarcastic, and independent. She’s also incredibly relatable and I had a blast reading about her.

Nik and Carlos’s romance is filled with humor and heart. Their chemistry is excellent and it made the pages of The Proposal fly by. As with The Wedding Date, this book features two people who are successful in their careers and both of them respect and value each other’s work, which I really enjoyed. The two of them fit one another like lock and key, but that doesn’t mean the road to happily ever after is an easy one. Nik has been hurt before so she guards her heart fiercely, not wanting to let herself fall for Carlos. As for Carlos, he has never truly dealt with the death of his father, a loss that has left its mark in unexpected ways. So while Nik and Carlos have no problem falling into lust, opening themselves up to love is another story. I won’t give away spoilers, but this is the one part where the story hit a big snag for me. I found Nik’s actions and reactions to be consistent all the way through the story, but Carlos takes a major left turn in character near the end of the book that felt manufactured for drama. This is a pity because it’s a clunky bit of false drama in an otherwise charming romance.

It’d be a crime to write about The Proposal and not talk about Nik’s two best friends, Dana and Courtney. They are both fantastic, fun, and exactly the kind of best friends you want to have. Though Dana finds love in this book, it’s not told from her point of view and I really, really hope Ms. Guillory gives Dana and her girlfriend (whose identity I won’t spoil) their own book or novella. And oh, do I have my fingers crossed in the hopes that Courtney gets a book. Courtney’s spirit and love of all things glittery (not to mention her cupcakes) made my heart sing and I desperately want her story. So while I thoroughly enjoyed The Proposal, it did leave me hungry for more of Ms. Guillory’s 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.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Review: Consumed by J.R. Ward

Consumed by J.R. Ward
Series: Firefighters, Book 1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781501194900
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
J.R. Ward Reading Order

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed…

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again--until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

From the creator of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

I’ve always found J.R. Ward’s books to be compulsively readable, so it’s no surprise that I was eager to dive into her new Firefighters series. Consumed sets the stage for what looks to be an interesting series of flawed heroes and heroines on the front lines of danger. It’s also a story I have a difficult time putting a rating on.

Let’s start with Anne Ashburn and Danny McGuire, our main couple. They’re smart but reckless, brave but deeply flawed. Danny is spiraling throughout most of this book (until he’s not) and I did like the level of realism Ms. Ward shows regarding the toll being a firefighter takes on a person. Anne isn’t exactly a likeable heroine, but – though it may sound strange – that’s one of the things I liked best about this book. Heroines like Anne are few and far between compared to their male counterparts and it was actually refreshing to see a heroine who is wounded, angry, and sometimes scared. Anne came into her own over the course of Consumed in an organic way and it was easy to become invested in her story. As for the romance, I highly recommend reading the two “Wedding from Hell” prequel novellas (“The Rehearsal Dinner” and “The Reception”) before starting this book. It’s no spoiler to say that Anne and Danny start out the book in love, but obstacles (some realistic, others that felt manufactured) keep the romance spinning its wheels for a lot of the story until the adrenaline rush of the finish.

Danny and Anne’s aren’t the only points of view in Consumed. There’s also that of Tom, the New Brunswick fire chief and Anne’s brother, and Vic Rizzo, a fellow firefighter from a different station. It’s not uncommon for Ms. Ward to have multiple points of view in her books and Tom’s scenes had the benefit of fleshing out the world and the Ashburn family, adding interest to the story, and generally making sure that I will stay on the edge of my seat, waiting for his book. As for Vic, he is probably the most likeable character in this book (aside from Anne’s awesome boss and Soot the dog), but his scenes don’t add much and I’m assuming they were included because he’ll be central to future books.

After an explosive beginning, Consumed slows down a bit, hitting its stride about three-quarters of the way through. A mystery stemming from Anne’s first case as an arson investigator builds over the course of the story. I enjoyed the danger and suspense and by the end I couldn’t put the book down, only to feel a bit disappointed that things were left hanging. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in future books, but the way things ended made this book feel a bit unfinished. Because this is the first book in the series, there’s a lot of world building and introductions. I was intrigued by the messy, hanging-by-a-thread firefighters even though they definitely aren’t your typical swoon-worthy protagonists. Most of them are presented as damaged with unhealthy coping mechanisms and a bizarre disdain for anyone even slightly younger than them (the last of which I only included because it felt shoehorned in repeatedly). They also tend to all talk alike, which makes sense on the one hand but on the other I feel like something is missing without defined voices. And it’d be remiss of me not to mention the scenes with the firefighters in action. It is clear Ms. Ward did her research and it shows really well, adding realism to the story.

Consumed is intriguing and flawed, just like its hero and heroine. On its own, I had some issues with the book but I think as the series goes on I will like it better as part of the whole. As it stands, Ms. Ward’s singular writing style pulled me in and I will definitely be back for more.


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