And here I am, adding yet another series to my 'follow the hell up' pile. I'd say this has got to stop, but it shouldn't, instead, I should be given a...moreAnd here I am, adding yet another series to my 'follow the hell up' pile. I'd say this has got to stop, but it shouldn't, instead, I should be given another lifetime to read all these books. Troublemaker Next Door is the first book of the McCauley brothers series, and a damn good start. We meet Flynn, your friendly neighborhood plumber, charming the pants off Maddie, a somewhat workaholic who's hell bent on never needing anyone.
I was completely set on neutral when starting this book, but right on its first page, it got me laughing and tipped the scales and, well, I was hooked. The relationship Flynn had with his brothers and his nephew was genuinely funny. I enjoyed reading the easy banter between him and his family. He was the kind of easygoing character that I enjoy in contemporary stories. He was funny, serious if need be, laid back, sexy and so, so thoughtful and caring. And he was kinky too. I mean, the guy could talk dirty and play out a nice little pretend game, bend you over the couch or the dresser, have hot phone sex, and let you tie him up. Anything more you need from your romance hero?
As easy as it was to like Flynn, it was also easy to like Maddie. But then again, heroes are always the easiest to warm up to for some reason. I like the big and brooding as the next gal, but there's a sexiness to a man like Flynn, who's not just hot and makes you melt, but who's also more than a few grunts for words, and can get possessive but not domineering. The first time we meet Maddie, however, poor girl's having a bad day so one should cut her some slack. Even though she started out seeming like she hates all men, we quickly know her reasoning behind this, as well as her constant panic attacks about her financial situation, and her mood swings about her relationship with Flynn. I know when I say it like this, it sounds as if she's the heroine from annoyingville, but trust me, she's not. She was funny, creative, thoughtful and strong. And she wasn't shy in trying new things, taking a step forward.
The relationship between Flynn and Maddie grew step by step, and page by page. The pace in their intimacy, their friends with benefits arrangement that later turned into actual friends and lovers, was really convincing and not rushed at all. I didn't even care how many pages it took for them to take a big step forward, all I knew was that they gradually fell in love and I liked it.
As par with series books, it's important how you feel about the rest of the characters who'll potentially have their own books, and there was no shortage of any McCauley brothers whose stories you'd be damn curious about. We already have Flynn's best friend who's practically another brother, and the one I'm most looking forward to, the single dad, big brother Mike. Stories that involve children are a weakness of mine, and someone help, I might be falling hard for this one.
A great series starters that was fun and sexy, it had everything that would make a gal come back for more. (less)
From the looks of it, finding short, good reads, lately, has become a specialty of mine. Not only did the cover grabbed my attention-I have a thing fo...moreFrom the looks of it, finding short, good reads, lately, has become a specialty of mine. Not only did the cover grabbed my attention-I have a thing for mysterious looking covers-, but the m/m theme drew me in as well.
What we have here is not an erotica, not a story revolving around the hot sex the two male leads have, but a bumpy journey towards salvation. The story is told from the point of view of Owen while he struggles through an alcohol addiction. I've never personally met anyone who went through what Owen was going through here, but I was glad to see I could get inside his head and relate to his thought process. Though he might've felt the opposite himself at the beginning, Owen was a calm and rational person. He came off as someone who truly wanted to get better and was strong enough to do it. As for Sebastian, well, he was a ray of sunshine. He was a peculiar young man, completely at peace with himself and his surroundings. If I hadn't already read characters like him, he could've come off as odd, but that was exactly what made him endearing. Their story included some sexy times, sure, but the main theme was getting over and better. I liked the two characters' interactions with each other and their willingness to struggle through their problems instead of sweeping them under the rug. They faced, they shared, they leaned on each other, and came out as the winners. Even though the read was short, it was satisfactory in the way it was told, with enough detail and emphasis on the right moments.
If anyone were to look for a sweet story about two people coming together in hard times, and the m/m is the cherry on top, then this would be the right choice for you. (less)
Have you ever had a one night stand with a tourist passing by the small town you live in, moved on with your life, and just when you're doing okay hav...moreHave you ever had a one night stand with a tourist passing by the small town you live in, moved on with your life, and just when you're doing okay have her knock on your door to drop the child you didn't know you had in your hands and leave? No? Well, can't say the same for Ben Harland, Due South resident brooding 'teddy bear' of a guy. Having already met Ben in the previous book, we already knew he's got the hots for teacher Kezia Murphy, she of the single mom. I might've mentioned this a few hundred times or so, but stories involving children, they're an instant case of smitten for me. So I was very excited to start this book and see how Ben, what with him being a man of a few words and a grouchy manner, would cope with a surprise the size of a nuclear explosion. Well, nuclear family variety anyway. Not only has he got to deal with his feelings for Kezia and her daughter, but he has to deal with responsibilities of taking care of a child too. A child that he had no idea he fathered, a child that he already missed a lot with, not to mention the fact that Ben lives the life of a single man, not single dad.
I was already halfway loving these characters by the time I started reading this, so it wasn't so hard to be invested in Ben and Kezia's romance. With his clueless ways about raising a child, Ben was endearing. He may have started out as close as one could come to screwing things up beyond repair, but with the help of Kezia and his own family, he was able to right it all up in no time and form a steady and loving relationship with his daughter. I just wished the transaction from their awkwardness to their father/daughter dynamic would've been smoother and more detailed. It felt as if one minute they were shy and reserved around each other and the next, all the big steps were taken and the only thing that remained to me was smoothing the rough edges. But this may be because I just love children in romance so maybe I was looking forward to spending more bonding time with Ben and his daughter.
Kezia on the other hand, was the complete opposite of Ben in a lot of ways. She was damn good with children for one thing. She has a daughter herself, and together they've been through some hard times so she's got a steady and tightly knit relationship with her. I couldn't help but think she was pretty close to perfect, but instead of this potentially annoying me, I realized I didn't mind characters being close to perfect sometimes. Well, you know what they say about opposites attracting and all that. Without realizing, they completed each other in such a way-I salute you, Jerry Macguire- that it was impossible to look at the four of them and not see a family right away.
I'm warming up to this New Zealand town and its residents more and more with each book and looking forward to the next one. In this summer heat it's a nice cooling air that makes me smile, reading these books. (less)
Didn't think I'd travel to a New Zealand town without the company of hobbits. So glad to have picked this book up, it made me imagine cool waters in t...moreDidn't think I'd travel to a New Zealand town without the company of hobbits. So glad to have picked this book up, it made me imagine cool waters in this summer heat.
Piper and Ryan 'West' Westlake have been friends since childhood. West is Piper's brother's best friend, considered as another son by her family, so they charmed me right from the start. I might've mentioned this a few times-or a thousand, but who's counting?- but friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite romance themes. There's a different kind of sexiness when it comes to two people who already know the best and the worst of each other. But as sweet and promising Piper and West's romance was, I had a few problems with it. Piper, for example, is a tough woman. She's strong, she made a life for herself after a tragedy had her leave her small town and become a police diver. She's a woman who proved herself in a profession that consists mostly by men, and she's good at what she does, and yet I've never read a heroine being so self conscious about her bra size. Don't get me wrong, women can have their hang ups about some things-I know I do- but for a big chunk of the book she's complaining about her small, boyish breasts and how West must not like to touch or see them, and how off putting they must be. I can see this coming from a young girl who's only just experienced her first love, but not from a woman who's established a life for herself. Especially during and/or after she's already slept with the man of her thoughts.
The book contains a somewhat mystery about what happened in Piper's past that made her desperately want to leave, and how and why things went south for West and her, and although I could understand what happened with West, things relating to Piper's reason behind leaving were a bit blurry for the most part. I understand keeping the reader in the dark and constantly guessing, but the back and forth approach between how much of the things that happened were West's fault and how much were Piper's, or whether they were at fault at all, was frustrating. When we finally got the whole story in the end, it was better and somewhat satisfying, but by the time I got the whole picture, I think I lost a bit of my curiosity.
I liked most of the other characters, in fact, I do look forward to Piper's brother's story, but just like Piper and West, they surprised me at times. I think for the most part people gave the wrong reactions in the wrong moments and it made them appear irrational. More than once a character said a word or acted in a way that seriously threatened the understanding they displayed earlier in the book.
I can honestly say it was hard for me to rate this book. On the one hand, I loved all the characters, but on the other, I found myself interested more in the systematics of free diving than Piper and West's romance. But in the end I did enjoy reading about the people in Due South, and already looking forward to a few of the friends' stories, so I'm going smack in the middle, and giving this three stars. All things considered, I wouldn't mind going back and dive into the cool waters a few more times with the friendly people and the white sharks. (less)
One of these days, I'm definitely going to watch some MMA matches. Not only are they real, but sounds like they're done within a set of rules that kee...moreOne of these days, I'm definitely going to watch some MMA matches. Not only are they real, but sounds like they're done within a set of rules that keep the fighters safe. Plus, the men. Now, I'm not all too shallow, but a gal can always appreciate her men. And delving more into the world of MMA, and getting to know more of the fighters in this book, I sure did appreciate these men.
I have to admit, Caden surprised me. While expecting a flirtatious, shameless fighter, I met a very down-to-earth man who was much more sensible than I initially gave him credit for. He was a man with a history, and that, exactly, is the key to connect with a character. Although we're never given any detail more than necessary, we get a few glimpses into his past through his point of view, and it was just the kind of history I could feel and relate to. Not a whole window open, but breadcrumbs spread here and there for me to understand him. From the start, Caden presented a sensual sensibility that made me warm up to him immediately. A man who wanted to make amends for past mistakes, a man who wanted to be better for the future, and wanted to forget and move on. I can always appreciate a character who takes up the offer of a second chance with sincerity and in all its seriousness. In all these regards, and his relentless protectiveness over Sophie and his boyish charm, he was a good hero in my eyes.
The same goes for Sophie's character. She was also a surprise, in a good sense of course. She had the kind of history, again with the breadcrumbs, that made it possible for me to relate to her and understand her nature. She was a strong woman. Strong enough to land her own naughty late night show on tv. Though we never really get to see just how naughty she is late at night, we get the idea. But the Sophie we meet in the book is less shameless and more understanding, and a lot determined. The last we'd seen of these two characters were in the previous book, where they both had a hit to their careers thanks to an unfortunate accident, so Sophie, just like Caden, sets out to salvage her career, and comes head to head and wit to wit with fighter and lover extraordinaire Caden Kelly.
Although I had a hard time following some of the dialogue and flow of the story at times-there seemed to be a pace to them that took me a try or two to catch up- I enjoyed the banter between Sophie and Caden. They brought out the best in each other, be it in or out of the bed. They had good chemistry, they were both easy to connect with, and they were both definitely good surprises. So I suggest give this book a try. Not only did it piqued my interest in a new sport, but now I'm also looking forward to yet another series, and another set of characters. What this means for my to-read pile is still a mystery. I mean, I could very well be chasing an illusion here.
A good mix of action and romance, I recommend this book to those who like their heroes not afraid to land a punch or two, and their heroines strong and ready to take life head on. (less)
This book surprised me. What I expected starting this story was mostly sexual tension. A lot of it. And some power and dominance between a self made m...moreThis book surprised me. What I expected starting this story was mostly sexual tension. A lot of it. And some power and dominance between a self made millionaire and a desperate woman that would, without a doubt, include eroticism. And yet this story was so much more than that. First off, the level of erotica and dominance I expected was not there. This may sound negative, but considering I like my romances on the side of a sexy challenge rather than power play, this was much appreciated. And it was not just this balance between the hero and the heroine, but this story was captivating for its inclusion of a mother/daughter relationship. While we obviously have a romance blossoming between Victoria and Ian, the plot also relies heavily on the bond between Victoria has with her mother. It was a nice and emotional addition to the story. This bond of Victoria and her mother, the desperation she feels against something she can't go after with guns blazing, they were all coming off the pages, and I felt for Victoria's cause. Greatly. I understood her struggles to want to do everything for her mother, the lengths she was ready to go to, and the guilt she felt because of her limits, they all helped me connect with her. While I expected a woman having to make a deal with the devil, and having to do god knows what, what I got was a strong woman who sacrificed a lot, was scared and yet faced every obstacle with obstinacy, and two very different people trying to make a connection.
Ian Kerr, just so you know beforehand, is the guy you're going to want for yourself. No doubt about that. He was passionate, caring, very involved and gentle with both Victoria and her mother. He was pretty close to perfect. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that his name was involved with the series title, I might've suspected he was too good to be true. Yes, he was that good. In Victoria's glum life, he was a bright spot that was almost blinding. And the best thing about him? He was no domineering businessman, which was the biggest plus for me. He was as controlling as any man, or woman, who only wants what's best for their loved ones, but other than that he was all about pleasing Victoria. Jealous yet? But that's okay, for this once I'm going to let the heroine have her man because god knows Victoria 'Tiny' Corielli needs him.
Apart from all this emotional roller coaster, this was also a very sexy story. You won't be surprised to know that Ian was just as generous and caring in the bed as he was outside of it. Really, I am sighing over here every few seconds or so.
If you haven't already read this story, give it a try. I think everyone can find a little something in it for themselves, be it sexiness or emotional or even family bonds. I, personally, cannot wait to read the second installment. I have a feeling that the following one can even include some action on the side, so there you are, a romance story that offers a lot. (less)
Just in time for the French Open Tennis Tournament, I finally had a chance to read a romance about a sports I'm so familiar with, and enjoy watching. I...moreJust in time for the French Open Tennis Tournament, I finally had a chance to read a romance about a sports I'm so familiar with, and enjoy watching. I was lucky so far, the authors whose sports romances I've read were really good with describing the on field activities, so I never felt left out, but there's a special kind of pleasure to take out of a book where you know what they're talking about when they're on the field. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to read this book.
With a pretty cover and a duo of promising characters-one of whom is now retired, once champion tennis player turned coach, and one is a late bloomer, promising talent- this book seemed to offer a lot from the start. I was determined not to be swayed by my love for tennis though, and I can honestly say that I loved what this book had to offer.
Initially, I admit, I wasn't very fond of Regan's character. She seemed to be a control freak, both on and off the court, and though I know the life of a professional athlete is not an easy one, not much room for a personal life or anything outside of the sports they're interested in, I couldn't warm up to her cause. But, as I turned page after page, and delved more into the depths of her psyche, I realized that her initial selfishness and the tantrums she threw were all a means for me to see how much she had the potential to grow. And grow, she did. Although by the end of the book I wasn't one hundred per cent convinced she made that final plunge and reached her utmost level of selflessness and understanding, she was willing to make an effort. Though, one might argue that that's where her reality lies, and that’s fine, because it worked. As a late bloomer-thirty years of age is old for a sport like tennis after all- she was extremely disciplined and controlled. There was no room for failure in her life. But an opponent on court wasn't all she had to battle against, so while reading, and finding out more about her, my respect for her grew along with her character. Without even realizing I found myself liking the woman and respecting the player. This isn't all to say she wasn't without her faults. Apart from having a few hang ups as a heroine, Regan reminded me of a grown up with childish tendencies. Maybe it's because of her relentless training that left no room for any personal life, and thus no room for a personal growth on a grand scale, but like I said, it wasn't enough to ruin either her character or the whole story for me. I just personally thought there's more growing up she needs to do off the pages, after her happy ever after, and with the help of Ben.
As for Ben-I love the name 'Ben' for a hero, I swear I have a weakness for Bens-, he was a man with a laid back attitude towards life, especially after getting over his own past struggles. As a coach to aspiring teenagers, this was his first time dealing with a professional, and there was a lot at risk for him, both personally and professionally, if he failed to deliver what he promised signing up to working with Regan. It was easier to warm up to Ben, though he did find a way to frustrate me at times. His ease around Regan's fiery and deliberately needling character, and his understanding of her struggles and thus her need for the walls she built up around her made it all too easy for me to like him.
The banter between these two was fun to read, all the more so when things got heated. I liked reading both of them slowly bringing down the defenses of each other without even realizing it. I think the reason why they were so good for, and with, each other was that they were both wounded but willing to heal.
And I can't go on without saying this, but I loved the tiny reference made to another one of Rebecca Crowley's sports series, this one about soccer, that yours truly had the opportunity to read and liked. It's fun when authors play around like that.
My biggest criticism would be for the last two chapters or so, for how the author decided to reconcile the couple after a last minute argument. This is not to say it was bad or unconvincing, just that I would've preferred more on page time to work their issues together. I love a good solid argument, laying out facts and feelings so the characters, and of course moi, can have our full closure.
I'm giving four stars to this sweet romance. If you're a fan of tennis like me, you'd definitely enjoy this story, but don't go for it just for the awesome sports, go for this one for a sexy romance, for strong, determined characters, and that easy banter you know you love between your heroes and heroines. (less)
I was anxiously waiting for this book. I'm already smitten with the world of the Fae, and ever since reading the first book, and being introduced to t...moreI was anxiously waiting for this book. I'm already smitten with the world of the Fae, and ever since reading the first book, and being introduced to the ruthless Fae sorcerer Miach, I wanted more.
It's no secret that I love these cold creatures, I mean, don't we all find the cold and dangerous ones so sexy? Many of my book boyfriends tend to be on the dark side, I guess it's a weakness of mine. And Miach, well, let's just say he seems to have all the delicious cookies. I was already drawn to Miach's character from the previous book. He was portrayed as the embodiment of the true Fae character, with his cold and calculated view of life. Fae people are not ones to bring home to your mama, let me tell you. They're very hard to deal with- a test for your wits and patience-, and Miach was very much Fae. But of course, to go with his scary character, he was also very much human. Sure, he had a tough guy facade going on, and he was a criminal through and through, but he was also the kind of guy to hold a grudge against the young man who seduced his granddaughter and got her with child-childbirth is very dangerous for the Fae. There's a good chance he would frustrate me if he were a real person, but if he made me feel as sexy, safe and loved as he did Helene, I think I could overlook his occasional childish behavior. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't irrational save for the moments when people tried to hurt those he cared about or take his woman, and I absolutely loved him. But you know how these possessive cold heroes are.
As for Helene, I liked her. I already liked her strong character from the first book, and it was nice to see she didn't lose that strength when she fell for Miach. If anything, having to deal with Fae, she had to grow stronger and firmer. Needless to say, she was a good match for Miach. She wasn't a flirtatious woman with sexy curves to accompany, but she was more on the athletic side, no petite beauty but beauty nonetheless. Although her physical appearance is described, she wasn't the least bit self conscious about her physique. I think her physical description had to do more about pointing out her distinct characteristics and Miach's and her own appreciation and perspective of beauty. I liked that.
I quite enjoyed the mystery behind Helene's abductions and loved their chase of the truth. The action that followed flowed nicely and I found myself coming back over and over to see where everything was going. And now that I know what's going on, and had more glimpses into the psyche of the next hero, the quiet warrior Elada, I cannot wait to read the next book. Not only the hero is as intriguing as they come- and sexy too, with a hint of unbridled passion-, but the plot is also taken a turn for the better, with possibly lots more action to come.
A fast paced book with a solid and sexy romance that I definitely recommend, especially if you like the dark side. They have cookies. And men that certainly are no gingerbread, but all hard muscle and no mercy. (less)
I was a bit unsure how to rate this book. Although I couldn't relate to the romance, the sexiness..well, I could envy that. The first encounter of the...moreI was a bit unsure how to rate this book. Although I couldn't relate to the romance, the sexiness..well, I could envy that. The first encounter of the twenty something mechanic hero and the forty something career driven heroine was sexy. It was a fantasy come true, and though you might blame it on the high adrenaline-they met after a mild accident after all- what comes in the following chapters was no adrenaline driven moment of wildness.
Although I did love the level of spice in this book, I can't say the same about the romance. I can understand and relate to the wariness of the heroine towards having and maintaining a relationship to a younger man, albeit a physical one. The young hero had to face some insecurities of his own, since he was a mechanic who had faced some jail time because of past mistakes, not to mention he didn't earn as much as the heroine. All this could've presented a much better handled challenge romance wise, but it failed short to satisfy me. Maybe it was because this story had a somewhat shorter page number, or because it leaned towards more erotica than romance, but if it did properly deliver this romance aspect, it would've gotten a much higher rating from me. The sex though, well, it was pretty damn good. From the reckless-in a good way I guess- introduction to the sexy surprise towards the end, it was all satisfying- at least as satisfied as a gal can be reading it.
For its role in increasing my level of sexual frustration, I'm giving this book three stars. I envied the heroine for getting a good service for herself and her car, since mine keeps coming back from the shop with more problems than I sent it with. Ah, the problems of a non fictional life.. (less)
Ah, pretend relationships..Why do they even try? Especially when the characters are as deserving and desperate for love as Wes and Ginny is. Having th...moreAh, pretend relationships..Why do they even try? Especially when the characters are as deserving and desperate for love as Wes and Ginny is. Having their first encounter at a bar, up against a wall-yep-, their relationship goes through many stages, starting with that one wild night, and then going over the pretend love affair and finally ending up with the real deal. I liked this book. I'm a lover of contemporary romances that have a small town for a setting. It gets me every time. So when I got a chance to read this book and be introduced to yet another new town, I leapt at the chance. It helped that the main couple was to fake it till they made it. Makes a fun plot line, and mix that up with a small town, I got a recipe for a good time.
Having to move on from a traumatic event that recently had shaken her life, Ginny had some emotional baggage she needed to load off her chest. She was a changed woman who tried to make peace with her new self while trying to rebuild her life. She wasn't by any means a wild woman, but she wasn't completely timid either. I think we established that with her first meeting with Wes-damn, but I get why she did that. I liked her character, her struggle for normalcy and her need for letting go and moving on. I could relate to her in all that. She was more introverted to Wes' outgoing character, and that was okay, they formed a good balance between them. Wes, with his own personal baggage to carry around, was a good match for Ginny. Whenever Ginny tried to take a step back, he was willing to take one forward, and push her to be more open with her emotions.
Aside from the romance, the book also had a mystery subplot that, if I have to be completely honest, could've been told in more detail. I like a good mystery as the next gal, so even if it wasn't supposed to be the main theme of the story, I would've loved for it to be more challenging and prolonged since it was introduced to us already.
This was a sweet story where, after four weddings and a break up, our couple finally makes it to each other. Theirs was a fun ride, filled with-hopefully- potential heroes and heroines. I wonder if any of those Dalton brothers will be left single by the time I can make it to Cape Hope? (less)