I really enjoyed the first book in the Poconos Pack series, so I was super excited to read more about the wolves in the mountains. While I really enjoyed this book, I forgot how short these stories really are, and I felt like there was so much more that could have been told.
Steve isn’t a fan of the cold, but he’s looking forward to visiting his best friend Ben. Laying eyes on one of Ben’s friends, Graciela, is an added bonus. Finding out they are all werewolves and Chela is his mate is almost more than Steve can handle.
Chela is determined to make Steve hers, but coaxing him to accept the fact that she’s a werewolf isn’t easy. Hopefully with some hilarious dog jokes, and lots of naked time, Chela will be able to show Steve how normal life as a werewolf is, so that she can finally claim her mate.
There was so much that was missing for me in this book. I don’t know if it was just the really short page count or what, but I really felt like there was so much missing in the execution of this novella. There was the potential to be so much more, especially given how freaked Steve was when he witnessed his lover, best friend, and other childhood friends naked in a clearing all changing into wolves. However, it felt so rushed in that a few funny dog pictures and some naked time was enough to bring Steve around completely to the wolfy way of life. I guess it just felt a little ridiculous how quickly things moved for them, but I guess that’s what you get when there are only so many pages in the story.
I sincerely hope that this is fixed for the final copy, however the beginning of chapter two was completely out of line in context with the rest of the story. They had just met at the end of chapter one, and suddenly they are all cuddly and sexy and in “their” cabin and it just didn’t add up. I went back and re-read chapters one and two three times before I finally figured out that, timeline wise, shit wasn’t adding up. It completely threw me out of the flow of the story, and confused me horribly. **Update – I was told this was a mate dream. However, there was no distinguishing this being an ACTUAL dream, which is still pretty confusing to me. :(
One of the things that I enjoyed though was the fact that we got to see all of the Poconos shifters we’ve come to know and love. I adored getting to see more of Ben and Dave, Rick and Belle. I think it’s wonderful that Bell does such a great job of keeping up with her previous characters. I’m excited to see how things work out with Charlie becoming part of the pack as well, since I adore her character.
All in all I was a little disappointed with this book. Not only was it over way too quickly, but it also felt so incredibly rushed in both the romance and plot department. I would have liked to see things pulled out, dragged on, explored further instead of the magic mates fixing everything within mere pages. However, getting the chance to see some of my old favorites is always a treat. I give Mr. Red Riding Hoode a C-(less)
I’m such a sucker for the Fool’s Gold series, so these are on my auto-request, auto-buy, auto-everything list.
Angel hasn’t had an easy go of it. He lost his family while serving in the military, and although he’s got his life on track and friends who love him, he isn’t willing to open himself up to love anytime soon. His work at the bodyguard training school is enough to keep him mostly happy, but spending time with Taryn is healing him in ways he never expected.
Taryn loves her job as owner of a PR agency. She works with her best friends and former pro-football boys. But when Angel walks into her life, she finds her world thrown upside down. Taryn doesn’t want to love Fool’s Gold, but the people are so nice that they are breaking down all her walls, and Angel is at the forefront, banging away at her heart without even knowing. But neither Taryn or Angel are ready to fully let go of the past and trust another person, so how will they make a real go at their future?
This book combined my favorite things, sports heroines, and a romance that isn’t overly angsty or complicated, but so passionate at the same time. The chemistry between Taryn and Angel is so well done, and I felt like they were constantly burning up the pages. Their romance was spicy and sweet at the same time, and I liked the fact that they danced around each other for awhile before falling into bed together. Their chemistry was off the charts, and the sexual tension between them was so intense.
I have to say, as much as I love my sports heroes, those guys took a back seat to Angel. I loved him. He was so tortured about his past, and yet he was kind and sweet and caring and sensitive. I loved that he wanted to give back to the community, and really gave his everything to being a troop leader, even once he found out they were little girls. Seeing him interact with the young girls was so cute, so adorable. I loved every second of it. The way he was so scared of them, and yet so determined to be everything they needed. It made him the kind of hero that made me weak in the knees.
I also fell in love with Taryn pretty easily. Although she is skeptical about living in Fool’s Gold, and isn’t so keen on small town life, she is such a warm and loving person. I loved that she didn’t apologize for being a bit of a fashionista and clothes horse, and didn’t let being in a small town change her LA style. I loved that she was so ready to help out with the little girls, and that she was just as scared as Angel to take them on. :)
Although Taryn and Angel really stole this whole book, Taryn’s co-workers made a big impression. I can’t wait to read their HEAs and am anxiously waiting to see what kind of trouble they get into next. I loved that when push came to shove, they banded around Taryn and defended her with every breath in their bodies. I can’t wait till they each get their own book!
All in all, I think this might be my favorite Fool’s Gold book to date. I loved Taryn and Angel so much, and thought they were absolutely perfect together. They had such a wonderful connection, and their romance was such a treat to read. I loved them not only as individual characters, but as a couple too. I can’t wait to read this rest of this summer’s books. I think they are all going to be amazing! I give When We Met an A-(less)
I adore all things Shannon Stacey, and her holiday novellas have become a favorite of mine at the end of each year.
Rachel is working at her dream job, she loves the day to day responsibilities, she loves the work, and she has been crushing on her boss big time for as long as she has worked for him. But crossing that line in the sand is something that she only dreams of doing, until they are snowed in at one of Adrian’s romantic resorts, and their time together leads from one thing to another.
Adrian has built his business from the ground up. Risking it all for a quick tumble with his executive assistant isn’t worth it, especially because he couldn’t do his job without Rachel. But being snowed in together is playing havoc with their libidos, and their work weekend takes an unexpected journey between the sheets. But being back at work the following week brings more mixed emotions than Rachel or Adrian know how to deal with, and might be enough to kill their fragile relationship.
This was a very short novella, only about 40 pages or so, and while I felt like Stacey told a wonderful story, I also wish we would have gotten the chance to see more. I, for one, like reading novellas. I love having a quick and easy read that I know will leave me with a huge smile on my face by the end. Stacey accomplished this to perfect. Of course, the only downside is that when I find myself falling hard for the characters in certain novellas, 40 pages just isn’t enough. :)
One aspect I thought was handled really well in this story was the complications of going back to work together. Both Rachel and Adrian were unsure how to act Monday morning, and they both got their signals crossed, their feelings hurt, and the miscommunication skyrocketed. But, I was able to feel their discomfort with not knowing how to act around one another. Adrian was worried about crossing some line at work with being the boss. He didn’t want to pressure Rachel, make her feel uncomfortable, especially since he valued her position so highly. On the other hand, Rachel was confused that Adrian wanted to be business as usual when he dove straight into work. She was worried about speaking up and ruining her position. It was a tightrope, and they both fell spectacularly.
I thoroughly enjoyed both Adrian and Rachel. They came across as such vivid characters in my mind. I’m not too sure why I was able to so easily relate to them both (maybe it was all the years I worked as an executive admin??), but either way I connected with them both so early in the story. I wanted – desperately – for them to get their HEA, for them to put aside their work concerns and be honest about their budding relationship. I loved the way they were able to so easily admit their feelings and move past their communication issues, address them, and find a way to balance their work and person lives.
I thought the epilogue was such a special treat. Many times, in novellas, we don’t get a chance to glimpse anything in the far future. I love that Stacey gave us a chance to see just how wonderful things are for Rachel and Adrian, on both a professional and personal scale, a year into the future. It was an extra special treat, and I so enjoyed it.
All in all I thought Stacey created another fabulous holiday short. While I was jonesing for more from these characters, I love the fact that they were able to fall so epically and build back up in such a short amount of time. The quick love was easy for me to believe in because of their work schedule, so I had no complaints about the romance. I give Snowbound with the CEO a B+(less)
I’m a big fan of both second chance love stories, and friends to lovers stories. After reading this blurb, I knew this story would be right up my alley.
Sophie and Parker are both moving back into their childhood homes after the lives they thought they wanted fell apart. Picking up their friendship is just another natural thing for them, and they both quickly realize the crushes they had were mutual. Acting on those feelings is more intense than either Sophie or Parker realize, and things quickly get serious.
But issues arise from their pasts, namely Sophie’s ex-husband: the cheating bastard, as well as Parker’s ex high school sweetheart who broke his heart. But their friendship is stable, and although the budding relationship isn’t nearly as strong, both Sophie and Parker know what they want, and they want one another.
I thought Parker and Sophie had a great connection. It was so sweet to see them both picking up the pieces of their lives, and each others lives as they became best friends once again. I know that I have friends (sorta) like that. Where we can drift in and out of each others lives and know that we are still there 100% when the other needs us. Seeing that bond between Sophie and Parker, so strong to start, was special. I love when romance books take the time to really focus on the friendship between the hero and heroine.
I also liked the way they each had some HUGE relationship hurdles to get over. Between Sophie’s cheating douche bag ex-husband, to Parker’s high school and college sweetheart who broke his heart, they were both pretty emotionally scarred when it came to relationships. Those emotional scars were enough to send them both into a tailspin at times, but I liked the way that Stivali gave them a lot of chances to talk and work it out.
One aspect of the book that really didn’t work for me was Sophie’s relationship with her family. I have such a hard time understanding why any family member would be such a jerk to their own child. The way that Sophie’s father talked to her was just annoying and hard for me to believe, especially after everything she went through. I also felt as if there was just something missing. While all the right ingredients were there for a wonderful romance, there was just something in the execution that didn’t work for me.
All in all I enjoyed my first Stivali read. I thought the hero and heroine were great characters, and their romance was such fun to read. (PS: VIRGIN HERO ALERT!) However, there was a spark of that something special that felt missing in their romance. I wanted and needed more to really commit to them fully, and I never really felt like we got that. I give Leave the Lights On a C.(less)
Lou: I got so excited when I learned that Thea Harrison was releasing a Christmas novella about Dragos, Pia, and their little Peanut. Dragos and Pia are one of my favourite couples of the Elder series and this novella was the perfect downtime to see how they interact as a family, and to see the softer side of Dragos who is so in love with his son. Pia wants Dragos to take them on holiday, and she sneakily plants ideas into the dragon’s head. This novella features a baby dragon, missing treasure, smoking hot sex, and a pissed off dragon who will go to any lengths to protect his family. Dragos and Pia are closer than ever and the romance between them has not waned in the slightest. Liam is growing incredibly fast, and his POV was so sweet. The ending was one of the most adorable endings EVA, and I will never tired of this couple so I’m hoping they’ll still have more stories to tell in the future.
I give Dragos Takes a Holiday an A.
MinnChica: I love both Christmas novellas, and all things Elder Races. Getting the two combined was an extra special treat!! Every moment we spend with Dragos and Pia has become a favorite of mine. This couple continues to be my favorite, and getting to see them with baby Liam warms my heart. I loved the way Pia cared for Dragos by subtly pushing for a family vacation. I loved the way that we got to see a few scenes from Liam’s point of view. They are so sweet and innocent and oh-so special! I loved the way that Dragos continues to care for Pia and Liam 100%, above all else. Their relationship is everything from sweet and tender to sexy and rough. The pirates were a fabulous touch that Harrison knocked out of the park. I can’t wait for the next in this series!!
I give Dragos Takes a Holiday an A
E: **Happy sigh** Some authors are able to transition effortlessly between novels and novellas. Harrison is one of those. She uses her novellas to give a glimpse of the the rest of the world or of the everyday and they are just wonderful. I was extremely excited to hear she was returning to the Elder Races world with a novella and even more excited when I found out it would star Dragos, Pia, and Peanut! After all Dragos and Pia introduced me to this world and Peanut has been around almost since the beginning as well. I loved getting a glimpse into the inner workings of the Culebre family. It was great seeing exactly how well Pia and Dragos knew each other and how they worked to keep each other happy. I also really enjoyed how Harrison has given Peanut his own personality and development as he grows. His reasoning for doing certain things was so very logical and made me smile. I also loved the intrigue/mystery and setting that Pia, Dragos, and Peanut explored during this story. It was wonderful to revisit the Elder Races world in this novella. I am adding it to my list when I need a Wyr fix but don’t have time to read a novel.
I give Dragos Takes a Holiday an A+
Has: I adore the Elder Races series and Dragon Bound is one of my all time favourite paranormal romances. So I was excited and looking forward to reading a novella featuring Dragos, Pia and the Peanut who has definitely captured my heart! Dragos Takes a Holiday was a fantastic side story which delved into the private and intimate look at Dragos’ family. The plot with the treasure hunters was entertaining and humorous. It was funny to see Dragos being all ‘dragon mode’ on the hunt for treasure and keeping up with a precocious and trouble-magnet baby son. There were some amusing scenes that I thoroughly enjoyed. Dragos Takes a Holiday was a fun, sexy and action packed novella! It was a great interlude in the lives of Dragos and his family which left me very satisfied with that last click for the final page on my ereader. I really hope we get more in the future!
I really like this series, I love the animal aspect of it, and think the small town aspect is great as well. There were some communication issues betw...moreI really like this series, I love the animal aspect of it, and think the small town aspect is great as well. There were some communication issues between the hero and heroine that drove me crazy, but all-in-all I enjoyed it. B
I was so looking forward to this book, because I couldn’t wait to see the way Presley and Aaron would get their second chance at a relationship, but Novak took this book in some weird directions, and I found myself dismayed with the direction this series has gone.
Presley wants to return to Whiskey Creek, but is scared of the thought of running into Aaron. She is still desperately in love with him, but is also keeping a huge secret from him: his son. She knows that Aaron didn’t want the responsibility of a child back when they were partying hard, and she has turned her life around from the drug and alcohol use. But being in the same town as Aaron is harder than she ever expected, and her secret is bound to come out.
Aaron has matured and grown up, but the attraction between him and Presley is still strong as ever. He desperately wants her back in his bed, but her aloof attitude and desire to move onto someone who is good husband material is driving him crazy. Aaron has plans to move up and on from Whiskey Creek, but being with Presley again is forcing him to rethink his decision to move, and when he discovers the truth about her secret, he is going to fight extra hard for the chance to be in Presley’s life.
There were so many things that went wrong in this book, I don’t even know where to start. My biggest beef was probably dealing with the secondary characters. I loved Presley’s sister Cheyenne in her book, and thought her story was absolutely wonderful, it was probably my favorite in the series. However, the Cheyenne I thought I knew from before morphed into this insecure conniving bitch. The subplot dealing with her trying to get pregnant and the way she handled it pissed me off like no other. I seriously hope that Dylan, her husband, leaves her for the shit she pulled in this book. I can’t even begin to explain to you how incredibly pissed off I was by her actions.
Likewise, given this and the last book, it seems like the secondary characters in this story are so hard up to find their happily ever after that they will make a play for just about anyone. I couldn’t agree more with Tasha’s review from Goodreads. Riley didn’t notice Presley before, and yet now all of a sudden he is desperate to make a future with her? Ummm, BULL SHIT. It was the same as the Ted/Eve situation in the last book, and the whole scenario comes across as desperate and corny and stupid. It is not romantic at all, and reeks of ridiculous soap opera material.
The romance between Presley and Aaron also made me mad. Despite the attraction between them, Presley is keeping their son secret, while sleeping with Aaron a few times, and continuing to date Riley. Again, it all felt like a bad soap opera plot, and I hated it. While I understood Presley’s reluctance to get involved with Aaron again, she didn’t handle the situation like someone I wanted to read about. She was wishy-washy and immature and I just couldn’t get behind it. I wanted so desperately for these two to get their happily ever after, and yet once they got there, I didn’t even care anymore.
All in all, I think I’m going to have to break up with the Whiskey Creek series. Novak has taken these characters in a direction that doesn’t sit well with me as a reader. I hated Cheyenne, I hated Riley. I didn’t care anymore about Presley or Aaron or anyone else for that matter. This whole book was just one big disappointment. I give Come Home to Me a D-(less)
As I was reading this month’s Dear Reader letter in the front of every Carina Press book, I came across Angela James’ description for this book and was immediately hooked. The different world that sounded so unique was enough to pull me in and send me to NetGalley, looking for this book.
Calla has unique magical abilities: she can manipulate any kind of technology. It’s the kind of skill that will make her an outcast among her fellow witches, so she keeps it as secret as possible. When Normal Detective Perez comes snooping around the zone looking for information on a murder, Calla finds herself drawn to him – in ways she never imagined she would feel about a non Magic-born.
Nate is new to the city and the zone. Being put on a murder investigation that is all kinds of screwed up is stressful. Having to go into the zone to search for clues is even more so, until he meets Calla. Nate doesn’t care about magic or not, and although he needs Calla’s help to solve the murder, he is also captivated by her. But as the secrets of the investigation unfold, a conspiracy involving Calla, a Senator, and an innocent man will come crashing down around them.
Let me just start by saying this book has one of the coolest worlds I’ve ever read in paranormal romance. I love the fact that the world is totally screwed up, that the “normal” humans have rounded up all of those with magical abilities and thrown them into urban slums, gating them off and treating them like cattle. They have extra laws they have to live by, are stripped of their basic rights, and are forced to live as sub-humans. I hope that this will continue as a series, and at the end of it, the witches have their own uprising! :)
For me, there was a lot of really awesome world-building in this book, but the romance fell horribly flat. I never really felt the connection between Nate and Calla. Other than some sex, these two didn’t really seem to have any chemistry. Calla was constantly fretting over the fact that Nate was normal and they wouldn’t be able to have a future. She let it interfere with everything, and because of it I never really felt like she took the time to get to know or care about Nate as a man. Likewise, Nate was so wrapped up in solving the case and convincing Calla that they could find a way to be together, there wasn’t time for anything else. I felt like they never really wholly committed to each other, instead they just kind of settled for what it was.
As individual characters, I like Nate and Calla. I thought they both had a lot of promise. I liked finding out about the work that Calla was putting in to help magic-born and normals alike get out from underneath the stringent and oppressive laws. I wish that aspect of the world would have been explored more, because I think it really could have added so much depth and intensity to the bleak future that is expected for magic-born. I liked the fact that Nate could care less about those with magic abilities. I liked that his morals and conscious kept him following the murder investigation, despite the fact that he was told to drop it.
Another aspect that seemed to fall somewhat flat for me was the murder investigation. While it seemed interesting at first, it seemed to kind of run out of steam as the book went on. It became somewhat predictable and while I could appreciate the way it all worked out, it just didn’t work for me because I thought that plot thread had the ability to be so much more.
All in all I really enjoyed Clark’s world, and hope that she takes the time to explore it deeper, flush out more of the injustices and work toward creating a better way of life for the magic born. While I also liked both our hero and heroine, I wish that their romance would have had more chemistry, more development. I give Trancehack a C+(less)
MinnChica: Oh man… Quentin. I think he might be one of my new favorite heroes in this series. If course, I think I say that about every hero Harrison has written. But seriously, Quentin was so amazing. I loved that he wasn’t afraid to fight with Aryal, even pound on her in the beginning. To go from literally wanting to kill her, to falling head over hells not even a week later was so great. Watching as his opinion of her changed and morphed. How they opened up to one another and were able to see so much more, it was just such a special treat! Plus, Quentin was wholly devoted to Aryal, even before they started their mating process, and that just melted my heart!
E: Quentin, wow. I think he is up on my list with Dragos and Khalil for my favorite Harrison heroes. He was so complicated and has so many layers that I found discovering him fascinating. I also have to admit that ever since Harrison introduced him in Dragon Bound I have been curious about him. Like MinnChica, I loved how fierce he was, that he didn’t take crap from anyone and how truly calculating he could be. I got such a kick out of his plan to make Aryal disappear permanently without anyone blaming him. Yet, I also loved how deeply he cared and what he would do for those he cared about. Watching him soften and open up while retaining his deadly edge was a treat.
Has: I am also firmly entrenched in Quentin’s fan club, but I always felt he would be an intriguing and interesting character. Kinked certainly illustrated the multi-faceted aspects of his character, and I really enjoyed learning more about his past and life, especially his conflicting emotions about Aryal which were beyond entertaining and fun to see play out. Their chemistry was amazing and definitely provided a different dynamic from Thea Harrison’s previous books in this series.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: I was a little hesitant about reading Aryal in the heroine spotlight. She was so hard and cold and unattached as a supportive character. I was worried that she would come across just as difficult as a leading lady. Boy was I wrong. As we got to see the way Aryal’s mind works, she shocked me with how loyal and devoted and filled with emotion she really was. I just about died laughing when she realized how wrong she was about Quentin, and how fast she was to get over it when she found out that he wasn’t out to hurt anyone she cared for. I just loved the fact that Aryal was able to really blossom as not only a heroine, but also a person for me.
E: I have also anticipated Aryal’s story since the beginning when she was so furious about what Pia did to catch Dragos’ attention. Her not really hidden opinion of Pia that was slowly changing. How devoted and single-minded she was towards Dragos. The fact that once she was pointed towards a target she never gave up made the work Harrison did to get me to believe in their relationship really impressive. I also loved her ferocity and her reaction when she finally got some information out of Quentin made me laugh so hard. As fascinating as I found her love for physical exertion I enjoyed seeing her softer side as well. There is a scene when Quentin is thinking as he watches Aryal as she was in her Wyr form and leapt into the sky that so perfectly captured my image of her. She was proud, confident, and comfortable with who she was without any thoughts about changing or confirming. I really enjoyed getting to know Aryal and seeing her come to some harsh realizations and decide to consciously spread her loyalty.
Has: While I love Aryal’s character because she brings out interesting reactions from other characters and I really like how she can ruffle some feathers of other characters which can be fun, I did have some trepidation about her having her own book. However, Thea Harrison really delivered in this book and especially on the romance, which showed Aryal’s hidden depths such as her vulnerability from her usual snarky and cynical attitude. It was fantastic to see her grow and develop especially when she had to face up that her suspicions about Quentin may have been wrong and learning that he can be loyal and steadfast which blew away her preconceptions about him.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: I think I would have to pick the scene at the very end as my favorite. Without giving too much away, Aryal and Quentin have been through literal hell together, and Aryal is about to find out if one very important aspect of her life is changed forever. I loved the support the Quentin gives her throughout the couple weeks leading up to the pivotal moment. How dedicated he was to supporting her in any and every way possible. Then seeing the joy from them both as Aryal accomplishes her goal. It was beautiful. Plus, we got the best line from a book ever. “You really do poop sparkly rainbows.”
E: Ooh those were great scenes I agree. However, I think I am going for the scene when they talk about the possibility of mating and what it would mean from both sides. Aryal said some lines to Quentin which made me reach for tissues because what they meant and signified was so heartfelt I knew if she decided to take that step it would seem as if the world shifted on its axis.
Has: Oh, that scene when she tells Quentin what it means to be mated and what she needed from her mate and what she would give in return was just beautiful. I absolutely agree there was many scenes in this book which were memorable and stood out for me, but since E picked out my favourite one – I will have to go for my second favourite scene which had the big confrontation and sparring scene with Quentin and Aryal working out their differences. It broke a barrier between them and became a catalyst which kick-started their romance and it was so true to their characters. I think it also illustrated that Quentin who held so much inside could let loose and be himself with Aryal which is something he can never be with anyone else and it also shows they were a perfect match which is a theme for them and it is oh so fitting.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: I think for me, with the mainstream of BDSM, I was a little worried about what direction this book would take. Especially since the title is Kinked! While I tried to keep the faith early on, hoping that Harrison wouldn’t let me down, there were a few times I was desperately concerned that I wouldn’t like it. But, I was glad to see that both Quentin and Aryal stayed on a path that I was okay with, and didn’t venture into too kinky territory. :)
E: I was also a little worried about this as well given the personalities of both Aryal and Quentin but I absolutely loved how Harrison handled the potential complication. Their discussions added some marvelous levity and acted as extended foreplay.
Has: I also had similar feelings about the BDSM aspects but I do think Thea Harrison painted it perfectly for them because it was so true to their characters, and I liked how the themes of control and letting go played out in the book. I think the weakest aspect of the book, was the villain, I wished there was more information about them because they seemed interesting but a lot of it was glossed over although it is more of a minor quibble.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
MinnChica: All in all I think this is one of my favorites in the Elder Races series. I adored getting to know both Aryal and Quentin better, especially as they opened up to each other and really let their fears and insecurities show. The romance was beautiful, although it was a horribly bumpy ride. The plot was fantastic, so imaginative and heartbreaking and wonderful. Harrison continues to impress me more and more with every book. I can’t wait until the next one! I give Kinked an A.
E: So… there are some books that I can reread often and Kinked has certainly made the list. Watching Aryal and Quentin move from deadly enemies to so much more was wonderful. They had to fight not just for love but for the future of all of those they cared about. The fight scenes and the results of the final one really had me worried. I also enjoyed how Aryal and Quentin worked through their emotional issues. Besides their relationship, the threat they faced was a very real one that had some serious consequences. Harrison built on the actions that have occurred throughout the series to create a believable threat. I thought the way she pulled threads from the beginning and casual references that ended up being not so casual showed why she is an auto-buy. Harrison provided action, intensity, danger, love, fighting, character growth, magic, and wonderful continued world-building. I can’t wait for the next story set in this world! I give Kinked an A+
Has: I was taken by surprise by how much I really enjoyed Kinked because it developed in an unexpected way. I loved their romance which was full of sparks and snark as well as real emotional depth that really developed their characters. The side plot was also full of fast-paced action that continued some of the on-going plot threads from the last book. Everything came together with a breathless climactic ending which had me on tenterhooks! Overall, Kinked was a fantastic installment that had one of the best romances in this series and I really hope we get to see more of Aryal and Quentin in the future because they’re firmly entrenched as one of my favourite couples! I give Kinked an A(less)
I was so excited to read Ted and Sophia’s story, because they had been built up so much throughout this series, and unfortunately, I just didn’t like it.
Ted was left heartbroken by Sophia when they were younger, but now that she is down on her luck, he is finding it almost impossible to turn his back on her. There is something about her situation that is bringing out all his protective instincts, despite the fact that she threw him away for another man all those years ago. But seeing Sophia deal with the changes in her life proves to Ted that she has changed, in more ways than he ever thought possible.
Sophia was miserable in her marriage, but now that her husband has deserted her and left her to deal with the fallout of his stealing millions of dollars, Sophia finally found freedom. Despite the fact that she has to go out and get a job, as a housekeeper for her old flame, Sophia is looking to start over anew with her daughter. But the town of Whiskey Creek isn’t feeling very forgiving, and Sophia may have to pick up and leave. But a Christmas miracle might be enough to change her reputation.
I adored Sophia in this book. I was so excited to learn more about her, especially since it was painfully obvious that she was stuck in an abusive and impossible marriage. But now that her husband has left her, the chance for freedom is more exciting than she ever expected. Having to get a job, worry about bills, and balancing a checkbook were all things she never had to worry about until now. Watching her struggle to not only deal with the fallout from her husband leaving, but also from the town turning on her and her daughter, was so special. Sophia was so strong, so determined, and I absolutely loved her for it. I think I loved her character so much more at the end of this book, because of the incredible amount of growth she had to go through.
Too bad Ted turned out to be a douche. It was painfully obvious to the readers (and Ted, I assume) that he still cared deeply for Sophia. Although he gave lip service to the idea of being over her, he still wanted to protect her, know about what was going on with her, was worried every time she showed up with a black eye or split lip. Then he turned around and started dating the one friend that Sophia had left?! Why Ted turned to Eve, who he knew was serious about wanting to settle down with someone, is still beyond me. The fact that he slept with another woman during this book was enough to have me hating him from page 1. The groveling to BOTH women for putting them through his insecurities and bull was completely lacking, and I thought that Ted came across as selfish and egotistical.
Because of Ted’s inability to be an adult, I really didn’t enjoy the romance between Ted and Sophia. Granted, the romance itself was all of about 50 pages. Given the fact that Sophia was still married on page one, and Ted’s relationship with Eve lasted through the majority of the book, this story had more of a chick-lit feel to it than romance. It wasn’t my cup of tea, and given how much I usually adore Novak’s stories, I was extremely disappointed.
All in all this was not a romance book that worked for me. Given the characters didn’t even commit to each other until the end of the book, I really struggled with enjoying the romance. The only thing that saved this book for me was the fact that I seriously loved Sophia’s character and journey. However, I couldn’t be more disappointed and let down with Ted and Sophia’s romance. I give Take Me Home For Christmas a D+(less)
Full review to come. I hated the way the last book ended on such a huge cliffhanger, and there were things that bothered me about this book, but they...moreFull review to come. I hated the way the last book ended on such a huge cliffhanger, and there were things that bothered me about this book, but they were things that we also handled really well. B+(less)
I didn't like this one nearly as much as the first two. Which is really disappointing because I was looking forward to these characters. Full review t...moreI didn't like this one nearly as much as the first two. Which is really disappointing because I was looking forward to these characters. Full review to come(less)
I love sports heroes, and Quinn has been an author I really enjoyed in the past, so getting the read the first in the Deuces Wild series was a no brainer. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me as well as some of Quinn’s previous books.
Summer has always wanted to try and make a career out of signing. Getting the chance to perform in and around New York City is a dream come true. Having her best friend’s older brother, and her secret crush, around for the wild ride isn’t what she expected. But Chase has decided that Summer needs someone to watch over her, and he has declared himself her protector. Only, Summer would rather have him worshipping her body than protecting it.
Chase is lost. His elbow is screwed up and his baseball career is most likely over. He’s coasting through life not really sure what he wants to do. It’s not until he sees Summer again that he knows for sure that he wants to be near her. But keeping his hands off her in a sexual manner and keeping her safe is harder than he expected. When her career finally takes flight, Chase will have to decide if he’s ready to follow her on her dreams, reach for his own, or find a way for them to have it all.
This book took awhile to start, for me at least. I really struggled with connecting with both Chase and Summer both as individuals and a couple. I had a really hard time rooting for either of them as well as their relationship. For me, Chase was harder to relate to because he came across as so spoiled and depressed. His baseball career was in the pits, with his messed up elbow. But, instead of doing something about it he whined and complained and wallowed in his own self-pity. Then, once he decided that he was going to name himself as Summer’s protector he had a hard time committing to her as well. He waffled as to what he wanted, what he was going to do, and how he was going to handle himself. He made it very difficult for me to like him.
After getting to know Summer a little better, I did enjoy her character. Apparently there was a somewhat traumatic event in her past, and although Quinn didn’t hit on this event nearly enough for my liking, it did explain a little bit about Summer’s character. I liked that Summer was so fearless in going after what she wanted. She wanted a singing career, and she did what she had to in order to get it: traveling by herself and playing in some seedy places. I did think that her good girl persona wasn’t explored very well either. She was described as a church going good girl, and yet I never felt like it really impacted her character one way or the other.
Their romance was not the typical best friend older brother that I’m used to reading. Chase didn’t really have to seem any qualms about dating his younger sister’s friend, other than a slight protest to the age difference and the fact that he was in such a bad place. I wanted a little more drama in regards to changing the dynamic of their friendship, because at times it felt like they weren’t as good of friends as they sometime said.
All in all I was disappointed in the first book in the Deuces Wild series. The bodyguard agency that Chase was building didn’t really hold my interest, and I had a hard time connecting with the hero and heroine and their romance. While Quinn’s writing is normally superb, this book just didn’t work for me. I give Protecting His Assets a C-(less)
I discovered this series when my reading pals on Twitter was talking about the bald, tattooed and pierced hero of Lynn’s Leave Me Breathless. After reading that, I went back and read Brian’s story, and was anxious for more. I’m so glad I discovered Lynn!
Gabriella has had a rough time in the romance department, but with her new outlook on life, she wants to start with a fresh tattoo. Her brother refuses to do the ink, so Gabriella has Ian do it for her. The attraction between them is undeniable, and Gabriella thinks a little romp in the sack might be another fabulous way to kickstart her new attitude.
Ian is wildly attracted to Gabriella, and once she propositions him, there is no way he can say no to her. But a crimp in their plans has Ian and Gabriella having to compromise and find a way to make their relationship work for the long run, despite the many obstacles they have in their way.
I absolutely adore this series. I think Lynn does a wonderful job of creating sexy heroes and strong heroines. Add in the tatts, piercings, and bad boy images, and these books are all to die for. I loved the fact that Ian and Gabriella has a bit of an age difference between them, and that poor Gabriella got teased a few times for being the older woman. I haven’t seen that often in the books I’ve read, so it was a fun twist on the age difference drama.
I had a soft spot for Ian, because although he was a total bad boy, he was also a total softie underneath it all. He was absolutely smitten with Gabriella, and he didn’t try very hard to hard it from her. Once their little problem is brought to light, Ian seems pretty darn excited about the chance to keep Gabriella around.
*Spoiler alert* I, personally, love the accidental baby stories. I think they are so much fun. The romantic in me loves watching a couple struggle to not only deal with the way their lives will change once a baby enters the picture, but also how they struggle to accept a new partner into their everyday lives. I don’t know why, but that is just one of the problems I love reading about most in romance.
I was a little bummed with the sub plot with Gabriella’s parents reaction toward Ian. After everything Brian had to go through to get his parents approval, I for sure thought they would be a little more respectful of Ian and his lifestyle choices. But no, they had to stick their stuck up noses into the situation and make it a million times worse. I wanted so desperately for both Gabriella and Ian to stand up to her parents much sooner in the story than they did.
All in all I thought this was another wonderful book in the Ross Siblings series. I loved Ian, and the strength that Gabriella showed in overcoming all that life had done to her was wonderful to read. I wanted a little more dedication from both Ian and Gabriella toward their relationship, but I loved the way it all turned out for them. I give Take Me On a B(less)
I really enjoyed this Hollywood romance between a camera operator, and an A list hero. I thought their romance was so well done, the sexy times were s...moreI really enjoyed this Hollywood romance between a camera operator, and an A list hero. I thought their romance was so well done, the sexy times were steamy, and I hope we get to see more within this world of Hollywood elite. B+ Full review to come(less)
MinnChica: This sports series is by far my favorite from Burton, and in the top three of sports romance series. I love the way Burton showcases not only the love of sports, from both the male and female perspective, but I also love the way she goes into the brotherhood of the players, the family dynamics outside of the team, and the struggles that come with being a professional athlete. Getting a sneak peek back into Gavin and Liz’s life is so amazing. Add in a Riley family Christmas celebration and wedding, and Burton has knocked this one out of the park!
E: It was great getting a peek into the life of the Rileys around Christmas. I do have to say that if you haven’t read the other books in this series you will miss a lot of the references. And you really should read them because they are good! I enjoyed seeing how she included friendly rivalries, arguments, love, and the essence of each previously met character. I had the feeling that I was watching an actual family not just a scripted set of scenes. As a result I loved this novella and didn’t find myself wishing it was a novel.
MinnChica: I agree completely. Usually when I read a novella, I find myself desperate for more! However, with this story, it was the perfect amount of story to whet my appetite. I thought it was hilarious that Liz was so fixated on getting pregnant that she was willing to go at it anywhere and everywhere she and Gavin could get some alone time. :) These two were extremely sexual in their own full length novel, however I loved the fact that even Gavin was amused by how much Liz wanted to attempt making a baby. I do have to say though, for someone who was trying so hard to get pregnant, for someone who was constantly thinking about it, she was pretty oblivious to the signs. :)
E: I agree. I guessed much earlier in the story but Liz was rather distracted at the time. I thought Liz’s mission to become pregnant so reminiscent of her personality throughout the entire series. I thought it was great to see that marriage and her hopes of pregnancy had not altered her in that regard. Speaking of Gavin he certainly was a willing participant and I loved his lines towards the end regarding Liz and their frequent activity. It was such a great relief to see that he wasn’t tired or exasperated by her drive. I also loved the closeness and inclusion between all the ladies. Really spoke to how close they became throughout the series.
MinnChica: All in all I thought this was such a great treat to the Play-by-Play series. I adored the chance to see all the heroines together, and the bond of sisterhood that connects them. Likewise it was fun to watch the heroes band together during all the family festivities. This is a book that should probably NOT be read as a stand-alone, but when the series is as great as it is, you might as well just buy all the books if you haven’t. :) I give Holiday Games an A-
E: I thought this was a lovely way to start off reading holiday stories because of its very completeness. It brought me right back into their world and reminded me of why I enjoy this series so much. I love how Burton is able to blend family with sports and keep the feeling realistic complete with inner-family rivalries. Now I really want to reread the series so if you haven’t started yet this is a perfect excuse.I give Holiday Games an A-(less)
These are very short (one night only) glimpses into the band Sole Regreat. It's an interesting set up for the series. NOTE: You should go into this no...moreThese are very short (one night only) glimpses into the band Sole Regreat. It's an interesting set up for the series. NOTE: You should go into this novella expecting it to be unresolved and a one night only thing. If you're looking for a novella with a typical romance HEA, you won't get it. (less)
I don't know that this book can be classified as a true romance. It's dark... like, REALLY dark.
First off, it took me almost 3 full days to read this...moreI don't know that this book can be classified as a true romance. It's dark... like, REALLY dark.
First off, it took me almost 3 full days to read this book, and I read somewhat fast. It's over 900 pages.
Two, there is a LOT of sexual violence. It served its purpose to the story, but it was graphic and intense and at times a little much.
Three, so much of this book focuses on the hero's blind faith, and his pilgrimage to his sacred shrine. While I found that aspect of the book to be really interesting, I have a tendency to get annoyed when religion is a key factor in books. I don't know why, but it annoys me. I think that is why this book didn't work as well for me as it did for others.
I hated most of the secondary characters in this story. I wanted to shoot the other humans, even Amber's sister Nicci. They were a little over the top in their extremist ways, and that drove me bat-shit crazy.
While I liked the book, thought it was extremely thought provoking, I didn't LOVE it like a lot of other people did. It was good, but it didn't blow me away. It's definitely an interesting read!(less)
I'm excited to see what comes next with the Barefoot Bay crew. This wasn't my favorite in the series, but was a good end to this group of friends. B- F...moreI'm excited to see what comes next with the Barefoot Bay crew. This wasn't my favorite in the series, but was a good end to this group of friends. B- Full review to come. (less)
Let me first start by saying that I love and adore all things sports romance. And getting the chance to see some other sports that aren’t typically represented in the genre was such fun. However, when reading a novella, I find that I have a very, VERY, hard time believing in couples that say “I love you” after only a few days. Each and every one of these stories had that, and even more so, they all had a destined-mate feel to the story. That ruined the fun reading experience for me, and by the end of the 2nd or 3rd story, really negatively impacted my reading mojo.
Worth More Than Gold by Ana Blaze
While all the other stories in this anthology focus a lot on the mystical torch that is said to bring good luck to all the competitors, this story didn’t. I liked that it was more about Amy being Erik’s good-luck charm, and I liked how that worked out for their relationship. It was fun to read about a heroine who had some strong athletic talent, but gave it up because she knew her Olympic chances were slim to none.
I really liked that Amy was able to develop a deeper relationship with her younger sister, and those moments between them were some of my favorites. However, for me the romance started off with a bang (literally), and then somewhat fizzled out. Don’t get me wrong, the sexy times between these two were off the charts, but I never really understood what it was that pulled Amy and Erik to each other. Their chemistry was obvious to each other, but as a reader, I never really understood it. Also, given the fact that Amy was willing to pick up her life and move to another state because of a man she had known for just a few days was a little too out there for me.
All in all I thought this was a super cute story, and had some really beautiful parts to it. However, this was the last story in the anthology itself, so I was extremely put off by the insta-love and quick development of the relationship. I give Worth More Than Gold a C
Trouble with Gold by Melinda Dozier
This was the first story in the anthology, and was a strong start to the anthology. I liked that Nadia was a volunteer for the Olympics, I thought it gave the story a different feel than most sports romance books I’ve read. I liked Ty, especially since he was so fun and carefree. Yet when it came to courting Nadia, he also went above and beyond to try and prove his devotion to her it. It was sweet, but again, the insta-love was a hard pill to swallow.
I also liked the fact that Nadia had to deal with some negative fallout from her family regarding her sudden relationship with Ty. I thought it was a great sub-plot to add in, and I wish that it would have been explored further within the story. I give Trouble with Gold a B-
The Girl behind the Gold by Aria Kane
I really liked the blurb of this story, and while some aspects of it were perfect, there were some that drove me crazy. I loved that Lia was so stern and serious, and that she was a little hurt by the fact that her public persona came across as bitchy instead of shy and professional about her sport. I could feel her desire to do anything and everything to get some sponsorships in order to secure her family’s future.
I liked Brandon as well, except for his little secret keeping from Lia. However, I thought he also put forth a pretty grand gesture in showing her just how sorry he was, and how much he wanted to patch things up between them. I really felt for them and their relationship, and was glad to see that there was no declaration of love, just a promise to try and work it out. That alone made this story my favorite of the anthology. I give The Girl Behind the Gold a B
Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller
I loved the premise of this story, however the execution was a little weak. I thought Brenna’s reasons for hating athletes could have been developed more, and came across as a flimsy excuse. However, it was nice to see the “golden boy” be put in his place time and time again because Brenna refused to take his crap.
That being said, it also seemed like Brenna was quick to change her mind about athletes and Cole and jumped into bed with him quicker than should be normal. On top of that, these two seemed to fall in love the quickest out of all the couples, and I had a really hard time believing in it. I give Ice Gold a C
All in all this anthology has some great parts (mainly getting to see more about the different winter sports) and some bad ones (hello insta-love gone overboard). While I thought all the stories had really strong and fun summaries, I also think there wasn’t enough execution for the stories to really work for me. Add in a few timeline errors between all four short stories, and this anthology didn’t live up to the expectation I had for it. I give Love and Other Games a C-(less)