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)
I adored this book. What a fun concept. Now I must go back and read the other books in this series. For as much as I can't stand reality TV, I did rea...moreI adored this book. What a fun concept. Now I must go back and read the other books in this series. For as much as I can't stand reality TV, I did really like this! :)(less)
I am a big fan of the Kowalski series, and I was so anxious to see what Stacey had in store for Liz and Drew.
Liz and Drew have known each other all their lives, so when Liz moves home to Whitford a few months after her one night tryst with Drew, things become awkward – to say the least. Drew and Liz are both worried about telling her older brother, Mitch, and the building sexual chemistry is making it harder than ever to stay away from each other. But the annual Kowalski camping trip might be more than Liz and Drew can handle, especially as they are thrown together again and again.
I love brother’s best friend stories. I don’t know if it’s the dynamic between the hero and his best friend, and the brother’s inevitable reaction to his best friend and sister’s relationship. I also love the dynamic between the hero and heroine, and the changing of their relationship from friend to lover, especially as they navigate their friend/brother’s feelings as well. I think it’s such a great dynamic in relationships and has become one of my all time favorite tropes.
I adored Liz, especially as we got to see her come out of her shell a bit. She was always so closed off and defensive around her family, so getting to see her blossom was wonderful to read. I love that Liz is so simplistic in her needs. She enjoys working as a waitress, she enjoys hey blow-up furniture, and she doesn’t need anything fancy or flashy to make her happy. She genuinely loves all the little things, and although she was constantly confused about what she really wanted to do with her life, I loved the fact that she didn’t allow that confusion to ruin the rest of her life.
Poor Drew was seriously hurt after his wife lied to him for so many years and divorced him. I could absolutely see why he wanted to settle down and get to the family making portion of his life, since that was what he had been building up to for years. However, it felt like Drew let that define him. He was the police chief, Mitch’s best friend, but the felt like he constantly thought of himself as “the guy who needs to start his family.” He was devoted to Liz, and absolutely tried to give her space in making a decision about their relationship. But it was never far from Drew’s mind (or mouth) that he was ready to be the family guy.
I thought Stacey did an amazing job with the sexual chemistry with these two. It was plain as day that both Liz and Drew were still attracted to each other, even after the few months apart. I loved how much they both wanted to pursue something, but were also scared of Mitch’s reaction. I have to say though, the way Mitch found out was kinda hilarious and horrible all at the same time. Poor Drew had to practically streak through the campsite to outrun Mitch’s punches. LOL
Although we’ve run out of Kowalski characters to marry off, I’m excited to see that this series is going to continue. I think Stacey does an incredible job with secondary characters throughout the story, and I’ve come to love each and every person who makes a repeat appearance. I’m anxious to read more about Hailey, especially since it seems as if she’s given up on love.
All in all I thought this was a great book to add to the Kowalski series. I love the trope, and thought the interactions between Drew, Liz, and Mitch were wonderful. The romance was both sweet and super sexy, and I loved getting to see Liz really come into her own during this book. I’m anxious to see more from the town of Whitford! I give Love a Little Sideways a B(less)
Jordan started one of Washington’s D.C. newest and hottest websites around, Need to Know. It’s an anonymous website where the single ladies of D.C. can log in and find out information about the bachelor men in the city. An excellent resource to weed out the crazies and keep hold of the good guys, Jordan finds herself the most popular lady in D.C. (with the ladies at least). Her temp job helps her cover her identity, all while verifying any and all information she can about the bachelors on her site.
Forest is a tough nut to crack. As one of the most eligible bachelors of the city, Jordan is determined to get any information she can on him. But Forest has other ideas, mainly ones that involve the two of them naked together. As Jordan’s site gains more and more notoriety, Forest hopes that she will trust him with her secret, despite the fact that he’s already found out all the details.
I enjoyed this book. It had a different premise than I’ve ever seen before in romance, and I loved LOVED the idea behind a need-to-know dating site. If my college campus would have had something like this, I could have avoided a lot of dating disasters back in the day. :D
The romance in this one was so well done. I loved that both Jordan and Forest had some pretty heavy baggage going into their relationship, but despite that and the secrets, the two of them were still able to come out on top. It was clear as day that these two were perfect for each other. Jordan was able to pull Forest out of his work, and get him to live a little. While Forest was able to give Jordan a helping hand, not just with her business but with advice for her personal life as well. They were each other’s sounding board and strong shoulder, and I adored them together.
Dimon has also done a wonderful job creating some serious sexual tension between these two. While most of her books are hot, Hot, HOT, I thought this novella was perfectly balanced between the sexual chemistry, the tension, and finally the actual smexing. I know this novella was written as a Cosmo Red Hot Short Story, but I can only hope that Dimon will get the chance to revisit Jordan and Forest in the future.
The secondary characters in this story rocked as well. Between Forest’s best friend, Wendell, to Jordan’s best friend, Elle, the entire cast of characters was fun to read. I especially loved the moments when Jordan and Elle would sit down together and go over the horrific and hilarious stories they had uncovered about the bachelors of D.C. I laughed and cringed at the thought that they were all probably true!
All in all I thought Dimon did a wonderful job creating a truly unique romance short. I adored Jordan, and thought she was the perfect heroine for Forest, the ultimate hero. The storyline itself was fun and sexy and full of hilarious little anecdotes. I can’t wait to see what Dimon comes up with next. I give Everything You Need to Know a B(less)
MinnChica: Oh Riley, I have been waiting patiently for you, and you were absolutely NOT what I expected. I was thinking Riley was going to be this totally alpha, take-no-prisoners in bed kind of guy, and yet he surprised me by how sensitive and sweet he was. I thought for sure he and Jessica would spend a lot of this book getting naked and doing wicked things to each other, and yet it was Riley who was constantly holding back. He was the one who wanted to wait, to get to know Jessica better, to form a deeper connection emotionally before physically. And you know what, I loved him for it. That outlook on his relationship just endeared him to me that much more, and I was so glad to see them wait to make love. I think it made their relationship even more sturdy, deeper.
Lou: Riley was quite a surprise in terms of heroes in romance. He could be disgusting at times in his comments and behaviour but he was also caring and very sweet towards Jessica. They were so alike in behaviour that they were made for each other. But I had issues with Riley, and thought he was an ass at times with his jealousy towards the other guys Jessica had slept with in the past. He was quick to anger but he was also very quick to apologise afterwards and was sincere. But I only warmed up to Riley towards the second half of Sweet because his sweet nature came out in force.
E: Well unlike the other ladies who are participating in this review, Sweet was my introduction to McCarthy’s New Adult (NA) books so I didn’t have any previous expectations for Riley. I have to admit that I had some seriously mixed feelings about him. Initially he seemed like the annoying older brother who really wished his brothers’ friends would grow up and become more responsible but at the same time wasn’t mean enough to leave them hanging. Then once Jessica was around him all the time it was like a switch flipped and he became quite the ass. It didn’t seem to matter what Jessica said or did he found something wrong with it. Gradually over time and as he realized that she really did care about other people and want to help he let other aspects of his personality show. One thing I didn’t like about him throughout the entire story was his temper and how it seemed to manifest whenever he was forced to acknowledge that Jessica did have a sexual life before he entered the picture. However, he had some great redeeming qualities which I will address later in this review.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: I was excited to learn more about Jessica, especially given the way I was a little unsure about her in the first book. I loved her. Given her backstory with her overbearing religious parents, I could totally see why she reacted the way she did once she got a little freedom. I loved that she was trying so hard to be a bad girl, when she was really just a good girl at heart. I loved the way she had to deal with the insecurities of a relationship with Riley that wasn’t physical, especially since it made her so uncomfortable, made her really take a good hard look at the woman she was becoming. It added such a strong dimension to her character. I absolutely love Jessica after reading this book.
Lou: Like Riley, it took me a while to warm up to Jessica. She whined. A lot. And she could also be very stupid when it came to guys. Between her and Riley acting like idiots in the first half, I nearly DNF but I trusted my bookpusher gals when they told me to keep on pushing ahead. I’m glad I did because I really liked Jessica in the second half when she took a good look at her behaviour and realised she was harming herself in pushing any emotions aside. She took quite the journey with ups and downs, but she did grow as a character. Jessica could be abrupt, rude but she was so loyal to her friends.
E: Like Lou I struggled with Jessica as well. Thankfully I knew that MinnChica had already finished and she didn’t hint at any serious issues so I continued to read. She initially struck me as shallow and uncaring but when I learned about her parents and saw what she tried to help Riley and his brothers accomplish she showed more depth. I started to like her as a character but she reverted a few times and her behavior made me want to reach through my kindle and give her a good shake. Thankfully after about the midway point it seemed like she started to realize that her rebellion was really only hurting herself. She had to decide what she was going to do with her life and with the surprising new opportunity she had. I was certainly rooting for her relationship with Riley to work out as the book progressed because they were both making a positive impact on each other.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: Oh man…. picking just one is so hard! I think for me it would have to be when Riley and Jessica paint the kitchen together. It was one of the first moments when they dropped all pretenses and were just friends. They joked and laughed, they worked, they shared some of themselves, and they ended up having fun in the process. It was one of the moments when the hero and heroine realize just how good of friends they are, with or without the sex. I loved it.
Lou: I think my favourite scene was when Jessica was shitfaced drunk, and she realised that by being the complete opposite to what her parents had tried to mould her to be, she was harming herself in the long run. I loved how she embraced her sexuality and stood against the double standards between men and women when it came to sex. I also loved how she tried to make a better home for the Mann brothers.
E: I liked both of the scenes mentioned above but I think my favorite scene was one that I didn’t enjoy reading but it marked a real turning point in this book. It is the scene when Riley and Jessica get into a large argument regarding her past sexual life. To me this scene openly exposed the double standard about men and women regarding their sexual experience. Jessica’s reaction to Riley’s comments made it clear that what he said and thought was unacceptable. That in turn made Riley pause and think about his words and their underlying meaning, then he groveled. While this scene was very uncomfortable to read, it rang true and really signified the point when Riley started seeing beyond his fears for his family and Jessica started seeing that maybe there was more to life than drinking and sex.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: I’m kinda scared of the next book in the series, because of one of the things that happened with Jessica’s friend Robin. I have a feeling that the next book is going to be a “trigger” book for me, and one that isn’t going to sit well. Being that this book foreshadowed it a bit, I wasn’t a huge fan of those parts.
Lou: I really disliked a scene in the book where Jessica asks Riley is he pierced down below like Tyler. That chapter and how Jessica and Riley behaved towards each other is what made me nearly DNF. They came across as incredibly immature and I thought Jessica was dumb to think that Riley would be happy to learn that she had slept with his brother in the past. Riley’s reaction towards Jessica was so out of order that I wanted to hit him over the head.
I do hope that the next book does move on from the drinking and partying scene because I felt that this book concentrated a lot on those aspects and not enough on the emotional side of things with Riley and Jessica. I also felt the romance between Riley and Jessica developed pretty quickly and towards the beginning it didn’t feel genuine. I’m also worried about the next book because what Robin did goes against the girlfriend code.
I did think there was some privilege on show in this book that made me uncomfortable. The Mann brothers live in an area that is stricken down with poverty. Yet each character, other than Tyler and Riley, are made out to be poorly dressed, sloven, and pretty much lowlives. There was one scene on the bus where two young men were menacing and made a nuisance of themselves to Jessica. I got uncomfortable because the rest of the people in the neighbourhood weren’t shined upon in a positive light. I would have love to have seen characters from the neighbourhood to not be a potential threat. I know not everyone gets a chance to live in a nice neighbourhood but this seemed a little overkill for me. I don’t know if the author was aware of this while she was writing this book but it lowered the grade for me.
E: Like MinnChica I am worried about the next book. I also think it will contain some triggery items. Also like Lou it seemed as if the individuals outside of Jessica’s girlfriends and the Mann brothers were designed to be unlikeable. They seemed rather two dimensional and while that served as a foil it also detracted from the book because they were not fleshed out. It was really hard to believe that out of the entire community only a handful of people were decent.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
MinnChica: One thing that I think is really important to note is that this book had a vastly different tone than the first in the series. They were both really well done, but they also felt like totally different stories, that should be in different series, that happen to follow the same characters. When I put the book down I was almost shocked at just how different it was from True. But I found that it didn’t really color my like or dislike of the book at all.
All in all I thought Sweet was a wonderful second book to the True Believers series. I love the characters that McCarthy has created, and can’t wait to find out more about the mysterious Phoenix, our next True-cousin hero. I thought Jessica and Riley had a perfect romance, and hope we get to see more of them in books to come. I give Sweet a B+
Lou: I agree with MinnChica. This book had a completely different tone and style to True. I didn’t like Sweet as much as True because I think Jessica and Riley’s romance sprang into existence so quickly without any build-up tension. But I really enjoyed the second part where Jessica learns a lot about herself, and the romance with Riley was very sweet. There were funny moments, and I’m so glad we saw the Mann family again and how Jessica learned to find herself a place in this very brotherly family. I also really disliked the privilege on show when it comes to poor people.
I give Sweet a C
E: This was an interesting read. I absolutely loved how Riley decided that he wanted to be not one of many but the one that Jessica remembered and stayed with. His extreme patience when it came to their sexual relationship was very touching and sweet. I also liked how they both grew up and relaxed into who they were. I thought Riley really proved who he was when he went with Jessica to her parents house instead of letting her go by herself and face whatever they had to say. I did have some issues as I mentioned earlier with the first half of the book and the main characters but once I got past that point it became enjoyable. I am think the relationship in the next book will be a good one but I think the issues they will have to face will be extremely painful for me to read. I give Sweet a C+/B-(less)
I love wedding books, and the Aisle Bound series has characters that grip me hard, so when I saw that Daphne and Gib were going to get their chance at a HEA, I couldn’t wait to pick up this book.
Daphne has been best friends with Gibson for longer than she can remember. She’s also crushed on him for just as long. But Gib’s a player and Daphne never wanted to jeopardize their friendship. One night when the power goes out, Daphne takes a chance and gives Gib the kiss she’s always wanted to. Now their dynamic is changing, and the two of them have to figure out how to change with it.
But as they struggle to deal with becoming lovers instead of just friends, the world around them throws a curveball at Gibson. His job is on the line and he has to relocate out of the country. As they struggle to find the balance between friends and lovers, they will need to lean on each other more than ever, in order to weather the newest storm.
Friends-to-lovers stories are some of my favorites, and I thought Barth did an amazing job with Daphne and Gib. I loved the fact that Daphne tried to keep her kissing Gib a secret, despite the fact that Gib went on and on about his “Cinderella.” I thought it showed just how cautious Daphne was about losing her best friend. One of the most important aspects for me in a friends-to-lovers book is the fear of the changing dynamic. The fear that if they move to lovers, their friendship might someday be in jeopardy. I thought that Barth showcased that fear in both Daphne and Gib so well, and I loved the way they dealt with it, together.
Getting more of Gib’s backstory was wonderful, especially once we learn what drove him away from his noble family and into the hospitality business. I felt so bad for him, hearing about his family. Then, having his brother show up out of the blue really sealed the deal for me as to how shitty they really were. The revelation as to what his brother tried to do to get Gibson to be his own personal pawn was so totally out there, and made me angry on Gib’s behalf. I loved seeing the total dysfunction of his family up close and personal.
Given the dynamic of Gib’s family, it was so special to see just how much of a family Gib had created with his friends. Getting to see Ivy and Ben, Sam and Mira, and Daphne all stand up for Gib, and rally behind him, was perfect. I love books that showcase how much a group of close friends can become like a family, and Barth has done this perfectly. I adore all the characters in this story, and Barth’s ability to write fun and sexy heroes and heroines is one of the many reasons she has become a must-buy author to me.
The one thing that I was a little disappointed with in this book was the ending. Don’t get me wrong, the twist at the very end was something I never saw coming. However, I felt as if Gibson needed to do a little bit more groveling before Daphne forgave him so easily. I thought she did the perfect amount of groveling as well, since she also had a moment or two of overreaction. Despite that, I thought this book was so well done!
All in all I really enjoyed this book. Daphne and Gibson were so perfect for each other, and watching them grow their friendship to so much more was absolutely fabulous. I adored getting to see the other secondary characters we’ve fallen in love with since the opening of this series, and hope we get to see more! I give Friends to Lovers a B+(less)
Now that it's finally over, I went ahead and read it in one sitting! Oh, I loved it so much!! Such a great new world that is fun and quirky and intere...moreNow that it's finally over, I went ahead and read it in one sitting! Oh, I loved it so much!! Such a great new world that is fun and quirky and interesting and I hope and pray they write more!(less)
I decided to take a chance on this new-to-me BDSM author, in hopes that I would find another Cherise Sinclair like author to glom onto. While I liked the book, the overall tone was a lot lighter than I was expecting.
Daisy joined a gym with her two besties in hopes of getting her health back on track. The last thing she expected was to salivate over one of the gym’s owners, Dack. Daisy isn’t exactly ready to date, but there is something about Dack that makes her want to show past her insecurities and take a chance, especially when she overhears about his kinky sexual tendencies.
Dack enjoys the single lifestyle, especially since he can get his pick of subs at his BDSM club, with no strings attached. When the sexy Daisy approaches him about his private sex club, Dack jumps at the chance to take her into his world. But Dack doesn’t know much about Daisy’s past, and one of his kinks will cause Daisy to run hard and fast. But these two have such a strong connection, that Daisy’s past and Dack’s inability to commit might finally no longer matter.
One thing I really liked about this book was Daisy’s struggle with her health. As the reader, we are aware of Daisy’s breast cancer and her insecurity about having a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. So, not only does she struggle with the thought of being intimate with someone, but when Dack issues an order for her to take off her top in the middle of the club, Daisy freaks. The fallout of her running and having to deal with all her insecurities was so well done, it was probably the best part of the book.
I felt like the BDSM aspects were a little toned down compared to some of the other club type books I’ve read in the past. Club 3 seemed a little more like your average run-of-the-mill sex clubs, catering to all types of kinks, instead of a more BDSM lifestyle club. While it was still sexy and fun to watch the BDSM aspects play out, it also felt a little more restrained that what I’m used to reading.
I am anxious to see what comes of the other books in this series, because Cade does a good job of introducing at least two other couples into this series. While it did feel a little too convenient; three best friends happen to all have the same kink they’ve never talked about, and lust after three best friends who all run a kinky sexy club? I do like the idea of getting to see Daisy’s BFFs and Dack’s partners get their happily ever afters.
All in all this wasn’t what I was expecting, but I found myself really enjoying this book. Daisy’s struggles with her cancer, along with Dack’s struggles to help her finally accept it once and for all were the strongest aspects of the book, for me. I hope that Cade can keep up the emotion aspect with the other books in this series. I give She’s All In a B-(less)
I was so looking forward to this book, because the way Emma and Nate have been circling each other for the last few books was enough build up to guarantee an explosive read!
Emma is the fun Dixon sister, known for her carefree ways and flirtatious attitude. She has been dancing around Nate for awhile now, the two of them snipping and tormenting each other to the point of sexual frustration. She wants Nate more than any man before, but he seems to be the one guy immune to her charms. But spending time with Nate outside of their usual hangouts means that they are finally given a chance to get to know one another better, and Emma is even more hooked than ever.
Nate isn’t ready to fall in love again, especially with the wild child Emma. The more she pursues him, the more Nate is determined to drive her away. The only thing he can think of is to turn on his domineering attitude. Only problem? Emma seems to enjoy it. Nate is more confused and determined to send Emma running when he finally succeeds, he wants nothing more than to win her back.
Emma and Nate had some seriously sexy moments in this book. When Nate turned on his domineering side, I melted right alongside Emma. Their sexual tension is off the charts, especially as Nate tries his hardest to resist Emma at every turn. However, Nate’s ability to walk away from Emma started to get on my nerves, because he could see that he was hurting her, and yet he kept at it. It was just as sexy as it was annoying.
Despite my few hangups about Nate and his attitude, I loved their romance. I thought Emma having to really work at a relationship for the first time ever was so wonderful to watch. She was the one who had to deal with the frustration and uncharted territory when it came to courting Nate. She was the aggressor, the instigator in their emotional relationship, and I loved that. Poor Nate didn’t really stand a chance as Emma found fun ways to place herself into his path on a regular basis.
The catalyst to their big fight was a twist that I didn’t see coming, but loved. It is a fairly typical spin, and one that might not appease everyone, but I thought it was perfect for Emma and Nate. I loved the extra drama and angst that it brought to their already imperfect relationship, and how Nate went out of his way to do something extra special for Emma with his big gesture.
I felt like we didn’t get to see the other Dixon sisters as much in this book, and instead were treated to a secondary romance between Nate’s 18 year old son, Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon. It was fun to see the parallels between Nate and Michael as well as Emma and Shannon, and how both couples treat their relationship. It was fun to see Michael and Shannon be so young and carefree and innocent, and Nate and Emma adopt some of the adolescence into their romance.
All in all I thought this was a wonderful addition to the Counting on Love series. I think the Dixon sisters are so much fun, especially when they interact together and as they tease their brother. While Nate and Emma weren’t my favorite couple in the series to date, I did think they had a sweet and super sexy romance. I give Best of Three a B(less)
MinnChica: I’ve been a long time fan of Lauren Dane, and while I’ve had some mixed feelings about her books in the past, she always manages to rope me in with her characters enough that I keep crawling back for more! Ever since Raven first walked onto the scene in the Brown Siblings books, I’ve been anxious to hear her backstory. She is prickly, bitchy, and yet soft and tender at times. I never know what to expect from her, and was so glad to finally get to see so much more of her and her past. That being said, I’m really frustrated with a few aspects of this book, mainly the light BDSM aspect to their relationship and Raven’s reaction to it. To me, it just didn’t feel like something Raven would do.
E: Like MinnChica I have been a fan of Dane’s writing for several years. Ever since I met Raven I have wondered about her story and who it would take to actually get under her skin. I enjoyed seeing her gradually soften around the influence of the young ones and found it fascinating that they could seem to see or feel something that most of the adults could never see. I enjoyed this book and while I thought that Jonah would have driven me up the wall I enjoyed seeing his impact on Raven. He pushed, coddled, and in short had enough mental strength to keep her from dictating everything yet at the same time he managed not to overwhelm her personality. Unlike MinnChica, I enjoyed the lighter BDSM aspects because I thought anything heavier in this window of their relationship would have negated Raven’s rather blunt independence. I have a feeling that given some of what Jonah hinted in his mind that as time goes on that aspect will deepen.
MinnChica: I really liked Jonah. I thought he was exactly the kind of hero that Raven needed, to an extent. The fact that he never let him push her away, that he kept pushing her right back, was exactly what she needed in order to open herself up to someone. However, I felt that the D/s aspects were a little out of line with how I perceived Raven’s character. Kinky sex? Of course, it’s Raven. :) However, the submission from her just wasn’t the way I expected or wanted her character to react. I struggled with that aspect of the story, and while I really liked her and Jonah together, their D/s relationship left a lot to be desired, for me.
E: I had more mixed feelings about Jonah until about halfway through. Then I really fell for him. When he demonstrated that he knew when to push, when to just be there, and how to pay attention to Raven’s little emotional cues. I think I found Raven’s backstory and how she and Jonah managed to connect emotionally so intense that I preferred the subtles of their D/s relationship. I also enjoyed how Jonah’s family had a “lets get this straight” meeting. The way his family and their particular dynamic was both interwoven and a contrast to the Brown family and friends dynamic struck me as very telling. Raven in some ways was a wonderful bridge between the two because she could be extremely caring and tender while blunt and ruthless enough to pick sides and make a difference in a situation she thought was wrong.
MinnChica: I adored Jonah’s family. Oh, his mother is a total nut case, but I loved her. And yes, the differences between his family and the Brown clan is like night and day. But still, they were so loving and affectionate, all while being somewhat calculated and manipulative. I loved when Raven put Jonah’s grandmother in her place, and in the process stood up for Jonah’s mother, making herself a lifelong ally. I thought it was wonderful to see how well Raven fit in with her no nonsense attitude. One of Dane’s specialities is creating wonderful secondary characters that really make the story that much more engaging!
E: Yes, the secondary characters and their inclusion are always amazing to read. I think in this case it was super special because this was the last of Dane’s currently planned books focused around the core Brown siblings. I absolutely loved seeing the changes over time as the adults settled into their relationships and as the children both grew older and multiplied. I also really enjoyed watching Jonah deal with some elements of jealousy when he saw how close and comfortable Raven was with a certain Brown. I thought it was great that he had to do some work to fit in because it meant that regardless of Raven’s previous behavior, she was loved by the Brown clan.
MinnChica: All in all I liked a lot of aspects of this story, but it wasn’t my favorite within the Brown Siblings series. I was so excited to get Raven’s backstory, and to see just what she had to endure to make her the woman she is today. I love her for what she had to go. Likewise, I loved getting to know Jonah and his family. I hope we get to see more of them in the future. However, I had some problems with the BDSM aspect of their romance, and wished it would have played out a little differently. I give Drawn Together a C+
E: Dane provided another enjoyable story with Drawn Together. I found myself much more sympathetic and understanding of Raven as I continued to read. In some places my heart broke for the child she had been and the adult she became, yet she always valued the same core things. As I said earlier Jonah took some work before I was a complete fan of him as the hero, but he managed to win me over. I enjoyed not just their dynamic but the combination of the Brown and Warner groups. I also thought Dane did a wonderful job including and tying up some threads from previous stories which added an amazing depth. I give Drawn Together a B(less)
MinnChica: Ever since I read the first Ashley book, I’ve been hooked by her alpha heroes. While the Colorado series is far from my favorite of her’s, I was anxious to dive back into any one of her books and get that special dose of badass alpha hero and snarky heroine that I’ve come to love. While this wasn’t my favorite book by Ashley, it had a lot of wonderful and special moments!
Has: I am also a Kristen Ashley Addict, and I really like the Colorado series which is one of my favourite series of hers. I was looking forward to this one because I love the setting and the premise sounded great. However, I found myself feeling lukewarm over this installment and I think it was due to feeling disconnected to the plot and the characters. Although I am with MinnChica, about some of the good scenes, the book didn’t win me over and I was disappointed because I think the Colorado series is one of Ashley’s strongest series.
MinnChica: I liked Zara, a lot actually. She is the kind of heroine that I’ve come to love and respect from Ashley. She is strong and funny and at times a little insecure. Yet, when life kicked her down, she was ready to fight to get back on track. She didn’t wallow in despair because she lost her business, her marriage, and her house. She picked up the meager pieces of her life and started over again, with the understanding that she would still hope and dream for what she really wanted. I loved that about Zara. But for me, I just couldn’t connect with Ham the same way. His character felt contrived and flat. While I love the alpha-hole heroes that Ashley is known for, I’d like to see her break that mold just once!
Has: Oh I totally agree with you about Zara! She was the highlight in the book, but I honestly felt that Ham was the weakest aspect of the plot because he did feel one dimensional. I also didn’t like how the set-up for their romance began. While he had all the hallmarks of an Ashley alpha hero, he never had that magic or spark. I also didn’t find his feelings for Zara that believable because their romance had no tension. I also wish that Ashley could break out and write a beta, geeky or even a gamma type hero for a change as well because I am getting tired of the same type of heroes. I think I am fatigued with the same archetype heroes, and that is affecting my enjoyment of her recent books, which the last couple haven’t really blew me away. While I like she has a certain style which definitely has the crack factor, Jagged never lived up to that element for me.
MinnChica: I couldn’t agree more. Ham just felt so empty as a character. Another aspect of Ashley’s book that has started to really get on my nerves is the way her characters speak. Dialogue is a big part of her books, and while I can forgive the motorcycle books for having a lot of slang, I’m starting to realize that each and every character talks the same way. Male, female, lawyers, bartenders, they all have the same speech patterns, same inflection, same “ghetto” speak. I’m finding it more and more difficult to enjoy the dialogue when each character sounds the same.
Has: I agree. It was especially glaring here because Zara and most of the supporting characters had the same speech patterns. It was hard to distinguish sometimes between Ham and Zara because they spoke so similarly and I found it confusing at times. I think it just added to my disconnection and the one dimensional element of the story that made Jagged a very meh read for me.
I also felt the main plot with Zara’s family was not believable, especially about a long lost nephew and the estrangement she had with her father who was so over the top crazy that he became a caricature of a villain. Usually the Kristen Ashley’s plots are enjoyable but I just found this to be really weak and uninspiring.
MinnChica: I agree that the sub-plot with Zara’s family was a little over-the-top on the ridiculous scale. It wasn’t an aspect that I particularly enjoyed. I’m beginning to feel as if many of Ashley’s books are just recycled from previous storylines she’s already written. It’s unfortunate to say, but also unfortunately true.
All in all I wasn’t all that impressed by Jagged. I felt as if the only really saving grace was Zara. Ham felt like an interchangeable hero that could have been any other hero she’s written. Between the language and dialogue problems of this book, and the recycled storyline, I struggled to enjoy this book. I give Jagged a C
Has: I felt the same way, overall I felt very meh on this book and I really didn’t want to feel like that because I always look forward to her releases. Although there were some fun scenes which are classic Ashley, the romance was lackluster and Ham was uninteresting to me despite Zara having promise as a character. The main plot which was tied up in a neat bow at the end was not believable or that intriguing. I felt disconnected to the story and the characters.
MinnChica: I have been chomping at the bit for Travis’ story since the first Six Pack Ranch book. I couldn’t wait to find out what the deal was with this sexy and mysterious cowboy. Arend has been so secretive about his kink, his sexual preferences, that we’ve all been left to wonder what exactly Travis’ deal is! I have to say, I loved it!!! I loved him with both Cassidy and Ashley, I loved getting to see what really drives him, and the sex scenes were OMG HOT!
E: I have to say that Arend really kept me waiting for Travis’ story. I have wondered and suspected so many different things about him throughout this series. Some things he enjoyed Arend shared but it was only bits and pieces not the complete picture. I am very glad to say that his story made up for the excruciatingly long wait. Watching him deal with both his demons and desires as he struggled to find a balance that satisfied his needs yet did not continually alarm those who cared about him was such an emotional ride. I also agree with MinnChica about the sex scenes. Very intense and smoking hot!
MinnChica: I just want to say that I am usually not a fan of menage stories, especially m/f/m ones. But, since Travis and Cassidy were just as interested in each other as they were in Ashley, I found that I was able to believe in their happily ever after more than with other stories. One of my favorite aspects of their relationship was watching Cassidy and Travis fight themselves and their desires to be together, especially Cassidy. He was so scared of losing Travis as a friend, that he feared acting on any of his desires, even after he knew they were returned. Both Travis and Ashley had to almost coax Cassidy into a relationship with them, but once the three were together, they were so perfect for one another. I adored their relationship, and just how willing they were to fight for their triad once they left the seclusion of their camp.
E: Reluctant Cassidy was so much fun. The way he kept himself separate despite their urging and his own desires. I also liked how he agreed to help Travis because he cared so deeply about him and Ashley. He would have preferred to deal with emotional pain than to see Ashley hurt. Even though he seemed self-sacrificing at times he also knew what he wanted and was willing to fight for it once he knew it was welcomed. In some ways I think Ashley had a harder time believing that what she wanted was possible and that she did not have to be ashamed of it. I liked how she relaxed during their time out at the camp but she also had some unfortunately valid fears for their return to town.
MinnChica: Yes, poor Ashley seemed to be the one who was most hurt by their unconventional relationship, especially once they returned to town. I was so glad to see her strong spirit come out though, because she was such a good fit for both Travis and Cassidy. I always love when unconventional romance books deal with the aftermath of their relationship, not just the getting there and the sex scenes. Watching Travis, Cassidy and Ashley ALL deal with the fall out of their friends and the town was so great. I loved getting to see not just the good aspects of their menage, but the bad as well. Plus, seeing the Coleman crew surround Cassidy and Ashley with their awesomeness was a total bonus!!
E: Oh I loved seeing the Coleman’s pull together around Travis, Cassidy and Ashley. It really showed how they grew as a family from the first installment through Rocky Mountain Freedom. While I felt horrible for what happened I think it also cemented their commitment to their relationship and made me buy into the HEA since it wasn’t all flowers and rainbows. Once again Arend had demonstrated why I eagerly await each new release. She just keeps getting better. I give Rocky Mountain Freedom an A.
MinnChica: All in all I adored finally getting to read all about Travis! I loved that he had not only a secret regarding his bisexuality, but also a big secret regarding the way he deals with stress, pain, and the day-to-day bull shit. It was wonderful to see the way Cassidy and Ashley and Travis were all able to close ranks around each other, and provide for one another in ways they never expected. Again, I am super anxious to read more and more of the Coleman family books! I give Rocky Mountain Freedom an A(less)
I loved this new series by Ione. I loved the vampires (even though I'm kinda over vamps), and the characters were all incredible. I'm so excited to re...moreI loved this new series by Ione. I loved the vampires (even though I'm kinda over vamps), and the characters were all incredible. I'm so excited to read the next one, and then the next one, and hopefully another after that, and then more and more and more!
MinnChica: Ever since I picked up my first Ione book, I’ve been hooked. I’ll admit I was a little leery about the new vampire series (because I’m just a little burnt out on vampires), but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book. I picked it up after I put the baby to bed, and found myself shutting down my eReader at 1 in the morning. The characters were so engaging, the world was so unique, and the romance was tumultuous, to say the least! I can’t wait for more in this series!
E: I have been addicted to reading about vampires since elementary school or junior high. I was attracted to the danger, the menace, the air of the forbidden, the subtle or overt sensuality, extra senses coming into play during “critical moments”, paranormal powers, and I could keep going but lately vampires appear watered down, missing their umph. I still have my favorite authors whose vampires still inspire the combination of fear and attraction but I have become increasingly wary of trying new ones out of disappointment. I have read her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series and really enjoyed the spin she placed on demons, shifters, angels and the like so when I found out that she was starting a new series and that it involved vampires I had to give it a try. I am so glad that I did because Ione brought back everything that was missing and then some! I was so engrossed in the story that anyone who wanted my attention had to physically touch me because I didn’t hear or see anything that was going on around me. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2.
Has: When I heard that Larissa Ione has started a new PNR series featuring vampires, I was very intrigued. I think she’s one of the best authors who writes in the genre and like E I was feeling a bit tired on Vampires. But I loved the rich and gritty tone of the Demonica series, I knew BOUND BY NIGHT would hopefully live to my expectations and it certainly did! The setting and premise behind the vampire mythos that Larissa Ione created was different and fresh and I loved how she set up a world where vampires were enslaved due to their abilities by humans. I felt this brought a fresh take to the mythos and I really liked how that was developed throughout the book, especially how it tied in with Native American mythology.
MinnChica: I absolutely adored Riker. He was strong and sexy and yet totally vulnerable at the same time. Dealing with the guilt surrounding his mate’s death was so wonderful to see, especially as Nicole had to deal with some of the same issues. I loved the way they started as enemies, that they were hesitant around each other, and gradually started a friendship, a partnership, and then so much more. The romance was absolutely brilliant, and the characters fabulous. Plus, Ione knocked it out of the park with the secondary characters. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
E: Riker was a lot of fun. His thoughts, memories, guilt, and how he punished himself for years was very intriguing. I also liked how Nicole had her thoughts, memories, guilt, and fear of him personally not to mention as a species to deal with. Their interactions together were never quiet and peaceful yet each had a reluctance to permanently damage the other. I loved the scenes when Nicole decided to step up and either take what she wanted or to make a stand once and for all. One of my favorites was the “Thank you” scene. Like MinnChica I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. Not only am I looking forward to the next book but I really want Myne’s story. He was such an ass in the beginning but by the end of the book I was cheering for him.
Has: Oh man that scene *fans self* it was definitely up there in my favourite scenes in the book! I also really liked Riker, he stood out for me as a hero and I liked he didn’t have the hole element in the alphahole. Even though he was on opposing sides with Nicole, who was human and the company that she owned was responsible for the enslavement and torture of the vampire race – Riker never became unlikeable or overbearing when he interacted with her. And I liked how loyal and protective towards his clan but still hung-up over the death of his mate. It was a nice twist on the tables with Nicole who chases him and I really liked the scenes when she unapologetic seduces him and is open with her sexuality. That was so refreshing!
Nicole also really surprised me because I thought she would be more passive in dealing with the aftermath of her abduction. But I loved how defiant and smart she became especially when she learned of the truth of her family’s involvement with the company and its secret experimentation towards the vampires. She never fell into the TSTL pitfalls or being too whiny with the fate she ends up with. She focuses on the things she could change especially when she learns how badly the vampires are faring due to humans and helps them with her scientific background.
One of my favourite scenes in the book, is when she took charge in the lab where they were torturing the captured vampires and surprised Riker who let her lead. It cemented the romance for me because even though it was early days in their relationship, but I liked how Riker admired Nicole which helped to overcome his suspicious feelings about her and her past. Although I do think they fell in love a bit too quickly, their sexual and emotional chemistry was sizzling and vivid! And their love scenes – and I have to salute Larissa Ione over the Thank You scene was very very memorable!
MinnChica: All in all I thought this was such a wonderful and fabulous new series by Ione. I loved the world, the different take on vampires, and the cast of characters are so vibrant, that I can’t wait to read more. While I love all the Demonica books, I think this new series may have surpassed it in my mind. The world building is so fun and unique and I’m anxious to see how the clan resolves all their ongoing issues. The romance was so well done, each and every character was one I fell in love with even more, and I think I’ve found a new series that I’m going to be chomping at the bit to get! I give Bound by Night an A
E: I really enjoyed reading Bound by Night. Ione’s vampires had their share of suitable evilness, menacing ability, and sexuality yet they also had a caring side. I also enjoyed how the humans were portrayed from the vampire perspective. Both sides had some preconceived notions about the other which were in turn reinforced by behavior on both sides. As mentioned earlier I enjoyed the interaction between not just Nicole and Riker but also between the secondary characters. Ione has created a very fascinating world and characters that I am excited to continue exploring. I give Bound by Night an A.
Has: The supporting characters were also vibrant and colourful, such Myne and Hunter, as well as the eerie and scary leader of the ShadowSpawn clan who gave me the chills. The world that Larissa Ione was gritty and dark, and I loved the idea of the enslaved vampires and the conflict it brings when they try to break free from their enslavement. But the rich characters and mythology especially on the origins of the vampires made this a fantastic start to the series. I was left wanting more especially towards the end which promises to be a fun followup with Hunter, the leader of the vampire clan as the main lead.
Bound by Night for me was a great start for a brand new series. I felt that Larissa Ione’s take on vampires in this book, was different and added a new twist to the genre. But it had her trademarks of fast paced action, memorable characters, sexy chemistry and rich world-building. This is a new winner of a series for me!
I have glommed onto Cross ever since Mandi introduced me to her a couple years ago. With the Bagram series, I wasn’t sure how I would like the fraternization, but so far I’ve enjoyed each story. However, with this book, I think Cross has surpassed everything else she’s written.
Maya likes her job as a Security Forces Lieutenant, despite the fact that she can’t act on her strong feelings toward Jackson. Part of what holds her back is her past, filled with dark and bitter memories that she can’t shake. Going into the military was her saving grace, and she wants to do the best possible job she can in order to have a chance at working for the FBI when she gets out.
Jackson wants Maya for himself, but his job as a PJ and their rank has him keeping somewhat of a distance until Maya changes all that one night. After their night together, Jackson can’t get her out of his head. When they are both taken hostage along with a senior US official, they will be held by a madman, and forced to endure things they never thought possible. But together, they will fight to survive.
I always say that the most suspenseful scene I’ve ever read in a book was in No Turning Back, she may have topped it with THIS WHOLE BOOK! While there was some downtime in the beginning and end, it felt like it was constant go-go-go, sit on the edge of your seat, white knuckle reading. From the moment the medical camp came under fire to the moment they were rushed to the evacuation chopper, Maya and Jackson went through hell.
I’m always amazed at how twisted Cross can be when it comes to her books. She is one of the few romantic suspense authors who can write entire scenes from the point of view of the villain, and be so realistic. I believe wholeheartedly that her bad guys believe they are fighting a just war, no matter how ridiculous it sounds to the rest of us. She does an incredible job getting in the heads of psychopaths, and bringing them to live. One moment during their captivity, wheh Maya and Jackson are forced to “play a game,” was so intense and twisted and creepy. It was incredible to read.
One of the aspects of the romance that I really liked in this was that because so much of the trust and foundation of Maya and Jackson’s relationship took place while they were held captive, they took the time at the end of the book to part ways and process. So many times in romantic suspense books we see the hero and heroine go through unimaginable things, and then start their HEA right away. I have a hard time believing that, and was so glad to see Cross have Maya and Jackson take a step back. They went to therapy, they talked through their experiences, and they did it on their own. Sure they talked on the phone, but they also stepped back from each other’s lives and took the time to unwind. It made me believe in their romance so much more.
We didn’t get the chance to really see a lot of supporting characters in this book, because most of the book took place during their captivity. However, we did get to meet the Secretary of State, a wonderful character who I would love to see more of. I did want to see more of the group of girlfriends though. I liked that these books focused a lot of the friendship between the heroines, and we didn’t get the chance to see that with this book.
All in all I thought this was Kaylea Cross’ best book to date. She really went above and beyond with the plot, taking on the horrific challenge of showing the right amount of torture and prisoner abuse, all while keeping the story readable and enjoyable. I loved the romance between Maya and Jackson, and how quick they were to rely and draw strength from one another. I can’t wait for Cross’ next release! I give Lethal Pursuit an A(less)
I had some really intense mixed feelings about this book. In many ways, I was absolutely blown away with how great it was. In others, I was so disappointed that it wasn’t living up to the potential I thought it had.
Kat moves back to the small town she grew up in after her husband dies. She lives in the house she grew up in with her daughter, and has kept everything the same since her parents retired to warmer weather. Kat lives day to day, still grieving and struggling with being alone, raising her daughter with just the help of friends. But that all changes the day she asks Adrian Graves to come sing kids songs at the public library.
Adrian wrote the kids songs as a joke, but they took off anyway. He is a hardcore rock star through and through, with the tattoos and alcohol issues to prove it. But something about Kat calls to him, and he does everything he can to try and win her trust and her love. But competing against a ghost is harder than he ever imagined.
I think the one aspect of the book I liked the most was how devoted Kat was to her late husband. He wasn’t a bad guy, nothing came out later about him lying or cheating or being a jerk. He was a wonderful and loving man, and Kat really did struggle with letting him go. The pain she felt, the fear of being alone and the ache of missing him was so tangible. I ached for her. I hurt with her. I loved the fact that Topper dealt with such an intense issue the only way possible, with time and a lot of tears.
However, because of Kat’s unending devotion for her husband, the romance between her and Adrian seemed to take a bit of a backseat in the overall story. Especially since the first handful of chapters were all about Kat’s past, and the current day story took a long time to develop. (Like, I almost stopped a few times it was so slow to start up.) But once the romance got going, it was fun and sexy. Kat seemed to go into it not really knowing what she wanted: a hot fling, a new relationships, a rebound guy? She took it day by day, and as things progressed, seemed to reevaluate at every point. It was slow and sluggish at times, but also easy for me to believe in.
I loved the fact that Adrian had such a large personality. He had a softer side, the side who wrote kids songs and took the time to talk to each and every child; and the heavy metal rocker, who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and struggled behind the scenes. But, because this story was told in first person from Kat’s point of view, we didn’t get to see as much of Adrian as I would have liked. We didn’t get to really see what made him tick, why he stuck it out with Kat for so long, and what his motivations were. I wanted that, and was so bummed we never got even a small taste of it.
All the secondary characters were wonderful. Kat, or Tree to her childhood friends, had such a warm and loving group of friends. They helped her raise her daughter and grieve, and all were colorful and fun in their own light. The way they all reacted to Adrian was wonderful too. I liked that some of her friends were hesitant, some were instantly welcoming, and some were flabbergasted when they realized the truth behind Adrian’s rocker past. It added another dimension to the book that really worked for me.
But my biggest complaint is that this book didn’t live up to the potential I thought it could really have. There were so many wonderful elements, so many great parts and characters. Anyone who made it past the slow and difficult beginning was in for a treat, but getting there was a definite battle. The lack of alternating point of views really left a lot to be desired, especially in the romance aspect. I could feel how close Topper was to making this story one of my favorites, but unfortunately it just didn’t reach those heights.
All in all this book is proof that Topper has a strong career ahead of her. If the few issues I had are able to be corrected in the next release, I know that Topper will develop a strong fanbase of readers everywhere. While this book didn’t live up to my high hopes, it still had a wonderful story, amazing characters, and a strong foundation. I’m anxious to see what comes next. I give Louder Than Love a C(less)
I’m a fan of Quinn’s books, so when she emailed me about her newest Love Required book, I was interested to see how things would work out between frenemies Cory and Vicky.
Cory is a workaholic CEO who has been waiting for the moment his parents retire to Arizona and he can take on the company full time. But between his daily duties, launching a magazine and everything else he has going on, Cory doesn’t have time to really live his life, and dating is totally out of the question. But his parents demand he start to slow down, and they think getting a girl is the perfect way to do it.
Vicky has crushed on Cory longer than she can remember, but he has always brushed her off. Until one night when he takes her higher than any man has before. Now their pictures are splashed across the newspaper gossip pages, and Cory asks Vicky to pretend to be his girlfriend. Vicky sees the opportunity to show Cory how they can be more than pretend, and jumps in. But her heart is on the line, and Cory is struggling with figuring out what is real, and what isn’t.
I always love stories when the hero and heroine are thrown together in a relationship they aren’t too sure they want. Although Vicky has crushed on Cory since they were kids, she also knows that she isn’t the kind of woman Cory wants to settle down with. She’s outspoken, a flirt, and has a larger-than-life personality, all things that Cory typically steers clear of. But as they explore their chemistry together, they are both shocked at how explosive they can be.
I thought the sex scenes with these two were off the charts. Not only does it take them forever to find a bedroom, but these two just have the kind of chemistry that keeps a book burning from page one. Every time the are next to one another, the sexual tension is spinning wildly out of control, and neither one of them cares to repress it. I adored their bathroom scene, especially since neither expected it. It was sexy and impulsive and so hot.
One of the things that I think Quinn knocked out of the park on this one was Cory’s apology. There was even a discussion between characters about how Cory needed to make a grand gesture in order to win Vicky’s trust once again, and he went all out. I loved his surprise, his willingness to rope in her brother (despite the fact the man hated him), and just how well he was willing to go to win her back. It was sweet and the perfect ending to the story.
All in all I was glad to see a few characters make another appearance, and loved our hero and heroine. Cory and Vicky were the perfect “opposites attract” couple, and both their romance and sexual chemistry was so fun to read. I can’t wait to see what Quinn has in store next. I give No Romance Required a B+(less)
MinnChica: I adored Dane’s writing, so anytime she puts out anything, I’m all over it. Given the fact that Gregori is tatted, pierced, and has a mohawk, well… I couldn’t put this quick novella down. I adored the romance between these two, and thought that Dane did a fabulous job telling us a sexy and sweet story in only 80 short pages. I have to say though, I really hope that we get to see more from this group of friends!!
E: Oh MinnChica I am there with you! I have been looking forward to reading this since I first heard about it. It was amazing how much Dane managed to pack into this novella. The sense of a long enduring friendship, the flashes of heat, and the struggle to put the past to rest, and seize the future. The fact that Gregori is so very intense made the peace he could find with Wren special and gave him a logical reason to fear losing it. I also hope that we get more set with this group of individuals because they are all characters.
MinnChica: Gregori was super intense, and while I completely understood his reasons behind running scared, I kinda wanted to punch him for it. :) He was so completely wrapped up in his own little world, and his own little pity party, that he wasn’t able to see what he had with Wren. Despite his sexy broody thing, I would have liked him to wake up a bit sooner. But Wren, oh Wren. I liked her so much! She was strong, knew exactly what she wanted, and wasn’t afraid to fight for it. If I could be besties with any book heroine, Wren would be toward the top of that list!
E: I agree, I think he took the coward’s way out and I loved how Wren and his personal assistant Kresley refused to enable his attempts to keep her in a little corner of his life. Each time Wren stood up to Gregori and demanded what she thought she was worth I had to cheer. I also enjoyed how confused he really was when people weren’t just falling in line like he expected because he is “Gregori”. I also really loved how Wren insisted on making her own way into the world of art and refused to use Gregori for his entree. It was another example of how she didn’t need him but wanted to share her life with him. She would also tell him things as she saw them and seeing Gregori think about her insights was amusing. I also thought it was so sweet that Gregori would go out of his way to have some sort of treat to share with Wren because he knew that she liked them. My heart melted when we got the rest of the story because it showed he really wasn’t all that self-centered and oblivious, just scarred from his past.
MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed this short novella. Gregori was such an intense and loaded character, and Wren was just all around fabulous. Like E said, another thing that endeared her to me was the way she was so determined to make it on her own merit. I thought the romance was good, but I could have used a little more from Gregori, since he really didn’t seem to atone for his constant running. I hope to see more from Dane with this cast of characters. I give Cake a B+
E: I loved reading this short novella. It was intense, emotional, vivid and satisfying while leaving me wishing for more stories set in this world. The interaction between Gregori, Wren, Kelsey and rest of the supporting cast was a treat to read. Dane has the ability to provide a great story regardless of the length which is an amazing skill. She continues to revalidate with each release why she has a prominent position on my auto-buy list.
I was so excited to continue on with this series. After only reading three books, Nicholas has quickly become a new auto-buy author for me. If only my wallet could handle her backlist… *wink*
Shane has been asking Isabelle to move in with him for months now. He fell for her, and fell hard. Taking no for an answer isn’t something he can do, and Shane will go to any lengths to get her to say yes. However, the idea of sitting nice and quiet at a cabin for a long weekend isn’t exactly Shane’s idea of a good time.
Isabelle loves Shane, but she is keeping a secret from him that she is pretty sure will break them up. Because of a diagnosis, Isabelle knows she can’t keep up with Shane’s wild lifestyle, despite the fact that she would do anything to do so. A quiet weekend just might be the thing to show him that their lifestyles can no longer mesh as well as they thought. But relationships take work, and both are in love enough to stick it out for the long haul.
I am such a huge fan of second chance love stories. I think they are wonderful and fun and so sexy. The fact that Isabelle and Shane haven’t really broken up or fallen out of love makes this book all the more fabulous. They are both so far gone for one another, that they are both willing to do, pretty much, anything for one another. That level of devotion is so strong throughout the book, that I found myself cheering for them extra hard.
I’ve always been a sucker for books that deal with some kind of illness. I liked the way Nicholas dealt with it in this book. It wasn’t anything life-threatening, but it was definitely life-changing. Isabelle really needed to sit down and take control of her life, of her illness, instead of letting it control her. The struggle that Isabelle went through while dealing with it was incredible to read. From realizing she couldn’t do everything she wanted, to having to really hash it out with her sister, to explaining to Shane what all was good or bad for her, was so awesome to read.
I loved the romance in this book. Because these two are still very much in love, there is a lot of unintentional angst. They want to work it out, more than anything. But there have been lies and secrets between them, and before they can move forward as a couple, they have to find out if they can handle being with one another as they truly are. Hearing Shane’s backstory, and why he was Mr. Personality, was heartbreaking. I could see why Isabelle was so desperate to not want him to change for her. But his desire to keep her, at any and all costs, was so great as well. I just loved them both more and more as each page turned.
I am also super excited to read more in this series. I can’t even tell you how much I adore the Dixon sisters, and all their antics. They are so close-knit, and I just know that they are each going to have fun and sexy stories about falling in and out of love.
All in all I thought this was a fabulous second book in the Counting on Love series. Not only was the romance sweet and real, it was also super duper sexy. (Hello! Car Wash sex!!!) I can’t wait to read the next book Nicholas puts out, and have to pace myself going through her backlist. These stories have shown me just how much I adore her writing. I give It Takes Two an A-(less)
Holly loves her job as a PR rep, and when she lands the contract to work with a big-time European soccer star, she has to help him to rebrand his image. Kepler is known in the tabloids as being a partier, a ladies man, and a killer on the field. But a car accident ended his European career and lands him in a struggling US team. Holly knows she can help Kepler, but was shocked at the sexual tension between them.
Kepler is looking for a home. A place to settle down, have some kids, and live out the rest of his soccer career for a team that can get behind him. North Carolina isn’t what he is used to, but he is enjoying it nonetheless. And Holly is definitely not what he expected. The chemistry between them is off the charts, but Holly is keeping her distance, and Kepler can’t do anything about it. Until Holly changes the rules of the game. Then, Kepler is ready to play the game of his life.
I don’t recall ever reading a soccer book, and although I know next to nothing about the game, I was intrigued anyway. While I liked the soccer aspects and Kepler, I had a hard time connecting with Holly, and thus believing in their romance.
I thought Kepler was a really well thought out and executed character. He came from a hard life, and made something of himself from nothing. The dedication and hard work that he put into his career was awesome, despite the fact that the press painted him as nothing more than a playboy. The fallout of losing his career was devastating, and I could feel his pain. I thought Crowley did an incredible job portraying him as a wonderful and tortured and fantastic hero.
For me, I really struggled with Holly. I could understand her desire to keep her work and her pull to Kepler separate. However, I just didn’t really get why she waffled so much with it. She would flirt and kiss and even lead Kepler on, and then pull back and claim they couldn’t move forward because of work. I got where she was coming from, but I really struggled with an emotional connection to her character because of the way she kept taking one step forward and two steps back.
Because of my disconnect with Holly’s character, I had a hard time connecting with the romance as well. Again, it seemed as if their relationship would move forward – flirting, kissing, and more. Then Holly’s brain would interfere and their relationship would slip back into a negative place. I struggled with why Kepler kept letting Holly come back and lead him around, and was glad that he was the one to finally put a stop to it. I just wish that Holly would have been forced to make some kind of grand gesture (like we always expect our heroes to do) when she was trying to win him back.
All in all I thought this was a decent debut from Crowley. I loved Kepler’s character, and thought she did a fabulous job creating a hero I could love and support. For me, Holly and their romance fell short though, and made the story a little difficult for me to really sink my teeth into. I give The Striker’s Chance a C+(less)
I’m not usually a huge fan of amnesia stories, as I think that sometimes the story suffers, however I like the twist that Munro put on this story.
While Ryan was on tour, he was mugged and knocked hard enough in the head that all his memories were more than a little screwy. The image of a woman he knows is important to him is all he has left of his secret wife, Julia. He doesn’t know how to get his memories back, and it isn’t until he gets the divorce papers that he starts gaining more and more memories of his sexy wife.
Julia is done with Ryan. She thought that since his band wore masks, that he wouldn’t be the average rock star. Instead, he hasn’t called since he left on tour, and she’s got enough problems with her family business failing. But when he comes back and wants a second chance, Julia isn’t sure she has the time to deal with her husband, and reimage the family-owned strip club.
I like that this story had a lot of fun elements. The failing strip club that Julia decided to turn into a Burlesque club was such a fun and neat theme to play throughout the story. I loved all the scenes at the club, especially whenever Julia or the other girls would dance. It gave the book such a sensual and sexy vibe.
For some reason, the book seemed to have a novella feel to it, maybe because so much of the story took place at the club — working on turning it around from a failing strip joint, to a classy Burlesque club. While there was a lot going on with the remodeling of the club, the romance portion of the story definitely felt like a novella. Julia and Ryan had to steal moments to work on their relationship, and because so much focused on the club itself, the book had an overall condensed and novella like feel to it.
I did really like the romance between Ryan and Julia though, especially as Ryan was getting his memories back. I liked that he would have to ask Julia about their past, about the things they did together, and how vulnerable that made him to her. I think it definitely helped that he was so desperate to remember, so desperate to have Julia HELP him remember, that it really helped him win her back over.
I thought the supporting cast of characters were great, especially Ryan’s best friend and fellow rocker, Caleb. I also loved all of Julia’s friends, and am looking forward to continuing the series to see how things work out with her friends on their dating show. :) I think that is bound to be hilarious and fun and sexy.
All in all I really liked this story and look forward to more. I thought Munro did a great job giving the amnesia trope a different spin, and I liked the way it worked for both Ryan and Julia. I loved their second chance at love, especially as Ryan was willing to do anything and everything to win his wife back. I’m definitely looking forward to more. I give Past Regrets a B-(less)
I’m a big fan of sports romance books, but I think this might be the first surfer book I’ve ever read. And I have to say, I’m pretty impressed.
Brooke loves her job as a PR rep for a large surfwear company, but her push to hire Dylan is starting to put her in hot water. Between his injury, okay performances, and numerous drug, alcohol and sex addictions, Dylan has become more of a PR nightmare than the spokesperson they hired. When Brooke gets sent to retrieve Dylan and keep him out of trouble, she will have her hands full with way more than she expected.
Dylan is at a decent spot in his career, but his personal life is unraveling faster than he imagined. Now that his number one sponsor is after him to clean up his act, Dylan is going to have to head home and face the two people he doesn’t want to see: best friend Matt and his fiance Corey. But with Brooke at his side, Dylan figures that he might just be able to pull off a fake smile and keep everyone in the dark to what is really wrong with him. The last thing he expects is the desire to keep Brooke firmly at his side, forever.
One of the things I really liked about this story was the relationship between Dylan and Brooke. When they end up getting stuck together on a tropical island in the middle of a hurricane, of course they end up between the sheets. And boy oh boy, is their time together fun and sexy. Add in the fact that Dylan is the epitome of laid-back surfer boy, while Brooke is little miss prim and proper, these two go together so perfectly.
Since I hadn’t read any other books in this series, I did feel a little lost when it came to the dynamics between Dylan, Matt and Corey. I didn’t feel as if Jamieson went into a lot of detail about their history together, and instead glossed things over a bit. I was a little confused about what happened, and although I figured it out in time, it did leave me a little hesitant as to where Dylan stood with both his best friend and his fiance, and Brooke.
I also thought that the PTSD that Dylan had after his accident could have been better explored, especially since it seemed as if he still had some lingering problems. I liked that Brooke was there for him when he needed her, and that she was able to help him move past it. I just wish we could have seen that play out a little more on the page.
I was so glad that one of the supporting characters really got what was coming to him. I loved the way Dylan helped to save Brooke’s job and work sanity, all while doing his “big gesture” and proving to her just how much he valued her in his life. It was super sweet and heroic and I loved it.
All in all I thought this was a wonderful read. I loved the surfer culture, and although we didn’t get to see much surfing in action, it was still a neat take on the sports romance genre. I thought Dylan and Brooke were super sexy together, and I loved the juxtaposition between her buttoned up ways, and his relaxed attitude toward everything. They were a wonderful fit and so fun to read. I give Slammed a B(less)