Publisher: Re-released Avon Title Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: eARC from Author
I first read Low’s short story in the SEAL of my dreams anthology, I was hooked! The romance was great and the story was jam packed with action. I was expecting another high-octane romantic suspense, and although it started a little slower than I anticipated, I enjoyed it.
Hawk is undercover in one of the worst assignments ever. He can’t break his cover and protect the innocent women he sees day in and day out, and that is slowly eating away at him. His primary mission is to find a certain weapon and make sure it doesn’t land into the wrong hands. About the only good thing about this assignment is Amber, his sexy CIA contact.
Amber deals in information, and while she isn’t exactly on the up-and-up, she works hard to protect those who can’t help themselves. As Hawk goes further undercover, and uses his position to try and help Amber’s side agenda, his cover is broken. Together he and Amber must travel around an unfamiliar country side, looking for a weapon and evading those after them.
Like I said, this book started a little slower than I was expecting. In the short story I read, we were dropped right into the action, and I was hoping that this story would have just as much. Although it took us awhile to get to that, once it came I felt as if the story just flew along, roped me in and kept me engaged and turning the page as quickly as possible.
I totally fell for Hawk, from the very beginning. It’s almost painful to watch him struggle with keeping his cover, especially when it’s so obvious that he doesn’t want to have to force himself to be friendly with Dilaver. Every time he was forced to watch something so horrific, listening to him justify not doing anything in his head, my heart just broke for Hawk and I wanted to wrap him up in a big hug.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Amber at first, and it took awhile for me to really warm up to her character. I’m not exactly sure why, and I think it wasn’t until she had to witness just how awful things were for the young girls she rescued that I really felt a connection to her character.
In the past year or so I’ve read a good handful of books dealing with sex trafficking and human slavery, but this book did not have as much of a happy ending as the others did, and it was much more descriptive in the horrific things that young women have to endure once forced into that life. It was awful and tragic and at times so hard to read, and yet at the same time it was enlightening and hopefully. But a warning, anyone who has a hard time stomaching these issues, you will probably want to steer clear.
I was also interested in a lot of the secondary characters. I am definitely going to have to go back and read the other books in this series, especially the one after this that deals with Amber’s partner the mysterious Lily. The story line with Lily was left wide open, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to her.
All in all I enjoyed my second Low story. The suspense part of the plot was done very well, and while not very mysterious, the book had an overall creepy feeling to it, especially since it dealt with some very heavy issues. The romance between Hawk and Amber was very hot, and I found myself cheering these two on, especially once they went on the run together. I will definitely be looking for more of Low’s work in the future.
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: January 3rd How I got this book: NetGalley
I’m a big fan of both Carly Phillips and small town romances, so the Serendipity series is right up my alley. After reading the first book in the series, I was hooked. However, I was also a little worried that Nash was going to be too emotionally immature for me to enjoy as a hero. I am so happy to report that this was NOT the case!
Nash is the middle brother and holds a lot of guilt and resentment towards his two brothers. He also hasn’t had the easiest time getting to know his younger sister Tess. And despite that fragile relationship, he can’t seem to stop thinking about Kelly and how much she turns him on.
Kelly settled in Serendipity to make sure that Tess could stay with Ethan, and to start over for herself. But every moment she spends with Nash just makes her want to spend more and more time with him. But she worries that between her recent illicit past, and Nash’s inability to let people go and Tess, they might never be able to make a relationship work.
I love books about families. The dynamics between everyone involved can be so beautiful and amazing if it’s done right. After having read a series recently where it felt as if the siblings never grew up, I was a little hesitant as to where Phillips would take the characters. I was so happy to see Nash really make an effort to grow up and change and develop as a character, instead of hold onto those resentments and guilt. While things aren’t exactly hunky-dory at the end of the book, there is also a vast amount of emotional progress, and I couldn’t be happier.
Both Nash and Kelly aren’t exactly portrayed in the best light in the first book. Kelly is Tess’ half-sister from her mother’s side who drops Tess off at Ethan’s doorstep. Nash is the angry brother who can’t seem to let go of the past and move onto a new future. But I am so happy that we got to see things from their perspective. I ended up cheering for them both about a quarter of the way into the book. Kelly is having to deal with a very embarrassing and hard situation from back home, and the only friend she makes ends up having a history with Nash, causing even more discomfort for Kelly. But I loved the way those two developed a friendship despite that. It was sweet and wonderful.
Nash is a complex hero, and his struggles were so fun to watch. He went back and forth with his emotions so many times, and watching him have to work through everything and grow as a character was so awesome. Although there were times I wanted to smack him for taking two step forward and then one step back, his overall growth as a character just blew me away. It was really refreshing to have to watch the hero go through such an emotional roller coaster, and come out victorious.
In true Phillips style, the romance between Nash and Kelly was great. They had moments that made me laugh, made me want to cry and had me fanning myself from the heat they generated. I’m such a huge fan of Phillips’ and she is, in my opinion, one of the best contemporary romance authors out there!
All in all I loved Nash and Kelly’s story. Their courtship was so fun to read, the characters became so alive and animated throughout the story that they dragged me into their lives and had me wishing I was there with them. I can’t recommend this series enough! I give Destiny an A-...more
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze Publish Date: January 1st How we got this book: eARC from author
Lou: When Minn emailed me this request, the blurb intrigued me and because it was a contemporary romance, I didn’t want to pass it up — despite the up and down relationship I have with Harlequin’s categories. This is the first book in the series about an infamous club called the Players Club, where rich males are members and every month they go and take part in stunts that annoy some people, and are the envy of others. Scott, our ordinary hero, is spying on the comings and goings of these suspicious men in his next door’s neighbours fire-escape. He starts to think they are members of the mob, and his spying is interrupted by his next door neighbour, Amanda, the heroine of the story. Scott and Amanda hit it off, and he shares with her his curiosity of what’s happening below. What Scott soon finds out — when his curiosity takes shape into going down into the alleyway where these men are gathering — is that these men are members of the Players Club. And when he’s spotted, he’s asked to join and from there Scott, the once boring data analyst, is knee deep in the Player Club, and soon enough, Amanda is also caught in the action. So despite my like of the premise, and what I thought of the cute romance between Scott and Amanda, I really really disliked this book and some of the aspects that made me think are these characters supposed to be adults.
Minn: I too really enjoyed the premise of the book, and I too thought that the romance between Scott and Amanda would be full of action both in the bedroom and out of it. And while I didn’t think this was the best contemporary romance I’ve read this year, I didn’t hate it. I can see where Lou is coming from in thinking that some of the characters acted more like college kids than adults, and that was probably my least favorite aspect of the story. However, the overall theme of living life to the fullest, and pushing past any and all fears to go out and do the things we’ve only dreamed about really rang true to me. I loved that both Scott and Amanda were given the chance to do things they would have otherwise never done. For me, that made up for the ridiculousness that was George and his childish BS.
Lou: I think Amanda and Scott were cute together, and I loved their interactions and their sex scenes were smoking, but I hated that the Players Club was such an immature tree house club where the main tension was the jostling of who would be the leader. And I really wanted to kick George out of the story all together because it really got on my nerves. He was in essence a 12 year old boy who wanted to the leader. I also didn’t like that Amanda’s job which she worked hard at was made to be boring. I think that Amanda’s job wasn’t the problem, but Amanda herself made the choice of not doing anything outside of it. I also didn’t get why she suddenly wanted in on this all men club. The Players Club I felt was made out to be this super cool club that all the popular and non-popular kids wanted to be a part of. And some of what they did, where Amanda and Scott take part in animal abuse really had my blood pressure rising so fast that I found any liking of the characters went out of the window. Having the hero and heroine being exhilarated at the thought of running after terrified bulls, who after being chased through narrow streets by idiotic humans, are then killed in a bullfighter’s ring afterwards. I honestly wanted to put the book there and then down.
Minn: While I would never want to run with the bulls, I didn’t read that part as being animal abuse. I will admit that I’m glad Scott and Amanda didn’t go to the bullfight afterward, I don’t think I’d have wanted to read that. I also got the feeling that the Club was very fraternity-high-school-clickish, and like you, could have done without George being in the story at all. But at the same time, I also liked the side characters Flinn and Lincoln, and will be interested in looking at their stories. I have to wonder if those two will be paired up with Amanda’s two best friends. I think that now that George is out of the picture, the series will have a chance to focus more on the romance, the steamy smexy moments, and the dare-devilish adventures each couple goes on.
Lou: I did like Lincoln and Finn, though I wished Finn would have got rid of his cousin George sooner from the outset. But I think for me, whilst Amanda and Scott were strong characters, the external story of the Players Club in the end I disliked and having the characters act like kids, I couldn’t wait for the book to end. I doubt also that I would pick up the other books in the series. The Players Club rubs me up the wrong way because I feel that it’s importance is way too materialistic and the characters were sort of made to work around the club. I also disliked the ending where and this is a spoiler so look away: When Scott and Amanda do get together at last, it ended on a happy note of Amanda being ‘allowed’ in the club. I thought why would that be such a happy thing? I thought any female would want to run far away from the club. END spoiler. I also think that whilst Amanda and Scott let go of their inhibitions, I felt that it was done in a very immature way. When Amanda blackmailed Scott, just so she can be part of the club, it just felt way too immature. Overall, I give Player’s Club: Scott a D. Despite the cute romance at the beginning, the rest of the book and it’s characters and situations drove me crazy.
Minn: Call me crazy, but I think Amanda being allowed into their club is a good thing, whether or not her reasons for doing so were childish or not. I love seeing alpha men get shaken up by a woman in their midst, and I think the next couple books will have Amanda and her girlfriends doing just that. All in all there were some low points in this book, especially surrounding George and his childish behavior. At the same time I really enjoyed the overall message of the book, the steamy but slow emotional building relationship with Scott and Amanda. I’m looking forward to reading more about Finn and Lincoln. I give Player’s Club: Scott a C...more
This anthology was really hit or miss for me. I LOVED the LB Gregg story, only made it through 4 or 5 chapters before DNFing the Harper Fox story. I tThis anthology was really hit or miss for me. I LOVED the LB Gregg story, only made it through 4 or 5 chapters before DNFing the Harper Fox story. I thought the ZA Maxfield story was okay, and the Josh Lanyon one was good, but way too short IMO. ...more
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: NetGalley
I was in the mood for a good quick romance, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this debut from Johns’.
Peppa really doesn’t want to tell her boss that she side-swiped his car while dressed as a fairy at the Holiday party, but she knows that she can’t NOT tell him. When Cameron tells her that he wants her to come as his date to another Christmas part, in lieu of having to pay for the damages to his car, Peppa agrees somewhat reluctantly.
Although Cameron isn’t looking for anything serious, there is something about Peppa that calls to him, that has him keep coming back for more. And while Peppa is looking for a family and partner, she is somewhat disheartened by Cameron’s inability to figure out what exactly he wants from her. But when Peppa has a seriously health issue, will Cameron realize just how much he wants everything she can offer?
I really enjoyed this book, and even though there are some typical romance plots, it didn’t feel like a re-used theme. And while this story is only about 100 pages or so, it felt like there was so much more to the story than what is typically in a 100 page novella. There was so much emotional drama in this story, and it pulled me in and kept me engaged from the first page.
I was so impressed with how well Johns’ portrayed the hero and heroine. I honestly fell for both Cameron and Peppa right away. There was so much more to each character than we initially see. I loved that as Peppa helped Cameron peel back the layers, more and more about his character is revealed, and my heart kept going out to him. I’m a big fan of having our heroes be a little tortured, and when it’s over the heartache of loosing his first true love, that made him all the more loveable in my eyes.
Like Cameron, Peppa had been through something horrific as well. When she realizes that despite everything her dream is coming true, she doesn’t waste anytime with lies or doubts. Instead, she goes for it all and lives everything to the fullest. There wasn’t one minute when I wasn’t rooting for her one hundred percent.
I thought that the romance was great as well. What started as a practical joke that Cameron was playing on his family turned into a hot and steamy night together. From there the sexual tension gave way to a fun and flirty friendship. And while Peppa was falling in love, Cameron was doing everything he could not to, and failing horribly at it. Once these two finally declared their love, it was a beautiful moment.
All in all I really enjoyed the debut novel from Rachel Johns. The characters were extremely well developed, the romance was a wonderful journey and the story was sweet and sexy all at once. I will be looking forward to more from this author in the future. I give One Perfect Night a B+...more
Publisher: Grand Central Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: NetGalley
I was really looking forward to this, especially since I’ve enjoy Fiesty’s work in the past, however this book did not work for me. At all…..
Phoebe has inherited her aunt and uncle’s small local cafe, and while she is the best organic farmer around, she can’t cook well enough to keep the cafe successful. She goes out on a limb and hires chef bad-boy Nick Avalon, and the two mix as well as oil and water.
Nick is bidding his time to let the scandal blow over before he can return to LA and the live he loves. The small town is not his idea of a good life, and Phoebe constantly gets on his nerves. But there isn’t anything else to do in town, so spending time with Phoebe seems to be the only way to pass the time, and although they fight constantly, their time together naked is perfect. But when Nick gets the opportunity of a lifetime, will he really be able to say goodbye to the life he’s become accustomed to?
I like romances with chef and cooking in them, so the idea of this book really pulled at me and sounded wonderful, however the characters of Nick and Phoebe just did not engage me at all, and the more I read the more frustrated and annoyed I got.
Phoebe is a bit of a hippie, and loves her small town life and ways. She constantly tells Nick throughout the entire book that she hates him. Even while they are getting busy. I could see it for the first few days, but after almost two months of them working together, sleeping together, she still tells him she hates him every chance she gets. It got to the point where I just wanted to smack some sense into her head. I’ve never read a more fickle pickle character. Phoebe could never decide what she wanted, when she wanted it, or anything else for that matter. Her character really didn’t appeal to me at all.
And unfortunately Nick wasn’t any better. He was a jerk to not only Phoebe, but almost everyone else he met. He constantly slammed their small town, calling them hicks and hippies and simpletons. Even after he started to assimilate to the small-town life, he would snark out snide comments that had me rolling me eyes at him. I just couldn’t get on board with him attitude or reasons.
The romance didn’t work for me either. Maybe it was because they were both such difficult characters to like, I just couldn’t find the time to get invested in their romance. I found myself just hoping it would end soon….
All in all I was pretty disappointed in this Fiesty book. While the sexy times were hot (as always with Fiesty) the rest of the romance and character development that I’ve come to expect just didn’t live up to my expectations. I give Deliciously Sinful a D...more
Publisher: Harlequin Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: Review request from Jill
This has been the year of romantic suspense, and Jill Sorenson has become one of my go-to suspense authors this past year. When she offered me a copy of her Christmas novella, I couldn’t imagine turning it down. Suspense AND Christmas? It’s a double wammy!
In Holiday Secrets Leah is hiding away in witness protection from the man who killed her husband. She and her girls are living a quiet life, until the day their neighbor came over in a Santa suit bearing presents for the girls. Leah doesn’t know what to think about Brian and how great he is. When she thinks she spots the man she is running from, her Christmas season turns from a wonderful few days to the most terrifying.
I felt for poor Leah, she lived her life in constant fear, and at the beginning of the book seemed very deflated. She came across to me as timid and fearful of just about everything. But as Brian started cracking her shell, she became more and more open to trying the things that scared her most. I liked that she learned how to swim, that she was willing to take a chance at love again, and that she did everything in her power to save the day herself.
I really liked Brian though. He wasn’t what I would call an alpha, and instead of being the typical bad-ass hero in most suspense books, he was just the guy next door. I liked that he really seemed to care about Leah’s girls, and that they were his whole reason for going to Leah in the first place. I liked that he wasn’t the typical suspense hero, and he was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this story so much.
All in all it was a good short story. Brian and Leah did seem to come to their “I love you’s” a little quicker than normal, and while I didn’t fully believe it, they were a good couple together. I give Holiday Secrets a B-
In Kidnapped at Christmas, Chloe is down on her luck, her life is in shambles and she gets fired right before Christmas. Just when she thinks there is nothing left for her, she runs into Mason – an undercover FBI agent. Mason has Chloe pretend to be his girlfriend, and when Mason’s last operation goes bad, he brings Chloe home to his family for Christmas for her safety.
I didn’t like this story as much for some reason. Chloe came across as very insecure and down trodden and depressed. And throughout the story I never really felt as if she grew at all as a character. She stayed insecure with Mason’s family and never seemed to take life by the horns. I wanted more from her than we got.
I thought that Mason was just an okay hero, somewhat stereotypical for most romantic suspense novels. Sexy FBI agent, superstar undercover agent, tight knit family that had some kind of police or military training… There wasn’t anything that really had Mason standing out to me, and I lost interest pretty quickly in the story.
Overall I thought the second story was the weakest. The suspense was not as good as the Sorenson story, and the characters didn’t engage me. I give Kidnapped at Christmas a C-...more
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: eARC from author
Jeff’s younger sister is dating a married man and Jeff does not approve. When Lonny’s wife calls the phone that was left behind, Jeff texts her to meet up. Hoping to convince Karyn to go back to her loser husband so his sister can move on, Jeff meets Karyn for coffee. Only after a few hours with her, Jeff is no longer sure that he wants her to go back to her husband. Karyn’s marriage fizzled out and with Jeff’s flirting she renews her sexuality. After some steamy text messages they get together for a night of pleasure and laughter. But when Lonnie stops by the next morning, will the light of day drive a wedge between Karyn and Jeff?
I’ll admit that I was a little worried about this book. I am not a fan of cheaters. Never have been, never will be, and every time I’ve read it I get annoyed and frustrated. With this novella, it’s obvious that neither Lonny or Karyn has any hope of this relationship going further. The divorce papers are in the works, but not filed yet.
That made me feel a little better. But I’ll admit that the one thing that really had me being on board with this was the way that Quinn handled the “morning after.” Yes, Lonny stopped by. Yes, Jeff got jealous and annoyed. Yes, Karyn became confused as to what she wanted and where she was at in life. But instead of Karyn and Jeff settling, they both did what they wanted, despite the consequence at that exact moment. I liked that, I liked that they thought about the future and not just in the moment. It really did make the book that much better for me.
The sexy times in this book were pretty hot. Jeff isn’t afraid to get a little down and dirty, and he is more than willing to show Karyn the ropes. But despite the fact that they got down and dirty they also had a really sweet moment together too. I loved how caring they were to each other while doing the painting, and how erotic it was in all it’s simplicity. I think I might have to go out and buy some nontoxic body paints now….
All in all I thought this was a well done novella. It is short, but it also is sexy, emotional and does not rush anything. I was happy with the choices that Quinn made and the direction of the story. I give Hot Text a B-...more
Publisher: HQN Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: NetGalley
Regina Hackett’s father has more money than most but a happy home life is something she’s never known. Regina and her cousin Miranda make a snap decision one night to go out to a masquerade ball, and Miranda gets kidnapped. Regina pairs up with Puck, the sexy bastard son of a Marquis to find her dear cousin.
Puck lives life to the fullest, and Regina is one woman he never expected. They are up against time and a ruthless slaver while trying to find Miranda, but Puck refuses to let any harm come to his dearest’s cousin. But when the slaver’s identity is revealed, Puck and Regina might not be able to recover.
I was so looking forward to this book, I love regency historical romances, and had high hopes for Puck and Regina. I hoped that the sub-plot with the kidnapping would also provide some good suspense reading, but unfortunately that part failed to live up to my expectations.
As for Puck and Regina, I really enjoyed them both as characters. Puck was such a fun loving and easy going hero. It was obvious that he lived life to the fullest, and didn’t let his unfortunately status play a factor in his life. He was impulsive and funny and charming and yet once he fell for Regina, he was completely protective and doted on her left and right. Watching him morph from this even keel gentleman at the beginning of the novel to a hardened spy was great as well. I was especially happy when he walked away from danger at the end, proving to Regina that she was all he wanted and needed.
Regina was great as well. There were times I thought she pushed for too much freedom, and that some of her reactions were not what I would have expected from a woman of that time. However, she was strong and sure and so obviously cared for her cousin. I did think that she handled the entire kidnapping/slavery aspect a little too easily, especially after discovering the holding place of the girls. However, I thought that the emotional backlash of finding out the identity of the slaver was very well done.
For me though, the suspense aspect wasn’t all that suspenseful. I’m not sure if it’s just that the suspense of the era didn’t really interest me, or the sub-plot just wasn’t what I expected. I enjoyed the slavery aspect, but had a harder time really getting into the story, whereas other contemporary stories I’ve read about female slavery kept my attention better. Part of it could be that I guessed the identity of the slaver fairly early on in the book, and would have liked that to have been a bigger mystery.
All in all the romance aspect of this story was very well done. I enjoyed Puck and Regina’s relationship and thought it developed well and played out wonderfully. However, the rest of the book fell somewhat flat for me. I give A Midsummer Night’s Sin a C...more
Publisher: self-published Publish Date: Out Now! How I got this book: advanced copy from author
When Carly announced on Twitter that she was releasing a novella set in the town of Serendipity, I got all sorts of excited, asked if she wanted to do some promotion with us, and then nearly fainted when she offered me an advanced look. I loved the town of Serendipity and the folks in it, so this was a super sweet treat for me!
We only had a few moments of page time with Lissa in Serendipity, and she wasn’t exactly portrayed in the greatest light. But I always got a sense that there was so much more to her, and was hoping we would get more time to know her better. What we don’t see is that Lissa has had it rough. Her history in the small town wasn’t easy, and because of one dumb choice in high school, she ruined the best relationship she could have hoped for. Now that she is divorced and working on interviewing up and coming business men, Lissa will have to come face-to-face with the boy who left her behind, the one she let get away.
Trevor took Wall Street by storm and while he hasn’t stopped thinking about Lissa, he refused to let anyone tell him about her either. When she walks into his office to interview him, all the emotions from high school come back and Trevor realizes he is far from over her. But with the vast amount of history behind them, will they be able to come together as adults and admit they let the real thing go all those years ago?
I absolutely adored this story! It’s a short one, but it packs quite a punch in the small time we have with Lissa and Trevor. It’s obvious from the get-go that both Lissa and Trevor are still deeply in love with each other, despite the years and distance. But despite that love, there is also a bit of distrust and uncertainty, especially for Trevor.
I really liked that Phillips had Trevor struggle with his decision to try again with Lissa. He was obviously hurt by the way things ended between them, and yet even after they rekindled their physical relationship, Trevor wasn’t ready for more. I was glad to see him be the one to struggle with trust issues and a little insecurity as to whether or not Lissa would hurt him again. It was real and emotional and I loved that he didn’t hold back in his honesty with Lissa.
Although the story takes place over just a few short days, it feels like there is so much more going on. The short story packs an emotional punch and the tension between Lissa and Trevor starts strong and simmers until it finally explodes. There is a wonderful smexy scene that is not only hot but very heartfelt as well.
All in all Kismet is a wonderful novella to add to the Serendipity series. The connection between Lissa and Trevor is unmistakable and their romance was quick and yet so sweet and romantic. Fans of Phillips and the Serendipity series will want to make sure they get their hands on this novella! I give Kismet an A...more