This is my first time reading Kat Latham’s London Legends series but not my last. Though I did not read the first two books in the series, I found itThis is my first time reading Kat Latham’s London Legends series but not my last. Though I did not read the first two books in the series, I found it didn’t take away from my comprehension or enjoyment at all. Tempting The Player is sweet sexy contemporary with just the right balance of humor, emotional trials, and smoking hot sex. Well plotted with engaging dialogue and whimsical scenes that sweeps you up into the story with no hesitation. Friends to lovers is not always a favorite trope of mine but Latham doesn’t subscribe to the normal overused plot lines and “convenient” situations that force the romance and instead allows the characters to win at love on their own merits and at their own pace.
Delightfully quirky and flawed characters carry deep vein of realism. It’s always enlightening to see a story from two different sides and Latham indulges us by giving us Libby and Matt’s points of views. Written in an enjoyable conversational style, the laugh out loud dialogue and scenes will keep you entertained all the way to the end. Latham takes her time in giving us insight into this couple’s friendship and the underlying attraction that has been there the whole time. Best friends for years, neither were been willing to cross the line for fear of losing their friendship. But circumstances have changed and now Matt and Libby have the perfect excuse to indulge their curiosity for one another’s bodies as long as they both realize nothing can come from it.
Matt and Libby are adorable together and individually. Their deep friendship makes their eventual copulation believeable. Matt is sexy, sweet, funny beta whose famous father and prior unhappy marriage has left him with a low self esteem. He has a tiny toy chihuahua he adores and host of insecurities that play off his rugged rugby personae with flair. He has been struggling to prove himself to the club and take his career to the next level and has no time for relationships.
Libby is a strong intelligent female with some childhood baggage in the romance department. She has the career she wants though she, like Matt, is looking to take it to the next level. Comfortable in her sexuality, she has no hangups about sleeping with Matt though her issues prevent her from thinking of a future with him. She doesn’t want to end up like her mother who became a stay at home parent while her father circled the globe and had a girl in every port. She wants a career and a family but she’s not willing to compromise for it.
Using Matt’s phobia of flying to instigate a physical relationship is a novel theme and I enjoyed Libby’s “rewards” every time Matt accomplished something that took him out of his comfort zone. Matt’s fears are real and Latham takes care to not rush or trivialize his issues. Their chemistry is felt from page one but the sexual tension and anticipation build at a decent pace and continue to develop throughout the story. This couple has no problems in the bedroom, it’s only out of it that their issues become obstacles that need addressing.
Matt and Libby’s path to happily ever after comes with some turbulence and a few air pockets but once they open the mike they have a direct flight to happiness. Fans of sport themed contemporary romances will enjoy the easy camaraderie and sensual journey of Latham’s newest couple.
Vera Hadley has spent her whole life being a Hadley and all that comes with it. Now poised on the eve of her wedding to a man she doesn’t love, Vera decides to finally live her life on her own terms and sneaks away with the help of two servants. Vera arrives in Round O, South Carolina and soon sets herself up living quarters, a job, and a possible suitor. When she receives a call about an old friend in trouble, Vera has to make a choice on whether she will continue to hide from her father and fiancee or will she finally make a stand and claim her life as her own.
Set in South Carolina during the 1940’s, Palmetto Moon is a southern contemporary about a young woman of privilege whose family’s social and financial ambitions push her to seek her own way in the world. I adore a good bygone era women’s independence story and envisioned a possible mixture along the lines of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Carrie Khoui or Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Unfortunately, this story had neither the strong characters nor dynamic storylines of either book.
Disney-fied to the utmost extreme, Palmetto Moon is a saccharine story that has all the elements to be a wonderful journey of discovery, hope, and love but fails to deliver. An interesting premise that never seemed to quite gain a foothold and develop. It is a deliciously decorated package that when opened, lacks substance. The best I can say is that it is sweet. The characters are formulaic and sweet; never emerging from their cocoon to develop and grow. It’s all tell and no show. The plot and subplots are sweet with little to no exploration. There were certainly many openings for our heroine to explore her new found freedom in areas of sexuality and social structures that never panned out. Numerous plot holes and dead ends left me frustrated. The ending is sweet and predictable from the halfway mark. Even the villain(s), who aren’t really villainous, are mere caricatures that hint towards a danger we never see. There is no sense of adventure within the main plot. No standing on the precipice, quivering in anticipation wondering what will happen. There is a faint religious theme that flows under the story, giving kudos to the time and place in which Boykin is writing about.
Our heroine, Vera, comes off strong in the beginning of the book. Boykin’s voice slowly draws the reader in as Vera tells us of her dreams, desires, and fears. We learn that she had been planning to run away from her autocratic family for sometime now and has been stealthily putting things in motion to facilitate her escape. She is scared but determined to take her fate into her own hands. Once she arrives in the small crossroad town of Round O however, the story begins to fail for me. Everything just falls into place. She arrives and within 24 hours she has a place to live, a professional job which she has no qualifications for, a handsome suitor, and a new best friend. Vera is perfect. She is beautiful, soft spoken, and well educated. There is very little adversity or moral dilemmas for her to overcome; both which are key components in a coming of age trope. She is the quintessential heroine who triumphs in the face of…no danger.
A variety of secondary characters only to exist in order to tell Vera’s story. They aren’t viable sustainable characters of their own. Frank Darling is a handsome diner/store owner whose dreams were shattered when he was denied entry to the armed forces for a health defect. Stuck in this one horse town, he self flagellates himself for his supposed failings. Once he meets Vera, he falls head over heels and his life mission focuses solely on getting Vera to marry him. We have the stereotypical nasty busybodies that only the southern small towns seem to breed. But Vera is able to put them in their place with a well heeled insult and arched brow. Vera’s fiance and parents are here today-gone tomorrow. Clare, Vera’s new best friend, is a young widow with three adorable small boys. She can’t leave the boarding house because…widowed women can’t live on their own? I didn’t understand that part. She is being pressured to marry one of the older gentlemen boarders but of course, Vera will swoop in and save the day *sigh* Various other characters offer vague humor and depth but as I stated earlier, they are place holders and their issues all fall by the wayside as the main conflict blows through.
The ending comes at us fast and is really the only true obstacle that Vera faces. A small obstacle that is easily and painlessly rectified. And we don’t even see that. We learn of it after the fact. Everyone is made happy in the end and our leads live happily ever after. All in all it wasn’t a bad book. It’s well written with a smooth flow that makes for an easy simple read. I just expected more and was saddened to see it didn’t deliver.
Another enjoyable rom com by Higgins. Funny and sexy though the constant digs about the hero's past criminal activities and the heroine's inability3.5
Another enjoyable rom com by Higgins. Funny and sexy though the constant digs about the hero's past criminal activities and the heroine's inability to stand up for herself concerning her family (Oh, heads would have rolled if that had been me) took some of the enjoyment away. ...more
Victoria has always had a crush on Rider James but he never paid her the least nevermind in high school and she pined for him in silence. Now he’s back in town to open a new business but an overheard conversation confirms that men like Rider don’t look at women like Victoria. Hurt, Victoria decides to fight fire with fire and changes from everyone’s nerdy best friend into a sex kitten with some help from a friend. Suddenly Rider is falling at her feet and all her dreams are coming true. But as she starts to fall hard for Rider’s charms, Victoria’s scared that he can’t see past the artifice to the real woman behind it.
I really wanted to like this book. The premise instantly caught my attention. I’ve always enjoyed a ugly duckling to swan trope. Unfortunately, this one failed on all levels for me. The hero could never convinces me he isn’t the shallow man we originally think he is. When Victoria overhears the Rider tell his sister she’s nerdy and unattractive, she is hurt and rightly so. Rider feels bad for what she overheard but not for what he said. He apologies then goes about his merry way. It’s only when his sister gives Victoria a complete makeover and sends Rider pictures of said transformation on the sly, suddenly he’s calling and wanting dates. He says it has nothing to do with the makeover but all his actions say it does. Once he sees her lush figure and beauty accented with form fitting clothing and makeup, he pursues her to no end. The author tries to convince us Rider has always liked her and thought her attractive, but I wasn’t convinced.
The sexual tension is minimal (this all happens in a very short time frame). We are gifted with one full love scene that while erotic, felt rushed and formulaic. A little oral, some missionary, flip her over & bind her up, get off and we’re done.
There is also a plotline used to undermine Victoria’s already low self esteem and push her into acknowledging her depth of her feelings about Rider.
(view spoiler)[The “false” fiance premise. What I didn’t understand was why the “fiance” is so nasty and condescending to Victoria but when the moment comes for her to explain herself to Victoria, she says nothing. Only when Victoria runs away does she become all apologetic and teary-eyed to Rider. We aren’t told why she did it to begin with, just how she was feeling. (hide spoiler)]
It was overly dramatic and poorly executed.
The ending comes at you hard and fast. Everything is resolved with a few sentences and our couple finds their happily ever after.
RATING: F ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A cute romance between two people who have been hurt before. A relatively mild conflict romance with some sweet sex heat and a lovely ending. I lov3.5
A cute romance between two people who have been hurt before. A relatively mild conflict romance with some sweet sex heat and a lovely ending. I loved seeing the Fitzgerald's again and I must say the heroine's little boy was adorable. ...more
I enjoy L.H. Cosway's romances. She tends to drift out of the lines with her complicated characters who meet and fall in love in a rather straight forI enjoy L.H. Cosway's romances. She tends to drift out of the lines with her complicated characters who meet and fall in love in a rather straight forward simplistic manner. The emotional conduits blended well with the development of the relationship and the protagonists singular growth. Sprinkles of humor and some incredibly steamy love scenes made this a fast read that hit all my happy places. I also enjoyed the faint mystical/destiny vibe that flows though out the story.
A terribly sweet and romantic love story between two people who had thought their chance at love was gone. Well written with multiple story lines,4.5
A terribly sweet and romantic love story between two people who had thought their chance at love was gone. Well written with multiple story lines, engaging characters, and just enough humor and witty dialogue to make the book fly by. This was my first time reading this series but definitely won't be my last. ...more
Reading The Will proves that Ashley does far better when she is not corralled by her publishing company. A steady paced contemporary romance that is rReading The Will proves that Ashley does far better when she is not corralled by her publishing company. A steady paced contemporary romance that is reminiscent of her earlier works. An older set of protagonists with an uptight heroine who needs a strong alpha male to help her live life to the fullest. Steamy hot sex scenes, a nice romantic set up, clueless exes, and a tiny bit of conflict thrown in for fun. Steady pacing and a lot of detailing made this a fun read. I loved meeting Jake and his kids. Fun and rambunctious, they (along with various other eccentric secondary characters) went a long way in making the story enjoyable. I liked everything and everyone but the heroine.
Josie was annoying. She was too perfect. A combination of KA's best heroines, she lacked their down to earth appeal. She was too perfect. She literally had no flaws. She dressed perfect. She cooked perfect. She gave the perfect advice. She never really got angry. She's rich and has famous connections. She even tripped in an adorable manner. She was a sexy Mother Theresa. Plus, her dialogue was odd. Maybe because she lived all over the world, her speech was stilted, uncomfortable, and condescending at times.
Regardless of my issues with the heroine, The Will proves that Ashley still has 'it'...as long as her publishers quit trying to mess with 'it.'...more
I adored this romantic contemporary; especially the couple. Lanie and Kyle were hilarious and delightful as they plot to win the love of Lanie's life,I adored this romantic contemporary; especially the couple. Lanie and Kyle were hilarious and delightful as they plot to win the love of Lanie's life, Kyle's bff, Brad. However, fate has other plans and soon these two are heating up the sheets as the playboy falls in love for the first time in his life. ...more
Drew + Fable Forever is a sweet sexy humorous novella that helps to being this favorite couple full circle. Drew and Fable have married and now dealinDrew + Fable Forever is a sweet sexy humorous novella that helps to being this favorite couple full circle. Drew and Fable have married and now dealing with this and other life altering situations while Drew is away playing football. As usual with this couple, they hit their challenges head on and emerge triumphant. ...more
An enjoyable romance about a windowed pastor and a social loner who marry for his job and companionship. I liked seeing how the emotional issues th3.5
An enjoyable romance about a windowed pastor and a social loner who marry for his job and companionship. I liked seeing how the emotional issues that developed are addressed. The hero is torn between his dead wife and his developing feelings for his new wife and it's a legitimate problem for him. Though I felt for the heroine and enjoyed her strength and resolution, at times I wanted to say, "I told you so," because I don't think she really thought beyond the thrill of being married to her crush. He makes no promises and she gets her feelings hurt when he doesn't come around as quickly as she wants. Both learn to make concessions and let go of the past. The romance works itself out and the ending is a nice mixture of hope and love.
Favorite Quote: “He’s the enemy, but he’s got a great ass. There’s no law against admiring it while we kick it.”
Betts Monroe left her small minded town and worked herself to the bone to become a famous country music star. When her grandmother dies and leaves her a letter, informing her that the son she was forced to give up for adoption is living with his biological father, Betts drops everything and and high tails it back to the town and the man who broke her heart.
Gabe Swanson went from cattle baron to cattle rancher in the blink of an eye when his father gambled away the family fortune. Now it’s only his son and him left to carry on the family name…a name that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Gabe regrets nothing about his life, except a young woman whose heart he broke. When that woman blows back into town, demanding to see their son, all hell breaks loose.
Gabe and Betts may be on opposite sides of the fence, but the attraction between them burns as brightly now as it did sixteen years ago. Can Gage and Betts overcome their past to create a future or was that first cut just too deep to heal?
Fans of Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips will enjoy this humorous debut contemporary romance of lost love and second chances playing out under the star struck eyes of a small southern town. A classic trope of young love that was brought under by the manipulations of family. Unplanned pregnancies, misunderstandings, smoking hot chemistry, a scaredy cat bull named Buttercup, and a lycra wearing grandmama will leave you laughing and sniffling just a little as you watch two former lovers try to find away to forgive each other and themselves. Fun snarky dialogue keeps the story flowing along at a steady pace. Multiple plot lines keep you entertained; merging together towards the end to provide a worthy conclusion for our couple.
Heavily character driven, the star of this book is Betts Monroe and her fun loving, no boundaries, sidekick mama. I absolutely adored those two. Lord have mercy. The two of them would get to going and I would laugh my fool head off.
Mama picked up on the second ring. “I’m kinda busy right now. Can I call you back?” “Nope. This is an emergency. I need a chainsaw and…” Betts’s stomach growled, “a large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard—” “Are we having a party? Why didn’t you tell me? I’ll grab some wine too. Something dry and red. Red always goes well with mayhem and destruction.” Mama hung up.
Graykowski had the perfect blend of snarky fun conversation without oversaturating the book in one liners. Betts is a solid presence in here. Her backstory is heart wrenching and there were two people in her life I wanted to slap the ugly out of. I liked that Graykowski doesn’t make Betts larger than life or the perfect heroine. She’s made mistakes and paid a heavy price for them but she doesn’t allow herself to stay mired in the past.
“It doesn’t matter. I take full responsibility for my mistakes. I should have seen the writing on the wall. Not taking my phone calls or answering my letters was a pretty clear indication of your feelings. Love makes you blind and, in my case”—she laughed, but it sounded hollow—“stupid.”
Gabe was just as strong willed and likable. He gives as good as he gets and some of his “gives” will leave you giggling. In the beginning, I didn’t like him and didn’t want too. After reading how he handled the situation with Betts when she announced she was pregnant; I wanted to choke him. He’s cocky and acts a bit like a martyr. When the whole story is revealed, especially what Betts did after he walked away, he realizes he knew nothing and his hatred was misplaced. I personally think Betts forgave him way too quickly for somethings. Sometimes, “I’m sorry,” isn’t enough.
"Everything he’d believed about Betts had been false, and all the years of hatred seemed like a huge waste of time. She’d had to make all the hard choices because he’d been a coward."
The journey our couple takes is sexy, humorous, and heartbreaking. They were both horribly manipulated by their families and spent many years hating each other for the lies told to them. The chemistry between Gabe and Betts is HOT and is made hotter by their innuendos and negotiating. Lust and snark makes for some wild and steamy times as these two bicker and flirt their way back into bed and each others hearts. Though their relationship starts out rocky, they each harbor resentment over past issues, it progresses at a reasonable pace which is helped out by their attitudes. Bett’s isn’t emotionally broken so she never plays the victim card and Gabe isn’t a domineering jerk, hell bent on making Betts pay for presumed mistakes. It was nice that the usual over the top misconceptions weren’t made a main focus in this installment. I enjoyed watching Gage and Betts get to know one another again as adults.
“Is name-calling part of your master plan to get me into bed? I have to tell you, it isn’t working.”
Well developed secondary characters round out the storyline and add depth, good old southern wisdom, delightful snarkiness and humor to the story. The four churches and their stalking was a trip. I love watching Tom get to know his mother and find his own romance. Betts mom will keep you stitches. She may march to her own drum but she loves her daughter and will take out anyone out who even tries to hurt her.
“I’m right here if you need me.” Mama called out. “Just holler and I’ll come running, swinging my bat first and asking questions later.”
We don’t see much of Betts best friends but from what you learn, they always have her back.
The main conflict is resolved in a predictable fashion as Gabe and Betts learn exactly what happened sixteen years ago and are able to work beyond it. Various smaller storylines also wrap up with little fanfare. Though I felt the ending came a little too fast and easy, I enjoyed the overall journey. There were a few things that I felt didn’t develop quite as well as they could; the role Betts grandmother played and I was curious as to why Gabe never contacted Betts later on in life.
Place Your Betts is delightfully funny sentimental story that is just the thing for those looking for a lightweight and engaging romantic contemporary brimming with laughter, love, and a healthy dose of lust. I do believe this will be a series as Ms. Graykowski seems to be working on book two, Lucky In Love, which is based on one of Betts best friends. I look forward to reading more by Ms. Graykowski.
Favorite Quote: “If anyone thinks less of you for liking ‘YMCA’…well, then they’re not worth bothering about.”
Dexter Yates enjoys life as a carefree bachelor. Money, looks, and freedom keeps him in hot demand with the ladies. That is until his sister dies and leaves him guardianship of his eight month old niece, Delphi. Suddenly Dexter is a single parent with no idea what to do.
Comic strip artist Molly Hayes lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. A history of bad choices when it comes to men leaves Molly single and happy with that.
When Dexter moves in next door to her, they strike up a platonic friendship that can’t hide the chemistry between them. But Molly’s not interested in becoming another notch in Dexter’s bedpost. Before Dexter can convince Molly she’s the only one for him, he’ll need to learn more about her and himself.
Don’t Want To Miss A Thing is classic Mansell. A lighthearted humorous romantic contemporary that explores the many facets of love in a small town setting. New love, old love, unrequited love, and shattered love are all identified and explored as we watch a confirmed bachelor try and raise a small child while learning how to be friends with the opposite sex. Mansell’s dry British wit makes her comedy of errors a delightful retreat for a lazy day.
Molly is delightful with her calm easy going manner and infectious snarky wit. A pretty 20 something woman, she wants what everyone wants-to find a person to love and enjoy life with. Unfortunately,she keeps picking the wrong people to date. Strong and self reliant; she has a vulnerable side she hides well. I enjoyed her zest for life and her unfailing love for Delphi.
Dexter is a dog. But a charming dog with a genuinely nice attitude and infectious personality. He’s a man who has never seen the need to settle down or play at being faithful. When he is forced by circumstances to change his ways, you see a wonderful turn about in him. He honestly tries to do the best he can for himself and his ward, even with the deck stacked against him.
Dexter and Molly’s journey to happily ever after takes a long time to develop. Mansell gives each time to get to know one another and decide if this is indeed the path they want to travel together. Their times spent together with the baby were especially entertaining as Mansell doesn’t sugar coat anything. Babies can be daunting and they never react the way you think they will. There are some requisite misunderstandings. During those times, I really wished we would have gotten Dexter’s point of view. I would have enjoyed to have read what he was feeling during certain scenes.
Multiple storylines run rapid throughout here, each one seemingly random but the ties that bind them all together become increasingly more visible as we move closer to the conclusion. Various characters are at impasses in their individual relationships. Mansell shows us that the choices we make have a cascading effect and often hurt the ones we love best. One particular storyline practically eclipses Dexter and Molly’s story. I could easily see an entire book just about them. The time and attention Mansell gives to this couple was engaging. I was a bit mystified by the easy copulation of everyone in that situation, though. I had a hard time believing it could resolve that easily. So much seemed to occur off scene, so I felt like I missed the meat of that story.
Overall, I enjoyed Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. It’s a quick read that hits all the right spots, romance and humor wise. I did feel the multiple storylines took away from our main couple at times. There was just too much going on. I would have enjoyed more personal one on one time with our main protagonists, rather than only seeing pivotal moments in their lives. Regardless, the ending is sweet and fulfilling as Ms. Mansell wrap up the loose ties and gives everyone a second chance at love.
Favorite Quote: “Your erection is poking my head.”
The infectious Riley family is back and in high spirits in this bright and cheery Christmas novella-Holiday Games. Jenna Riley and Ty Anderson are getting ready to tie the knot while Mick and Tara Riley try to deal with the fact their oldest son is growing into a man. The focus of the story though is on Liz and Gavin Riley. Liz and Gavin’s very steamy and rocky romance can be read in Changing The Game. Liz and Gavin’s life is perfect, now. Their love for one another grows daily but Liz is ready for a baby and is disheartened that she hasn’t gotten pregnant as of yet. Liz decides that all she and Gavin needs is a bit more practice and formulates a plan of action. Soon Gavin finds himself being used and abused at all times of the day…and loving every minute of it.
Holiday Games is a cheery sexy holiday novella that divulges into the different times in a couple’s life. Marriage, starting a family, and watching your children grow up. Lots of love, laughter, and sexy hi jinks made this a cute and steamy read guaranteed to fill you with holiday cheer. My only qualm is in the beginning, there is an awkwardness to the women. There was a lot of affirmative aspirations as they reaffirmed with one another how fabulous they all were. It was a little offsetting. It evened out quickly and the snarky women I had grown to enjoy were back.
Favorite Quote: “Never ask someone to tell you who you are. You tell them.”
Jessica Sweet doesn’t want to go home to her uber religious parents for the summer but her sublet won’t be available for her to move into for a week. When she is unable to stay with a friend, her nemesis, the sexy cocky Riley Mann, offers her a place to stay with him.
Riley has enough going on with trying to keep custody of his younger brothers, he doesn’t need a ditzy debutante cramping his style, but he also can’t leave her with no place to live. As Jessica and Riley spend more time together, they realize that their first impressions of each other were wrong and soon they fall into a comfortable routine that develops into deeper feelings. But while Jessica has never had a problem sleeping with a guy, she doesn’t know how to handle a relationship without sex.
Jessica finds herself in a difficult position concerning her future and Riley when her parents find out about her deception. Can she let go of her fears or will she lose the only man for her?
Sweet is a sexy, romantic, emotional coming of age new adult that uses a different approach to the defining romance than the usual NA offerings. Crisp writing, indulgent humor, and a smooth flowing storyline makes it incredibly easy to become fully invested in this book. Heavily character driven, we are instantly engaged with our hero and heroine from first contact. Jessica, our heroine, was first introduced in book one, True. She, along with a friend, set up their roommate Rory to lose her virginity to her now boyfriend, Tyler Mann. Jessica has issues in that she is unsure of her place in the world. Her ultra conservative religious parents place unrealistic expectations on her and punish her when she realistically fails. Because of this, Jessica doesn’t place a lot of value on herself. With an innate fear of rejection, a friends with benefits relationship works better for her. She has no expectations and can’t be disappointed or more importantly, can’t disappoint anyone. This is not to say she has no respect for herself, because she does in spades. She doesn’t take any crap about the way she lives her life.
“I don’t need to be judged, Riley.”
She is strong, intelligent, loyal, and honest. She also has an incredible amount of snark that makes for some funny scenes.
“You think the air freshener smells worse than this room did?” I was in awe. In my opinion it already smelled better from the ocean breeze mister and the air blowing in through the open window. “This thing smells like dead old lady.” I laughed. “It’s called ocean breeze.” “No ocean I’ve ever been to smelled like that.” “How many oceans have you been to?” He grinned. “None.” “Have you smelled dead old lady?”
Riley is a fascinating contradiction in his make up. He is just like Jessica in some key ways. He too is loyal, intelligent, and honest. He works hard and has had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders for years. He and his brother Tyler protected their younger brothers from their mom’s drug addiction while struggling to keep her from killing herself. Now with his mother gone and Tyler’s drug arrest, he is having to go for custody of the boys all by himself. The reason I say he’s a contradiction is that the persona he shows the world doesn’t match what’s inside. Gorgeous, tattooed, with a cocky ego, you instantly think he’s a player but that is the furthest thing from the truth and in this way he and Jessica are very different. Riley doesn’t believe in sex just to scratch an itch. No friends with benefits. No one night stands. Riley believes sex should only occur between two people after they have developed a relationship that has a chance of going somewhere.
“I rolled my eyes. “So having sex now, pre-relationship or dating, would have made us friends with benefits and we can’t have that.” “No! We’re not actually friends, you know. You can’t be friends with someone you want to have sex with, you just can’t.” “You’ve been saying we’re friends all week! So if we’re not really friends, then you want me to be a booty call, clearly.” “No, damn it. A booty call is someone you just have sex with, nothing else. No hanging out, no conversation. You just text and make plans to hook up.” “I’m guessing you don’t spend the night either.” “No, of course not.” He sounded frustrated, which was exactly how I felt. “You’ve given this so much thought it scares me.” I tossed my magazine on the floor and myself on the bed. “You’re worse than a girl and I’m done with this conversation.”
McCarthy builds the romance between Jessica and Riley very slowly. Though their chemistry is apparent from the beginning, they both struggle with their friendship; especially Jessica as this is uncharted territory for her. Jessica is confused by Riley’s no sex edict and finds herself struggling not to fall back into her old habits.
“I’m sorry,” I said. In the dark room, he leaned over and gave me a half smile. “Vodka happens. No big deal.” That wasn’t what I meant. I was trying to tell him that I was sorry for being me.
Watching them each let down their barriers and let each other in was interesting to watch. McCarty uses their personalities to show us that even with their much different backgrounds, they are more similar than they first imagine. I liked that they communicated their feelings to one another and neither let the other get away with deflecting. Though the romance remains the main element of the storyline, McCarthy intertwines it with the multiple plot lines, using them to further develop Jessica’s and Riley’s relationship and guide it along the path to love.
“I want to be important to you. Special…Do you know how stupid I feel saying that? I think my balls just dropped to the floor.”
Character development is at a premium as we watch Jessica and Riley grow and become more comfortable with themselves without changing the basic elements that makes them so enjoyable. I liked that neither felt they really had to change in order to be with each other. The changes they make are internal and are more reflective than extreme. Riley’s love for his family is heartwarming and Jessica fills a void he didn’t even know existed. Jessica learns to love herself and to stop trying to please everyone else.
Though we don’t see as much secondary character interaction in here as we did in True, we still get some moments with Tyler, Rory, and of course, Riley’s mischievous brothers. All of them add depth, humor, and realism to the story. I enjoyed watching the grand reveal between Jessica, Riley, and Tyler. I honestly can’t imagine how I would have reacted in that situation. It does give Jessica some insight into Riley and herself. She learns that her actions have consequences regardless of her intentions. Riley learns that snap judgments are not cool and sometimes you shouldn’t ask questions if you don’t want to hear the answers.
Sweet is a wonderful love story that takes us on a journey filled with love, laughter, growth, and angst to led us to a respectable HFN. Though some may be incredulous at the ending, I found it keeping in the way Riley thinks. McCarthy continues to entertain with the second installment of True Believers series. She also includes a brief look at book three, Believe, which releases in January 2014.
Abigail had her whole world planned out until the love of her life left her standing at the altar on their wedding day. Now, ten years later, her runaway groom has come home. He wants a second chance but Abigail has closed that chapter of her life.
Braxton Dean left town and his best friend when his fears got the best of him. He regrets his disappearing act and after spending years trying to forget her, he has come home to face the music. Either he’s going to win her back, or let her go for good.
Braxton and Abigail square off as an entire town lines the streets and keeps the phone lines buzzing, taking sides and laying bets. Can Braxton and Abigail find their way back into each others hearts? It may take some nosy residents, a condom balloon bouquet, and a trip down memory lane for them to find their happily ever after.
Runaway Groom is a romantic contemporary that digs deep into your heart and funny bone and doesn’t let go. A fast paced humorous and heartfelt story about two people who are given a second chance at love again. Nelson uses dual POVs to give us a complete story with all the facts. The characters are all delightfully quirky and wonderfully flawed with a deep vein of realism running through them. The story is written in an enjoyable conversational style with engaging laugh out loud dialogue that will keep you entertained all the way to the end.
Emotionally satisfying and humorous to boot, we get a ringside seat as we watch Abby try to understand and come to terms with what happened ten years ago. Braxton explained everything to Abby in a series of letters that she claims she never received. You want to lay all the blame at Braxton’s feet but as the story develops, you realize that you can’t. There were mistakes made on both sides. Heavily character driven, it’s very easy to get caught up in their lives and develop affection for them. Abigail is a strong heroine who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with lots of humor, intelligence, and patience. She is not only hurt over Braxton’s disappearance but also angry. Angry he couldn’t just be honest with her. She deserved better and they both know that. Her life didn’t stop that day he left but it did leave her in a lot of pain and with a hole in her heart because not only did she lose the love of her life but her best friend.
The timbre of his voice seemed to stroke across her skin, stirring up a potent cocktail of emotions-lust, love, fury, and pain. Braxton made me laugh and cringe as he tries to worm his way back into Abby’s life. He has some residual anger in him for Abby never answering his letters and he both flatters and accuses her throughout the book. He hurt her badly and accepts that he may never get her back into his life as a lover or even as a friend. He knows he needs to make amends to the town folks if he wants to get through to Abby. He too has hurt the entire time he was gone. He may have found himself but he too lost his best friend. He never forgot Abby and he never gave away his heart to another woman because she has held it since they were teenagers.
Only recently he’d figured out why he’d done it. The realization was still not a comfortable one.
The story itself is pretty straight forward in its delivery. Braxton and Abby grew up together, dated, got engaged, and almost married. Braxton disappears, then reappears years later with excuses. Sounds simple, but it’s not. We learn that sometimes what’s expected of you isn’t always the best thing for you. We learn communication is paramount between couples and fear can make you do really stupid things. While I enjoyed this tale, it’s the characters who breathed life into it and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Nelson gives us real people who react as we might. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the lessons life hands us. The journey isn’t perfect and both protagonists have some issues that need to be resolved. The execution, with alternating points of view, flows effortlessly between the past and the present, offering a unique view into their thoughts and recollections. It’s a nice way to see what they thought had happened and what really did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Braxton’s letters. One for everyday for he was gone. Regardless of what he did, you never ever doubt that he loved her…and still does.
“The promises I made you long ago…I meant them. I may have left your side, but I never left you, Abby. Not really. I took you with me, every step.”
Braxton and Abby are hilarious together. The chemistry explodes between them from the first time they see each other again. Theirs is not an instant reconnection and I appreciated that. Abby doesn’t make it easy for Braxton. Their reconciliation is slow as they reacquaint themselves with one another and learn to be honest with one another. There is something magical about watching two people who are given a second chance. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off them. It was both painful and funny to watch as these two struggle to find a way to forgive each other and themselves.
Maybe, just maybe, her knight in shining armor really could be the first boy she ever loved…
Equally engaging secondary characters round out the story and add lots of humor. Nothing beats small town antics. Especially when they get a notion in their head; like helping to facilitate a romance. Lou and Carnie, good friends to Braxton and Abby, offer insight, advice, and shoulders to cry on. We meet Abby’s mother and learn more about their co dependant relationship. The town folks are hilarious as they sneak around; waffling between wanting to protect Abby from getting hurt again and wanting her and Braxton to get back together. I would have liked more insight into Abby’s mother and Braxton’s father though. I felt that by not hearing their POVs we missed part of the story. We know what they did but not why. Abby’s sister. Good lord. *laughter* I feel sorry for any man that tries to take her on.
The ending is predictable but nice in how it plays out. Runaway Groom is a funny engaging romantic contemporary that will have you giggling and tearing up at times as you watch Braxton and Abby fight their way through the misconceptions and heartache to find their way back to each other.
A sweet and sexy romance between a charming irish actor and a make up artist whose past won't let her go forward. Humor, angst, and quite a bit of romA sweet and sexy romance between a charming irish actor and a make up artist whose past won't let her go forward. Humor, angst, and quite a bit of romance. ...more
Rachel Gibson takes us back to Lovett, TX in this follow up to Rescue Me. Sadie Hollowell is dismayed to learn that she has an illegitimate sister wheRachel Gibson takes us back to Lovett, TX in this follow up to Rescue Me. Sadie Hollowell is dismayed to learn that she has an illegitimate sister when her father’s will is read. Sadie wants to meet her so her fiancé, Vince Haven, hires an old Navy Seal buddy to locate her. Blake give his ex Marine twin brother, Beau, the job. He locates Sadie’s sister down in Florida bartending in a dive. He figures it’s an easy enough job. Meet the sister, give her Sadie’s information, and leave.
Stella (Estella Immaculata Leon-Hollowell) Leon has always known about Sadie but figured Sadie didn’t want anything to do with her, just like their father. Beau tells Stella that Sadie just wants her to come to Lovett, TX so they can get to know one another but Stella isn’t sure she’s ready to meet her long lost sister. When Stella inadvertently gets on the wrong side of her mob connected boss, she figures a trip to TX maybe just the thing for her. When Beau books her a flight, she lies and claims fear of heights so he’ll drive her and she won’t have to do this all alone. Suddenly, this easy job turns into four days and three nights with one red hot controlling ex Marine and the woman who’s determined to break that control one way or another.
I’ve always been a fan of Rachel Gibson’s romantic contemporaries. Normally her potent mixture of romance, humor, endearing characters, and hints of angst will have you laughing your way to the end. Unfortunately, this installment didn’t elicit much of a reaction either way. I didn’t feel the zing between the our protagonists and the storyline was only mildly entertaining. Every aspect of the story from the characterization the main characters to the plot devices throwing them together felt scripted.
Beau is tactile and quiet, a man of few words. Stella is the opposite with her bubbly and inquisitive nature. Beau has decided to forgo his player ways and choose to remain celibate until he meets the woman he will marry. Stella, a virgin, feels the same way; she’s saving herself for marriage. Communication between them consists of snark and one liners while their actual feelings are verbalized internally. We never really get to know either one of them very well as individuals. Everything we learn about them feels manufactured in order to advance their relationship and the story. While I do understand this is the main goal of a book, it’s normally not so blatant. The main conflicts, the mob fiasco and Stella’s trepidation at meeting her sister, aren’t actual problems at all. The mob storyline disappears and Sadie and Stella bond like two peas in a pod. No conflict or angst. The romance focuses on our couple’s no sex rule so while they are creative in that department, it too felt like another plot device thrown in to up the tension. Even the must have miscommunication scene fell flat. The entire book is just too low key.
Vince, Sadie, and Beau’s brother Blake bring some humor to the table but not enough to fix the lack of sparkle I normally find when I read Gibson’s contemporaries. The ending comes quickly and plays out exactly as we knew it would. Ms. Gibson wraps up the main storyline and we are left a hint towards the hero of the next Lovett, TX adventure. All in all, an okay contemporary that gives what it promises…I just wished it had promised more.
Hydraulic Level Five by Sarah Latchaw was brought to my attention by Jane from Dear Author. She tweeted about it and in reading her light review on Goodreads, I was intrigued by the premise. I have always enjoyed second chance love stories. There is something addicting in seeing a love affair gone wrong and the efforts the couple will put into making it right again. Lately, those tropes have been mired in over blown dramatics and angst with dollops of miscommunication and the required villous figure who helps in facilitating our couples relationship demise. The mapping out of the story is easy to follow and you know exactly how it will end. just not the specifics of the journey.
What I truly enjoyed about this story is the lack of formula. As I started reading I became fully invested in Samuel and Kaye’s story. It is an emotional, honest journey of love, loss, regret, guilt, and forgiveness. Well written with a smooth storyline, well plotted conflicts, and an underlying message of forgiveness that forces our couple to look deep inside themselves for the answers to their questions. Strong realistic characters will sweep you up and break your heart as you follow this tremulous love story.
Aspen Kaye Trilby has loved Samuel Cabral forever. When they divorced, she began to reinvent herself in order to overcome the feelings of inadequacy he left her with. An adrenaline junkie with a successful PR business, she is comfortable with her life but unable to move forward. Samuel left her with too many questions and no answers.
Samuel is a best selling author who seems content with his choices. When he left Kaye, he never looked back and that hurt Kaye tremendously. He rejected not only her love, but their friendship. With a successful career and beautiful new girlfriend by his side, Sam looks like he has moved on with his life. But appearances can be deceiving and Sam’s demons are a constant battle he faces everyday.
When Sam comes home for his sister’s wedding, Kaye is determined to get the answers she has waited seven long years for. But can Kaye get past the hurt and pain to dig deep for the answers she wants? Or will history repeat itself and leave Kaye once again alone and in the dark?
Told primarily in Kaye’s voice with interjections by Samuel through passages in a book he’s writing, we get an emotional look at their life in both the present and the past. How they met, as they fell in love, and when it began to all fall apart. We learn more about Kaye and Samuel as individuals. A pattern begins to form that clues the reader into the underlying issues that were swept aside and the secrets that affected their lives and ultimately their marriage.
This is not a typical romance story. This story dissects the lives of two people and looks deep into their souls. A strong emotional base leaves the reader with a bittersweet feeling as we watch our protagonists try to overcome past behavior in order to move forward. There is no real villain in here. No one person can be blamed. One event was the catalyst yet their path was almost predetermined. Humor and tears follow Sam and Kaye through their journey of self discovery and healing. Their issues are real and not plot elements tossed in to make a more dynamic story.
I really enjoyed how Ms. Latchaw doesn’t give an easy fix to their relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage they each played a part in creating. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off of them. The emotional baggage that Kaye and Sam each carry needs to be addressed and the author allows that to happen in a realistic manner. It’s painful as you watch these two struggle to repair their friendship and find a way to forgive each other and themselves.
Fabulous secondary characters add to the emotional catharsis with their own recollections, stories, and advice. Samuel and Kaye’s families are close and when the marriage went south, more than just Sam and Kaye’s hearts were broken. I liked that both families tried to provide what emotional support they could to the couple but also did what they felt was best when the situations arose. They didn’t always make the best decisions but they did the best they could at the time. And isn’t that what life is all about? Doing the best we can and hoping that it is good enough to survive the outcome?
The ending is satisfying in that our couple comes to terms with the past and look towards the future. We aren’t given a concrete happily ever after however we are left with a good feeling towards the couple and their relationship. Ms. Latchaw does attach a brief excerpt of the sequel, entitled Skygods. Release date unknown.
A short Christmas novella with a beauty & the beast trope. Short and sweet with predictable plot lines and ending. Small exceprt into Ms. Beverly'A short Christmas novella with a beauty & the beast trope. Short and sweet with predictable plot lines and ending. Small exceprt into Ms. Beverly's next full length novel is included. ...more