Favorite Quote: “What was it that Pam from Archer says? Oh right, you could drown a toddler in my panties right now.”
Victoria (Tiny) Corielli is a low paid bike messenger who needs money now. Her mother’s cancer has returned and Victoria needs to secure them new housing and pay for the mounting medical bills. While doing some deliveries for her questionable step brother, Victoria meets the most incredibly sexy man she has ever seen whose charm and good looks makes her melt right there on the street.
We aren’t strangers. Somewhere, at some point, we must have made a connection and we’re now recognizing it again in this lifetime.
Victoria runs away because the reaction this man pulls from her just from their first meeting scares her to death. She has no time for romantic entanglements; there is just too much on her plate right now. Weeks later, her step brother sends her out on another job that leads her straight back to him. He claims her brother is helping him secure someone for a special job but when she offers up herself, he doesn’t want her help.
“Are you sure I can’t help you?”
His fingers close around the frame and tip me toward him until I have no choice but to brace my hand against the hard wall of his chest. His hand leaves my arm and comes around me like a shackle.
“Let me be perfectly frank with you, Victoria. There are lots of things that I’d like you to do for me. Some of them involve you on your knees. Others require you bent over a table. All of them require me to be between your legs. But I don’t pay for that.”
Victoria once again flees but soon, everywhere Victoria looks, there he is.
Watching. Waiting. Wanting.
Because what Ian Kerr wants…Ian Kerr gets.
I want to say right off that I think the blurb for Losing Control is misleading in that it gives the impression this is your typical overly alpha stalker billionaire chases the naive and charmingly inept “I will do anything for…’ virgin romance. In reality, the book is far more than that. It is a steamy, sexy, funny and oh so good and dirty love story about two people whom fate has arranged to meet one another and their sparks light up the world around them. A certain Cinderella-esque feeling permeates the book as Ian steadily and at times bull doggedly pushes his way into Victoria’s life though Victoria is anything but a compliant princess looking for her prince charming.
“I’m not a toy. You don’t get to put me in Barbie’s expensive town home and play with me until you’re bored. I’m a fucking real person, and my mom’s a real person. And we don’t need this shit right now. I say who I sleep with and whose bed I’m in—and right now, you aren’t even in the same conversation.”
Her strength is heart wrenching which is made evident by all she does for her ailing mother. She will do whatever it takes to make her mother’s life better. She’s strong, fearless, intelligent, and wonderfully down to earth and funny. She has learned the hard way that nothing in life is free and sometimes though the price is high, you do what you can for those you love. And Victoria loves her mother more than anything.
“I’d do anything to keep my mother alive.”
Ian, Ian, Ian. *laughing softly* Ian Kerr is the ultimate alpha with his arrogance, money, and rather autocratic way of taking charge with or without Victoria’s permission. He is a gorgeous, bossy, sexy, generous, irritating man whose obsession turned adoration for Victoria makes you forgive him rather quickly.
“I’m a big collector of things.” “Am I a thing?” “No, your my heart.”
And his mouth. Oh. My. God. This man’s mouth should be illegal. He says the most dirty and delicious things.
“You’re done when I say so. Your pussy still wants me.”
His long fingers are still stroking my post-climactic nerve endings, more gently now but still firm. His thumb caresses my clit lightly, and I shudder with each pass.
“You’re so wet and hot and fucking beautiful right now and I want you to come. Now.”
Though the beginning started out slowly, the pace picks up rather quickly as we divulge into the characters lives and what exactly Ian’s job for Victoria entails. The romance develops at a slow seductive speed, intertwining with the various subplots, and pulling it all together into one explosive mixture. Fredericks allows ample time for Victoria and Ian to connect emotionally and mentally before pushing them into bed, which works perfectly for their personalities and the story overall. Dynamic chemistry, witty banter, and intense dirty love scenes brought this couple to life and elevated them beyond the normal offerings we have seen in this trope lately.
“I think of you non-stop. When I get up in the morning, I wonder if you’ll like the smell of the soap I used. When lunch rolls around, I wonder if you’ve eaten enough. I wanted to delay making love to you until I was completely sure you were with me – mind, body and soul – because yes, Tiny, you are mine. And this isn’t for show.”
The ending, while inconclusive, doesn’t leave us dangling from a cliff. Victoria’s and Ian’s story continues in book 2, Taking Control, which releases September 16, 2014.
As one of the beta readers for this book, all I can say it that Haines takes it to the limit in here and sets up a chilling tale of betrayal, deceptio...moreAs one of the beta readers for this book, all I can say it that Haines takes it to the limit in here and sets up a chilling tale of betrayal, deception, revenge, pain, and remarkably... hope. (less)
Favorite Quote: “…in this perfect moment, there is always fear.”
Emma Searfoss, a 22 year old engineer designer, has moved clear across the country to get away from her stepfather. Emotionally and physically abused by him since childhood, her victimization was made worse by her mother and two brothers allowing it to happen and not intervening. Blunt and in need of some anger management classes, Emma moves into a new apartment only to wake up the next day and find a strange man has made himself at home there.
David Calgaro is a 26 year old carpenter who, like Emma, grew up in abusive home. Contracted to replace the kitchen in her new apartment, his lack of boundaries infuriates then intrigues Emma. This outgoing and charming young man grounds her and soon their friendship blossoms into something more.
Emma feels safe with David, a first for her, and she falls hard for this mysterious man. But David has secrets. Dark secrets that involve his previous girlfriends. Emma knows David is hiding something from her but her attraction to him is strong and when he asks for the impossible…she must decide how far she is willing go for love.
How far would you go to prove your love to someone?
Would you lie for them?
Would you steal for them?
Would you kill for them?
Would you die for them?
Claire Wallis asks these questions and more in her debut NA novel, Push. A psychological romantic thriller that addresses the long term emotional and mental damage caused by childhood abuse and the lengths some will go to find peace and happiness. I use the term romance with hesitation because I don’t consider this a romance per say. It’s more of a love story steeped in tragedy and deception. Wallis uses an interesting set up in that the story opens at the end, essentially telling us what has happened. She then takes us back to the beginning to when Emma and David first met and begins to explain to us, in Emma’s voice, how she and David arrived at their point of no return.
Steady pacing peels back the layers of Emma and David, introducing us to two seemingly normal individuals whose similar backgrounds guide and attract them to one another. Humorous scenes, dry witty dialogue, and some very sexy sensual love scenes keeps the reader engaged as Wallis builds what looks to be a typical NA romance. As the book progresses, the tone changes. It’s a gradual feeling that you don’t realize is there until you feel the hair on the back of your neck raise. The very things that engaged you in the beginning take on a more sinister air. They mock you. Wallis digs deep into our protagonists’, giving us hints at the darkness that exists in both of them. Scenes from David and Emma’s childhoods only serve to further explain their idiosyncrasies while POVs from David’s ex girlfriends opens our eyes to something more insidious.
I have to say this book leaves you reeling once you reach the end. Emotions are jumbled as you try to figure out what you missed and when it all began to change. Did it actually change or was it this way all along but you just refused to see it? It makes you question your own judgement. Wallis does a fabulous job of twisting the plotlines; building upon a seemingly strong foundation, only to show at the end just how easily you can lie to others…and yourself.
“I know that we are going to be alright. I know because each of us consists of half lunacy and half absurdity-and neither of us is fit to be with anyone else.”
David and Emma are energetic protagonists. Wallis paints a vivid three dimensional picture of them; highlighting their flaws as well as their attributes in a manner that only makes them more appealing. Both come off strong, intelligent, and loyal. There is an interesting contrast shown here between Emma and David. Both are damaged but Emma seems to be better adjusted than David. She is able to express herself while David manipulates the truth and only comes clean when forced into a corner. Their relationship progresses fast; you can see an almost manic quality in the time they spend together. It’s as if they are clinging by the tips of their fingers, struggling to hold on. Their time together changes them. You begin to see them giving up some unhealthy habits and becoming more honest with each other.
“I admit that I am almost relieved to hear that his family is nearly as messed up as mine. I feel as if he’s less likely to judge me because of it, and that makes me happy”
Wallis doesn’t shy away from the sexual aspect as she allows Emma and David to enjoy a full and often consummated affair. Their chemistry is a palpable force felt throughout the book that only gains strength the longer they are together. I liked seeing that Emma isn’t slut shamed or forced to view her sexuality as a bad thing because of her past. This is usually a side effect in NAs when either protagonists has an abusive childhood. She initiates her and David’s first sexual encounter and it is enjoyed by both with no negative consequences.
“The phoenix is stretched out over my lap, rising and falling as he breathes.”
Though you think you know the ending…you don’t. Everything has changed and Wallis gives us just enough so we aren’t sure of anything anymore and leaves us in limbo; waiting for the next book. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this story, I do wish we could have gotten more of David’s POV in the present. As it was, I could only take most of what he said and did at face value since it was told to us by Emma. I am hoping that book two, title and release date to be announced, will be told in David’s voice and I can gain a better understanding of where his head was during all of this.
Push was a surprisingly fresh and unique treat to read. I recommend to all new adult aficionados who is looking for something new in this oft repetitive genre. I for one will be keeping a close eye on Claire Wallis in the future.
I really enjoyed this one. The heroine is no club bunny and takes no crap from the hero. I liked watching them fall in love and seeing the minute chan...moreI really enjoyed this one. The heroine is no club bunny and takes no crap from the hero. I liked watching them fall in love and seeing the minute changes that occur in each of them as they get to know one another better. The storyline is fast paced with advancements in the ongoing arc and a previous storyline from book two. The epilogue confused me a little because the arc is not resolved but your given the impression that this is the end.
Those with triggers may what to read the spoiler below.
Favorite Quote: “As your friend, I can’t be concerned about your STD status?”
Camille “Cami” Camlin had to grow up fast due to her severely dysfunctional family. A junior at Eastern State University, she and her roommate tend bar at a popular college hangout. When her boyfriend cancels yet another one of their weekend getaways, she and her roommate decide to have a girls night out and Cami runs into the illustrious Trenton Maddox.
Trenton (Trent) Maddox was the king of Eastern State University until tragedy and guilt forced him to drop out of college and move back in with his dad. Now working as a tattoo artist and helping his dad with the bills, Trent feels like his life is finally returning to normal…then he sees Cami.
Though Cami has a boyfriend, she decides she can maintain a platonic only friendship with Trent and tries hard to stick to her edict. As she and Trent spend more time together, she begins to feel things for him that far surpasses what she feels for her always absent boyfriend. However, Cami has a secret. A secret that could tear the already damaged Maddox family apart.
Beautiful Oblivion is the first book in Jamie McGuire’s Maddox Brothers series; a spin off from her best seller- Beautiful Disaster. These books run parallel with Beautiful Disaster, giving us some interesting insights into Travis’s and Abby’s relationship from an external point of view. Both books focusing on with those super sexy Maddox boys was the only similarity between the two. Cami and Trent’s story was far more romantic, sexy, humorous and most important of all…more mature. Fans loved seeing Travis’s brothers-especially Trent and McGuire more than delivers with a well written story that touches on some serious subject matters with heart, heat, drama, intrigue, romance, and humor.
A fluid and engaging storyline ebbs and flows seamlessly as we are submerged into the lives of the protagonists-Cami and Trent. McGuire’s choice to build a friends to lovers scenario with the added spice of a love triangle works well in here despite my inherent dislike of that trope. McGuire has a gift in her ability to make her characters realistic and three dimensional. This gift enables McGuire to structure the storyline and main characters in a way we understand completely why Cami and Trent gravitate towards one another without the normal flavoring of emotionally draining, overly dramatic offerings that seems to permeate this particular storyline. They aren’t perfect and while we do see some drama and angst, it’s not a continuous onslaught or used as merely a plot device. She digs beneath stereotypical behavior and gives us the real story behind it. Witty dialogue, dynamic scenes, and a well plotted swoon worthy romance serve to make this story a delight to read.
Heavily character driven, we are instantly smitten with our hero and heroine from their first meeting. I loved Cami and Trent. Cami, with her four older obnoxious brothers, is extremely independent. As soon as she could, she left her abusive home and struck out on her own. She is strong, intelligent, loyal, and filled with snarky goodness.
“You’re missing your shirt.” [...] “Are you saying you don’t approve of my attire?” Trenton began to speak, but I put my finger against his lips. “Aw, that’s cute. You thought I was really asking.”
Though Trent is initially portrayed as the ultimate “player” bad boy like his brother Travis, he isn’t button holedinto the stereotypical role of the heartbreaker. He has a sweet compelling honesty that contradicts your first impressions of him.Though arrogant, self assured, and phenomenally determined to get what or in this case who he wants… we do see moments of vulnerability in him that appeals to the protectiveness in us all.
“I’m it for you. I know because you’re it for me.”
McGuire slowly builds the romance between Cami and Trent, letting them become friends first. Heavy sexual tension co exists with some truly memorable funny moments. She uses their personalities and personal lives to show us that they are more similar than they first imagined. Though the romance and it’s conflict remains a heavy part of the storyline, McCarthy intertwines it with the various subplots, to further elevate the romance and guide it along. There are no heavy dramatics or theatrics. No game playing. They both communicate their feelings; letting us and each other know how they felt and what they wanted. Character development is at a premium as we watch Cami and Trent both begin to realise that they can’t change the past but they can choose their futures.
Cami and Trent’s friends add depth, humor, and realism to the story. Cami has a strong support system through her friends. They give it to her straight but always have her back.
"You mind-fucked him so hard.” I sighed. “I didn’t mean to.” “It’s good for him. No man should get every woman he wants. Keeps their douchebaggery to a tolerable level.”>
Trent’s friend Olive practically steals the show. Cami’s family and the role she is forced into playing with them goes far in explaining her reluctance to be with Trent.I do hope we see more of them in the future and get some solutions to the events that occur in here.
Beautiful Oblivion is a bittersweet romance filled with laughter, joy, heartache, and hope. McGuire manages perfectly to avoid the dreaded series repetition and creates two fabulous characters whose personalities, emotions, and journey to happiness are 100% their own. I’m looking forward to meeting the next Maddox brother- title and release date to be announced. I hope it’s Thomas.
Banishing the Dark, fourth and final book in Jenn Bennett’s Arcadia Bell series, is the showdown we have all been waiting for. Arcadia (Cady) Bell, renegade mage and bar owner, is the Moonchild and has been in hiding ever since her parents tried to sacrifice her. At the end of book three, Binding the Shadows, readers were left with Cady almost fatally beaten and in a coma. Banishing the Dark picks up a few weeks later with Cady waking up from her coma and having a limited memory of what happened to her.
Cady has absolutely no downtime in here. Cady’s mother has found a way to cross the barriers of her magical prison and is now attempting to take over Cady’s body and soul. Cady learns she has to find the original ritual her mother and father used to conceive her and reverse it if she has any hope of defeating her mother. As Cady and Lon follow a twisted path filled with lies, deception, and betrayal, it will take everything Cady has if she is to survive the night.
Bennett’s Arcadia Bell series has been a whirlwind adventure that offers readers high octane action and magical suspense with some sweet romance and dry cutting humor from the very beginning. A perfect balance of power and vulnerability. We are not overburdened with emotional angst or ridiculous unbelievable feats. Multiple plotlines and ripe tension is tempered with everyday life events. It has been a thrilling ride as we have watched Cady grow from a solitary lonely figure to having friends, family, and a lover. Her personality has grown with each book. The world building has stayed fresh and exciting with constant evolution as we travel through an alternative magical version California.
Though romance isn’t usually a high priority in urban fantasy, Bennett uses a deft hand to build a believable romance for Cady with her lover Lon. Lon, a demon and member of the Hellfire Club has always had her back 100 percent though he does struggle with some residual guilt in here as her injuries were a direct result of a Hellfire Club member. A club he introduced her too. Their romance remains strong and for reasons I can’t divulge, let’s just say that while Cady is ready and willing, Lon is not and it makes for some very funny scenes. One particular scene has Cady texting Lon when he is about 2 feet away from her and she’s trying to tempt him into bed with her.
Sent 11:30 a.m.: What you doing over there?
MSG from Lon, 11:30 a.m.: Researching.
Me: You could do that over here.
Lon: You need to sleep.
Me: Don’t worry. I’m too tired to jump you.
Lon: A shame. But I don’t trust myself.
Me: Come to think of it, I don’t trust myself, either. Let’s not trust ourselves together. P.S. You smell really good. I mean that in a creepy way. Come over here and let me sniff your skin like some crazy stalker.
Lon: Are you feeling okay?
Me: Be feeling better if you’d just come over here.
Lon: Don’t make me call management to restrain you.
Me: I’d much rather you do it yourself.
Lon: Go. To. Sleep.
Various characters (new and old) come into play as their recollections are needed to help put the puzzle together. Jupe has to be my favorite character in the series. Though always a strong player, I did like that he was given a more active role in helping Cady overcome her greatest foe-her own mother. Having his POV provides some definite entertainment.
The beginning started out slow and tends to stay at that pace as Lon and Cady work to discover who told Dare about Cady’s true identity. About 90% of the book is Lon and Cady following a trail of clues to find the Moonchild ritual. Cady learns more about what happened during her childhood years and discovers her repertoire of demon knacks has increased. Jupe’s storyline intertwines and bringsmuch humor to the book. Bennett expands her occult mythology to help further explain Cady’s supposed destiny and bring it all home. There is a lot going on in here but Bennett’s clear and concise writing makes it easy for readers to follow along.
I did have issues with the conflict resolution. It resolves rather quickly with little fanfare. I expected more violence and combat since this is what the series has been leading us to since the beginning. On the whole, it was a little disappointing. As this is the end of the series, we are in luck that Bennett includes an epilogue that lets us know how Lon, Cady, and Jupe are faring in the future.
While I am sad this is the last we shall see of Arcadia Bell’s world, I do believe fans of the series will be pleased with the care and consideration Bennett used in her goodbye.
**Giveaway on the blog** Comment to enter to win one copy of Banishing the Dark. US residents only. You must comment on Smexybooks.com to be eligible. (less)
I enjoyed Leo the hero but I found the other characters annoying at times and under developed. The conflict built at a good pace but the reveal fell f...moreI enjoyed Leo the hero but I found the other characters annoying at times and under developed. The conflict built at a good pace but the reveal fell flat.(less)
Favorite Quote: “You’re a real bastard. Did you know that?”
Airiana Ridell spent her childhood going to school at a secret government facility where she learned to control and expand her extraordinary gifts. When her mother is brutally murdered, Airiana leaves the program and strikes out on her own. Fate leads her to Sea Haven and soon she is happily endorsed on the farm with her sisters of the heart. But there are dangerous men hunting for Airiana. Men who will stop at nothing to control her-killing anyone who dares to stand in her way. When Airiana is captured and held aboard a ship sailing towards her doom, her only hope is the man who kidnapped her in the first place.
Maxim Prakenskii, spy turned mercenary for hire, kidnapped Airiana thinking he was saving her life. Little did he know his actions would only serve to place her in further danger. Now Maxim must figure out how to save Airiana while pushing forward his own secret agenda. As the sparks between Airiana and Maxim begin to burn out of control, they learn all roads lead back to Sea Haven.
Feehan’s Sisters of the Heart series is a spin-off her Drake Sisters series. We are introduced to five “sisters” who have settled in Sea Haven; each burdened with a gift that has them in need of healing. Air Bound is the third in the series. Each book in the series plays off and expands on events that happened in the last Drake book, Hidden Currents. You do not need to read the Drake series in order to understand this series (each storyline is self-contained with a resolvable conflict) but the characters and long reaching arc do overlap.
I enjoyed Air Bound. An action based storyline filled with intrigue, magic, romance and some surprising humorous moments with an even steady flow and engaging characters. Feehan does well in introducing the protagonists and integrating their backstories into the main plot in order to give us a well-rounded informative base on which to begin our adventure. Multiple storylines run simultaneously, weaving in and out but never overwhelming the reader.
I have a love/hate relationship with Feehan’s books. Either her couples are perfect matches in strength and intelligence or the heroes are so alpha they completely overshadow the heroine and I find myself wanting to stab them repeatedly. Luckily, Air Bound is the former. While there is no denying Maxim is the quintessential over protective alpha, Airiana is more than able to hold her own with her limitless intelligence, fantastic gifts, and quiet stubbornness. Maxim respects Airiana and listens to her; treating her as an equal.
Airiana and Maxim similarities makes their pairing seem more natural and effortless. Both are air elementals though Maxim’s abilities are far more advanced than Airiana’s. They are the flip sides of a coin. Maxim was trained to kill while Airiana was trained to benefit. The chemistry between them is instantly noticeable, becoming more substantial as they get to know each other better. Airiana’s quiet nature grounds Maxim’s more volatile one and allows her to show him that he is indeed worthy of her love. Of any love. Theirs is an instant attraction but the romance is slow to develop. The love scenes are detailed and add plenty of spice to the story. Feehan doesn’t rush into their lovemaking for solid reasons, which makes it all the more tantalizing and sexy when it does happen.
I did feel that too much time was spent on Airiana and Maxim talking over their feelings for one another. Over and over they rehash the same points; Maxim feels he isn’t any good for her and Airiana tries to convince him he is. The story dragged here as they kept spinning their wheels in the same spot. Once they are able to move forward and not look back on their issues, the story’s pace picked up considerably.
There are two main storylines that intertwine in here, one of which harkens back to the events in Hidden Currents. Things are still up in the air with Ellie Drake and I for one can’t WAIT to see what happens when she and Jackson return to Sea Haven. And Feehan lets it slip they are on their way. Feehan also allows for more interface with Airiana’s “sisters”. We see their peaceful pacifist masks drop, showing they are definitely far more dangerous than it has been let on. I enjoyed seeing the inclusion of some faces from the past appear and add to the storyline, answering some questions that had been bothering me since the beginning of this series.
The conflict is resolved in an explosive action packed finale that will leave you ready for book four of the series. Fans of this series will not be disappointed by Air Bound. Feehan definitely ups her game with this installment.
I have a love hate relationship with Chance's heroes. Some are adorable and other are douches. Damian falls pretty close to being an alpha hole. I did...moreI have a love hate relationship with Chance's heroes. Some are adorable and other are douches. Damian falls pretty close to being an alpha hole. I didn't mind his judgy or asinine moments in the beginning but he never seems to snap out of them. The whole goth=witch bothered me. The heroine wears black. So what? Doesn't make her a witch or a lesser being. I did like Angie. She's funny, confident, and doesn't put up with his crap.
The sex was good and Chance certainly knows how to up the steam factor, I just wish I could have liked Damian more. (less)
Fans of Rachel Gibson are sure to enjoy Sharla Lovelace’s newest release-Don’t Let Go. An appealing mixture of humor and heartbreak, Ms. Lovelace writes a poignant contemporary of lost love and second chances playing out under the eyes of a small southern town. A classic trope of young love that was brought under by the manipulations of family. Unplanned pregnancy, misunderstandings, lies, and smoldering chemistry will leave you smiling and sniffling as you watch two former lovers try to find away to forgive each other and themselves for decisions made in the past. Engaging dialogue keeps the story flowing along at a steady pace. Multiple plot lines keep you entertained; intertwining together to offer up a well earned conclusion as lessons are learned and forgiveness is given.
Heavily character driven, the entire story revolves around Jules Doucette. At seventeen she was in love with her best friend and got pregnant. Her parents hammered at her day and night to give up the child and Jules eventually gives in. Once the baby is born, Jules has a change of heart but as her and her boyfriend, Noah, are under age, the deed is done and the baby was given up for adoption. When Noah abruptly leaves, feeling betrayed by Jule’s decision, we learn this essentially breaks her. Jules ends up living her entire life by her mother’s rules and buries all her pain. When Noah returns home, twenty six years later, with his pregnant fiancee in tow, cracks begin to form in Jules. All her pain, sorrow, and anger comes rushing to the surface, especially when new information comes to light and Jules realizes just how much her parent’s controlling ways cost her.
I was instantly drawn to the fact this particular trope involved two older than average protagonists. Both are in their 40s. The emotional dialogue speaks to their age and it adds an attractive cadence to the story. Though touted as a romance, there is much more involved than simply rediscovering a lost love. It’s a journey of self discovery and revelations as Jules learns to forgive herself for the difficult choices she made when younger. Emotionally structured with a strong vein of realism and dry humor, it’s easy to submerge yourself into Jules story and feel for everything she had to deal with back then and now. Her parents not only took away her choice, they took away her life and replaced it with one of their making. When Noah appears back in town, Jules is at a loss. Her walls start crumbling and no amount of shoring will bring them back to their previous strength. She never thought to see him again and while her heart sings with joy, she can’t help but remember how he left…and why.
Fabulous character development reveals Jules slowly, presenting the reader with the version she shows the world, only to peel back her layers until the real Jules emerges. Emotionally walled off, she allows everyone around her to only see so much. Jules is a solid presence the resonates throughout the book. Her backstory is heart wrenching though not manipulative. I liked that Lovelace doesn’t make Jules 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.
Ms. Lovelace doesn’t give us an easy fix to Jules and Noah’s relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage to their lives and hearts. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off both of them. Ms. Lovelace addresses what happened in their past though she does so in a way that moves them forward. It’s painful as you watch these two struggle to cope with being in each others space again; especially when certain events come to light. I appreciated also that Noah’s fiancee isn’t made into a villain in order to push Noah and Jules back together.
Well developed quirky secondary characters round out the storyline, verifying past events and helping to bring our protagonists into the present. I loved meeting everyone who all had a hand in helping to shape the woman Jules is now.
The main conflict resolves in a predictable fashion as Noah and Jules learn to deal with what happened so long ago and are able to work beyond it. Various smaller storylines also wrap up, giving Jules the closure she needed. My only complaint would be not seeing any scenes from Noah’s point of view. I felt like that cheated me out of really getting to know him as well as I did Jules.
Don’t Let Go is a deceptively complex contemporary that addresses life, love, loss and the power of forgiveness. While this was my first time reading Ms. Lovelace, it won’t be my last. This appears to be the first in a series centering around the town. I look forward to reading the next book, Stay With Me, which is set to release summer 2014.
Favorite Quote: “Tattoos aren’t ladylike.” “But being a total bitch was?”
What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas as Gavin Maguire and Fiona Byrne learn the hard way. Eight years ago, Fiona and Gavin went to Vegas together and in a drunken haze, got married. After bribing the drunk Elvis who married them to not file their marriage certificate, Gavin ups and disappears, leaving Fiona with a broken heart.
Fiona, about to leave on her trip of a lifetime, takes a small detour to Ballybeg in order to participate in her cousin’s wedding. Fiona already expects the worse as she and her cousin have always had a extremely antagonistic relationship. When curiosity and Google reveals that Fiona is indeed officially married to Gavin she hightails it to the church and gives Gavin the news. Tempers erupt and a series of events forces Fiona to postpone her lifelong dream.
Gavin likes his life bland and drama free but after Fiona drops her marriage bomb, Gavin now has no fiance, no home, no job, and a labradoodle he didn’t want. As Gavin and Fiona try to navigate the intricacies of divorce in Ireland, their time spent together brings back some long buried feelings. Can Gavin and Fiona make this marriage work or will Fiona be the one to leave Gavin this time?
Zara Keane’s debut Love and Shenanigans is a lightweight humorous second chance romantic contemporary. Heavily character driven, the story revolves mainly around our heroine Fiona Byrne. A fast steady read with witty dialogue, a hint of mystery, and some mild sexual playtime. The romance and a small mystery intertwine and feed off each other as our hero and heroine try to figure out their hearts. I do wish the romance had claimed a larger place in the story. The journey of discovery and forgiveness for the heroine controlled a large portion of the storyline. The villain(s) are identifiable from the very beginning. I did feel some of the plot lines weren’t developed to their full potential and the conflicts were too easily resolved for the build up they received.
Fiona is a classic misfit whose wealthy relatives view as the black sheep of the family and made her life miserable growing up. Fiona left Ballybeg and made a life for herself; growing in self confidence and looks. When she is called back to Ballybeg by her aunt who raised her after her parents died, begging her to come back for her cousin’s wedding and make nice, Fiona swallows her animosity and goes home. I enjoyed how Fiona is portrayed. She doesn’t follow the common trope of holding her tongue when insulted in order to keep the peace and generate a deeper connection with the reader. She gives as good as she gets and allows no one to talk down to her.
Gavin was harder to connect with as the book is told mainly from Fiona’s point of view. Gavin’s not a bad person, he just oblivious at times. He goes with the flow, enjoying life as drama and stress free as possible. With his issues of abandonment, he does what he feels he has to ensure stability in his life. When he deserted Fiona in Vegas after their faux wedding, he wasn’t trying to be cruel. Rather he was trying to escape the intensity of his feelings for Fiona. Fiona was wild and unpredictable; everything Gavin feared. I felt Gavin just sort of drifted along in the story, popping in when scenes called for him. But, when he did appear, he left an impression.
Fiona and Gavin fuss, bicker, and kiss their way into romance. Keane does a admirable job of allowing them time to adjust to what was happening around them and address some misconceptions they both hold about one another. Sadly, the actual sexual scenes are extremely mild and fade to black. We get the tease but not the show.
Interesting and some outrageous secondary characters are presented in a stereotypical small town manner. Gossip is rampant and everyone knows everyone’s business. The evil aunt and uncle made me laugh with their insane and illegal demands. I would have liked some resolution to the problems between Fiona and her cousin, Muireann. Or at least an explanation to why Muireann treated Fiona the way she did. I felt there was no real advancement in this area and it made Muireann seem more like a plot device. Muireann will be receiving her own book in the future so hopefully this will be addressed further. Fiona’s best friend (who is the heroine of book two) brings humor to the storyline as she watches Fiona’s back and helps her discover some interesting facts about her family. Wiggly Poo and Aunt Bridie are fantastic as they each help our lovers learn to let go of the past and look towards the future.
The ending wraps up everything nice and neat, leaving us with a sweet happily ever after for our protagonists. Regardless of my issues, I enjoyed my trip to Ballybeg and meeting the various residents who live there. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
A short novella, Love and Blarney, is scheduled to release September 2014 with a full length novel, Love and Leprechauns, scheduled to release November 2014. According to the author, each book can be read as a stand alone.
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 lov...more3.5
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. (less)