The Angels' Share picks up about three days after the events in The Bourbon Kings and pretty much chronicles the fall out from said events. I'm tryingThe Angels' Share picks up about three days after the events in The Bourbon Kings and pretty much chronicles the fall out from said events. I'm trying not to spoil anything for anyone that hasn't read the first book, but so much in this book hinges on what went down with the first one that it might be difficult. Suffice it to say, you definitely don't want to pick up book 2 without having read book 1.
Lane is thrust into the position of trying to pick up the family from scandal and bankruptcy. As he digs farther into the family accounts things begin to look bleaker and bleaker for not only the company but the Baldwine-Bradfords as well.
As in the first book, I just couldn't look away from the unfolding story of this family. The Southern edicts, and essentially how carefully everything must be spun in order to find a way out of the mess. Lane certainly has a lot on his plate. But what I loved the most was the pillar of strength that Lane and Lizzie's relationship represents. It was one of the few constants within the story. There are others of course such as Miss Aurora and Lane's friend Jeff, but having that relationship be undeniable and good was essential when much of the cast of characters are devious and more often than not have a "love to hate (or hate to love)" quality about them.
But with that being said, I love the way JR Ward has written this privileged old-money Southern family. Because for every wrong decision and bad move, the moments of kindness, or the times when they do the right thing shine through even greater, and makes me have hope that maybe by the end of the series they can all turn their lives around and find out what truly matters, and hint: it's not money that matters. We start to see them coming to that realization, like Lane when he finally commits to Lizzie, and Ward wrote those moments perfectly.
A highlight of the story, and it's stated in the blurb so this is no spoiler, is the return of elusive brother Maxwell Bradford. Ward keeps his character and his character's motivations still cloaked in mystery which, in turn, keeps me on the edge of my seat for the next book, but many things are implied and / or hinted at that are very interesting indeed.
As with the first book, Ward weaves through the varying twists and turns with ease giving each character enough page time to grow in some way (whether good or bad remains to be seen in some cases). There's not much that jumps out and completely surprises me, and by the end it's pretty certain where things are headed, but you can definitely be sure, with this family, nothing is as it seems on the surface. I expect events from The Angels' Share will lead us nicely into book 3.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I enjoy the concept of this series. Wedding Planners finding love. The contrast of these women working in a business that pretty much caters to love,I enjoy the concept of this series. Wedding Planners finding love. The contrast of these women working in a business that pretty much caters to love, and seeing their own struggles to find love is interesting. I can't wait to read about all the secondary characters that Lauren Layne has set up.
But in To Have and to Hold, newcomer Brooke Baldwin is the center of attention. Just moved to New York from California after a disastrous (to say the least) break-up at the altar, Brooke is looking forward to starting over in a new place. She gets a job with the Wedding Belles and lands her first client right off the bat. Only problem is the bride's brother holds the purse strings for the upcoming nuptials.
Seth Tyler, wealthy hotelier, is shocked when his sister comes to him telling him she's getting married. He's never met the guy and getting engaged after only three months together sets alarms bells going off. Seth is determined to keep a close eye on his brother-in-law to be because the last thing he wants is his sister to be hurt by someone looking to cash in on her wealth. He's not taking into account the wedding planner he'll have to deal with on a regular basis. Neither of them are in a place where they want to start something serious, but cannot deny their attraction to one another.
I immediately loved the antagonism between Seth and Brooke. He trying to control everything with the wedding and she just trying to do her job. They classically clash at first, but there's still that heat between them which always makes for a good romance. I'll admit there were times when I though Seth was a bit too much of an ass, but Lauren Layne did a good thing when she decided to switch POVs between Seth and Brooke because it made it easier to see where he was coming from, and get his perspectives about his actions.
What I would have loved to have seen more of in the story was the interaction between the ladies of Wedding Belles. Just to show some true connection between them. There are a few instances, but I felt like I wanted more out of those instances. Hopefully, as the series continues and each character gets her own story, the culmination of all the interactions between the ladies will build up these friendships and connections between the ladies better. Typically in romance, besides the main couple's story, I love to read about the friendships.
Overall, I really liked the story and this series in the same way I've found myself liking all of Lauren Layne's books. I can't wait to read the next Belle to get her HEA.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I think Rock Wedding(s) would have been a more appropriate title for this book, and no, I don't think that's too spoilery seeing as how a few of the cI think Rock Wedding(s) would have been a more appropriate title for this book, and no, I don't think that's too spoilery seeing as how a few of the couples from previous books are engaged. But no, I won't say whose nuptials we are witness to, you'll just have to read to find out :)
Honestly though, Rock Wedding felt like everything was coming full circle with this series. At the end in the Author's note Nalini Singh mentions that this is the last book in the series (although don't worry there will be some rugby playing brothers who get the spotlight in an upcoming spin-off), and Rock Wedding definitely has that finality feeling to it.
Regardless, Rock Wedding's main focus is on pianist Abe Bellamy. Even though we get a lot of full picture kind of stuff dealing with the entire series, it never overshadows Abe and Sarah's story. And that story is all kinds of second-chance romance goodness.
I was intrigued when Sarah popped up in Rock Redemption. I don't believe up to that point that we had heard mention of this woman that Abe used to be married to (if that is wrong please let me know) so of course I wanted to know the story. I was happy that we got to learn about Sarah's character in this book, but my goodness Nalini Singh did you really have to turn on the waterworks through like the first 2 parts of the story? By the time I calmed down, I was completely invested and one way or another (with Abe or without) I wanted Sarah to have the happily ever after she deserves.
I like the way the book was plotted out. It starts about two years into Sarah and Abe's marriage. Of course we know things are not going well as Abe is deep into his addictions, but still Sarah loves him with her entire heart and then some.
I like that half the story wasn't told in flashbacks, but rather basically started from a point where they're already good and into their relationship and moved forward from there. Any further glimpse we got into their relationship was a quick remembrance usually triggered by something going on in the present. I think that was important because a big message of this book is about claiming your past mistakes, but moving forward and moving on, not looking back and not getting stuck in the past. Weddings for many people are about two people starting a life together, thereby starting a new life, letting go of the past, moving to the future. I think it's safe to say that Abe and Sarah have a lot to work through in order to determine whether or not they can have a future together.
The pacing it pretty sedate. There's not a lot of action, there's not a lot of intrigue and drama. It's like they already had enough drama in their relationship, and now it's about seeing if they can make it work. Some people might be put off by this, but I kind of liked the more mundane simplicity of two people going about their day-to-day. Of course there are things that happen, but I'm not going to tell you, I don't want to spoil anything. But overall, I felt like this one was toned down which maybe goes with the flow of winding down the series.
Overall, I started out the Rock Kiss series a little on the iffy side. I love Nalini Singh, but I wasn't blown away by the first book, but looking back it grew on me. I liked the way Nalini Singh grew the characters and the band and that she went a bit grittier with some of the issues the guys have had to deal with. I am excited to revisit Gabriel's family (from Rock Hard) in the spin-off as I felt while reading Charlie's book that they definitely needed stories of their own.
I think if you've read and liked the other books in this series, you'll feel the same about Rock Wedding. Although admittedly being the last in the series, I wouldn't recommend picking up this book first if you haven't read the others, simply because I think the nuances of where all the characters were at the beginning of the series to where they are now is more pronounced if started from book 1.
*ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
It's been awhile since I've read anything by Alice Clayton, but I remember Wallbanger quite fondly, and with the overtly funny and sexy cover I just cIt's been awhile since I've read anything by Alice Clayton, but I remember Wallbanger quite fondly, and with the overtly funny and sexy cover I just couldn't resist giving this one a shot.
I haven't read the first book in this series (Nuts) but trust me when I say that if you missed the first one, like me, you won't feel lost reading this story.
Cream of the Crop is Natalie Grayson's story, as she is our spunky narrator. I immediately took to Natalie's brazen confidence with herself. We learn that this was hard won, but once achieved, she ran with it. It's great reading about characters like Natalie.
Of course, I can't forget, the very delectable Oscar Mendoza owner of Bailey Falls Creamery nad purveyor of Natalie's favorite cheese. Natalie has been eyeing Oscar up at the weekly farmers' market, but the chemistry is off the charts for these two at a chance encounter during a visit by Natalie to Bailey Falls.
Reading this, I realized how common I think it's become for authors to feature both the hero / heroine's points of view in stories - or at least it's common in the stories I've been reading lately. I was a tad bit disappointed that we didn't get any scenes told from Oscar's viewpoint (except, I'll amend, the Epilogue, which I loved). He was, as Natalie liked to point out, a man of few words, so when he does talk you want to listen (or read his dialogue as the case may be). I supposed having his own thoughts on paper would probably break a little of the mystery, or something.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Natalie. She's spunky and says, usually, the first thing that pops into her brain which made for quite a few wide-eyed re-read passages because I would be caught just as off guard by some of the things that came out of her mouth as other characters were. It was refreshing though to have this kind of character and Alice Clayton wrote her very well.
I loved reading a book that was big on the funny, while still having heart. The setting was wonderful and vivid. I could see the leaves changing on the trees, and feel the crisp air cooling down in fall. I wish this book would have come out a little closer to the changing of the seasons because it really put me in the mood of that time of year, and here we are in the summer with plenty of hot days left before us (at least in the Midwest).
I can clearly see where we're going to go with the next book and I'm excited to read it. I'm also looking forward to going back and filling in the spaces with the first book. ...more
Nine Women, One Dress is like every sweet rom-com movie you've ever seen. The same ones that you will always stop and watch if they happen to be on TVNine Women, One Dress is like every sweet rom-com movie you've ever seen. The same ones that you will always stop and watch if they happen to be on TV and you're channel surfing.
The big cast of characters are all highlighted by how a little black dress, the "it" dress of the season, weaves its way in and out of their lives. It was the subtle way that these stories wove themselves together that really kept my attention. Sometimes the characters would actually be connected to one another (as co-workers or friends), sometimes it would be just a glance or a comment and you would understand everyone's place in the different scenes / settings which I think kind of lends itself well to the "magical" aspect of this perfect dress.
For the most part, I thought that Jane L. Rosen handled so many characters very well. There are, of course, those stories and characters which take precedence over others therefore getting more page time, and causing more emotional investment on my part.
But sometimes there would just be a passage or two featuring characters whose lives are only briefly touched by the dress, but you see the eye-opening impact it has on them. One in particular features sisters who try on the dress and their whole perspective of themselves is transformed with just one look. They see a difference, and sometimes that difference can lead to great things, and sometimes knowing it's there but can never lead to anything can be heartbreaking.
The title is somewhat deceptive in that it's not just a book that features women, but also the men who are or who become important in the women's lives. From the inception of the dress by its Pattern-maker, a man nearing retirement who, after seventy-five years in the business, still loves making women feel beautiful, and is so happy to be going out on top with the "it" dress of the season.
Probably the only thing I could find complaint about was with such a big cast of characters, so stories that should have been developed more didn't quite hit the mark and left me not feeling really one way or another about the final outcome. The majority of events play out very well, there's just a few that I have issue with.
Overall, I really liked this sweet, and at times contemplative, read. Highly recommend if you're looking for something you can count on to lighten the mood a little bit, and make you believe in the power of a dress.
I typically don't read series books out of order, but I found Devil and the Deep to be really easy to follow along without getting confused even whenI typically don't read series books out of order, but I found Devil and the Deep to be really easy to follow along without getting confused even when events from the previous books are mentioned.
I liked the suspense aspect to the story. This is helped along by the fact that each chapter starts out telling readers the time thereby setting the pace for all the action. And let me tell you things go along at a fast clip. This is the type of book I could have easily read in one sitting, if I had the opportunity to do so. Many times, I would be so caught up in the action and what was going on that I would be surprised by how much I had read.
Bran and Maddy are the types of romantic leads I love. It seems the early stages of their relationship began in the first book Hell or High Water, but takes center stage here. Despite my not having read the first book, there was nothing lost in Bran and Maddy's relationship for me. Their feelings for one another just jumped off the page. I liked that they began, more or less, as friends, so there was this solid ground in their relationship. Of course, things are not smooth sailing right out of the gate, but I was impressed with the way Julie Ann Walker was able to take the time to slow things down, in amongst all the chaos going on, and really dig into things going on in their personal lives. This mainly concerns Bran.
Something I always look forward to in romances is the secondary characters and Devil and the Deep does not disappoint. Mason and Alex are, I'm assuming, our next couple in the series and based on their interactions here, I'm greatly looking forward to it.
The bookend story of the Santa Christina, the sunken ship that has brought Deep Six Salvage out to the island, is very interesting. I like that it seems to be an ongoing storyline that ties all the books together even when the individual storylines of each hero / heroine can be read as standalones.
I really enjoyed the book depite not having read the first book. While I look forward to going back and catching up in the series, I also can't wait to see what happens in the third book. ...more
Charley Davidson has been back a week. A week since she regained her memory. A week since her father passed through her in order to help her remember.Charley Davidson has been back a week. A week since she regained her memory. A week since her father passed through her in order to help her remember. And a week since she found out her husband is a god. The problem being, she doesn't know if Reyes will suffer the same fate as herself when she learned her divine name (you know being so overloaded that she got amnesia and relocated to New York). Plus, it seems a pretty certain thing that his god-self was evil, and she doesn't know if that evil would translate over to Reyes if he learns the truth about himself.
So, to say Tenth Grave starts with Charley holding a lot of secrets is putting it mildly. I think I would be surprised if there was one book in the series where Charley and Reyes didn't have some kind of secret from one another. For quite a few books now the secret keeping has bothered me. It still bothered me here in Tenth Grave, but I will say that I like the way Charley handles it in this one, which I feel speaks a lot to how much Charley has grown in this series.
Besides the fact that I love that we're back on Charley's home turf again (after a 2 book absence), Charley herself just felt more mature. I liked seeing how she's (mostly) grown into her powers, and into understanding how they work -even if she's still not 100 percent sure of everything she can do.
As stated, Tenth Grave brings Charley back to her normally scheduled programming by way of her PI business. Besides the impending issues cropping up with keeping Beep safe, and Reyes being a god, Charley is hired to solve a murder case so the wrong person isn't incarcerated, and she runs into a homeless girl who needs her help. Darynda Jones handles all the craziness that pops up for Charley really well. I'm thinking it's equal parts me understanding the flow of the series, and the writing talents of Darynda Jones being able to keep everything cohesive.
Ninth Grave for me was a middle of the road type of read. I didn't think it was terrible, it just didn't work for me. Tenth Grave definitely works. The relationship between Charley and Reyes continues to be one of my favorites, and I was happy that there are some really good moments of connection between them (and no I'm not just talking about sex, but of course that heat level is way up in this one). I was happy that Beep wasn't completely glossed over simply because she's not with them. That Charley, and Reyes, both miss their daughter and wish they could have her, comes across loud and clear.
This series is one of my favorites, and if you're like me and didn't care too much for Ninth Grave, Tenth Grave will certainly set things right. The ending clearly lets readers know some of what to expect in the next book, and I'm certainly looking forward to it. ...more
Reese Crane is ready to step up to the position of CEO of Crane Hotels once his father retires, but his notoriety as a manwhore doesn't sit well withReese Crane is ready to step up to the position of CEO of Crane Hotels once his father retires, but his notoriety as a manwhore doesn't sit well with the board of directors, and they may very well bypass Reese.
Despite having a penchant for having a "one and done" mentality when it comes to his dates, Reese is completely dedicated to Crane Hotels. His personal life has never impacted the way he does his job, and he doesn't think it should come into account when naming him CEO. Regardless, he's out to play the board of directors' game to get what he wants. So enters Merina Van Heusen.
Merina's parents own a small, yet beloved hotel that she helps run. When she finds out her parents sold the hotel to Crane Hotels, and that Crane plans on doing a complete renovation of the historical building, Merina has a few choice words for Reese Crane.
Reese's proposal is simple, if Merina agrees to marry him and help him turn around his reputation to gain CEO, in six months he'll hand over a divorce and the deed to her hotel.
Backed into a corner, Merina agrees. But both Reese and Merina are not prepared for the chemistry that arises between them, and they both find that what started as convenient might turn into love.
Typically the marriage of convenience trope is not at the top of my list of favorites. It's not that I don't like them, they're just not one of my favs. Well, that is, except when Jessica Lemmon writes them I suppose because I really loved this book.
On the surface, both Merina and Reese are people who deeply care for the hotels they run. They are both extremely dedicated to the jobs they've built and all the aspects involved. They clash with one another because neither wants to give up the control. From their first meeting the chemistry between Reese and Merina jumps right off the page. I just loved how everything built up between them. How even when they were at odds with one another, there was no denying they are both extremely attracted to one another.
Building up from the undeniable attration, they begin to learn about the parts of themselves they keep hidden from everyone else. They learn each others' vulnerabilities and past mistakes. There's a reason why Reese doesn't date women for long periods of time, and hasn't been in a serious relationship in years. In this, both Reese and Merina find some common ground. But as things tend to happen, the past only stays buried for so long. Jessica Lemmon's writing, the progression of the relationship between Reese and Merina, flowed so nicely. The road to love is not easily paved, it's hard work and there are bumps along the way to happiness. This comes across perfectly in Merina and Reese's relationship.
Jessica Lemmon has become an auto-buy author for me and The Billionaire Bachelor is a great start to a new series.
I can't wait to see how the other Crane brothers' stories play out. Next up is Tag, and third will be elusive brother Eli. Side note: I'm seriously hoping we get more page time for Merina's best friend Lorelei. I felt like there is more to tell in her story.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Stormswept is a reissue, written by Sabrina Jeffries under the pseudonym Deborah Martin. I'm unfamiliar with the original version of this story, so IStormswept is a reissue, written by Sabrina Jeffries under the pseudonym Deborah Martin. I'm unfamiliar with the original version of this story, so I don't know what, if anything, has been updated.
So approaching this book as a new reader, I found that I liked Stormswept, at heart, for its simplicity.
Lady Juliana St. Alban's first marriage lasted only one night. Enough to consummate the marriage, but when she woke up the next day her husband had mysteriously disappeared. She waits for years for his return, until the day she's found out he's been declared dead in a shipwreck. The book opens six years after his disappearance with Juliana getting ready to wed another.
Rhys Vaughn returns to Juliana six years after having been deceived into thinking his wife was the conspirator behind his captivity and impressment. Now, he's returned to claim what is still rightfully his; his wife, his lands. And he'll make sure she understands just the type of things he's had to endure for the last six years.
The tangled web of what actually happened on that wedding night six years ago is only known in full by the readers, and the perpetrator, Juliana's brother Darcy. Things have become so muddled for our characters trying to understand how one thing or another happened, it was quite frustrating from a reader's point of view, but taking a step back, putting myself in both Rhys and Juliana's shoes, it was completely understandable.
Above, I say I liked the story for its simplicity, and I say it's simple because the whole of the book boils down to trust. We (readers) know Juliana to be innocent of the crimes Rhys accuses her of, but Rhys doesn't know. Despite what other characters say throughout the story, if Rhys doesn't come to trust his wife, they'll never succeed. It's the trust, or lack thereof, that drives this story, and I really liked the way everything plays out. Such a simple idea, that's anything but simple in execution since giving anyone your unequivocal trust opens up fears and vulnerabilities, happiness and sadness, etc.
I haven't read a lot of Sabrina Jeffries other books, but so far, what I have ready I've enjoyed and Stormswept is no different. ...more