I should start this review by saying that I’m a huge fan of Rachel Gibson and I was anxiously anticipating this book. I should continue this review by saying how disappointed I was after reading it. This book didn’t work for me at all; I can honestly say that the only redeeming quality about it was the writing style.
Any Man of Mine is book six in the series about the fictional hockey team the Seattle Chinooks but stands alone quite well so you can read this one first.
The book's leads are Sam and Autumn. About six years ago they met in Vegas. 72 hours latter Autumn finds herself left alone in the hotel room after her wedding night (that’s right, they got married). It turns out that Sam, who apparently was drunk the whole time, has realized his mistake and has fled the crime scene. Days later Sam has files for divorce while Autumn finds out she is pregnant. After the birth of the boy, and after the paternity test results come back positive, Sam agrees to take care of him financially, but he is pretty much absent from the boy’s life. Flash forward five years later and Autumn and Sam meet again. This time they try to be more civilized to each other for their son’s sake. Here is where the book begins and you probably can guess what comes next.
This book had an interesting plot, a very crappy hero trying to clean up his act and be a good father. I like books where the characters have layers and are not particularly good or even likeable, but to be honest this book took it too far. Sam is so unlikeable and behaves like such a jerk, that the only thing I could think while reading the book was that he had a lot of hoops to jump in order to redeem himself. It became apparent that those hoops would never come, and why would they? The heroine was an idiot; she forgave him almost magically fast. Sam behaved like a douche the whole book and the only thing that was different by the end was that he now was somewhat present in his son’s life, and he wasn’t sleeping around. I can quote tons of examples for you to get an idea of what a piece of work this guy was, but I’ll just use this conversation they have after he arrives late to drop their son at Autumn’s:
“You said you’d have him here at noon.”
“I said ish.” “What?” “I said noon-ish.” The tick in her eye moved to the center of her forehead. “What is that? Some sort of special Sam time? While the rest of the world lives and operates in time zones, you’re special and operate in ish?” He smiled like he thought she was funny. “I wanted to spend a little more time with him, Autumn. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend a little time with my son.” He made it sound so reasonable. “You’re an hour and a half late. I thought something might have happened.” “Sorry you were worried.” That wasn’t good enough. Besides, she didn’t believe him. He threw the word around, but he didn’t mean it. Sam was never sorry about anything. “When you didn’t show up, I called.” He nodded. “I forgot my phone at home. When we got back, I saw that you’d phoned.” “What? You didn’t think to return my call? To let me know Conner was okay?” He folded his big arms over his equally big chest. “It occurred to me, but by the way you blew up the phone with all your calls, I knew you’d chew my ass. Just like you’re dying to do right now. And to tell you the truth, I’m never going to purposely call anyone who’s dying to chew my ass.” She took a deep breath and glanced up at the big window and Conner’s little face glued to the glass. Holding on to her control by a thread, she calmly said, “You’re immature and irresponsible.” “Well, sweetheart, I’ve never said I wasn’t irresponsible. But you’re too controlling.” “He’s my son.” “He’s my son, too.” “He’s your son when it’s convenient for you.” “Well, it was convenient today. Get over it.”
Do I need to say more? Because the only reason I didn’t stop reading right there was because I still had hope that Rachel would manage to redeem Sam.
I think it was good for Sam to realize that he was hurting his son, and I get that he was immature when he had him. I can even believe that he loved the boy, I just think that he was a self-centered bastard who loved himself more. He had a crappy father, he knew how was like to have an absent parent and to be disappointed and brokenhearted. Then why was he doing the same exact thing to his own son?
Now, don’t get me wrong, the hero wasn’t the only one who ruined the book for me, the heroine was responsible for that too. Here we have a woman who goes to Vegas, gets married two days after meeting a guy, falls in love, or thinks she falls in love, then gets dumped, gets slapped with a divorce order, finds out she’s pregnant, gets slapped with a paternity test, the father only shows up after the baby is born, he then proceeds to broke promise after promise he made to the kid, and what does she do? Nothing. She doesn’t get on with her life; she says she hates him passionately, but can’t move on! Once the guy is back claiming to be a better person, she just takes him back? Like that? We are talking about the same guy whose own coworkers, the guys who are his family, his friends, don’t know he has a son! Come on, they deserve each other! This is the first time I read a romance novel where I’m absolutely positive that the leads won’t stay together happily ever after. I just hope their son will grow up to be a happy and well-adjusted man, but with parents like those I seriously doubt it.
Let me tell you how this book should have ended: Sam steps up to the plate and becomes a good dad, but he doesn’t get together with Autumn again. She finds someone different, and Sam matures more in time as a consequence of his newfound responsibility, and then he finds a woman he can love and respect and be happy with. The book ends with both leads finding their HEA away from each other. Sadly that ending is only in my head.
What really happens is that Sam becomes a good dad but keeps on being unlikeable, which is fair enough I guess, and Autumn remarries him. By the end of the book I was more annoyed at her than at him.
I’m really glad this is not the first time I read something by Rachel Gibson, because otherwise it would have been my last. I really don’t know what happened because I have enjoyed all of her books and she is on my auto-buy list. I am going to forget about this book and hope the next one is better.
I won’t recommend this book to you, I will recommend Rachel though. If you are a fan of sport player heroes she is the one for you, just skip this one, because there is not even any hockey on it.
Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
I’ve been gushing about Ms. Knox’s books for the past year, and as I keep saying, I think she has one of the best and freshest voices in Contemporary Romance. But all good things must come to an end (or in this case, a small bump in the road) so today’s review won’t be a gushing one.
Along Came Trouble is the first full-length book in the new Camelot series (there’s a prequel novella, but each story stands alone well). Ellen is a single mother whose only wish is peace and tranquility. But when her famous, Justin Timberlake-ish brother has an affair with her pregnant next-door neighbor, the paparazzi invade her street and put an end to her peace and tranquility. That’s when her brother hires Caleb Clark’s security firm to provide protection to Ellen and the neighbor. Needless to say, Ellen disapproves.
Caleb really, really cares that Ellen doesn’t want him there, because 1. He needs the job to provide the financial stability his new security firm needs and 2. He’s very attracted to Ellen. As you can probably guess, these two are bound to butt heads and to fall in love.
Ellen’s marriage left her some baggage, and she deals with it by constantly reassuring herself of her independence. She doesn’t want to rely on anyone and because of that, she comes across as prickly. This is the part where I tell you how much I hate describing a heroine as prickly, mostly because anything that doesn’t resemble a nice damsel in distress becomes a negative trait. But yes, prickly and somewhat reactionary are good ways to describe her. These are qualities I understand and appreciate, but don’t expect a cuddly, sweet heroine, because you won’t get one here.
Caleb, on the other hand, is as sweet and cuddly as it gets (while being manly and hunky, because of course). It becomes obvious from the start that Ellen is the one who holds all the power in their relationship: he’s the one who falls in love first; the one convinced that they stand a chance and in charge of convincing Ellen of it; and the one in danger of having his heart broken. Not only that, but his professional future also depends on Ellen. So poor Caleb is at the mercy of a woman terrified of commitment and hell-bent on proving to herself that she is self-sufficient. He is, perhaps, one of the most emotionally vulnerable heroes I’ve read this year.
But as much as I liked Ellen and Caleb as individuals, I never quite got them as a couple. The red-hot chemistry present in all of Ms. Knox’s books was completely missing in this story, which is a shame, because chemistry would have helped made the insta-love a bit more palatable. As it was, I found it hard to believe that two mature and cautious characters would fall so hard and so fast when it’s obvious that they lack the necessary recklessness needed to make such a leap. The pace and setting weren’t ideal for a romance between these two.
There are also many secondary characters that distract from the main storyline instead of adding to it. I wasn’t particularly curious or invested in the secondary romance, and I found the sequel-bait character so compelling that at times I wished I was reading her book instead. All the characters were interesting and developed, but they were too intrusive. And one of them does a big gesture that was just plain ridiculous and embarrassing.
Along Came Trouble was a bit of a mixed bag. It’s better than many small-town Contemporary series, but let’s face it, in this particular case, being above average doesn’t take much of an effort. Hopefully the bumpy ride ends here and the next book in the series will be up to par with what Ms. Knox has us used to.(less)
This is one of those books that at first glance looked very appealing and I just had to read it. It had a damaged heroine, a hot rock star hero, and one of the settings was a bar. So the promise of someone maybe wearing leather pants and hot sex was enough for me to take the plunge (that and the fact that it came with a great recommendation, of course). I can tell you now that sadly no one wears leather pants but the sex was quite hot and the story delivered everything it promised and more.
Isabeau Montgomery’s life has been very difficult. A musical genius capable of playing the piano ever since she was a little girl, she started touring the world with her mother. But when a fatal accident killed her mother and left her severely injured, her world really turned upside-down. She went to live with her abusive father and stop playing music altogether. Now she owns a bar and every day battles the need to play again.
Noah Clark is in town to resurrect his band’s former glory, when he enters Isabeau’s bar the last thing he expected was to feel such an intense attraction to her. He decides to pursue her because he can’t stop thinking about her, but she has a lot of issues to overcome in order to allow herself to be happy and to love, and so a love story full of obstacles begins.
This book is, plain and simple, a love story. The plot is character driven, and even though there are some external elements that add some drama -albeit unnecessarily, in my opinion- the book is all about Isabeau and Noah falling in love and the development of their relationship. It’s a sweet and engaging story carried by two characters that are charming and likeable. It’s the type of novel that will appeal to every romance fan, and that will keep you engaged until the very end waiting to see if the leads will make it, even though you know that the happily ever after is a sure thing because that’s the implicit rule in romance.
The main character of the book is obviously Isabeau (this name is a mouthful, every time I write I need to double-check the spelling). Overall I liked her a lot, but because her whole backstory gradually reveals itself throughout the book at first I thought that she was immature and I found that the way she handled herself with Noah was inexperience and childish. Then I got to the part where it says that she’s just 25 years old and it all made sense. Having said that, once you get her whole story and once you get to know her more, you realize that yes she is immature in some aspects of her life, but she is also an old soul that has lived things that give her a complete different and even wiser outtake on life. I had both trouble and no trouble at all believing she was so young. I liked her a lot but I can see that some might find her annoying.
Noah was older and wiser. You could tell that he was on a whole different place than Isabeau, and that his previous experiences shaped the man he was today. He was 41 years old so this is almost a May-December romance and usually this would bother me, not because of the age difference since I find these type of romances quite hot, but mostly because 25 is too young. In this case though, it works perfectly because Noah’s stability balances Isabeau’s issues, and maybe someone younger and less experienced might not have been able to handle it. And also he was sexy, sexy, sexy, even without the leather pants, but I forgive him since there’s a lot of low-riding jeans action to compensate the lack of leather. And he’s also British, yep, he’s got an accent.
There are several secondary characters but my favorite by far was Noah’s band-mate, Dominic. It’s obvious that he will be the sequel’s lead and I’m doing a happy dance about it because this guy stole every single scene he was at.
I did have a couple issues with the book. First there’s a suspense sub-plot that’s completely unnecessary, this book did not need the drama. You will know who the bad guy is at first sight. This was the weakest part of the book and it felt more like a filler than anything else. Then there’s the big misunderstanding. I don’t want to give anything away but I had trouble with Isabeau’s insecurities regarding Noah. I get why she was insecure about herself (and you will too once you get to her backstory) but by the time the misunderstanding happens she had enough proofs of his love. I would have loved to see more communication between them. Gladly the big misunderstanding wasn’t really that big and things get straightened out quite fast and they both realize that there’s indeed a lack of communication between them.
This was a fantastic story, full of love and with the right amount of drama to make it interesting but not angsty. Ms. Grimm has a great voice and I can’t wait to read her next book, which hopefully will be Dominic’s. I recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance and dreamy rock stars.(less)
When I started reading these novellas I wanted to review the whole series in just one or two posts, but the reviews were too long so I just decided to do one at a time. They might be short stories but there’s a lot going on in them. If you want to catch up, or if you’re new to the series, you can read the review of the first book here.
The PsyCop world is quite similar to the one we’re living in, but there’s just one big exception: it’s widely known that there are people with paranormal abilities and those people are being recruited and used by the government. Our hero, Victor Bayne, is a member of the PsyCops, an elite division of the Chicago Police department that employs strong psychics with different abilities to solve crimes. Victor is a medium, he sees dead people all the time and everywhere. He takes a drug that muddles his sixth sense and for a while keeps the ghosts at bay, but it doesn’t help that much.
When the book starts Victor’s hands are quite full. First of all, his boyfriend Jacob is temporarily living with him and they are adjusting to the new living arrangements (which includes crazy episodes where Victor attacks Jacob in his sleep and wakes up without recollection of what happened). He also has a new partner who is a bit too eager to please. Ghosts are starting to behave in a weird way -or weirder than usual-, and to top it all off his health is deteriorating and his doctor warns him that he needs to stop taking the drug because it’s starting to affect his liver.
Criss Cross picks up right where Among the Living left, and you could almost read them as one. Victor is starting to realize how much he cares for Jacob and what a huge difference he has made in his life. We also get to see a more vulnerable side of Jacob and how Victor also helps him deal with his issues.
The character growth is consistent and their relationship keeps developing as time goes by, just like it would happen in real life. Maybe they are moving fast but I think that they are the type of characters to speed thing up. They have found someone they want to be with and they are not going to waste time beating around the bushes of their relationship.
So far this is my favorite story, although I still haven’t read the last two. The mystery in this one was just as compelling, mostly because Vic is in the middle of it all and you know that something’s very wrong with him and can’t wait to find out what’s happening to him. But Vic and Jacob’s relationship takes on a more prominent role than in the previous novella and that appealed to me given that I’m such a huge fan of romance (in case you couldn’t tell).
We also get to see how Lisa is doing, and I’m trying to be vague as to not spoil the previous book in case you haven’t read it, but it was nice to see her. And we meet new characters that have an important impact in Victor’s life and that will become regulars in the books to come.
I did have a couple issues with the book. The first one is that one of the secondary characters happens to be Jacob’s ex, and the way that part’s written makes it look like the author was trying to make a big revelation out of it, and that would have been great because a little bit of drama never hurt anyone, which is why I don’t get why there’s a huge spoiler in the book’s blurb. If you read the synopsis it actually says that Victor has to deal with Jacob’s ex Crash, and to me that’s ruining the revelation. It also says that Crash is more interested in getting into Jacob’s pants than in helping Victor, but that’s also wrong because the pants he wants to get in are Victor’s. If you are going to give away part of the plot, at least get it right.
My second problem was that there’s a lot of info-dumping. This is a common occurrence in books narrated in first person, especially if the book is part of a series. The narrator often explains what’s happened before so that the reader can catch up with the story so far, but I always find it annoying and quite frankly, unnecessary. I understand that sometimes it’s unavoidable but I don’t like it. I was surprised to see this here because book one was the complete opposite, in fact, because there’s basically cero explanation whatsoever I found it confusing at first. I wonder if the fact that Victor explains a lot of things that in the first book were slowly revealed to us, is due to complains from readers who found confusing the world-building in the first novella.
Overall this was a great second installment in the series, I liked it even more than the first one and after finishing I immediately started the next one. This is one of those series that are incredible addictive and based on what I’ve seen so far, it just keeps getting better and better.I do recommend reading them in order, I think these novellas were meant to be read as a whole and although there are six of them, remember that they are short, so it’s not as daunting a task as it seems.(less)
I have a thing for unrequited love stories where the heroine is in love with her best friend, but he doesn’t know it and already has a girlfriend or starts dating someone else. It’s probably because a long time ago this happened to me, but I didn’t get a happy ending, so I really enjoy the part where the heroine gets the guy, but even more the part where the guy dumps the other woman. Clearly, I have issues. So yeah, once I read the blurb, I got the book and didn't put it down until I finished it. Unfortunately, this only reflects my own reading preferences and not the actual quality of the book, which I found mostly lacking, although it’s not without some merit.
Something happened to Sophie that made her hate Valentine’s Day. So every year she gets together with her best friend, Sam, to watch crappy movies. But this year Sam cancelled because he has a date with a woman he thinks has the potential of being the one. The news are particularly bad for Sophie, because she just realized that she’s in love with him, and everything gets even worse when she falls and breaks her arm.
Sam’s new relationship and her accident should force Sophie to confront the reality of her life, which isn’t pretty. After some hard truths and lots of whining she, well, she does nothing except at the very end, when she makes some changes in her life and manages to get the guy. But the road to that was paved with pity parties. Lots and lots of pity parties.
This book doesn’t know if it wants to be Romance or Chick-Lit. Sophie’s first person POV narrates the story which is somewhat about her personal journey, but her relationship with Sam gets a lot of page time, so it takes away from the character development, while at the same time managing to not have much of a romance. Perhaps the label that better fits it is Romantic Comedy, because it follows the same pattern and the heroine goes through some situations that are obviously meant to be funny, but made me cringe.
Sophie wasn’t a great character. She had broken dreams and childhood traumas, but her way of dealing with it was punishing her family and hiding. Her reasons were valid, but because all she does is whine, my perception of her went from woman trapped in a transitional stage of her life, to a coward incapable of taking on an active role in the improvement of said life. The right elements were there, but the sloppy execution turned her character into a mess. This book needed more focus on her internal struggle than on the unrequited love angst.
The secondary characters were fine. Sam, the love interest, had a sweet disposition and their friendship felt authentic, albeit slightly needy on her part (and now that I think about it, on his part as well). I’m not sure if I liked him, but I didn’t dislike him. Sophie’s dad and brother also have minor roles in the book, but the character development was so poor, that I’m still not quite sure what to make of their relationship.
The merits I mentioned before? The book is highly readable and oddly engaging. So I’m giving it a very generous three stars, mostly because I couldn’t put it down, and that has to be worth something, right? (less)
Excellent start, as long as you're into a very particular type of humor. It was so good, I emailed people recommending it. But then I kept reading and...moreExcellent start, as long as you're into a very particular type of humor. It was so good, I emailed people recommending it. But then I kept reading and realized that the humors was all there is. The story doesn't have substance or anything resembling a conflict. What made the book great at first, was what almost made me hate it at the end. Also, this book has the most annoying, unrealistic kid in the history of books. (less)
I love Lisa Kleypas’ contemporaries. The Friday Harbor series isn’t her best, but the books are charming and sweet. I was a bit weary of this book because there was a ghost in it, but the hero was intriguing so I was ready to like it. Unfortunately, the story didn’t work for me at all.
The series follow three brothers that come together to raise their orphaned niece. Actually, that’s not accurate – one brother raises her, the other helps and the third one, Alex, is a mess that drinks and wants nothing to do with his brothers or the kid. Alex also happens to be our hero. You don’t have to be familiar with the previous books to read this one, although the extra background helps a bit even if only to make you emotionally invested in him.
Dream Lake begins with a ghost’s POV. Through him we get to see what a mess Alex is. He is in a path to self-destruction and no one will stand in his way –not that anyone makes a big effort to help him—all he wants to do is get drunk. But the ghost is in some way connected to Alex because for the first time in years he’s able to leave the house, so he follows him around. When Alex finally sees the ghost, he realizes that the only way to get rid of him is to help him remember his past, a past that’s connected to Zoe, a woman he’s been trying to avoid since he first met her.
Zoe is a chef that has her own set of baggage. Abandoned by her mother and soon after by her father, she was raised by a grandmother who now suffers from dementia and needs someone to take care of her. She decides to take her home with her, but first she must fix their house. That’s how she ends up hiring Alex to do the renovations. There’s a lot of attraction there, but also weariness because Alex doesn’t think himself capable of love, and Zoe doesn’t want to risk her heart with someone so unstable. But of course they end up getting involved and falling in love.
The idea of a broken hero on the verge of self-destruction is great. But the idea of a ghost helping the hero is terrible. And because those two premises are incompatible, the result is a story that’s seriously flawed and lacking. Worse, the intimacy Alex and the ghost developed was stronger and deeper than the one Alex and Zoe shared. So the romance also suffered to the point that I thought the ghost and Alex were better suited for each other because the relationship Alex and Zoe had was very superficial.
Alex is a troubled man and I don’t think that talking to a ghost and finding love are going to help him get better. He never talks with his brothers even though his issues come from the abuse he suffered at the hands of their alcoholic parents. The only person he discusses his problems with is the ghost (and this includes his suicidal thoughts). That’s it, he doesn’t even talk with Zoe. How can I believe in their love story when there's no trust or emotional connection between them? It was all one-sided because Zoe was very open about her feelings, something I found refreshing and endearing, but Alex never discusses his past and struggles with her.
Zoe has abandonment and self-image issues product of her husband cheating on her with a man. She’s also blonde, beautiful and stacked, so men make assumptions about her and she’s ashamed of her sex appeal. I found her exasperating, but her role is almost secondary so I didn’t have time to become invested enough to care.
There’s a secondary story involving the ghost and Zoe’s grandma. It was interesting, but the resolution was depressing and sad. The fact Alex never questions his sanity, the ghost’s existence, and the other paranormal things that happen throughout the book, were simply distracting and unbelievable, although this was an issue I also had with the previous book.
I feel disappointed. Lots of wasted potential and a story that not even Lisa Kleypas can save. I didn’t hate it and I was entertained enough to read it all, but it has many flaws. It’s a shame because I enjoyed the previous books. Perhaps someone who likes ghosts will enjoy it more than I did. (less)
I discovered L.B. Gregg’s work last year when I read Mistletoe at Night, the novella that was part of Carina Press’ His For the Holidays (Anthology). Ever since then I have enjoyed pretty much all of her books, so I was very happy to read this new novella.
Simple Gifts begins when Jason’s friend Sunny drags him to her parents’ Christmas party so he doesn’t have to spend the holidays alone. What she doesn’t tell him is that her older brother Robb is back from the army after ten years away from home. Jason and Robb share a past, they were together for a short while when they were young, but Robb broke Jason’s heart when he left and they haven’t seen each other ever since then.
Things have change a lot in ten years, Jason owns a bar and lives an almost secluded life, and Robb is healing from war wounds that are both physical and psychological. When Jason has a hilarious, albeit dangerous, accident with a huge Christmas ornament, Robb rescues him and takes him home, which forces them to spend some time alone and confront all the heartache and pain that remains between them, and maybe give their relationship a second chance.
I had such a good time reading this book, it was entertaining, romantic and very touching. Ms. Gregg was able to tell a poignant story about heartbreak and forgiveness in a very positive and uplifting way. It had some humor and lightness to it despite dealing with an issue as serious as PTSD.
Obviously what made this story such a good one were the characters. It had two very typical guys that we often find in romance novels: the cranky guy who had a crappy childhood and has relationship issues, and the rich guy with the crazy but loving family who went to war and came back a different man. But the way the book is written it doesn’t feel common and the almost irreverent and fun way in which the story is told gives it an unique touch.
My favorite part about the book, and the aspect that gives it a lot of authenticity, was the fact that there’s no easy solution to Robb’s problem, he knows he’s in no shape to be in a healthy relationship and so he decides to take some time to heal first. I give kudos to the author for doing it this way because Simple Gifts is a Christmas story and we all know that miraculous recoveries are the norm in books like this, but Ms. Gregg doesn't take the easy way out and instead delivers a very believable ending that's completely satisfying, especially because it’s oh so romantic!
It is a short novella and it might have been better as a full-length novel, but the short format works and it makes this the perfect holiday read for people without much time on their hands. Fans of romance should be happy to read this story because it has great characters to root for, a bit of comedy, depth and paper cranes.(less)
I have had this book sitting on my TBR pile since December. To be honest the reason I didn’t read it sooner was because I didn’t like the first one on the series, don’t get me wrong, Kaki Warner is very talented she writes compelling characters, her descriptions of the life and the scenery are incredible and overall you feel like you are living inside the book, but the plot was too much of everything; too much drama, too many misunderstandings, too much angst, too much death, the end was stretched out unnecessarily and halfway through the book I was ready for it to end. However the writing was really good and the summary of Open Country sounded interesting thus I decided to get the second one and give Kaki a second chance. I can tell you now that I am glad I did.
As I said Open Country is the second book on the Blood Rose Trilogy, the story is set in Texas during the 1870’s and revolves around three brothers, each one the hero of his own book. This one is Hank’s book, he is the middle brother, the calm and taciturn one and to me the most endearing too. The heroine is Molly, after her father’s suicide and following her dying sister’s wishes she flees Georgia with her niece and nephew in tow because her brother-in-law is abusive and she is afraid of what he may do to the kids. The train that is taking them to California derails and while helping the wounded (Molly has medical training) she finds Hank who apparently is fatally injured and with the help of some people she marries him to get a widow’s compensation. Needless to say that Hank doesn’t die but gets amnesia, his older brother Brady who is concerned not only for his brother but for his pregnant wife, blackmails Molly into moving to their ranch to take care of them, Molly accepts not only because of the threats, but also because she needs the protection.
Open Country stands alone fairly well, but if you haven’t read Pieces of Sky I would recommend starting there because the entire plot of that book is explained on this one, there are so many spoilers that it would completely ruin the book for you.
I really liked this book, the plot wasn’t that convoluted as the previous one, and the characters were far more likeable. Hank is an alpha male with a heart of gold and he was my favorite brother since he was introduced in Pieces of Sky. But the soul of the book was the heroine. I absolutely adored Molly, is great to see a strong independent heroine in a historical romance, specially a western, I loved how she was all business and nonsense but vulnerable at the same time, she has a profession that she excels at and is none apologetic about it, but she is also wounded. I love well balanced multilayered characters and Kaki warner does this amazingly well with all of her characters.
I also loved the kids and the relationship between the brothers -although the third brother Jack is missing the entire book- all the scenes between Hank and Brady were a delight to read.
The suspense aspect of the story was also well done, half the book I was dreading the moment Hank would found out about the deception (especially because every three paragraphs or so he actually told how much he hated lies and deceptions). Then there was the danger looming over Molly, the mercenary that her brother-in-law sent to find them is one scary man, all of this adds to the story.
Sadly I had two big problems with this book and each one of them dropped one point from the overall grade. They are huge spoilers and so I have to be vague but let’s just say that the hero does something completely out of character and that even though is something quite common on historical romances it was not only unnecessary to the plot but also terrible, and I don’t think it was properly dealt with afterwards, Molly forgives him and all is well, I just didn’t get it and it completely threw me. The second one was right at the end of the book, Molly has a TSTL moment, granted it was an original way to present a very common plot devise but I was a bit disappointed because -taking aside the Hero’s stupid behavior- the book was doing really well and to me Kaki took the easy way out.
As a whole I liked the book and couldn’t put it down until I finished. I would not only recommend it but I will keep reading Kaki’s books starting with Chasing the Soon the last book on the trilogy. I know that there are some things I am not going to like but I do think is worth it. If you can see past through those bumps on the road I mentioned you are going to love this book, but since I can’t see past them I can’t give it more than a 3. Maybe the next book will be different; I will let you know once I finish it.
Source: review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
I’ve said before that Karina Bliss is one of the best current Contemporary Romance authors, and this book is yet another proof of that. As is the case with all her novels, A Prior Engagement was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I’m happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations.
The book is the culmination in a series of not-so-loosely related book. It’s the fourth and final story, and although all the books stand alone well, you should perhaps read the previous one, Bring Him Home, first just to get a bit of background on the characters and their situation.
Juliet and Lee had a serious case of opposites attract: she was reserved, wary and somewhat uptight; he was impulsive and a bit careless. So it was only a surprise to Jules when, after a short courtship, he proposed. However, Jules was too afraid to make a mistake and rejected him. But soon after, Lee was killed in action, so when his friends and fellow team members, also dealing with their grief and the consequences of the attack, found the engagement ring and gave it to Jules, she took it without saying what happened. For months she dealt with her loss and developed a serious case of guilt when she became close friends with these men who welcomed her as part of the family.
Things get tricky when they discover that Lee wasn’t dead but had been kidnapped, and he’s finally free and coming home. He immediately realizes Jules’ deception, and in the confusion and anger decides to fake amnesia to teach her a lesson. At first he fools her, but once she realizes the truth, they must decide if they can give each other a second opportunity and if they are willing to rely on each other for help.
All the books in the series have been quite emotional in their portrayal of serious issues such as death, PTSD and cancer. The premise of this book takes it a bit further into far-fetched territory, but Ms. Bliss makes it work by showing the consequences of such a terrible ordeal, and for making the characters work at getting better. By doing that, she makes the story authentic and organic instead of manipulative, which is a fine line to walk, but she never crosses it. Also, no magical sexual healing, which, let’s face it, would happen in 99% of any other similar books out there.
Lee is a big part of the book, but it’s Jules’ story as much as his. Her journey is about emotional growth while grief and fear take over her life. Her issues with commitment, family and stability remain, but she’s forced to confront them under unique and incredibly stressful circumstances. I liked her very much, both as an individual and as part of a couple.
The first half of the book is very intense, because the focus is on Lee’s anger. And he is very angry. He remains that way throughout the book, but the recipients of that anger change, and so does the tone of the story. The second half is about Lee dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of his captivity. And throughout both halves we get a love story that’s about forgiveness and support.
The two clearly distinct parts of the book are mismatched. One is very angsty and filled with tension, whereas the other is milder in intensity, yet equally emotional, albeit for different reasons. And after such an emotional high, the final part, riveting in its own merits, ended up being anticlimactic. I would have liked to see the tension better distributed.
Previous characters have integral roles in the story and help move the plot forward. It makes perfect sense considering that Lee is the one character that brings closure to all of them. The one thing that I didn’t like is that at the end there was the reunion scene where all the characters had the opportunity to show just how happy they were, and I must say that I could have done without such a silly, unnecessary scene. It was completely out of place and way over the top; like a baby-less-logue; if that makes sense.
It’s not a perfect read, but I loved every angsty minute of it it. I highly recommend it to everyone, especially to those who like Romance high on the tension. Ms. Bliss can do gut-wrenching emotion like no one else out there, and if you haven’t read her books, you’re missing out.(less)
I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: I consider Jill Shalvis one of the best current Contemporary Romance authors. Her Lucky Harbor trilogy was wonderful and I was sad to see it go. Fortunately for us, it seems like Ms. Shalvis wasn’t happy about it either because she’s written a new group of books set in the fictional town.
If you have read the previous books, you will recognize our newest hero as the guy no one knew anything about except that he was hot. He gets one mention and a memorable nickname, and the next thing I know, I’m dying to learn Mysterious Cute Guy’s story. In Lucky in Love he gets it, as well as name.
Ty Garrison is a former Navy SEAL who’s temporally in town to recover from wounds that go beyond the physical. He just wants to be left alone and brood, which he’s successfully achieving until one night he has an accident in the middle of a storm and one of the locals helps him.
Mallory Quinn has lived her life following the rules and being a good girl, trying to compensate for her family’s wilder ways and to atone for a tragedy that marked her life. A nurse, beloved by everyone in town, she doesn’t know that rescuing Ty is about to change her life.
Sparks fly between them and Mallory decides to let her hair down and engage in a fling. Ty knows that Mallory isn’t a fling type of girl, but he’s unable to resist her. Together they would find closure, love and the emotional health they both need.
This is the type of Contemporary Romance I like. It’s all about the main couple falling in love and dealing with internal issues. The conflict comes from within and they must learn to trust each other. There’s no villain, no external source of angst. It’s all about the main characters figuring out how to be together and actually doing it.
There’s really nothing new about it except the execution. The hero is wounded and suffering from PTSD and survivor’s guilt. He wants to stay hidden and isolated but the heroine is having none of that. She also has her own set of emotional baggage and he, unknowingly, helps her with it. So the story is about two damaged people finding each other and healing.
The heroine was sweet and caring. I liked that she comes out of her shell slowly but surely, and she does it with a lot of help. This was my favorite part of the story, the secondary characters play an important role in it and they aren’t there just as sequel bait. The next main couple is obvious, but everyone has a reason to be in the book. Both Mallory and Ty have a set of loyal friends who love and worry about them, so there’s a lot of fun banter and bromance, which I always enjoy. The town is another important character, and it’s a great example of why small town romances are so popular. The setting is lovely, and the minor characters make for great comedy.
Overall it was a great story. As I said, nothing really new happens, and the plot and characters aren’t really original. But Ms. Shalvis’ voice gives it a unique touch, and that is all it needs. The story can be slow and drag at parts, and the lack of external conflict may annoy some readers who look for something extra. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the next installment. The best of all is that it stands alone perfectly well, there are no spoilers for previous book and although I recommend reading them in order just because they are very good, you can perfectly start here.
Source: we received a copy of the book from the author for review purposes. We received a second copy through NetGalley so we could request the next book as well (that's right, two ARCs, my fangirl is showing).(less)
This is my first book by Kaylea Cross and the reason why I read it was because I kept hearing great things about it. Usually when you hear military romantic suspense you think, well, the hero is probably in the military and that’s it, but in this case both leads are on active duty and the action takes place during a regular mission while deployed. That aspect alone was enough to make this book interesting and appealing.
Devon Crawford is a helicopter pilot, her job is to fly into danger zones and rescue people that are either wounded or in danger. When the book starts there’s an emergency but she can’t fly and rescue the soldiers because the terrible weather makes it impossible. Unfortunately one of the wounded soldiers is Ty, who happened to be her ex, and he dies because no one could get there to help him. During his funeral two of his friends meet with Devon, one of them is Cam Munro. They have a complicated relationship because while she was with Ty she felt an overwhelming attraction to Cam, and the feeling was mutual. Now Cam wants to confront their feelings but she is not ready and since she is an officer and he is enlisted, having a relationship might endanger their careers. What they don’t know is that there’s an even greater threat endangering their lives.
Let’s talk about Cam. In romantic suspense there are always two characters that almost always become clichés: the villain and the hero. More often than not, the male lead is portrayed as dominant, a confirmed bachelor (until the heroine comes along of course), possessive and so close to a superhero that you never feel like he’s in danger, he goes into a war zone and kills all the psychopathic drug-dealers singlehandedly and without breaking a sweat. But not Cam, he was refreshingly real. Part of why this book works so well is because at one point you do fear for his safety and you are kept on the edge of your seat until you know for sure that he is going to be fine. Yes he was hot, and a strong warrior, be he was vulnerable both physically and emotionally. Here we have a guy who wants to talk and confront his feelings and is very afraid that the woman he loves will never be able to love him back. He wasn’t a Navy SEAL (another common profession in romantic suspense), he is a Pararescue Jumper, he is the guy who saves the SEALs, and yes, in Cross’ books SEALs need saving because they are human as well.
I had more trouble warming up to Devon. At first she behaves a bit erratically and like she doesn’t know what she wants. She’s described as being beautiful and attractive without knowing it (even though almost every guy around her likes her and is obviously attracted to her) and since I never quite understood how that’s even possible then maybe that’s why I was annoyed by her at first. But once she comes to her senses and decides to fight for Cam, then I started seeing her under a different light. And in the second half of the book she proved to be strong, loyal and committed and I ended up liking her very much.
The book has a strong cast of secondary characters that are obviously being set up to have their own books and I’m happy about it because I want to know more about them. I was particularly intrigued by the silent Jackson and can’t wait to read his book.
Another character that deserves a mention is the villain. As I said before, the villains in these types of stories tend to be cartoonish and one-dimensional, more like what you would encounter in a James Bond movie than in real life. But in this case Cross gives us a bad guy who has a pretty good reason to be that way, and even though he is going at it in the wrong way you can actually sympathize and feel sorry for him.
My favorite part about the book was how real the military aspect felt. The action seems plausible and that’s what makes it more dramatic, because when you are reading it not only you get a feeling that no one is safe, but you know that it isn’t that far from reality. I think the author did her homework because you can tell that this was a well-researched book. There are lots of details about military life and that was just as interesting as the romance.
This book had a perfect balance between romance and suspense. You will get caught up first in the relationship, and then in the action, and you won’t stop reading until you get to the end. Every fan of contemporary romance should read this, especially if they like military heroes and strong heroines.
Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes. (less)
Nora Roberts is, well, Nora Roberts. I don’t think there is a Romance fan out there who hasn’t at least heard about her. I believe that there is no one more deserving of such an impressive reputation as she is.
Chasing Fire has a very interesting setting. The heroine, Rowan, and the Hero, Gulliver, are both smoke jumpers, they are the firemen who parachute in the middle of a wildfire. In this case Rowan is in charge and Gull is the new rooky on the team. Yes this is a romance novel but in this story the romance takes the back seat because the core of the book is a mystery; someone is sabotaging the headquarters and then there are a series of murders, it seems that someone has grudge towards the firemen and specially towards Rowan.
Nora has several types of heroines: the feminine girly ones, the damaged ones, and the strong ones. Rowan belongs to the latter category; she is tough, independent, strong, confident and smart, she doesn’t suffer fools and there’s no one better to have as part of your team or as a friend. I liked her a lot but I felt like I had read about her before, maybe she was called Mackensie and her book was Vision in White, or she was called Meg and her book was Northern Lights, or maybe her name was Blair and her book was Dance of the Gods, but I most definitely felt a sense of déjà vu while reading her. This didn’t deter my enjoyment of the book, but I did notice it, and I must confess that this is not the first time I notice this about her books.
Gull, on the other hand, was a bit more unique. I think he might be one of Nora’s most charming heroes. He was confident enough not to feel threatened by Rowan but also to feel attracted to her. Is great to have a strong heroine paired up with a guy who lets her shine but who also grounds her, is not afraid to speak his mind and of pissing her off. Someone who is manly, but not “crazy macho alpha male you are mine I must possess you” manly, just an “I am a strong confident male but I don’t want to own you” manly.
There’s also a secondary love story involving Rowan’s father, and I think that I enjoyed that one more than the main one. The secondary characters were a blast. This book has a strong cast of characters; they were fleshed out, had unique personalities and I liked them all. This is not the norm in Nora’s books (the standalone ones at least), usually on her standalone novels the secondary characters aren’t as many or as interesting, in this case the firehouse setting was perfect for that.
The mystery was very predictable, I think Nora dropped the ball there. I don’t usually guess who the bad guy is on her books, but in this one I saw it coming almost from the first chapter.
The whole setting of the book also felt familiar, I read a review that called Nora formulaic and I have to agree with it, she does it very good, her prose is brilliant, but there are a lot of common things between her books, and I think that if she wasn’t such an incredible storyteller this would lessen the quality of her books.
The book is full details about smoke jumpers and wildfires, is not preachy but it makes a statement about how bad those fires are, and how brave the men and women who put them down are, and how dangerous and hard is. Nora also did her homework; you can see that she put a lot of effort into researching about firefighters. There are a lot of details, some of them might be confusing because she drops names and terminology and doesn’t really explain it, but that didn’t bother me much.
Now, my overall impression of the book is that it was flawlessly written, had an interesting theme, a sweet love story and engaging characters. The problem was that it was also boring. To be honest the first part of the book was interesting and the final chapters were engrossing, I cried at the end, and was glued to my seat, but that was only during the last three chapters. The rest of it was just plain, the romance lacked a bit of spice and drama, the plot and mystery dragged a lot in the middle, and I think maybe a shorter book would have been better.
As a whole I liked it -it wasn’t my favorite book- but I liked it. I don’t think I will be re-reading it though, and I would recommend it only if you are already familiar with Nora Roberts, if not, maybe you should start with another books and save this one for latter.
I have a love/hate relationship with prequel novellas. Some are fantastic because they feel like they’re all about their story, truly belong to the series and aren’t there to sell you something else. But then there are those whose only purpose is to sell you the next book. Unfortunately, Hearts of Fire falls under the latter category.
The story takes place in 1889. Alice, our heroine, is the daughter of the Kivati’s leader – a shifters clan residing in Seattle. One day, she meets a dashing stranger. Just by looking at him she can tell there’s more to him than meets the eye, and by the mighty power of the insta-love, she falls for him. Fortunately for her, the same happens to him. But this guy isn’t even a regular shifter, nope, his name is Bran and he’s a Drekar, an ancient dragon-shifter race that happens to be the Kivati’s mortal enemies. So we also have a Romeo and Juliet situation in our hands. Will love conquer hate?
This novella has an interesting premise, or I think it would be interesting had we gotten more details. It’s yet a new take on shifters, but this time it’s intertwined with different mythologies, which is refreshing and unique. The clans have a different dynamics and complexities that are going to be interesting to explore, so in a way, the novella achieved its purpose of making me curious about the series. The potential is there, yet the execution was poor, first because I’m not that clear as to what is going on, and second and most important, because the romance was a failure. Not to mention that the ending was weak, an ending that’s tied to the main couple.
As I said, Bran and Alice fall instantly in love, and it’s never clear what they see in each other, not surprisingly since they spend about five minutes together in total. Bran was an interesting character because despite being an ancient and powerful shifter, he came across as beta. In a genre that’s filled with domineering alphas, a hero that’s everything but, was a pleasant surprise. He was, by far, the most layered character in the story. I wasn’t so fond of Alice mostly because she wasn’t developed as a character. But in the end, their story fail to impress because it happens way too quick to allow me to connect and to care about their relationship.
The ending was the weakest part. Bran and Alice make a selfish decision that makes sense for him, but not for her. I won’t spoil it but I’ll say that I thought it was the easy –and coward—way out. Not romantic at all, but very surprising.
I wasn’t impressed by the story, although I enjoyed some aspects of it. As I said, I can see the potential in both the series and Ms. Brady’s talent. I won’t recommend this one to you, but I think I’ll read the next book to see if said potential is fully explored and developed. I’m ready to give these books a second chance because I know from experience that more often than not, good series have weak beginnings.
Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.(less)
I’ve been meaning to read this author ever since hearing great things about her previous book, Butterfly Swords, so when I saw this book on Netgalley I jumped to the opportunity to read it. I wasn’t aware that The Dragon and the Pearl was a sequel to Butterfly Swords but I was able to enjoy the book and I think it stands alone quite well.
Lady Ling Suyin is in deep trouble. As the late Emperor’s consort she finds herself kidnaped from her home by Governor Li Tao. Without the protection of the new Emperor and with the country in a political upheaval and on the verge of a civil war, she doesn’t know what to make of this latest development so she ends up going with him as his prisoner.
Li Tao has some decisions to make. Loyal to the last Emperor he needs to figure out if he should pledge allegiance to the new Emperor, a man who doesn’t really trusts him, and risk going to war against some powerful warlords, or align himself with the warlords and declare war to the Empire. In the middle of all this he gets saddled with the beautiful Suyin because he believes she may have a secret that could give him the upper hand in the impending war, but he doesn’t really know what to do with her or with the smoldering attraction between them.
If I had to describe this book using just one word I would say exotic. I have never read a historical romance set in China, nor have I ever read a historical romance set in the 8th century. So I had no idea what I was getting into. What I encounter was a rich and complex world quite different from what I’m used to. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a fantasy because it had an almost magical feel to it.
There are a lot of things going on in the book because the story takes place during a very politically unstable period, but we never see any action, instead, we are left exploring the developing relationship between these two individuals who are brought together by a series of events that were set in motions years ago. This is a love story first and foremost, and even though there’s a feel of impending doom, the romance is sweet, engaging and very emotional.
Suyin was a great heroine. Shrewd is a very good way to describe her. Life as an imperial courtesan is not an easy one, especially if you are favored by the Emperor. She knew politics and how to manipulate and use the effect she had on men to her advantage. But she was also lonely and resigned to live the rest of her life without love. She is afraid of Tao but also fascinated by him, she can see beyond the stoic façade and is very attracted to what she discovers. Once she realizes she loves him she will do anything for him.
Tao is one of those silent and brooding heroes, but taken to the extreme. These were his personality traits, this is not someone harboring a secret pain unable to express his feelings waiting for the right woman to finally open up, so don’t expect him to change much. He was strong and bad with words, direct and passionate. I found him to be quite complex and very lonely, just like Suyin. This was a pairing that made perfect sense and you could feel the desire between them which is why the sex scenes were scorching hot but not graphic.
My favorite parts of the book were the flashbacks. I’m glad they were there because the leads were never going to share their painful past with each other. So we get little snippets into their lives through flashbacks that give us an inside look into the characters and a better understanding of the person they became.
My problem with the book was the ending. I feel like the book ended on an uncertain note. Things were never really resolved and the final confrontation was anticlimactic. I just don’t buy it, maybe there will be a sequel but I don’t think so. There is a happy ending to the love story, but to their lives? I don’t think so. It goes well with the overall tone of the book, but it left me hanging and when I finish a book I don’t want to worry about the characters’ well-being.
I think that romance fans would love this book. The setting is beautiful and the love story engaging. I want to read Butterfly Swords to see Tao under a different perspective since he is the villain in that story and I wish I had read that one first, so if you decide to read this one consider getting the first book as well.
Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes. (less)
This book was very entertaining, and it has a great, flawed heroine that's self-aware and likeable. She had her immature moments, but her age made me...moreThis book was very entertaining, and it has a great, flawed heroine that's self-aware and likeable. She had her immature moments, but her age made me more understanding and patient. The hero was adorable, although he's supposed to be a former party-animal/wild child who suddenly reforms himself in a couple of days -- a little unbelievable if you ask me, but we couldn't have two flawed characters in the same book, one always has to be the voice of reason and the angel.
Another YA with crappy parents, the dad in particular was terrible. That relationship offers no satisfaction at the end, there's no real redemption for him and I don't believe his excuse for being a crappy father.
The book is far from perfect and the more I think about it the more flaws I find, but I'm tempted to give it 5 stars just because of how enjoyable it was. I cried and couldn't put it down, I'm really glad I read it. If you read The DUFF you will be happy to know that the Wesley and Bianca have a tiny cameo. (less)
Source: A review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
I’ve been a fan of this series since the first book, and as usual, the most intriguing character always gets the last book. The anticipation was high, and unfortunately the book wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. But it was entertaining, and the hint to a new couple brought me back to the place I was before reading the book: anticipating the next entry.
Adam and Holly used to be lovers a long time ago, but he left her because they were too young, to save her from himself, etc. The being too young was reason enough to me, but we need more to justify so many years of not moving on. So as you probably can guess, especially if you have read the books, once he comes back he ignores her while she gives him the evil eye (which is Romance code for “I want to have dirty sex with you, but I totally don’t love you anymore so don’t get any ideas”). We know that they should just talk about their unresolved feelings, but Adam is suffering from PTSD and is trying to avoid any type of human contact.
What finally forces them together is her father going missing. Spending a few days together finally makes them talk, and in the process they help each other heal and give their relationship a second chance.
As you can see, there’s nothing new about the story. What makes it shine is Ms. Shalvis’ ability to mix drama with lighter situations. It may not be a complex character study, but it’s not meant to be one. This is a book whose only purpose is to entertain, and I think it succeeds. At least I was engaged by the story and had a great time reading it.
Adam and Holly have great chemistry, but the romance happens fast, and there’s so much heartbreak between them that it was hard for me to believe that they could get over them so easily. He had serious psychological problems, and she was very hurt by the way things ended between them. Yet the first time they spend some alone time, it takes them a couple days to forgive and forget.
There are some great moments between Adam and his brothers, something I love because Jill Shalvis writes the best bromances. There’s also a hint of the next couple, and the moment I met them, I was instantly more interested in them than in Adam and Holly. That’s good for the books to come, but not so good for this one.
Overall it was a good addition to the series, and a must-read if you’re a fan. If haven’t read these books I’d suggest reading them in order, although the all stand alone well. I enjoy this series more than the Lucky Harbor books, and I’m happy to see there’s at least one more book to go. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long to read it. (less)
I bought this book on a whim and read it in one sitting. I wasn’t expecting much, and I certainly wasn’t expecting such a cute story. But cute was exactly what I got.
Rue is a flamboyant cosmetology student that works as a bartender at nights while dreaming of becoming a famous stylist in LA. He’s also very promiscuous. One night when he apparently runs out of men, he decides to make a girl-experiment and has sex with a woman. If you take a look at the cover you can guess what comes next: she gets pregnant. When she tells him that she will give the baby away, he remembers what was like to be an unwanted kid, so he decides to keep the baby. Now he has a newborn baby, school, a job, and no one to take care of it. That’s when he remembers his new neighbor.
Erik is a sci-fi writer with a lot of issues. He suffers from almost crippling anxiety, doesn’t like to be touched, needs everything to be in order, doesn’t know how to be social and has difficulty adapting to new environments. Personally, I felt he had some type of autism like Asperger’s Syndrome, but that’s never properly addressed so it’s pure speculation on my end. But you get the general idea. He lives alone, doesn’t have friends and to seeks refuge in his routine, which includes watching Star Wars over and over. The least he expects is for his neighbor to ask him to take care of his daughter. But that’s exactly what happens.
Your ability to suspend disbelief will be tested, but it’s worth it. Erik agrees to take care of Alice. And little by little he comes out of his shell and develops a relationship with the baby, Rue, and Rue’s friend, Dusty. And what starts as a friendship ends up a romance between two people who couldn’t be more different from each other but fit perfectly.
The best word to describe this story is adorable. I kept smiling the whole time because Rue and Erik were so likeable that I just wanted to hand them their much deserved happiness. Rue was a bit slutty and he mentions his difficult past, but he never comes across as jaded or damaged. Instead, he was hardworking and positive. His relationship with his friend Dusty was just as great and I really liked that the book takes time to focus on their friendship. At times I felt that Dusty played the role of the sidekick, but I liked him regardless.
Erik was a nerdy virgin struggling to live in a world he had trouble comprehending. But instead of feeling sorry for him, all I felt was sympathy. It was interesting to see him develop some self-confidence, and although at times he behaves in a way I found incongruent to what we knew about him, overall I liked him very much.
There are many tropes in this book: opposites attract, virgin hero falls for slutty hero and friends-to-lovers. The romance takes time developing and you can see the transition from strangers, to friends, to lovers. There isn’t much angst and the conflict is internal and subtle. The story is about two people finding each other and falling in love. That’s it. No complications and no angst. Just a lovely romance. (less)
Of all of Harlequin lines, Superromance is hands down my favorite one (closely followed by Medical Romance). These books can be a bit misleading, just based on the cover and the blurb one might expect a light romance, but what you get is so much more than that. The stories deal with serious topics and more than once I find myself crying. One Good Reason delivers all of that and more. If you are not familiar with Sarah Mayberry don’t waste more time and go get her books.
This book is a sequel to The Last Goodbye. If you haven’t read that one I don’t think you will have any problems following the story but I do recommend that you read them in order because The Last Goodbye is a great book, One Good Reason’s leads are introduced there and the backstory will make you much more emotionally invested in the characters.
One Good Reason is about Jon and Gabby. They both are wounded souls going through the motions of life without really living. Some years ago Gabby ended a long-time relationship with a guy she loved very much (this would be Tyler, the hero from The Last Goodbye) because he was emotional unavailable and unable to really open up to her. They now work together and are best friends but she never really got over him. She had to suffer through seeing him fall in love with someone else and even though she tries to convince herself that she is fine with it, what she really feels is pain. Jon is Tyler’s big brother, because they had a very difficult and traumatic childhood Jon left home as soon as he was 18 and never really tried to have a relationship with his brother. When their father dies, Jon comes back and agrees to work with Tyler but he remains distant.
This was a very compelling story. I was glued to the book rooting for Gabby and Jon to find happiness. Gabby was an interesting character, she wasn’t exactly the scorned woman but she was very much in pain. After breaking up with Tyler she just let go a little bit. She stopped dating, stopped using makeup and basically went to a safe place and stayed there while life went passing by. I don’t think she was unhappy, but she wasn’t happy either. It takes some time for her to figure out that she is wasting her life, but once she does it she comes back with a vengeance. I really liked that she learned to put herself first and to not be a martyr. I don’t usually like tomboyish heroines but Gabby was very likeable and one of those people who you just want to be friends with. I found her character realistic, flawed and relatable (and slightly masochistic because I had a hard time understanding how she managed to work with Tyler especially after he went and found true love with someone else).
Jon was a handful. I liked him very much but he was the epitome of a tormented hero. As I said before this book might seem light just based on the cover and the blurb, but it deals with some serious issues, in this case abuse. Jon has spent his entire life feeling guilty and insignificant and it takes a lot of work for him to let go, move on and allow himself to be happy. By the end of the book he is still working on his issues and I was really glad about it. Yes it has a happy ending, yes I felt good and yes I was sure that they will live happily ever after, but they were working towards that and the problems didn’t magically disappear by the end of the book.
I liked this book even more than The Last Goodbye. The real connotations of what the brothers went through were much more evident with Jon than with Tyler. I don’t know if this was because Jon had isolated himself or because he was much more tormented, but this book felt more dramatic. It isn’t a tragedy by any means, it has some light moments and it had a feel-good ending, but I cried for Gabby and for Jon.
I recommend this book to every contemporary romance fan out there. It definitely is a drama, but it doesn’t have any angst and is a short book so if you are looking for a touching story to take to the beach or to enjoy during the summer this one is perfect.
If you read The Last Goodbye, Tyler and Ally play important roles in this book and it pretty much closes the story between the brothers that was left open-ended with that book. As I said I do think that you should read that book first because both stories are intertwined and it can almost be read as one single book, even though this one works as a stand-alone. (less)
Contemporary romance is my favorite subgenre because the books in that category are filled with sexy and entertaining stories that are just plain fun to read. Louisa Edwards’ books are a fine example of the genre and Some Like It Hot is no exception.
This is the second book in the Rising Star Chef series and if you’re new to it you should know that the series follows our leads through a cooking competition where teams representing restaurants from all over the country battle it out in order to win. In the first book the protagonists were Juliet Cavanaugh and Max Lunden, both members of the same team, in this book the leads are Max’s younger brother, Danny, the team’s pastry chef, and Eva Jansen, the contest’s host and the person in charge of all the behind the scenes.
Eva is a socialite with a reputation of being a party girl, and Danny is the guy who takes care of everything and everyone, so at first he isn’t impressed by Eva’s antics and her apparent diva behavior. But when Danny starts to see the woman behind the socialite and realizes how hard she is working in order to have a successful competition, he realizes that there’s more than meet the eye and his attraction develops into something more. But when you decide to have an affair in the middle of a stressful competition, you could lose more than your heart.
The best part about this book is the characters, especially the main ones. I knew Danny was going to be special ever since reading the first book. He isn’t your typical alpha-male, possessive guy, that’s not the type of hero Ms. Edwards writes, there’s plenty of hotness there, but he also has a big heart and he isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. This is a guy who is used to be the voice of reason, the middle ground and the protector. Behind his laid back exterior lies a man who cares deeply for every person around him and is used to be the one everyone relies on. When his brother Max left town to be a wandering chef, he took charge of both his family and the family business, he made a lot of sacrifices in order to be what everyone else needed and lost himself a bit in the process. I liked him because it was obvious that he was somewhat resentful of his brother and of the whole situation, but he never indulged in self-pity, and made the best out of a crappy situation. And then he meets Eva, who happens to be just what the doctor ordered.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t like Eva. She is a bit of a wild child and very confident in her sexuality, I don’t particular like this type of characters, not because I want my heroines to be virgins, but because they don’t usually have much depth. That’s not the case with Eva. She isn’t afraid to get what she wants but she also has her issues. She has a very difficult relationship with her father and only wants to get his approval. But her daddy-issues were not the reason why she had such a long track record with men. Yes, she had commitment issues, but she also loved men, so what if she wants to have lots of sex and party all night? I was glad that Ms. Edwards didn’t go the easy route and magically turned her into a nice girl all of a sudden, by the end of the book she gets her happy ending with the man she loves, but she is still a party girl at heart.
There’s a recurring secondary romance that started in the previous book and continues here. It involves two of the competition’s judges and as usual there’s a twist because Ms. Edwards likes unconventional couples. In this case the romance is between forty-two-year-old Claire Durand, the sophisticated and very French editor of a prestigious magazine, and twenty-something Kane Slater, the sexy rock star and famous foodie. Their story doesn’t have a resolution yet but I like it very much, it’s an unlikely pairing, not so much because of the age difference but because of their lifestyles, but it works, there’s a lot of chemistry between them and as usual I’m trying to figure out how on earth are they going to make it work. I’ll have to wait and see.
If you are a fan of the series you will be happy to know that we find out more about Beck, the mysterious chef that’s an integral part of the team and the next book’s hero. Among other things we get just a tiny glimpse at his past, which is quite unexpected, and we meet his heroine, a very charming lady that couldn’t be more different from Beck even if she tried. I can’t wait to read their book and I have a feeling that it will be my favorite.
My main issue with this book was the obvious conflict of interest between Danny and Eva. There’s a lot of emphasis made on the fact that Eva isn’t a judge so she isn’t involved in the actual process of choosing the winner, but she is the host, she tastes the dishes and offers her opinion and she is the daughter of the competition’s owner, so how can someone see their relationship and not cry foul play? I was expecting this to be the main conflict of the book but it wasn’t, and I was very surprised by that. I appreciate the fact that the conflict came from within the characters and their issues and insecurities, but since the competition is such a huge part of the overall story I was not only surprised, but even a little disappointed by how this was downplayed. No one was concerned, not even the other teams. Granted, their relationship wasn’t really public, but enough people were aware of it as to raise some questions about the competition’s integrity. It definitely had me raising my eyebrow.
I think this book stands alone fairly well, but the overall story arch started in the first book and I think this series should be read in order to get the full extent. Also, Danny’s journey begins in Too Hot To Touch and you can actually see how he grows and matures so is best to read them in order.
Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think you will too. If I had to define it using just one word I would say mouthwatering, there are plenty of food descriptions that are to die for, especially when it comes to the pastries, but there are some scorching hot sex scenes as well, so you will find yourself drooling more than once (and Danny was dreamy!).
Source: we received an e-ARC of the book from the author and publisher for review purposes.(less)
This is the Christmas special of the Virgin River series. The last Riordan brother, Patrick, finally gets a book, and his heroine is Jack’s niece, Angie. They go to Virgin River because they are recovering from tragedies. Patrick’s friend was killed in Afghanistan, and his plan is to marry his widow because that’s the only way to take care of her, right? And Angie was in a car crash and is in town to take some time to figure out her life. They decide to have a fling with a very clear expiration date, but it’s obvious how that’s going to end.
The book wasn't only disappointing, it was borderline infuriating. The setting is a bit ridiculous -- the hero’s friend dies, and he decides that the only way to take care of his widow is to marry her. I guess this is a way to portray the hero as honorable and selfless, but instead he came across as an idiot.
However, that’s not the reason why I didn't finish it. There’s a little girl in town, she’s poor and her face is scarred. Her father is unemployed, and the mother is helpless. So of course our heroine takes one look at the girl and decides to help her get a new face. This girl is nothing but a prop. The only reason she’s in the book is to make the heroine look good; a heroine who’s young and doesn't know what she’s doing. Of course this is a Christmas story, so the miracle is guaranteed, but using a kid’s misery as a cheap plot device is offensive.
My Kind of Christmas is one of the worst books in the series. The plot was contrived, the characters annoying, and the romance lacked emotion. Read A Virgin River Christmas instead.(less)
This is the first book by Joan Kilby I have read, and it’s probably the last. There were so many things that bothered me that I don’t even know where...moreThis is the first book by Joan Kilby I have read, and it’s probably the last. There were so many things that bothered me that I don’t even know where to start. First and foremost I should say that my review has spoilers, because I can’t explain why it didn’t work for me without giving away some of the plot. The story is set in Australia; Renita, the heroine, has been in love with Brett since high school, where he broke her heart after he refused her invitation to prom. Fast forward some years, and he’s back in town. He’s a former football player that comes back to his home town after retiring and plans to start a gym. To do it he needs a big loan (Australian footballers don’t win that much money and he’s recently divorced and still hasn’t settled that), so he goes to the bank were Renita is in charge of the loans, he tries to charm her but only gets enough money to buy the old gym but not much else, he still needs to replace every single machine for state of the art equipment. Renita sees what he’s doing and isn’t happy about it, but she tries to maintain a professional relationship and not get into personal territory. Brett finds out that Renita’s father is a diabetic and needs exercise, and offers him a two for the price of one three month membership, and one on one training sessions, hoping that she will go too. Her father convinces her and thus Brett becomes her personal trainer, up to this point and towards the middle of the book, the story was good, but then it all went downhill. By the time she starts losing some weight, gets a makeover, and becomes confident in herself -although I’m not so sure about that- he realizes that she’s hot. The scene that leads to the first time they have sex is crazy: he invites her to his daughter’s prom as a chaperone, once there he kisses her, but she feels the kiss is a bit off and asks him if he’s doing it to compensate for what he did to her in high school, he says yes and the next thing I know they’re at his house having sex. After they sleep together she asks him if he would have made love to her had she not lost the extra weight, again he says yes, but now she’s hot so it’s ok. I understand and even appreciate his honesty, but the only reason he likes her is because she’s not “ugly” anymore, not because she’s smart, honest, goodhearted, good with his daughter, nope, she’s hot and that’s it, now he can date her. Oh, and then he adds: I didn’t asked you out before because you didn’t like me and I don’t deal well with rejection (not to mention that he didn’t like her at first and the only thing he wanted was the loan), but the worse thing is that she stays and doesn’t get angry, she feels like he just gave her a compliment, and she believes him when he says that he was afraid to ask her out! I admit that at first the story sounded really good, I’m a sucker for those “ugly duckling gets the prince charming” type of story, and I like when the heroine isn’t perfect. In this case Renita is a bit overweight and feels really insecure about it, is she ugly? No. Is she morbidly obese? No. She just has low self-steam, and she’s still feeling sorry for herself after she got turned down by the hot jock when she was in high school. To be honest, I just wanted to yell at her to get over herself and get a life! What comes next is even worse, he needs almost two hundred grand, and sells something dear to him, but the sale doesn’t comes through and he finds himself with two hundred grand worth of equipment and no money to pay for it. Of course Renita comes saving the day, she offers him the money out of her own pocket, here at least he shows some reason and declines, but Renita doesn’t take no for an answer and comes up with a plan to get him the money without him finding out, this master plan includes taking on a second mortgage for her house, and having his 13 year old daughter snooping trough his things and keeping secrets, and she does all that for a guy who she knows is acting immaturely crazy, a guy who tells her point blank that he only likes her for her new body, and a guy who she doesn’t really know that well. This is how she explains to her father why he deserves the money:
“He cares about people. Look what he’s done for you. He didn’t have to go to so much trouble. I think, maybe, he did it partly for me”
Oh yes he did it for her! Because he wanted the loan! He was trying to get on her good graces so she would approve the loan, it wasn’t out of real concern for her father, it wasn’t because he secretly loved her, it was because of the money. And then she questions herself and her decision (just for a second though, she ignores her own concerns and gives him the money anyway):
“Was she doing the right thing in trying to help Brett? Or would it be in his long-term interest to let his fitness center fail? Either way, did she have any right to affect his life so significantly? Especially when he’d turned down her offer to help?”
Of course she didn’t have the right! He’s behaving like an immature spoiled brat, he wanted the fitness center on his terms, and he wanted everything perfect now, no matter what. Come on! He had options, he could’ve bought used equipment for a fraction of the cost, he could’ve kept the equipment he already had, he could’ve bought just the strictly necessary, and then, once he had more money, buy the rest, but no, he wanted all and he wanted it now. She should have let him face the consequences of his actions. And even if he was the best entrepreneur ever, why is she lending him all that money? She was going to get a second mortgage for a guy who is a financial risk just because she has a crush on him? He didn’t even deserve the crush! At this point I was ready to stop reading altogether. The ending wasn’t satisfying either, he did show some growth, but it was too late, I didn’t like him, I didn’t sympathize or connect with the heroine, and I wasn’t rooting for them to be together. I would recommend just skipping this one, or checking it out of the library. I debated whether to give this one a 2 or a 1, because I did read it almost in one sitting and the writing was good, the first half wasn’t bad and was engaging, but the second half was terrible, that’s why I ended up giving it a 1.
I discovered Heat thanks to a review posted at Dear Author . I was very intrigued by the plot, and I’m sure that everyone else who read that review was as well. This is a book that elicits reactions, they can be positive or negative, but no one can deny that it’s an eye-catching story. So I was presented with the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and I decided to take it.
This is a simple story set in a complex world universe. Kane is a chemist and a pirate. His main business is a drug called Vahst, which he manufactures. Vahst’ main component is dopamine, a chemical that can be found in human’s brains. So Kane, his father and their crew, travel in search of buyers, using humans to harvest dopamine (the harvesting process is quite easy, just open their heads and rip the gland that produces the chemical) and also as slaves.
Humans were among the universe's most useful commodity. They were strong and resilient enough to make good laborers, yet small and weak enough to be easily controlled. They caught every damned disease that blew their way, but their bodies could be repaired practically by a whisper and a whim. They were short-lived, but they bred like a virus and the children learned faster than the adults. They got cold too fast, hot too fast, hungry every few hours, but their amazing little bodies could adapt to any imaginable climate or condition. You could work them, train them, sell them, cultivate poisons or medicines from their bodies, and, as old Uraktus had been fond of adding, you could eat them and fuck them, if you were desperate.
All of this comes to a halt when the intergalactic police apprehend him, killing his father and the crew in the process. Kane devises a plan to scape and reconstruct his business, a plan that involves a short stay in Earth in order to make enough Vahst to pay for a new ship and crew. So far his plan has been a success and he’s managed to escape and get to Earth, however, he’s about to run out of luck. Kane is a Jotan, their reproductive cycles are affected by heat. In the planet Jota the heat season lasts 9 days a year (Jotan days are shorter than ours), but during those days Jotan suffer from severe, almost paralyzing pain. The only way to release that pain is through sex, orgasm helps them recover but once heat strikes they need to mate again, and again. Unfortunately for Kane, he gets to a part of Earth that’s going through a very hot summer. Once Kane realizes that the heat won’t go away, he finds himself a woman so he can mate with her every time he needs it, and that’s how he “meets” Raven, a prostitute that has no other choice but to go with him and do as he says. And so it begins.
But wait! There’s more.
On the other side of the intergalactic law we have Tagen, the cop in charge of bringing Kane back to justice. He also goes to earth and is equally affected by heat. But Tagen chooses to deal with it in a different way. First, he has a number of heat suppressants, which will last him several days and will keep heat at bay; and second, he isn’t aware of how advanced humans are, the reports he has are from 500 years ago, and so he thinks humans are barbarians. It takes little time for him to realize that he is in over his head and that he also needs help. That’s how he “meets” Daria. He, unlike Kane, does not force her to do anything but give him shelter and help him learn English, but they become more and more involved with each other and his mission, which means that Tagen and Daria end up working together as reluctant partners.
This pretty much sets up the book, and once you see how long this thing is you are going to be amazed that I was able to explain it in a couple paragraphs (more like four). But this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
This book is basically the story of two very different aliens dealing with the same thing in very different ways. In fact, Kane and Tagen could be two sides of the same coin, with similar life stories that take dissimilar turns. Heat isn’t a good vs. evil story per se, but it is a story of good and evil. And you get to see how both sides react when presented with the same choices and situations.
My favorite part about this book was, hands down, the depiction of cultural shock. I have never read an “aliens invade” story that handles that aspect so well. Jotans and humans have many things in common, but also many differences. Both Kane and Tagen have certain knowledge of human culture, Kane more than Tagen, but this is the first time they find themselves in the position to actually put that knowledge to practice. And the result is interesting, hilarious and even realistic –or as realistic as Sci-Fi story can be-. Most of the book is about the aliens adapting, learning and readjusting their previous knowledge to fit this new reality.
Half by reason, half by guess, he pulled at a steel knob that protruded over a bowl-shaped indentation in the counter, and water flowed from a control arm beside it. Hidden pipework. Plumbing. With a shock, Tagen realized he was standing in a human bathing room, and that it was the same room they used for a privy. He had never seen anything so unsanitary in his entire life, not even in smuggler's dens or Kevrian slave pits.
Heat is a story about aliens in an alien place, behaving like they are the only thing right in a place where everything else is wrong.
She opened her mouth several times before she managed to ask the question that had been gnawing at her. "Are you an alien?" "Am I--?" Surprise smoothed the anger out of him, and made his hard features seem somehow younger. A thin smile twitched at the corners of his mouth, exposing the tips of some very sharp teeth. "No," Tagen said. "You are."
Everything in this book is shown, there’s no info-dumping whatsoever. You need to read the book and pay attention for the little tidbits of information. How do Jotans look like? You will find out, a little at a time, throughout the book. Same applies to how their planet looks, and how their society works.
The heroines of the story are just as different from each other as Kane and Tagen are, and Raven was by far the more interesting of the two. She came across as a young woman that was a bit lost. Her relationship with Kane was that of master and slave, and to be honest, it remained that way until the end. Kane ends up appreciating her some, mostly because she is useful in more ways than just as a sex slave, but that was pretty much it. I do not think theirs was a love story, you may stretch it and call it an unconventional romance, but to me it wasn’t like that at all. Daria, on the other hand, was just your good old romance heroine, she was a bit damaged and Tagen is the hero who saves her. She saves him as well, and their relationship was more balanced, in fact, Tagen would’ve been lost without her because he was pretty much useless. He wasn’t prepared for Earth and it almost kills him.
The ending was the weakest part. The suspense and the angst grow exponentially the closer you get to the end, but the actual resolution felt anticlimactic. I won’t go into details because I admit that the last 20% was the best part, but I was a bit disappointed.
The story is filled with violence and rape. Kane doesn’t consider humans his equals, he sees them as slaves, as animals, as commodities. They serve a purpose and don’t inspire remorse or second thoughts, there’s a clear separation between him and humans, the others. At times they can be amusing and useful, but that’s about it. At first, Kane can’t even tell whether they are male or female, he actually needs to check their genitals, just like we do with animals. This book is very graphic, I haven’t read anything like it before and I’m not sure I was ready to do it now. I came this close to DNFing it twice because it was making me sick, there are two scenes that are particularly bad. I’m not exaggerating, even if you think you may stomach it, chances are that you won’t. It’s that awful. None of it is gratuitous and I don’t think the rape is portrayed in an erotic way. Sex for these aliens is different than for humans, is more of a necessity than anything else, they get pleasure from it, but not emotion. I’m not trying to defend the rape scenes, but they were there to serve a purpose and not just for shock value (well, maybe a little bit for shock value), rape is there to show how non-human Kane was, and how his cruelty came from a different place than that of a human, because there are some truly awful humans in this book and those were more shocking.
I don’t think this book will go well with most romance readers. Personally, I feel a bit wrong for liking the novel so much, but I will definitely read more by this author. The voice is incredible compelling, the book is long but it never drags, every single page is justified and all the scenes serve to enrich the story and move the plot forward.
Would I recommend this book to you? Only if I knew you very well, but since I don’t, I’ll just say that at times I loved it and at times I hated it. Download a sample and see how you like it, and if you do read it come back and let me know!(less)
At this point it should be obvious why I got this book so I’ll skip that part and go straight to the review, especially because I’m running out of ways to explain why I’m a fan of Ms. Carr’s books.
Sunrise Point is the story of Nora Crane. She is in her early twenties, already a single mother of two girls, and desperate. Her boyfriend, a drug-addict and an ass, left her and their daughters abandoned in Virgin River. For the past few months she’s been getting by thanks to the help of everyone in town but she wants better for her kids so she decides to get a better-paying job. The opportunity comes in the form of the local orchard, so she decides to apply for a job picking apples.
Tom Cavanaugh has decided to settle down once and for all. His work running the family orchard is his dream, but he wants a wife and kids. His ideal woman is classy, willing to move to Virgin River, and most importantly, baggage-free. So when Nora comes asking for a job the instant attraction is unwelcomed, after all, she never got married, she has two young daughters, her ex is in prison and she’s almost homeless. He even refuses to hire her because she has no experience and doesn’t even look strong enough to handle the job. But his grandmother can see beyond that and makes him help her, so Nora ends up working for them.
Nora doesn’t want a relationship either, so once that’s settled, they become friends. Nora has to deal with her new job and Tom begins dating another woman. But is that what they really want? Nora dreams of having the stability that comes with a family and a home like Tom’s, and Tom keeps fighting the attraction he feels towards a woman who couldn’t be farther from his ideal. But love has other plans so it’s time to adapt.
Believe it or not, this is the nineteenth book in the Virgin Rive series, the nineteenth! I don’t know how she does it but she keeps getting new ideas. I confess that I wasn’t sure about this book. The last two books were more miss than hit so I even considered not reading it. Howeve I can’t resist the temptation and I’m really glad I read it because this is by far the best of the latest trilogy.
Nora was a great heroine. Really young but mature given the circumstances, not only with the kids but also her family and background. Hardworking and a little bit stubborn. Not much different from all the other Virgin River heroines. Tom was also very likeable, he had many things in common with Nora, the stubbornness in particular, and he had a very clear idea of what he wanted, in fact, most of the book, if not all, is about him getting over his expectations and realizing that what you think you want is not necessarily what you get and really want.
The best thing about this book, and what I think marks the biggest departure from Ms. Carr’s usual stories, is the fact that the romance develops really slowly. Yes, there is an instant connection, but the leads are not ready to be together, they don’t even want to. So they become friends instead. I found this to be such a refreshing change, Nora and Tom meet in the book, but it’s almost like a friends-to-lovers story. Obviously if you are into instant gratification the fact that they don’t even begin dating until way past the middle mark may throw you off, but I personally enjoyed it. I don’t like insta-love so the fact that the leads get to know each other before falling in love was wonderful.
There’s a villain in the book, and she was absolutely ridiculous and cartoonish. She’s the woman Tom dates before Nora and I found her one-dimensional and evil. I get it, she’s there to cause trouble and help the hero realize what he really wants, but why not give her some depth? You can have an antagonistic character that isn’t evil, or at least give him/her a reason to be that way. Also, the hero’s attitude got on my nerves. His ideal was unattainable and it takes him way too long to understand it. But those are the only complaints I have, and regardless of them, I really enjoyed the book.
This book stands alone perfectly well. You don’t need to read any of the previous books to fully appreciate Sunrise Point. It’s a great contemporary romance recommended to fans of small town stories. If you’re a fan of the Virgin River books, then you probably already read it, and if not, I’m sure you will love it.
Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes. (less)
I’ve been a fan of Ms. Grant’s blog for a while now so when I got the opportunity to read one of her books I jumped right into it (and it didn’t hurt that the blurb sounded like it was right up my alley).
Rebecca’s life is in shambles. Her grandmother has dementia, she works two crappy jobs in order to save her house, her ex-boyfriend is pestering and harassing her and she’s recovering from an eating disorder that almost killed her. She has good days and bad days, but she never gives up.
On the other hand we have Xavier. This is a guy who’s been lucky in everything but love. He has a great job, a loving family and an overall sense of stability, he’s Rebecca’s complete opposite. However, his love life is crappy to say the least. His fiancé left him for someone else and he’s just tired of meaningless relationships. After seeing how happy his sisters and coworkers are, he realizes that he’s lonely and needs someone to share his life with.
Xavier is a frequent patron of the café where Rebecca works as a waitress. They are attracted to each other and he tries to pursue her, but Rebecca is weary because she regards Xavier as a shallow and rich womanizer since that’s how her ex was, and she figures he’s the same. And so she just gives him the cold shoulder and the occasional evil-eye. But just like in any romance story fate keeps throwing them together, and the more they learn about one another, the more they feel the connection between them. But whereas Xavier is ready for love and commitment, Rebecca’s life needs fixing before she can embark on a healthy relationship, and there’s a lot to fix, so as I always say, the road to their happy ending won’t be an easy one.
I love damaged heroines and Rebecca fits the bill perfectly. When I started the book and saw everything she was going through, the first thing I thought was that she was in serious trouble. There’s just so much a person can endure before reaching the breaking point and she was right about to get there, or so it seemed. The thing is that once you read about her past you realize that she already reached her breaking point and the place she’s at now is the aftermath of that. So she was an interesting mix of strong and weak, good and bad. At times she was infuriating and at times admirable. My favorite thing about the book was how Ms. Grant deals with Rebecca’s disorder, it wasn’t a gimmick to move the plot forward and it wasn’t glossed over. It wasn’t the main conflict of the book, but it was kept front and center the whole time because it was an essential part of the character and something she was constantly struggling with, and at times it was painful to read, especially when you learn the whole story. By the end of the book you know she will make it, but you also know it’s a work in process. We can all sympathize with a character like that because I think we all deal, or have dealt, with self-image issues, or at least know someone who has.
Xavier was not as well-developed as Rebecca, this is book three in a series and I know he is a recurrent character throughout the books, so perhaps someone familiar with the other stories might have a deeper comprehension of the character, but still I loved him. I’m not usually a fan of books where one of the leads is a wreck and the other perfect, but in this case it works because Xavier represents the stability Rebecca was lacking.
There’s a remarkable cast of secondary characters. The ex-boyfriend was an abusive jerk more crazy than evil, to be honest I was confused by his actions, especially towards the end. But there’s another character that plays a somewhat antagonistic role that I thought was going to be the typical evil woman who breaks havoc in the couple’s relationship, but instead she ended up being layered and even insightful. I wonder if she’s going to get her own book because I see potential there for a very interesting heroine.
The sex scenes are hot and Ms. Grant has a rare gift because she uses the word pussy in a way that didn’t make me cringe, a huge accomplishment since I hate the word, it irks me and I always feel like it cheapens the sex. However, it didn’t bother me here, I didn’t love it, but in a way it works. Lots of hot sex in the story, but there’s an actual courtship first, another rare occurrence.
My main problem with the story is that when a person has so many issues I want them to overcome them on their own, and I felt like Xavier was almost like the knight in shining armor coming to rescue her and make it all better. It makes me uncomfortable when a character finds happiness because they find their better half, a person who happens to be the magical cure to all their problems. I think that regardless of how much you love someone you should never rely only on them. Your life and your well-being should never entirely depend on someone else. This is a personal view and I’m not saying that damaged people shouldn’t have a relationship; I’m saying that the relationship should be part of the solution, but not The solution. So even though Rebecca comes across as independent and a fighter, I felt like she was relying too much on Xavier.
Another issue I had was regarding the house. Rebecca’s grandmother bought this huge mansion hoping to turn it into an inn, a dream Rebecca shared with her. But they lost a lot of money when Rebecca got sick and what was left was used to take care of her grandmother. So now she had this massive house, with a huge mortgage, no dream, lots of bills and two backbreaking jobs that didn’t help much. Yet she was hell-bent on keeping the house. I understand the emotional attachment, but life is hard and we not always get to follow our dreams, and when that happens we make sacrifices and then get new dreams, or revisit the old ones once we have the means to achieve them. This is a romance novel so there’s a HEA and there’s some foreshadowing at one point in the book, so you pretty much can figure out how this ends early on, but even though I was happy for her, I was also annoyed because realistic and bitter-sweet endings can be happy, and you can’t always get what you want
Overall this was a great story about overcoming adversity and healing. A sweet romance that was all about the characters and their internal struggles, with a compelling and relatable heroine and a swoon-worthy hero. If you are like me, and love contemporary romance, I’m sure you will enjoy Xavier’s Loving Arms.
Source: we received a copy of the book from the author in exchange of an honest review. (less)
Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley
I think this is the first time I review one of Cara McKenna’s book, but it’s certainly not the first time I read one. And it was about time I told you about this fantastic author. If you like Erotic Romance and Erotica, you should be reading McKenna’s books. She pushes boundaries, deals with realistic characters and situations, and writes about a variety of relationships and sex.
In After Hours we meet Erin. Circumstances forced her into a caregiver position, and she took that experience and ended up becoming a nurse. When her sister gets in trouble, she is, once again, forced into the position of having to take care of someone. So she moves to a new town and gets a job at the local psychiatric hospital where she meets Kelly, one of the handlers.
Erin finds Kelly equal parts intimidating and arousing. He’s way too big, scarred, blunt, and very clear when he tells Erin about his needs to be in control and dominate. But unlike Erin, Kelly is an extreme caregiver by choice. And she finds the idea of letting go very appealing, while at the same time feeling appalled by the fact that she’s attracted to a man who wants to control and order her around.
However, the temptation to let someone else be in charge is too strong to resist, and soon they start a sexual relationship that will affect her deeply.
This story was an interesting character study and a very effective erotic romance. It’s set in the psychiatric hospital of an impoverished town, and even if these places only serve as a background, they felt like another character. They give the book an authentic, honest and almost bleak tone. It’s not a happy book, but it’s quite hopeful and real.
The star of the book is Erin, and to a lesser degree, Kelly. She’s in a constant power struggle and negotiation with herself. And letting go of a control that she doesn’t want, yet doesn’t know how to live without, is her biggest challenge. It’s also was draws her to him as well as the main source of conflict.
Kelly, on the other hand, is quite straightforward and knows himself well. There’s also a certain vulnerability to him that comes from his honesty and from past traumas, but he deals with his secret pains by acknowledging them and admitting the role they played in shaping the person he is.
There are minor BDSM elements in the story, but they relate to the characters’ needs and personalities, instead of to the need to write a book that fits the latest trend. And because of the themes of the story, these elements feel organic and right.
After Hours is the best Erotic Romance I’ve read this year, and the only thing that keeps it from being a 5-star read is that Kelly sounds and acts very similar the hero of Willing Victim, one of McKenna’s previous books. It was more than a vague sense of recognition; it was full-on flashbacks. But this becomes a minor complaint in light of how well the rest of the book worked for me. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.(less)
First time I don't like one of Ms. Morgan's books. The hero was a typical Presents hero (I'm getting sick of the Mediterranean man stereotype), the se...moreFirst time I don't like one of Ms. Morgan's books. The hero was a typical Presents hero (I'm getting sick of the Mediterranean man stereotype), the secret baby plot was thin and poorly done. The premise was interesting but I felt there were lots of missed opportunities. (less)