Posts By: Boookluvr

Can’t Let Go – Gena Showalter 3 stars

October 31, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Harlequin 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Can’t Let Go – Gena Showalter 3 starsCan't Let Go by Gena Showalter
on October 31st 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads
three-stars

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers tale about an icy war vet and the only woman capable of melting him... 

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men. Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar, and all bets are off. The former army ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible. 

For Jude, Ryanne is off-limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood--and her life--he can't turn away. She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he's determined to protect her, whatever the cost. 

As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future...or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Can’t Let Go is the fifth installment of Gena Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series.  As with the other books in the series, Can’t Let Go features a damaged hero and a woman who has exactly what he needs to heal the physical and emotional needs of his past.

Jude Laurent hasn’t had an easy life.  Between being neglected as a child, losing his leg in a bomb blast while in the military and losing his wife and twin daughters in a car accident, Jude is just focused on surviving and putting one foot in front of the other day after day.  There is absolutely no way he’s going to get involved with Ryanne Wade, even if the sassy bar owner makes him feel more than the never-ending grief that has become his life.

Ryanne Wade has big plans for her future.  She will be living her life on her own terms, traveling the world to see all of the sights that she has been dreaming about for her entire life.  She most certainly follow her mother’s footsteps by having a life that revolves around whatever man she is with at the time.  She knows that Jude isn’t in the right frame of mind to have a relationship with anyone given his past, but she is determined to help him find some happiness in the few weeks they have together before she leaves for Rome.

***Warning… spoilers ahead***

I expected to love this book.  I have read all the other books in the series and I was looking forward to seeing Jude and Ryanne finally come together. I did like the book, but there were some elements of the writing that kept me from loving it.

Positives:

  • Jude’s turmoil and emotional pain were handled well.  The scenes that showed Jude falling apart completely as the grief overwhelmed him helped the reader see how tortured he still was.
  • Ryanne was everything I love in a heroine.  She was sarcastic while still being vulnerable and caring.

Negatives:

  • The scenario for Ryanne getting pregnant felt very over the top.  You have a virgin heroine who is on the pill having sex with a man who recently had a vasectomy and is wearing a condom that breaks, yet she still ends up pregnant.  I understand that it is possible that this could happen, but it is so unlikely that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
  • When the references to Showalter’s other book series as video games started in the earlier books, I thought it was cute and maybe smart marketing on her side.  After reading references multiple times in this book I’m over it.  I don’t want to feel beat over the head with references to your paranormal series when I’m in the middle of your contemporary world.
  • Sex on a mechanical bull… I don’t think I need to say more here.

 

In the end, I thought Can’t Let Go was decent, but not up to the level of other books in the series.  Unfortunately it felt like it was trying to hard to follow a formula and the quality of the storyline seemed to suffer as a result.   I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next installment doesn’t follow the same path because I must read what happens between Brock and Lyndie.

three-stars

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Christmastime Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 4 stars

October 24, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

Christmastime Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 4 starsChristmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates
on October 24th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Western, Holiday
Pages: 384
Goodreads

It's Christmas in Copper Ridge, and love is waiting to be unwrapped... 

Falling for a bad boy once is forgivable. Twice would just be foolish. When Sabrina Leighton first offered her teenage innocence to gorgeous, tattooed Liam Donnelly, he humiliated her, then left town. The hurt still lingers. But so does that crazy spark. And if they have to work together to set up her family winery's new tasting room by Christmas, why not work him out of her system with a sizzling affair? 

Thirteen years ago, Liam's boss at the winery offered him a bribe--leave his teenage daughter alone and get a full ride at college. Convinced he wasn't good enough for Sabrina, Liam took it. Now he's back, as wealthy as sin and with a heart as cold as the Oregon snow. Or so he keeps telling himself. Because the girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together...

I know so many romance readers that adore stories that take place during the holiday season, but I have to admit I have never been one of them.  I haven’t ever been able to pinpoint why these books don’t resonate for me like they seem to for so many other people, I just accept that I am odd and generally skip over them.  So when I saw that the latest installment in Maisey Yates’s Copper Ridge series was titled Christmastime Cowboy, I was a little bummed.  I had been waiting on Liam and Sabrina’s story since we saw Sabrina take off out of the bar after seeing Liam in Slow Born Cowboy so there was no way I was going to skip this installment but the fact it was a Christmas themed story meant I probably wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as I normally would have.

Since the Donnelly brothers landed on the scene it has been clear that Sabrina and Liam shared a history and I have been dying to know what it was.  I assumed it would be something big like him taking her virginity and then taking off out-of-town or maybe if they had been in a relationship cheating on her given that even after 13 years even the sight of Liam seemed to send Sabrina into a tailspin.  So when the situation was revealed in Christmastime Cowboy, I’ll admit it felt a little flat.  It just didn’t feel momentous enough that at 30 years old Sabrina would still be so affected by the situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that she would have been hurting at 17 years old and that seeing Liam would still sting a bit, but to be so affected that she couldn’t ever tolerate being in the same room as him seemed a bit extreme.

Seeing the glimpses into Liam’s past helps you understand who Liam is today and why he took the bribe that Jamison Leighton offered him at 20 to leave town.  My heart broke for him when I realized that even after everything he had accomplished he was still that little boy who didn’t feel like he was enough.  Even after everything he had accomplished and the time he had spent reuniting with his brothers he was still keeping everyone around him out believing he didn’t have anything to offer.

If I could have reached into the book to strangle Sabrina’s parents for all of the unnecessary hurt they had caused her for their own mistakes, I would have done it.  They were so immature and so busy focusing on their situation that they had no compassion for a mistake that a 17-year-old girl made when they were making much bigger mistakes as adults.  When Sabrina met with her father to finally put the past to bed, I wasn’t quite ready to let my grudge against him go even having a better understanding of his motivations where she was concerned.

The scene between Liam and Sabrina when she gave him her goodbye speech made my chest ache.  Knowing Liam loved her but didn’t believe that he had anything to offer anyone unless is was money or something else outside of himself when all she wanted was him broke my heart.

Sabrina’s wit made for some very entertaining interactions between her and Liam.  My favorites were when she told Liam he was protecting her from his “big bad penis” and when she said she only stuck her tongue in his mouth because it seemed polite.

I am happy to report that the holiday setting didn’t detract from the storyline at all in this instance.  As a matter of fact, it seemed to be the perfect backdrop.

 

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The Weekend: London Affair Part 1 – Rhyannon Byrd 2 stars

October 17, 2017 Uncategorized 1

The Weekend: London Affair Part 1 – Rhyannon Byrd  2 starsThe Weekend: London Affair by Rhyannon Byrd
Published by Headline on October 17th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 144
Goodreads

The Weekend begins Rhyannon Byrd's sexy new serial, London Affair, where a dangerous web of passion, deception and intrigue unfolds into an explosive love story... Perfect for fans of Sylvia Day, J. Kenner and Jodi Ellen Malpas.

American art-history graduate Emmy Reed is in London, hoping to land her dream job by getting an exclusive scoop on a famous reclusive artist. When a dangerous encounter throws her into the path of millionaire playboy Jase Beckett, Emmy is grateful for his quick-thinking - but equally determined to turn down his proposal to be his date for a family wedding. That is, until she discovers that her sought-after artist is his grandfather.

Tired of the game-playing women in his circle, Jase finds Emmy refreshingly fascinating. And as the weekend progresses and they work together to survive his insufferable family's devious scheming, Emmy and Jase find themselves drowning in an intoxicating sexual chemistry that leaves them both desperate for more...and reeling emotionally.

When their stunning weekend is over, neither is ready to let go. But dark secrets surround the Beckett family - can their fledgling relationship survive the damaging revelations to come?

Emmy and Jase's explosive London Affair continues in The Chase and The Confession.'From London to the English countryside, Jase and Emmy burn up the sheets in this first installment of Rhyannon Byrd's London Affair' P.T. Michelle, New York Times bestselling author'London Affair is signature Rhyannon Byrd - exciting, sexy, and romantic. Byrd brilliantly crafts a steamy love story with a couple that dazzles, and I couldn't put it down!' Virna DePaul, New York Times bestselling author

Looking for more sexy reads from Rhyannon Byrd? Check out the steamy Dangerous Tides titles: Take Me Under, Make Me Yours and Keep Me Closer.

Warning, spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t read The Weekend yet and don’t want major plot points spoiled please come back later.

 

While sitting down to write this book, I had to ask myself what makes a the plot of a book realistic.  It was interesting to think about because it wasn’t as black and white as I thought it would be.  I’m a big fan of both the PNR and UF genres, so I can’t determine whether or not a book is realistic based on whether or not the events portrayed in the book would ever take place in the real world.  So what then makes the story we are presented with relatable to us the reader.  What I decided was that as the reader I needed to be able to understand the decisions that the main characters were making.  That evaluation has nothing to do with whether or not I would make the same decisions, rather that given who the character is and the situations they have found themselves in, do I believe that they would make the decisions that they are making in the book.

Many books have a moment where the character makes a decision that seems out of character or unlikely in my opinion, but it rarely affects my enjoyment of the overall story.  It’s only when it is decision after decision that seems unlikely or downright dangerous that it affects my ability to suspend belief and enjoy the story.  The Weekend ended up falling into the latter category for me.  I just couldn’t see a woman making the decisions that Emmy did throughout this first installment.

My struggle with this story started from the very beginning.  When Emmy wakes up in a stranger’s home after sustaining a concussion sustained during a mugging, you would imagine that she would be suspicious and likely in a hurry to leave.   I mean when you don’t know where you are, or how you got there most women would be in a hurry to get the heck out of dodge, so when Jase offers Emmy a deal for an interview with his grandfather if she’ll be his date at a weekend family wedding I raised an eyebrow at her decision making.  Little did I know that this would be one of the most believable scenes in the entire story.

Once at the wedding, we find out that Jase’s family is a hot mess of epic proportions.  His dad is an alcoholic who is still actively drinking, his step mother could give the Wick Witch of the West a run for his money and his cousins are egotistical abusive assholes.  Does Emmy ever seem to second guess the situation she has found herself in… nope.  Below are just a few examples of the types of situations I am talking about.

  • Jase’s step mother is shown screaming at him on multiple occasions and quite frankly seems to have a creepy attraction to Jase although that’s never shown on page.  Emmy rescues Jase twice from these events, yet never calls him out for bringing her to this weekend without giving her a clear picture of what the situation is.
  • Jase’s step mother and cousin conspire to split Jase and Emmy up by making Jase believe she is cheating on him.  That in itself isn’t an uncommon premise, but in this case his cousin corners her, physical restrains her and forcibly kisses her.  Not only does our heroine not decide that she may be in over her head with this family, but she is immediately intimate with Jase for the first time after this happens.
  • Jase’s other cousin is cheating on his fiance throughout the entire book, and at one point a teenager that he has gotten pregnant shows up and he physically threatens her.

I just couldn’t wrap my head around a man that would knowingly continue to subject herself to all of this when she isn’t even in a relationship with man.  I personally would be hard pressed to stay in that situation with a man I loved, let alone a man I had a temporary arrangement with.

The Weekend ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I will admit even with all of the issues in the story, I am a tad curious about what happens with both characters in the next installment.  It’s my hope that the over the top insanity gets dialed back a few notches.

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The Real Thing – Melissa Foster DNF

October 6, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, DNF, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

The Real Thing – Melissa Foster DNFThe Real Thing by Melissa Foster
Published by Amazon Publishing on September 5th 2017
Pages: 286
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

Bakery owner Willow Dalton's friendship with Zane Walker has always been a bit complicated. Now a scrumptiously hot A-list actor, Zane's always had a reputation as a player. He's arrogant, and he's definitely not boyfriend material. Sure, he did Willow a favor by agreeing to take her virginity before college, but is that reason enough for her to go along with a fake engagement a decade later--even if it comes with a real diamond ring?

Zane should have known better. Nothing involving Willow has ever been easy. Still, he knows her better than anyone, and becoming America's hottest new leading man means cleaning up his reputation. An "engagement" to curvy, sass-mouthed Willow is the perfect PR move...provided no one gets hurt.

Now Zane and Willow's little white lie has turned into an irresistible recipe for sweet temptation. And soon no one will be able to tell the difference between their fake engagement and the real thing--including them.

Sometimes you just know that a book isn’t going to be for you once you start reading it.  While I used to force myself to finish a book once I started it, this year I have stopped that practice.  With the state of the world today, I think all of us need to allow ourselves to find enjoyment where we can.   No one book is for everyone, so if it’s not for me that’s ok.

I love the fake girlfriend, fiance, wife trope in romance.  Watching a couple who is faking a relationship fall for each other gradually in the midst of their efforts to con someone else rarely fails to delight me.  At least one of the characters is so sure that relationships aren’t for them that it’s entertaining to watch their life be turned upside down when they figure out they fell for someone when they weren’t paying attention.

As excited as I was for a new fake relationship story, I knew very early on that The Real Thing wasn’t going to be for me.  I found Zane’s actions to get Willow to help him improve his image, regardless of whether she wanted to or not, to be extremely selfish and aggressive.  Why wouldn’t he call her and ask for her help as opposed to tricking her into believing she had a catering job for her bakery and ambushing her?   The fact he went so far as to have a moment between them captured by a photographer before even giving her a chance to agree made me want to punch him in the face. And telling someone they owe you for you agreeing to take their virginity years ago just made him a douche in my book.  By the beginning of chapter 4 I knew that I wasn’t going to connect with this storyline because as far as I was concerned, Zane needed to fall off the face of the earth.

On top of Zane being a jerk, I struggled with some of Willow’s dialog when it came to other women.  I get that Zane is supposed to be a movie star player, but referring to what would happen when he was in town as a “Zane Hotter-Than-Hell Walker slutfest” was kind of gross.  It implies the women are the problem when Willow’s real issue was with Zane’s behavior.

I am sure that both characters evolve throughout the book and we get to see more than the surface level interactions that I experienced to understand them better and that there will be plenty of readers who love this book.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

 

 

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Archangel’s Viper – Nalini Singh 5 stars

September 26, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Read in 2017 2

Archangel’s Viper – Nalini Singh 5 starsArchangel's Viper by Nalini Singh
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on September 26th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, General, Science Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel...or human...   Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman--it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.   Now, someone has put a bounty on her head...   Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself--because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening...   No one is safe.

You’ll have to pardon my fangirling for a moment, but with some books/authors it simply can’t be helped.  I love Nalini Singh’s PNR books!  It doesn’t matter if I am in the middle of another book, when a new Guild Hunter or Psy-Changeling  book comes out I immediately start reading it.  PNR worlds can be tricky (especially first books) because so much of the story centers on the building or description of the world and I can find myself struggling to feel connected enough to the main characters of the story because I am so focused on the world.   I am always amazed that given how detailed the worlds in both series are, I didn’t feel that frustration or disconnect from the story.  Nalini’s world always seems to provide the detail needed to connect you to her characters rather than take away from the.  She does such an outstanding job bringing details like color, texture, taste and emotion to life in her books that you can almost feel the backdrops she describes.  Every description brings you further into the world of her characters and bonds you to them so that you feel every emotion along with them.  Given that, it’s no wonder both series are a favorite re-read for so many readers.

Archangel’s Viper was such a wonderful installment to the Guild Hunter series.  I have been looking forward to seeing Holly and Viper since Holly was introduced to us as Sorrow.  Their back and forth banter made me hopeful that they would be paired up later in the series once Holly had time to heal, so I was thrilled when this book was announced.

I loved seeing how far Holly came since we last saw her.  Her confidence, determination and attitude were delightful.  The emphasis on her clothing and accessories gave us a glimpse not just into who Holly is today, but who she was prior to being thrust into the world of angels and vampires.  The back and forth between Holly and Viper made me smile because they truly had a dynamic that was simply their own.  When the everyone else was still treating Holly with kid gloves in some ways, Viper never shied away from treating her like his equal.  Whether that meant telling Holly truths she may not want to see, or physically testing her limits, it showed us how much confidence Viper had in Holly’s ability to exist in their world.

My favorite elements of this story (without spoilers) were:

  • Ashwini programming ringtones in Holly’s phone.  I love seeing the playfulness between such powerful beings.
  • All the nicknames Holly and Viper had for each other.  To others these may have seemed like insults, but in the end it was a way for the two of them to establish a subtle intimacy before they even realized what was happening.
  • Holly’s dislike for Viper’s sunglasses.  I love that a feature that made Viper seem so alien was something that never deterred Holly.  She was not only fascinated by his eyes and their behavior, but could read his eyes ina  way that other’s seemed unable to do.  While Viper didn’t believe his eyes reflected emotion in the same way that most eyes do, with Holly that wasn’t the case.
  • The details of Viper’s home that called out to both he and Holly.  Given that otherness of Viper I don’t think I realized how important it would be that whoever he ended up with would be drawn to some of the same comforts.
  • Viper absolutely melted my heart when he cooked for Holly.  Seriously, a vampire that doesn’t eat who goes out of his way to not just prepare food, but meals that were either centered around dishes that he knew Holly liked based on observing her or those that were a bridge to his own past.  Each one was prepared with such care that it was one of the most romantic scenes I have ever read.
  • The flavored blood that Ashwini sent with Venom.  This to me is an example of such a subtle detail making a world of difference to the story.  Listening to Venom describe the flavors and the memories associated with them (especially given his taste for flavored blood) humanized him in a way that I wasn’t prepared for.
  • The glimpses into Holly’s relationship with Dimitri.  Given his painful past, I love that he has become a father figure to Holly and Naasir.
  • Holly and Viper playing in Central Park.  That scene did such a good job showing us how alike Holly and Venom were, and it was the first time we got to see Holly let her abilities surface in a playful way.
  • That Venom gave Holly his true name.  To me it was symbolic of his final wall coming down between them.  It was the moment where I knew that Holly had his heart for eternity no matter what came next.

Fans of the Guild Hunter series will not be disappointed with this latest installment, and I dare say may find Viper their favorite hero in the entire series (sorry Dimitri 🙂 ).  To those that haven’t read any books in the series yet, I have only one thing to say… What Are You Waiting For?!

five-stars

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All or Nothing at All – Jennifer Probst – 3 stars

July 25, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Gallery Books, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

All or Nothing at All – Jennifer Probst – 3 starsAll or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst
Published by Gallery Books on July 25th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, General
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

HGTV’s Property Brothers meets The Marriage Bargain in this third novel in the Billionaire Builders series, an all-new sexy contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

***Warning, this review will contain a pretty major spoiler.  I felt the topic needed to be touched on in the review, so if you haven’t read the book and don’t want spoilers, come back after you’ve had a chance to read the book 🙂 ***

 

For readers of the Billionaire Builders series, I am sure that you, like me, saw some elements of this story line coming a mile away.  It was clear that Tristan and Sydney would be the focus of his book, and given the glimpses that we have had of Sydney’s daughter Becca, that we would be looking at a secret baby romance.   Secret baby story lines can be tough because the author must impress upon the reader that the choice of keeping a child from their father was justifiable at the time, and that given the circumstances the hero would be able to forgive the heroine for her decision enough to finally have their HEA.   This criteria wasn’t completely met for me in All or Nothing at All which I will get into further later in the review.

In the 3rd installment of the Billionaire Builders series,  the book begins by showing us the moment that Tristan left town, and Sydney 7 years ago.  This glimpse helps set the stage for why they have such off the charts chemistry and so many unresolved issues as we move into the present.  These flashbacks continue throughout the book showing the reader scenes from both character’s perspective all the way from childhood through recent events.  While I think these flashbacks help demonstrate the history that the characters have with each other and how integrated Sydney was in their family, I do think they were too frequent and not all necessary to help the reader understand the dynamics between the characters.

The main plot point in this book is that when Tristan and Sydney once again find themselves considering a relationship, everything implodes when Sydney reveals to Tristan that he is in fact Becca’s father.  While I understood how Sydney would feel a momentary sense of panic given Tristan’s desire to leave his home to move to NYC, I didn’t buy in to this being a justifiable reason to keep his child from him for 7 years.  Sydney wasn’t just keeping Becca from Tristan when she made this decision, but also the rest of the Pierce family.  Given how much a part of the family Sydney was and how much she professed to love them all, this was where the story line didn’t fit for me.  She has worked in the Pierce family business all this time, spent time with Cal and Dalton (Tristan’s brothers) and yet never once seemed to second guess her decision.  In the end I felt that Sydney had made an extremely selfish decision because regardless of what would have happened between her and Tristan, she would have had a support system in the rest of the family.

While the secret baby wasn’t as well done as I had hoped, I enjoyed seeing Tristan and Sydney come back together and work out their issues.  The forced wedding angle was a bit over the top for me, but it did serve as a catalyst to keep them in close proximity.  It was also enjoyable to see Cal and Morgan’s wedding in this book.  Picturing that wedding dance sure gave me a chuckle.  I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Dalton and Raven’s engagement but I realize not everything was going to get tied up in this book.

I am a little sad to know that this series is finished because I did enjoy the brothers.  Seeing how far they have come in their relationships with each other was the most heartwarming part of All or Nothing at All for me.

If you have thoughts on this book or the series in general, I would love to hear them!

 

 

three-stars

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The Hating Game – Sally Thorne 4 stars

July 6, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne 4 starsThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by HarperCollins on August 9th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary, Humorous, General
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
                       2) A person’s undoing
                       3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

One of my absolute favorite romance tropes is enemies to lovers.  I love watching the characters go from snapping and snarling at each other until they give in to their physical attraction.  They often then tell themselves that their attraction is purely physical until their emotional connection smacks them upside their head.    When I sat down to write this review I thought about why I am so drawn to the trope two reasons stood out.  The first is that insta-hate seems much more plausible to me than insta-love.  This isn’t necessarily specific to romantic relationships for me, but carries over to friendships as well.  Most of my closest friends are people I didn’t like when I first met them and now I can’t imagine my life without them.  The second reason is that I think so many of us have a list in our head of exactly what we think will make us happy in life, including our relationships so we avoid situations that don’t fit those narratives.  The reminder that what seems like it would make us happy on paper doesn’t always fit in reality is something I think we could all use now and then.  So given my love of the trope, when I read the blurb for The Hating Game I couldn’t wait to read it.

Most of us can relate to working with someone who we don’t care for, but can you imagine sitting directly across from them day in day out?  No thank you!   That is exactly what the main characters in Sally Thorne’s romantic comedy The Hating Game are dealing with.  Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are  executive assistants at very different publishing houses.  Lucy comes from Gamin Publishing whose employees see literature as art.  Josh on the other hand worked at Bexley Books where the employees believe the bottom line matters far more than the words on a page.  The differences in the styles of the two companies is never more clear than when we see Lucy and Josh interact.    To say that these two don’t like each other would seem to be an understatement in the beginning of the book.   They both take passive aggressive to a whole new keeping score on everything from who looks away first, smiles first etc… even going so far to keep score and a list of what they deem to be violations that they could report to HR (Think an in case of emergency break glass kind of situation).  When both characters are up for the same promotion their antics reach a whole new level.

Initially I felt that the antics of both main characters was very immature and I worried the book was going to be too “cutsie” for me, but once Lucy and Josh were thrown into situations where their game-face started to crack and we got a glimpse into their true feelings I was rooting for them all the way.  Josh’s character was so swoon worthy once you uncovered all of his cool composure and understood that much of what appeared to be dislike on his part was his own defense system.   I actually found myself irritated with Lucy because she was constantly overlooking the good things that Josh was doing for her well past the time it felt reasonable.  She redeemed herself in the end when she stood up for Josh when he needed her the most.

I don’t want to spoil any of the fun scenes that you will encounter in this story so I’ll just say that if you like the enemies to lovers trope this book should go on your TBR list right away.  You won’t regret it.

 

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Fierce Obsessions – Suzanne Wright 3 stars

June 14, 2017 NetGalley 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Fierce Obsessions – Suzanne Wright 3 starsFierce obsessions Published by Montlake on 6/13/17
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

When raven shifter Riley Porter was given sanctuary by the Phoenix Pack, she let them believe she had left her flock. Reluctant to divulge the secrets of her past, she was still embraced as family. Only Tao Lukas, the protective and passionate Head Enforcer of the pack, was resistant to the enigmatic shifter. Until Riley started to arouse in him something other than suspicion.

Tao doesn’t trust lone shifters, especially ones so guarded—and tempting. But the sexual tension between them is making them both come undone, and vulnerable to more than desire. All Tao wants is for Riley to stay with him and to trust him with the truth of her past.

As Riley’s mysteries come to light, so does a danger that threatens not only her life but the safety of the entire pack. For Tao, keeping Riley safe means keeping her close—forever—as his mate.

In case The Phoenix Pack series is new to you, I am going to give you a little background.  Raven shifter Riley Porter left her flock and has been living on own when she ends up at a homeless shelter for shifters.  It is there that Riley meets two orphan shifter children, Savannah who is a viper and Dexter who is a cheetah and becomes their guardian.  When the safety of the homeless shelter is threatened, Riley and the children end up staying with the members of The Phoenix Pack.

Tao Lukas is the Head Enforcer of The Phoenix Pack and body-guard to the alpha’s.  Tao’s focus is always on the protection of his back and ever since Riley arrived he’s been a thorn in her side, accusing her of being trouble and bringing danger to his pack.  To say he isn’t her biggest fan is an understatement.

Now, onto Fierce Obsessions:

When Riley wakes up with a raging hangover after a night of partying with the pack, she finds herself in bed with Tao Lukas.  As if the headache and nausea wasn’t enough, now she has to figure out how to deal with an awkward morning after.  Sure, she’s always been attracted to Tao but she wasn’t going to chase after a man who doesn’t like her no matter what their chemistry was like.  Certain that Tao will want to forget what happened as much as she does, Riley is caught off guard when Tao tells her he has no intention of forgetting what happened.  Not only that, but he has every intention that it happen over and over again.

Tao Lukas wanted Riley the first time that he saw her, but Tao doesn’t do change or trust people easily so he didn’t just accept her joining her back at face value.  Once he realized that Riley wasn’t there to do any harm to his pack, he also realized he had to be sneaky if he was going to have her in his bed.  Tao’s pretty guarded, but Riley is even more so so he has had to wait until she wouldn’t see him coming.  After a night of tequila shots, Tao has finally found himself in her bed and he’ll take whatever approach he needs her to keep her there for the near future.

When Riley goes back to her flock to celebrate her uncle’s anniversary, Tao insists on coming along.  With the relationship between them so new, there’s no way he’s letting her get away from him that easily especially since Riley has never indicated she plans to stay with the pack.  Once events unfold that make it clear there Riley’s emotional health isn’t the only thing that he needs to be worry about Tao wants nothing more than to get her back on pack lands where he knows he can keep her safe.  Riley, stubborn as ever isn’t going anywhere until she gets to the bottom of who is targeting her and her friends and family in the flock.

I enjoyed watching Riley and Tao circle around the reality of the fact that they were in a relationship from the moment they got together.  Each was in denial for their own reasons even when their friends and family could see clear as day that they were meant to be together.  I especially adored the relationships they both had with the Savannah, Dexter and Kye and the fact that the children were given as much emphasis in the relationship building as what happened between Riley and Tao.  Given the personalities of both of them I think it was the only way to make the relationship believable as it built due to how important children were to each of them in different ways.

As always, I enjoyed the most recent glimpse into The Phoenix Pack and I look forward to seeing them again in future installments (fingers crossed).

 

three-stars

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Silver Silence – Nalini Singh – 5 stars

June 13, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley 2

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Silver Silence – Nalini Singh – 5 starsSilver Silence by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley Publishing Group on 6/13/2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 464
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
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five-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a bold new chapter in her extraordinary paranormal romance saga with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. Wild passion will encounter the darkest of betrayal...

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

Silver Mercant is the cool as ice assistant to Kaleb Krycheck and the director of EmNet.    Silver can handle any crisis without breaking a sweat, but can she handle a sneaky bear?

Valentin Nikolaev is alpha of StoneWater clan and he and his bear have both take notice of Silver Mercant.  Her brilliant mind and take no crap attitude are exactly what both of them need.  Now they just have to figure out how to convince her to give them a shot.

After an attempt on her life, Silver finds herself moved into Denhome, the home of the StoneWater clan and a certain exasperating bear.  Living in a community full of rowdy bears who have no understanding of personal space or boundaries seems like it would be torture for someone as buttoned up as Silver, but she quickly finds that the bonds of clan aren’t so different from those of her own family.  Silver finds herself charmed by the affection, humor and loyalty of the bears and her icy exterior starts to thaw.

Valentin has got Silver exactly where he wants her and now he just has to figure out how to keep her there.  He knows that bear sneaky isn’t going to be enough to sneak up on this woman, he’s going to have to be cat sneaky.

Watching the relationship between Silver and Valentin develop was swoon worthy.  The two of them had far more in common than what we initially see, but it is clear that they are meant to be together.  Silver’s strength and attitude make her the perfect match for a man who has so much responsibility on his shoulders and hurts from his past that he is still trying to fix.    Valentin loves everything about Silver, even her cool attempts to push him away.

When the consequences of Silver giving up silence became clear, my heart broke for both of them.  I very rarely cry when reading books but in this case there was no other option.  Just when they finally come together and both acknowledge who the other is to them, they realize they have to risk it all to keep her alive.  Watching them fight their way back together made the momentary heart break worth it in the end.

 

A few of my favorite moments from the story:

  • Silver gives Valentin’s mom an ultimatum to get over her issues or get out.  Watching the future relationship between these two is going to be interesting.
  • All of the pet names Silver and Valentin had for each other.  The affection they had was laced in to every single one.
  • The glimpses of the Mercant family where we realize none of them are as silent as we expected.  I hope we get to see more of Arwen and Pavel in the future.  I’m also curious if E and S are going to end up together.
  • Valentin and Dima’s visit to Silver’s office – she never stood a chance.
  • The waffle date – Valentin was still being cat sneaky.
  • Ena having tea and a chat with a certain someone.  I loved how composed and in control she was.
five-stars

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My Roommate’s Girl – Julianna Keyes – DNF

June 8, 2017 DNF, NetGalley 1

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Roommate’s Girl – Julianna Keyes – DNFMy Roommate's Girl on 6/12/17
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Pages: 252
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
dnf

The day a judge gave me the choice between going to prison or going to college was the day I vowed to stop stealing. Never again would I see something beautiful and beyond my means and take it, just because I wanted it. Just because I could.

When I moved in with Jerry, it was with good intentions. I needed a place to live while I got my degree, and he needed a roommate.

Then I saw Aster.

Blond and beautiful, good, pure, sweet, smart…and Jerry’s girlfriend. She was everything I never thought I could have. Except…maybe I can.

So I put a plan into action. Yeah, I’d probably go to hell, but it would be worth it. I wanted Aster. I wanted her yesterday and tomorrow and every possible way.

But you know what they say.

Be careful what you wish for…because you just might get it.


For me, there are a few golden rules in romance.

  1. There must be a HEA or HFN.
  2. No cheating
  3. The relationship can’t be unhealthy

I know that these are just rules for me, and even the definition of what each of what these mean for me might be different from someone else but for me they are hard stops.  Given that, I the title of this book should have been a clue that it wouldn’t work for me but after seeing a couple of people rave about it on Twitter I decided to give it a try.   I think we all know how this is going to turn out…

At 55 % I have decided I won’t be finishing this book.  It hits 2 out of my 3 already and I have no desire to keep reading to find out of it will do the same with the 3rd.   As the title suggests, the male lead in his book moves into an apartment and falls for his roommate’s girlfriend.  When he decides he must have her, he sets up his roommate by taking him to a bachelor party where he gets him drunk and has paid a prostitute to do whatever it takes to hook up with him.  I can only assume that others didn’t see this as being as problematic as I did since the character was a man, but can you imagine this story line being well received if we were talking about a woman?  The standard shouldn’t be different with a male character.  As if that wasn’t problematic enough, the rest of the relationship is based on both characters lying to each other repeatedly.  They aren’t truthful about their backgrounds or who they are and have a dynamic that is so dysfunctional that I found it to be anything other than romantic.

There are too many books that take me to my happy place to continue with something that I so fundamentally disagree with.  While this book may work for others, it just isn’t my cup of tea.

 

dnf

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