Hate to Want You – Alisha Rai – 4 stars

March 26, 2018 Avon, Purchased, Read in 2018, Steph 1

Hate to Want You – Alisha Rai – 4 starsHate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Published by HarperCollins on July 25th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural & Interracial, Contemporary Women
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars
five-flames

Alisha Rai, one of contemporary romance’s brightest stars, makes her Avon Books debut with the first novel in the sexy Forbidden Hearts series!

One night. No one will know.

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.

One of Amazon's Best Romances of the Month & Best Romances of 2017!

I know …  I know… I’m behind but I finally was able to read this one along with the rest of the series (in less than 24 hours) and I am glad I did.  The series does need to be read in order as the story unfolds across the three books.  In this one we meet the star-crossed lovers who find their way back to one another after tragedy tears their families apart.

Livvy is back to be there for the mother who doesn’t need her but that doesn’t stop Livvy from trying desperately to get something from her mother.  We get to meet a woman who wants nothing more than to forget the past but who is still hung up on the man who seemingly doesn’t want her any more.  I liked her strength even as she crumbled because of all the mess that tore apart her entire world.  I also appreciated that even as she tried to hide what Nico meant to her there was a part of her that always knew she’d never move on.  There is so much hurt, so many secrets, and so many hurdles I felt banged up by them all even though I was only reading about the drama.  Her finding peace with the past is a huge part of this story and even though it does take the other two titles to see the final secrets revealed the pairing between Nico and Livvy has a very satisfying conclusion which leaves you ready for more.

Nico…  Nico…  Nico… he’s a mess who is so practiced at denying what he wants and how he feels that you just want to slap him.  When we finally find out why he did what he did it makes sense but at the same time you really wish he had just talked to people.  He’s also very focused on giving Livvy all the pleasure he can when they see each other once a year…  Ohhhhhhh I didn’t mention that did it?  Yeah they’ve seen each other every year until the past one on her birthday for a night of sex.  He’s always looked forward to each year because even though he tries to deny it …  He’s still hers and only hers.  Seeing him work on figuring this out and dealing with the messed up remains of his family was interesting but my favorite part had to be when Livvy’s twin shows up…  I admit seeing his reaction to someone breaking in cracked me up.  I did appreciate that he owned his behavior when push came to shove but I did want him to wake up sooner than he did.

Keep an eye out today as my reviews for the other 2 parts come out later….

four-stars

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Burn Bright – Patricia Briggs 4 stars

March 25, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2018 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.

Burn Bright – Patricia Briggs 4 starsBurn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Published by Ace on March 8th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs "spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well" (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other--one that lurks too close to home...

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok's pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf--but can't stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills--his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker--to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn.

Patricia Briggs was one of the first authors I read when I was introduced by a friend to the PNR genre.  I am a big fan of both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series so I was thrilled to have an opportunity to review Burn Bright.

I have loved watching the relationship between Ann and Charles develop over the series and adored that in Bur Bright we get to see how much Anna had grown.  Anna was so broken when she first came to Charles so I loved that in Burn Bright Anna was so much stronger and got to be someone who was actively protecting some of the most vulnerable members of the Morrok’s pack.

The Wildlings were such an interesting group of wolves and I hope we get to see them in the future.  It’s a fascinating contrast to have characters that are simultaneously broken in some fashion while still being incredibly dangerous.  Briggs did an outstanding job of making the reader feel both compassion and fear for each of the Wildlings we met.

Bram’s wife Leah is a character I have mostly despised through both series, but in Burn Bright my feelings have softened a bit.  In Burn Bright we get to glimpse the  softer side of Leah.  Ultimately Leah makes decisions that are for the best of the pack and I think I finally understand that the reason that Leah is so hateful is because she truly loves Bran and doesn’t get the same love back from him.  Therefore everyone else that Bran shows any affection for is just a reminder of what she doesn’t get from him.  Seeing that Bran had to leave rather than deal with Leah himself when he believed that she was the traitor gives me hopes that perhaps we will get to see the two of them get closer in the future.

I won’t spoil who the traitor was, but I will say I was so disappointed to find out who it was.  I would never have guessed that it was this wolf which I suppose was the point.  It’s just hard to find a character that you have enjoyed wasn’t at all who you thought they were.  My only consolation was that the back story that explains why this wolf was a traitor was masterfully done.

As always I look forward to the next installment into the world of Mercy, the Marrok, Charles and Anna.

 

 

 

four-stars

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The Charmer – Avery Flynn – 4 stars

March 19, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley 0

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 Charmer – Avery Flynn – 4 starsThe Charmer (A Hot Romantic Comedy) by Avery Flynn
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on September 25th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Don't miss the hot new romantic comedy follow-up to the smash hit The Negotiator...

Hot, filthy rich, and usually irresistible, Hudson Carlyle just met the one woman in Harbor City who’s immune to his legendary charm. Nerdy ant researcher Felicia Hartigan is the unsexiest dresser ever. She trips over air. And she’s in love with totally the wrong man. Hudson can’t stop thinking about her.

His regular moves won’t work here. He’s going to need a new plan, starting with helping her win over the man she thinks she wants. And if in the process she ends up falling for Hudson instead? Even better. Step one, charm her panties off. Step two, repeat step one as frequently as possible.

But what if the famous Carlyle charm finally fails him when he needs it most? Or worse, what if she figures out the one secret he’s kept from everyone, including his family, and walks away for good?

Each book in the Harbor City series is STANDALONE* The Negotiator* The Charmer* The Schemer

Have you ever read a book where you wanted to strangle, shake  and slap both of the main characters while simultaneously adoring them?  The charmer was one of those books for me.

Hudson and Felicia had so much chemistry and were absolutely perfect for eachother.  Felicia saw right through the charming facade that Hudson hid behind when dealing with the rest of the world, even his own family.  As a man who was accustomed to charming the panties off of any women he wanted to, Hudson didn’t quite know what to do with a woman who busted his chops like Felicia did.  I absolutely adored Hudson’s nickname for Felicia.  It conveyed both how he felt about her at the same time as it fit her firecracker personality.

All of this sounds great right? Now let me get to why I wanted to beat them at various points of the book.  Both Felicia and Hudson got so caught up in their original plan to make Tyler notice Felicia that they ignored what was right in front of them.  As a reader it was so frustrating to see them get close only for one or the other of them to either deliberately or inadvertently push the other away due to something they said.  All of the talk of lessons when their connection had so obviously moved beyond the initial plan or even a casual connection.  They both had moments of saying such hurtful things to the other that I literally wanted to reach into the book and throttle them both.

The payoff in the end was worth it.  Felicia realized that the man she had been chasing was more childhood fantasy than reality and the way Hudson demonstrated how important Felicia was absolutely lovely.  It was a perfect demonstration from the real Hudson Carlyle.

As a side note, I can’t wait to read Everly and Tyler’s book.  The battle of wills I see coming from those two is going to be epic!

four-stars

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A Princess in Theory – Alyssa Cole – 4.5 stars

February 28, 2018 Avon, Edelweiss, Read in 2018 1

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

A Princess in Theory – Alyssa Cole – 4.5 starsA Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Published by HarperCollins on February 27th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural & Interracial, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars
four-flames

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

I am sorry I didn’t request this one earlier but I did and was so happy to get approval from Avon!  I adored this book and am ready for book 2.. like now…  I mean really it can hit my Kindle any time now… *checks Kindle* darn!  I thought I could wish it in to existence but hey let’s chat about this one…

What if you’ve never had a true family? Or you can’t remember what it was like because you ended up in foster care due to the death of your family?  You might end up like Ledi and feel like something is wrong with you so you just do the best you can do standing on your own.  She’s such a strong character with a heart of gold who really at her core just wants to feel like she matters.  She has her degree program that means everything to her and a friend who isn’t a bad person but honestly is a mess.  Oh…  she has her lab mice but I mean she really is lonely but strong enough where she doesn’t need a man in her life.  And she especially doesn’t need the stupid spam emails that keep cropping up in her account but… In comes…

Thabiso….  he’s a Prince.  Yes, a Prince.  So you have this image of a man who is used to getting anything and everything he wants, when he wants it, and how he wants it.  Yeah, he’s this in so many ways but there is a deeper core to him that wants to find out why the girl who he was betrothed to abandoned his country.  Yes, he knows it wasn’t her since she was young and it was her family but let’s not get caught in that detail.  He’s driven to do what is best for his country but he’s at a bit of lost ends because he doesn’t agree with some of the things his advisors are trying to tell him to do.  He meets Ledi under interesting circumstances and we get to see the two of them find something that ends up meaning everything.

I’m being careful because I truly enjoyed the story and want others to get a chance to see how they find one another even when things aren’t perfect.  I loved seeing this build and the way they pushed to figure out if this was real made me smile.  Go for it and grab this one for a nice story about two souls who really fit each other in surprising ways.

four-half-stars

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Thalgor’s Witch – Nancy Holland DNF

February 15, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, DNF, NetGalley, Read in 2018 0

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

Thalgor’s Witch – Nancy Holland DNFThalgor's Witch Published by Tule Publishing on 1/22/2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
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Goodreads
dnf

In a land of perpetual war and wandering, warrior Thalgor not only leads his people in battle, but keeps the hope alive that somebody his displaced tribe can rebuild the kingdom that was lost to the treachery between witches and men. When he captures a beautiful witch, he knows he cannot trust her. But to succeed in his quest to find a new home and prevail over his enemies, he also knows he needs her.

Erwyn might be a slave and feared for her powers and precognition, but she doesn’t cower when confronted by the feared warrior. Nor does she act as expected. Thalgor’s kindness confuses her. His flashes of humor confound her. And the reaction he ignites in her body creates a longing that she cannot deny.

Neither anticipated falling in love. The stakes are high, but when Thalgor is mortally wounded, Erwyn realizes she must accept help from an unlikely source to save him.

When I read the blurb for this book on NetGalley, it sounded like something that was right up my alley.  I’ve been on a binge read of UF and PNR and the premise was intriguing so I was excited to check it out.

Trigger Warning for references to rape.

Spoilers ahead

There were some problematic elements for me starting right away in chapter 1.  The following line is from one of Thalgor’s men after capturing a 5 year old child:

“Small, but female,” the man declared with an ugly laugh

This was followed almost immediately by this comment by the same man after he saw Erwyn who is the witch in this story:

“A full-size female,” the third man said, his toothless leer close enough for Erwyn to smell the rot of his breath.

Repulsive right?  Well this was followed by a this man groping Erwyn’s breast which is how we find out that witches have an inherent power that protects them from men.  This should have told me all I needed to know about this book.  If by page 10 the author needed to declare that witches have a power to keep themselves from being raped, I should have known there was more problematic material to come but I kept reading hoping this wouldn’t be the case.

In Chapter 4 after Erwyn exhausted herself healing members of Thalgor’s group following a battle, Thalgor carried her off into the woods with the intention of taking her.  While he changed he realized just how weak she was, the scene was tremendously uncomfortable.  The author highlighted how Erwyn was too exhausted to user her natural power to prevent her rape, and showed her mentally preparing herself for the rape to take place and pleading with him not to rape her.

And still I kept reading trying to finish the book I had agreed to review.

In Chapter 8 Erwyn discovers that she lost a child.  She was unaware that she was pregnant and had been using her powers which is extremely hard on an unborn child.  When she shared this news with Thalgor he was a uncompassionate asshole who instructed her not get pregnant again.  And guess who continued to have sex with her in a setting that appears to have no means of preventing pregnancy.   I am sure you can see where this is going.  When Erwyn is pregnant again and cannot help Thalgor or his people he’s a complete ass about it.  I was mentally raging about what a dick he was at this point but still tried to finish the book.

After Thalgor begins to exclude Erwyn from council meetings because he deems her unuseful now that she doesn’t have use of her powers (see he’s a dick), Erwyn begins to give him the cold shoulder.  She is avoiding him during the day and has no physical contact with him at night when they go to bed.  What do we get to see as Thalgor’s reaction?

“The next night he caught her staring at him with those unforgiving eyes and that lush body, and knew he could take her at will without her magic to protect her.  For the first time he almost understood what drove the man who become Rygar’s father.  But unlike that brute, Thalgor hated himself for the thought.

Are you kidding me?  This is supposed to be a romance between Thalgor and Erwyn and you have him thinking about raping her because she is refusing to have sex with him after he’s a dick?  Am I supposed to sympathize with his desire to rape her even though he supposedly hates himself for thinking about it.  You can fuck right off with that.

And this my friends is when I finally put down the book at 46% to never pick it up again.

There were many other problematic examples I could provide about this book, but who needs anymore of this nonsense in their life?  There are too many other amazing books out there to devote anymore time to this problematic book.

dnf

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Seared – Suleikha Snyder – 4 stars

January 26, 2018 Read in 2018, Self Published, Steph 18

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

Seared – Suleikha Snyder – 4 starsSeared on December 12, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: the Author
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

It’s been 10 years since Naya saw her stepbrother, Lachlan Christie. In that time, he’s become a famous chef, complete with his own hip and trendy Manhattan restaurant…and she’s become the woman who can give him everything — especially her body and soul. But the past doesn’t always stay dead, and you can’t escape it, no matter how far you fly or how hot you burn.

Naya’s determined to win Lachlan and secure them a happily ever after, no matter what it takes — but is love enough to save her master chef?

In the first book in the Master Chefs series, the forbidden meets the possible — and passion cooks up a storm.

Update – winner of the contest is Samantha.  She’s been emailed but everyone go out and get Seared!!!

HOT!  Ok that’s the first word that comes to mind when describing this book but it’s hot because the pairing works.  Well, that and the power exchange between them makes sense and it is very palpable as you read the story.

Naya knows what she wants or to be p, more accurate, who she wants.  The death of her former stepfather brings her back to New York to finally take the steps to her happy ever after… that is if she and her soul mate are willing to fight the specter of a man who was rotten to the core.  Naya has such a strong understanding of who and what she is which most of us never really figure out.  I liked that she was willing to sit back a bit at first but when she realized what was really happening she fought for what mattered even as she was being pushed away.  The interplay between her and her mother made me smile as you can feel the love between the two very strong women.  They love and love deeply but there are so many secrets that they both keep.

Lachlan loves Naya with all his heart and soul.  This is not a secret but as you read the book you begin to understand how hard he’s tried to bury this in order to give her the chance to fly.  He’s also dealt with his own sort of hell when it came to his father.  I truly hated the man even beyond the grave but was more pissed at Lachlan as he seemed to not see a way beyond the mess.  I loved how much he wanted to give Naya and that he really pushed her to make sure that she did know what she wanted.  He also made sure that he gave her what she needed even as he struggled with his own needs.  I also enjoyed the by-play with Naya’s mom as it showed how much she loved him even as she hated his father.  I really appreciated that we saw a relationship that existed between a child that wasn’t hers in blood but was hers in every other way that mattered.  She saw HIM not the wrapper and encouraged him even as she worked to protect her own daughter.

Lachlan and Naya made me smile even as they went thru the mess as they really were perfect for one another.  She’s not going to completely let him walk over her but she’s going to fight for the real him.  She won’t accept less than that.  He’ll fight to let her fly and support her as she navigates the world around her but own every single bit of her without caging her.  The balance they achieve is fun to read and…

I didn’t mention this but…  THERE IS FOOD!!!  FOOD FOOD FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD….  He’s an amazing chef and she isn’t so bad herself.  You’ll enjoy the mentions of food in the book so make sure to have snacks available if a craving strikes.

 

Now for my bit of fun…  I adored this book and wanted to do something a bit fun with it so I’m gonna do a giveaway –

For a chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of Seared plus…  yes plus…  a print copy of Cravings by Chrissy Teigen… tell me do you find a man who can cook to be sexier than one who can’t?  Is there something that you love to cook?

I’ll take entries until February 2nd at 11:59 pm Central Standard Time.  US only.

 

FYI – This is Cravings…  and yes I have a copy which will be used over the next month to make some evil recipes:

25982685

Maybe she’s on a photo shoot in Zanzibar. Maybe she’s making people laugh on TV. But all Chrissy Teigen really wants to do is talk about dinner. Or breakfast. Lunch gets some love, too.
For years, she’s been collecting, cooking, and Instagramming her favorite recipes, and here they are: from breakfast all day to John’s famous fried chicken with spicy honey butter to her mom’s Thai classics.
Salty, spicy, saucy, and fun as sin (that’s the food, but that’s Chrissy, too), these dishes are for family, for date night at home, for party time, and for a few life-sucks moments (salads). You’ll learn the importance of chili peppers, the secret to cheesy-cheeseless eggs, and life tips like how to use bacon as a home fragrance, the single best way to wake up in the morning, and how not to overthink men or Brussels sprouts. Because for Chrissy Teigen, cooking, eating, life, and love are one and the same.

four-stars

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Twice in a Lifetime – Jodie Griffin – 4 stars

January 24, 2018 NetGalley, Read in 2018, Riptide Publishing, Steph 0

Published by Riptide Publishing Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com

Ok Jodie knows I love her writing…  I also adore her as a person who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and love chatting with on Twitter…  before I get to the review I have to leave this here…

Yep…  I went there!

So on to the book, I don’t read a lot of F/F but I don’t see a lot of it in my feeds normally.  I have enjoyed the ones I have read so far and plan on trying to read more of them once I survive February so if you have any you’ve read let me know.  In this case we have a second chances romance where two women have had kids, been married and lived their lives with a lot of love but now are they willing to take the risk to love again?  There is a lot to overcome with one being the boss of the other and the fact that they are working in a very male, hetero field but these two women find a way to grasp this connection to create a new life with one another that is to be envied.

Talia is finally doing something she loves by working with the Police Department and their community involvement team.  She’s happy to be the assistant to a woman who sets sparks off and makes her want something that she doesn’t think she can have but as they work together the sparks seem to build to flames.  Talia had an amazing husband who she lost way too early but it has left her with a great view of love and now perhaps a chance to find it with a woman who makes her want.  I loved seeing her with her daughters as we get glimpses of how strong her partnership was with her husband.  You see how they built a life together and how that shaped the women her daughters have become.  They both had their own stories to go thru but they also provided Talia with the advice to go for what she wanted.  The support she received from them allows her to fight for what she wants.

Eve made me so happy as we got to see her fight for what she wanted while taking a risk that could impact the career she worked so hard to build.  She does make some choices that weren’t always the best but there was always a perceived good idea that underscored the choice.  I liked seeing her son and her reaction to his relationship as it felt like something I’d see in my real life should the situation arise.  I can see how much Eve cares for those around her and how badly she wants to help those who need it.  She’s strong but with Talia she does show how much love means to her.  She’s bold but practical and seeing how hard she fights to make things work will make you happy.  When the dark moment arrives it will hurt but how it plays out shows how much family means to her.

The story is a sweet love story with two women who love with everything in them.  It shows both in their relationship with each other and the ones they share with their children.  Give this one a try as it is truly a story of family and finding love later in life.

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Hi 2018… I’m Here & Let’s Chat About A Few Things

January 14, 2018 Musings 2

Ok I know I’ve been AWOL for a bit from the blog but I am still here and I do still read although at the moment it is mainly academic.  *ALL THE SOBS*

I will be finishing my degree at the end of February which will make me the proud owner of a B.S. degree in Business Analysis and Management…  YAY!!!  It also means that at that time I get to have more time to do ALL THE READING and ALL THE POSTING OF THINGS which I look very forward to doing.  Thanks to Boookluvr for posting a bit out here and those who have been patient with me while I complete this.  I will be starting an MBA program in the fall but in between I plan on going to Kinky in Kansas City (March), a local event and RWA (July) where I can spend time around people who love books as much as I do.  If you are at any of these events, look me up!

Now to the ranty portion of this post…

This idea of “clean” romance…

I don’t have an issue with vanilla or softer romances…  I truly don’t and have read/reviewed a few of those over the years but…  DON’T USE “CLEAN” TO DESCRIBE YOUR ROMANCES!!!!!  Sex is not inherently dirty or unclean.  Sex is natural and is not something to be ashamed of writing.  If you don’t want to include it, that’s honestly fine by me but do not use the idea of “clean” to sell your book and keep any respect from me.  If you wrote titles that you now have decided to re-imagine and reissue as “clean” romances then perhaps just perhaps you wrote those stories poorly because if you can easily remove the kink or sex scenes then they weren’t really part of the story in the first place.  You were writing something that  you felt would sell and really did a HUGE disservice to the readers who bought it and enjoyed it as written.  You just proved that the reader should not trust you in the future with their time or money because is the work truly what you wanted to write or was it an attempt at a money-grab with the hottest sub-genre at any given moment?  I now am very skeptical of these authors who have gone down this path and personally have avoided spending money or time on their new stuff.  I get that some authors do rework older titles but to explicitly state that you were reworking to a “clean” or softer romance makes me run away from you as fast as I can.  I also won’t buy or review titles that explicitly market using the “clean” designation so please keep this in mind.  Sweet…  behind closed doors… other things like that won’t cause me to avoid you but “clean” just needs to be retired.

 

Fat Shaming or other types of shaming and blatant bias…

Yeah… There is now a certain author who I will never read again because of certain things that have come to light in reference to her upcoming title and, per trusted members of the romance community, earlier titles with HUGE RED FLAGS… I won’t name the author but here’s the thing…

I’m fat..  I’m not at all skinny and ya know…  I can handle that.

Here’s what the problem is…  I was willing to give this person the benefit of the doubt that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.  Yeah, then I saw a person who was reading an ARC and sharing just small snippets of one of the first 5 chapters…  yeah…  damned early in the book and the level of hatred shown towards one of the characters because of her weight was unconscionable.  The fact that some of the thoughts portrayed were supposedly from a friend of the character in question made it painfully apparent that the author is tone-deaf and knowing that she’s been approached by multiple people from readers to bloggers to fellow authors to advocates is maddening.  There are so many reasons for weight issues and not all of them are easy to solve.  The classic eat less, exercise more adage isn’t always the solution and for someone to use a wide platform as this author has to make fat-shaming seem acceptable is not something we should be doing in 2018.

How about instead of using this idea of being fat as something to mock, fear, trash and otherwise put in a horrific light…  we work instead to boost self-esteem and focus on items that are great about a person.  I’d rather have the weight and be a good person than be skinny and produce something that shows how little empathy one has for others.  I’d rather support those who aren’t like me or provide something positive to help others than put them down.  Being fat is not something to be shamed by others… we see enough of that in our daily lives that to see it in the fiction from a writer who is in a genre that should celebrate all shapes and sizes is another blow that many cannot handle.

Let’s work harder to build each other up and be supportive.  Let’s do better dammit…  This is something we need to do period!  We need to seek to understand and embrace the differences rather than put them down or fear them.

Ok…  yeah I know…  I was a bit ranty but I have these moments. 

Anyway…  this year should be fun as I settle out school and reinvigorate the blog with the items I’ve been listening to and reading recently.  Thanks for sticking with me…

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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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Beyond Forever – Kit Rocha – 5 Stars

October 24, 2017 Read in 2017, Sent, Steph 1

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

Beyond Forever – Kit Rocha – 5 StarsBeyond Forever (O'Kane for Life, #2) by Kit Rocha
Published by Kit Rocha on October 24th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 132
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
five-flames

Before they were the King and Queen…

Six years before the Beyond series started, an ambitious bootlegger named Dallas O’Kane caught a very pretty thief named Lex with her hand in his safe.

The rest is very sexy history.

In Beyond Forever, follow Dallas and Lex through the turning points in their relationship, from the night he caught her trying to rob him, through his rise to successful bootlegger, to legend, to Sector Leader--with Lex always there, willing to give him the push he needs.

Beyond Forever is a prequel novella that jumps through time to tell the story of the biggest moments in the formation of the O’Kanes and their King and Queen. It will be far more enjoyable if you’ve already read Beyond Control, and contains spoilers for the entire Beyond series. 

I don’t even know where to begin… I really don’t…

I will say please pay attention to the blurb especially with respects to reading Beyond Control before you read this.  There are definitely spoilers for the series in this but without reading Beyond Control you won’t have a measure as to where this couple is now, then and way back then where the majority of the novella is set.  You’ll miss what is so crucial in this novella and why addicts of the series clamored for this story.

Dallas is not what we know him as now when we start the flashback portion of this story.  He’s smart, stubborn, and determined but he isn’t the King we all know him as.  He stumbles upon a thief who throws him off his game a bit but there is something about her that screams to him in a way he can’t fully ignore.  I loved seeing this glimpse of the man behind the legend and as the flashback moves forward we can see where the seeds for the confrontation in Beyond Control were sowed and know how much the drama there was forged in the beginnings of the King and Queen.  Dallas would truly be nothing without Lex but it took many years for them to finally find balance.

Lex pushes all the buttons but we get to see how early she truly fell in love with Dallas.  She’s driven but seeing how she struggled with getting him to understand how to balance what he wanted with what he truly needed made me love her even more.  She pushes him to be all that he should be and also makes decisions that need to be made when Dallas struggles with what has to be done.  Lex knows Dallas isn’t weak but also knows that he will sacrifice everything to do what he thinks has to be done to keep his people safe.  He has a huge blind spot and if it weren’t for Lex pushing the O’Kane’s we love would not be in existence.  I enjoyed seeing her vulnerability when it came to Dallas but I also hated seeing how much she was willing to tolerate just to be by the man she loved but didn’t have.  It made a lot of Beyond Control come in to focus as they really were not a healthy dynamic until the brutal moments in that story.

Be prepared to see the King and Queen in a different light after reading this and appreciate the work that it took to get them to what we know now.

five-stars

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