Genre: Contemporary

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Wrong to Need You – Alisha Rai – 5 stars

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

Wrong to Need You – Alisha Rai – 5 starsWrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
Published by HarperCollins on November 28th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural & Interracial, Contemporary Women
Pages: 368
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars
five-flames

A Cosmopolitan Best Book of 2017!

Alisha Rai returns with the second novel in her sizzling Forbidden Hearts series!

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn't commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

 An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past...and step into a future together.

Oh dear Lord… Jackson is just my favorite hero of this series.  I love his misunderstood self and how badly he wants his Sadia.  Alisha could give me more of him but I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied.

This continues the story started in Hate to Want you but now we get to focus on Jackson (Livvy’s brother) and Sadia (Livvy’s oldest brother’s widow).  This continues to uncover what really happened a decade ago when tragedy struck the Chandler and Oka-Kane families.  We get a few major bombs dropped during this one but I am going to remain focused on the man who I’d love more of…  Jackson…  He’s such a quiet person and very self-contained but when he loves, he loves fiercely which makes the pain he’s had to go thru for so many years so much more visceral.  He’s always had a thing for Sadia but felt that he would cause her more pain by returning to the town he’s avoided since being accused of something he didn’t do.  He didn’t even come home for his oldest brother’s funeral but wait for the payoff because when you see his grand gesture… *heart melts*  I loved seeing him lower his guards with Sadia and grow in to a relationship with his nephew.  As you go thru the story you get to see him blossom and finally get comfortable with who he is and what he wants.  He’s just amazing even if he comes across as standoffish.

Sadia also had a lot of growing to do in this book.  She’s still struggling with her husband’s death but also what was going on just prior to his death and now her need to be with Jackson.  She has a lot on her plate but the main thing I appreciated was how Alisha captured this need to be perfect and measure up to something that is impossible.  I liked seeing how she finally realized what her role is in her family and her own value even if it isn’t the same as the others in her family.  She’s stronger than she realizes but seeing her finally accept Jackson and what he is to her was my favorite part.  I adored how much she loved her son but also how much she opened up to Jackson even as she tried to keep her distance.

You’ll get to see some major moves towards the families healing and reconciliation but wait until book 3 for the rest of the story behind what actually happened all those years ago…

five-stars

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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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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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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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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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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
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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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