Genre: Romance

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Hot and Badgered – Shelly Laurenston – 5 stars

March 27, 2018 Kensington, NetGalley, Read in 2018, Sent, Steph 1

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

Hot and Badgered – Shelly Laurenston – 5 starsHot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
Published by Kensington on March 27th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Shifters, Action & Adventure
Pages: 400
Source: the publisher
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five-stars

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.   Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up . . .

My reaction once I saw the title for this book and knew it was about HONEY BADGERS:

via GIPHY

This might be one of the ways I imagine our favorite honey badgers:

via GIPHY

But I am torn on how to review this because I loved it so much and don’t want to even partially spoil anything so…  it is LIST TIME!!!

Why do I love this book so much?  Well..

  • We get to see HONEY BADGERS…  I mean come on now who wouldn’t love it just for this alone.
  • A certain character I love gets their ass kicked and… also gets what’s coming to them from another source as well.  When a mama says “I hope you have a kid just like you”, pray this doesn’t happen.
  • Bo!!!!!  Yes Bo is back in all his OCD glory.
  • Kyle!!!!!  We gets lots of psycho Kyle and man oh man did I miss him.
  • The sisters are divine!
  • Lock makes a fun appearance.
  • A certain overly focused older genius makes an appearance.
  • I really hope that one of the sisters ends up with my favorite panda.
  • We get another species that I didn’t expect but should’ve cause he’s just priceless and I can’t wait to see more of him in future books.
  • Another bear shifter so you know what he’s especially good at *waggles eyebrows*
  • A love story that makes sense even as the world around them goes crazy they just work…

Now on to my warnings..

Read this ONLY with people around you that won’t get distracted by snort laughing as you hit some of the funniest parts.

Don’t read this while DRINKING ANYTHING…  Yes I do mean DRINKING ANYTHING…  You will spit take a few times if you do and there is a distinct possibility of laughing hard enough where it will come out your nose.

Be prepared to want MORE NOW as this book reminds you of why you love this series so much and so badly missed the world that Shelly has built for us.

So…. just go ahead..  buy it and prepare to not get anything else done until you’ve read it.  Also…  I might be a WEE bit excited that Shelly will be the keynote speaker at a RWA luncheon this summer.  I will try to contain my fangirling but…  yeah…  I WILL BE IN THE SAME ROOM AS SHELLY… *hyperventilates* I’m cool…  I’m cool…  I’ll be cool….

five-stars

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Hurts to Love You – Alisha Rai – 3.5 stars

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

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

Hurts to Love You – Alisha Rai – 3.5 starsHurts to Love You by Alisha Rai
Published by HarperCollins on March 27th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Multicultural & Interracial, Contemporary Women
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon
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three-half-stars
four-flames

Being bad never felt so good, in the third novel in Alisha Rai’s sexy Forbidden Hearts series!

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.

Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

I had such high hopes for this one but it just didn’t completely make me happy.  I liked it but compared to Jackson’s story…  yeah… just not as good as I’d hoped.  I loved seeing the wrap-up but I wanted something bigger from the main pair, Eve and Gabe.  Still was a good read but Jackson just has my heart.

Eve is finally making some strides to stand on her own two feet by quitting the job she hated and starting to avoid her abusive father.  She also is head-over-heels obsessed with Gabe.  She knows he’s not in to her but she can’t help but try to be around him any way she can.  I felt for her as we go thru this book because what she was subjected to as a child was horrible and the damage that was done to her psyche because of her father made me feel for her.  She makes some moves to get Gabe to notice her and boy does it work.  They do take their time getting there but there is no mistaking what she means to him and what he means to her when it finally comes to a head.  I liked how she finally found her voice but also appreciated how much she understood the undercurrents and implications of the major secret that has been under everyone’s noses for decades.  Her open acceptance of the secret made me smile as Gabe needed someone to be there for him.

Gabe is convinced that he’s a love them a few times and leave them kind of guy.  He’s also convinced he’s too old for Eve but man oh man does he want her.  He’s also hiding a huge secret that finally comes to light on the build-up to Livvy and Nico’s wedding.  He also finally lets himself have Eve but isn’t completely honest with her on what he wants from her.  There is a lot of angst with these two but the final bits of the family secrets overshadow the relationship that is being built between he and Eve.  I did adore them together but would have liked more time with them.  He’s so good at making sure people around him are taken care of but seeing him finally get some major answers made me happy.  I appreciated how much he saw of Eve and what he did to help her find her voice.  Having someone silently stand by and provide support without judgement or taking over is what most of us need when fighting the demons of our past.

The story arc wraps up nicely with some twists that I didn’t completely expect but that weren’t completely surprising.  I know that might not make sense but some of what comes out was hinted at previously you just have to have not been distracted by the wonderfulness that is Jackson…  LOL  I am sad to see this series end but hopefully she’ll give us a way to see *HINT* Jackson again in some other story that conveniently needs a chef… *HINT HINT HINT HINT*

three-half-stars

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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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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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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