Genre: Romance

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Make You Mine – Jackie Ashenden – 4.5 stars

May 5, 2015 NetGalley, Read in 2015, St. Martin's Press 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.

Make You Mine – Jackie Ashenden – 4.5 starsMake You Mine by Jackie Ashenden
Published by Macmillan on 2015-05-05
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Gothic, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-half-stars

In the Nine Circles Club, one lucky man gets more than his share of money, power, and women--until he meets a beautiful opponent who plays in the name of love…in Make You Mine by Jackie Ashenden.
He's raising the stakes.
International playboy Alex St. James always plays to win. Whether it's betting on a high-stakes card game--or bedding a high-class socialite--the gorgeous world-class gambler knows how to beat the odds using his brains, his body, and a whole lot of charm. But there's one woman who's immune to Alex's bag of tricks--which makes her the perfect challenge…and the ultimate prize.
She's going all in.

Once a special operative in her native Russia, Katya Ivanov knows what kind of man Alex is. As his personal bodyguard, she's seen him seduce the richest women, place the riskiest bets, and break the hardest players. But to even a score from her past, she's willing to take a gamble on her reckless boss. Even if she has to pretend to be his lover. Even if he drives her mad with desire. And then she never wants this dangerous game to end…

This story made me very happy!  We have a really strong heroine with a hero that can definitely keep up but can’t keep his guard up around a woman who makes him feel.

Alex has a lot of secrets that he has buried for years.  This has cost him his family but also has hardened him to the point where he thinks all he wants is a quick bit of play and then move on to the next no-strings-attached fling.  He plays hard and unless you are paying attention you will see him as a playboy with a ton of money who really doesn’t care for anything.  After dice are found with his stepfather that gain access to an exclusive poker tourney it is determined that he needs to be the one who attends.  Alex wouldn’t have let it be anyone else but now he needs to figure out how to keep protection around him without making the person he is targeting aware of it.  His idea is to use his female bodyguard but when he sees her in something other than work clothes and also spends more time around her…. well…  then it gets complicated.  His story will make you mad, sad and then joyful as we find out his past then celebrate his future with a partner who truly knows him.

Katya is an amazing heroine in many respects.  She and Alex are definitely peas in a pod in more ways than they know so seeing two extremely stubborn people find one another was explosive.  There is so much she has kept buried for so many years in order to make others happy so she struggles with figuring out what it is she wants and needs.  The fact that she is absolutely loyal to those who don’t really deserve it was heartbreaking but I still enjoyed her even with the big chill she presents.  She’s not cold in any way, shape or form but she needed to find someone that could push her to expand her limits.  She’s also intriguing in the way we see her start to feel… be a woman with wants and needs… but mainly open up to someone that deserves it.

I can’t wait for the next story as the pair will be quite entertaining….  he’s going to make it clear to her that she’s HIS….

four-half-stars

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The Confession – Sierra Kincade – 4 stars

May 5, 2015 Berkley Trade, NetGalley, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015 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 Confession – Sierra Kincade – 4 starsThe Confession by Sierra Kincade
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-05
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-stars

The hot and thrilling conclusion to the Body Work Trilogy, following The Masseuse and The Distraction

Anna Rossi walked away from Alec Flynn to keep her family and friends safe. But she can’t protect her heart from him, no matter how hard she tries…

Time has done nothing to quell Anna’s need for Alec. She knows that she did the right thing walking away; the constant media attention that Alec’s been getting for testifying against Maxim Stein and Force Enterprises is evidence enough of that. But no matter how many times she warns herself that Alec is dangerous, she just can’t stay away—even after her connection to him once again threatens her life…

Alec knows the evidence he has against Max could stop him from hurting anyone ever again. But when it’s revealed that Alec stands to inherit everything from Max’s loss, his testimony is called into question—and Max could walk free putting Anna in harms’ ways once again. Now he’s beginning to wonder if any of this is even worth it—and if he and Anna will ever have a chance at true happiness…

We have finally reached the end of Alec and Anna’s story and while I am sad to see it end I am happy that we finally have a conclusion.  I am happy with the way it played out but still want to have more about their friends and family.

Anna hasn’t been happy since she walked away from Alec to save everyone she loves.  She just wants people to be safe around her even if it means tearing her heart out.  She’s almost ready to run away again when she is abducted.  She ends up having Alec save her but finds out something that truly tears her apart…. is it what it seems or is there more?  I liked her strength in this one even as everything twisted around her.  She’s not willing to play the victim and we get to see more of her struggling to do what is right plus hold on to what she really wants.  They are still hot as hell when they get together but there is more to it this time.  I think I enjoyed it because there was more behind them this time and we saw more of Alec’s vulnerability.

Alec has consistently been a character that I found fascinating.  Under this tough guy exterior is a man who wants nothing more than to be loved and have those he loves be safe.  He is driven to do anything he can to keep Anna and those she holds dear safe even as it means keeping away from her.  I enjoyed seeing his love for Anna shine even as he tried to keep the walls up.  He adores her with all of his being and his ability to give her what she needs is wonderful.

This series grew on me as I found out more and more about them.  I am happy with where it ends up but honestly want to see Amy and Mike… really I want to see where they end up… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE…

four-stars

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Last Kiss – Jessica Clare/Jen Frederick – 5 Stars

May 1, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015, Sent 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.

Last Kiss by Jessica ClareJen Frederick
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-05
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher
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five-stars

From the bestselling authors of Last Hit and Last Breath comes the next dark and sensual tale in the Hitman series that crosses the line between danger and desire...

Naomi: When I was kidnapped I thought only of survival. I don’t thrive well in chaos. That’s why I gave my captors exactly what they wanted: my skill with computers. Making millions for a crime lord who kept me imprisoned in his basement compound kept my family safe. When he was taken out, I thought my ticket to freedom had arrived. Wrong. I traded one keeper for another. This time I’m in the hands of a scarred, dark, demanding Russian who happens to be the head of the Bratva, a Russian crime organization. He wants my brain and my body. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued, but I can’t be a prisoner forever...no matter how good he makes me feel.

Vasily: At a young age, I was taught that a man without power is a puppet for all. I’ve clawed—and killed—my way to the top so that it is my heel on their necks. But to unify the fractured organization into an undefeatable machine, I need a technological genius to help me steal one particular artifact. That she is breathtaking, determined, and vulnerable is making her more dangerous than all of my enemies combined. But only I can keep her safe from the world that she now inhabits. Soon, I must choose between Naomi and Bratva law. But with every day that passes, this becomes a more impossible choice.

I have enjoyed this series and seeing two people who have a lot of issues find the person who understands them…Yeah … I can handle that.

Naomi is different from most people.  She is used to being the outsider but has a tender soul who wants nothing more than to be understood.  She’s got Aspergers Syndrome which makes it difficult for her to relate to most and is misunderstood.  As I see this in the real world I enjoyed the care that was taken to show her struggle with the compulsions and needs that her mind has to have in order to process what of the world she can let in.  Her personality shines through and watching her fall in love with our hero was wonderful.  She’s strong as hell and very open about most things even as she struggles with letting anyone truly see her.  Her comments as they explore the physical side of their relationships often made me giggle and how she responds to what he needs was eye-opening for both of them.

Vasily… yeah I have wanted his story from book one.  I am thrilled that he found a woman who needs him but also pushes him to be more than just a volk.  He’s still a volk and not a good man in the traditional sense but for where he comes from and what he is…  yeah he’s a good man.  It pained me to discover what was behind his hatred of touch but watching him fall for a woman who needs him and isn’t afraid of his job–  WORTH IT!  I loved seeing his struggle with wanting to take her and denying himself out of fear.  I also enjoyed seeing him work thru issues and ultimately fight for what was right for his people even as he didn’t believe they would follow the man that had nothing.  He has himself and Naomi but mainly they follow him because at his core he is what they need and should aspire to.

 

five-stars

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Don’t Walk Away – Vivian Arend/Elle Kennedy – 4 stars

April 30, 2015 Read in 2015, Sent 0

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

Don’t Walk Away – Vivian Arend/Elle Kennedy – 4 starsDon't Walk Away by Vivian ArendElle Kennedy
Published by NLA Digital LLC on 2015-04-21
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Humorous, Romance
Pages: 211
Source: the Author
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four-stars

Book 3 of the DreamMakers. A red-hot collaboration from New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors VIVIAN AREND and ELLE KENNEDY.

He wants to rock her world—in bed and out of it

For former Army Ranger Dean Colter, sexual escapades and wild flirtations are the norm—but it wasn’t always that way. Years ago, the DreamMakers co-owner was a one-woman kind of guy until he tore Emma Lee’s heart apart. Yet he’s never forgotten her, and when Emma waltzes back into his life, a second chance is suddenly within his reach…and he’ll be damned if he’ll screw up again.

She wants her world to stop spinning apart

Emma’s no longer the naïve girl she used to be. Now a successful designer in the fashion world, she refuses to let Dean’s killer smile and sweet-talking ways distract her from her goals. But being the target of Dean’s full-out seduction isn’t easy to resist, even as the dynasty she’s built teeters toward disaster. This time she might the one who breaks both their hearts when she has to walk away.

--------------

DreamMakers
All Fired Up (Parker & Lynn)
Love Is A Battlefield (Jack & Pepper)
Don't Walk Away (Dean & Emma)

I have to start this off with the note that I adore Vivian Arend as both an author and a person I have been lucky enough to spend time with in real life.  I am sad that I won’t get to see her this year but I still have her writing to keep me company….

I have been looking forward to seeing our resident Casanova get knocked on his ass by love and this story was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO worth the wait.  He’s down for the count and we get to see a side of him that we had a feeling was there hidden underneath the swagger.  Dean is such a sweet, sensitive man under the talk and OHHHHH BOY can he talk….  I loved seeing his confidence take a back seat to truly wanting something real with Emma.  He shows his vulnerability to her and I enjoyed seeing him struggle with what he wants while not being certain if she is on the same page with him or not.  He’s so willing to show her all that he has to offer her but at the same time acknowledging that he might lose her this time.  I loved his personality and the glimpse of what made him in to the man we adored in the first two books.  He’s deeper than many give him credit for and for this I adored him.

Emma was a surprise to me.  I didn’t always care for her dismissal of him at the start but I understood where it was coming from as we got the story of their younger years.  She’s strong but isn’t always aware of how strong she truly is.  She hides behind a shell but with Dean’s affection and support we see her step out of the shadows to be her own person.  She doesn’t need Dean to carry her but needed the kick in the pants he provides her to show her she really is strong.  I liked seeing her start to open up to those around her and even more enjoyed that she didn’t hesitate to ask Dean for everything he had not just a pretty, soft side of himself.  She’s definitely his match and I enjoyed seeing them surprise each other.

Overall this has been a fun series of books and I hope to see more from this duo of authors….

four-stars

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Glimmer – Beth Kery – 4 stars

April 28, 2015 NetGalley, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015 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.

Glimmer – Beth Kery – 4 starsGlimmer by Beth Kery
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-05
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Because You Are Mine, a scorching new novel about forbidden desire…

After graduating from her M.B.A. program, Alice Reed is surprised when she’s recruited for the management training experience at legendary Camp Durand, owned by Durand Inc.’s young, billionaire CEO, Dylan Fall. The company usually recruits from Ivy League schools, not insignificant colleges like Alice’s.

Alice enthusiastically accepts, but she still wonders why Dylan would choose a girl from the wrong side of the tracks for the prestigious program. But after a passionate encounter one night, she discovers exactly why—Dylan wants her, and Alice can hardly resist his fierce sexual appetites, though she is amazed that she could appeal to an experienced, sophisticated man like Dylan.

As Dylan introduces her to thrilling, erotic territory, Alice discovers a delicious new part of herself. Night after night, she steals away to find ecstasy and escape in Dylan’s arms. But behind her lover’s powerfully magnetic facade, Alice senses darkness, secrets from Dylan’s past lurking in his beautiful, lonely mansion—secrets that are starting to haunt Alice. And the ghosts of the truth might tear Dylan and Alice apart forever . . .

This was an interesting story about two people from different places in their lives finding one another.  Well… sort of… in some respects they are this but there is more to this story that I won’t give away.  I found the pairing to be honestly compelling in some ways as we have the fact that he is the CEO of a company that she wouldn’t mind working for but we also have her relative innocence in sexual matters and his experience.  I found the sex scenes to be well done and very inspiring… *evil grin*

Dylan is a very guarded man and is relatively private.  Most people don’t know much about his background or past but he is incredibly driven to be everything that he needs to be in order to keep the company he runs at the top of their game.  I liked seeing him push our heroine out of her shell but when we find out what he’s kept hidden I found him to be irresistible.  He’s got a past that we see before the biggest secret comes out but honestly his beginnings just make him more open to the need for charity and the good the camp does for kids.

Alice….  she’s a hard one to like in some respects.  She’s guarded and more likely to snip at you than to work with you.  Please note that once you find out how she was raised you will understand it.  I enjoyed seeing her struggle with the fact that she has an opportunity most would kill to have but she feels like she doesn’t truly belong.  She also has a sense of failure or inadequacy when she is confronted with the fact she has to help these kids.  I liked her spunk but mainly I appreciated how honest she was about her fears.  She’s very attracted to Dylan and is shocked when she finds that he is just as attracted to her.  She’s also not afraid of the games he wants to play and starts to come in to her own as the story progresses.  Her reaction to the big secret is realistic and I look forward to reading more.

Now…  when I can I get my hands on Glow…  hmmmmmmmmm

four-stars

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Signal Boost – Alyssa Cole – 4 stars

April 27, 2015 Carina Press, NetGalley, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015 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.

Signal Boost – Alyssa Cole – 4 starsSignal Boost by Alyssa Cole
Published by Carina Press on 2015-05-04
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Fiction, Gay, General, New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 158
Source: NetGalley.com
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four-stars

When technology stopped working, the world as they knew it ended.

In a secluded cabin, John and his loved ones have survived. He should feel grateful. But his family is in his face 24/7, he has to watch his best friend, Arden, and brother, Gabriel, flaunt their love, and as a techie in a Luddite world he’s pretty much useless. The cabin is brimming with people, but he feels utterly alone.

Until he catches Mr. Tall, Blond and Gorgeous raiding their garden. Mykhail is an astrophysics student, he makes John’s gaydar ping like crazy and he thinks he knows what caused the devastation. He’s on a journey to his university to find answers, and John invites himself along. Partly to get out of the house, and partly because he can’t let Mykhail go without acting on the mutual attraction that’s so obvious even John’s mom is playing matchmaker.

The closer they get to campus, the more Mykhail lets down his walls. But with answers come secrets both devastating and deadly, and before they can save the world, they’ll have to save themselves.

I was so happy to see John got his story.  This is an interesting look at what could happen if we were hit with a flare that knocked out our power grids.

John is restless but loves his family.  He wants something he doesn’t think he’ll find as who thinks that it will be easy for a gay man living out in the middle of nowhere during a world-wide crisis to find love?  He is shocked when he feels the spark of attraction for a man who appears out of nowhere to try to steal food from their garden but when they find out more about the reason behind the failure of the power grid and breakdown of society as they know it … well this just gives John something to do.  He’s driven to go with this stranger and see if he can provide any assistance or at least get more information about what’s out there plus getting to spend more time with this man….  well that’s just a win.

Mykhail was someone I truly felt for.  He’s lived his life pleasing others and trying to be what everyone else wants while suppressing his true self.  I felt for him as he struggles with what he did post-flare but also with who he is.  This is a man who is truly a great guy but with his upbringing he struggles with not only being gay but also going after what makes him happy.  I felt his struggle with his actions but admired the way he did what was right even as it might be what killed him.

Overall I found this to be an interesting story with some parts that were brutal in many respects but sadly I could easily see happening should we ever end up in this same situation.  Stress brings out the worst in many people….

four-stars

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Shoulda Been A Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 3 stars

April 25, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 2015, Readathon 2015 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.

Shoulda Been A Cowboy – Maisey Yates – 3 starsShoulda Been a Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Published by HQN Books on 2015-03-01
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 111
Source: NetGalley.com
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three-stars

In this sexy, sweet prequel novella to her new series, USA TODAY bestselling author Maisey Yates welcomes readers to the charming small town of Copper Ridge, Oregon, where it's never too late for second chances.There's not much about his teenage years that Jake Caldwell can be proud of. Except maybe for keeping his hands off cute, kindhearted Cassie Ventimiglia. She was the only one who saw him as more than a tattooed rebel who couldn't wait to leave the ranching life behind. Now he's back in Copper Ridge to sell his father's property—and staying right above Cassie's coffee shop. And out of nowhere, the girl he's never forgotten is offering a whole lot more than fresh-baked muffins…Jake's dark, smoldering appeal hasn't changed one bit. But Cassie has. Following everyone else's rules didn't quite work out. Time to ask for what she's always wanted…and what Jake's more than happy to give: a wild, hot romance that could make a one-time bad boy realize he's back for good.Don't miss Part Time Cowboy, the first in the Copper Ridge series, from HQN Books!www.MaiseyYates.com

Nice quick read from Maisey Yates with a not really a bad guy falling for a not really a good girl.  Well…  they both have their moments but ultimately they are true human beings with wants and needs that don’t fall fully in either camp.

Cassie has always been the good girl.  She has always followed the path of least resistance only ever trying to be something that would be worth all the sacrifices her mother made.  She only ever tried for something (sort of) once and that ended up with the boy she felt everything for leaving after she even expressed an interest.  She’s now divorced, living in a rented apartment and starting her own coffee shop.  She still is in a rut trying to be the good, dependable Cassie everyone expects but the arrival of her high-school crush causes her to do something unexpected.  She tries for what she wants and needs rather than be the person they all expect.  I adored seeing her take this chance and felt for her as she struggles with not knowing what it will bring.

Jake isn’t the bad guy people made him out to be.  Did he steal? Yes… Did he do other things that weren’t good? Yes… but when you see what was actually driving him you understood it.  He has been drawn to Cassie from shortly after they met but knew he wasn’t good for her.  He left because of something else and now is in town only to clean up his father’s holdings so he can head back to Seattle to take hold of what he thinks he needs.  As he spends time in Copper Ridge he struggles with not only his feelings for Cassie but his past and what drove him to where he is now.  I enjoyed his struggle and was happy when we finally get to see the man behind the mask.  He’s a good guy who just needed someone to truly see him.

Overall a nice start to a series and I will have to read more….

three-stars

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This Gun for Hire – Jo Goodman – 5 stars

April 8, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 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.

This Gun for Hire – Jo Goodman – 5 starsThis Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman
Published by Penguin on 2015-04-07
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical, Romance, Western
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
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five-stars

"Perfectly crafted"—PW (starred review)

Jo Goodman, a premier writer of western romance and the author of In Want of a Wife, is back with a sensational new novel for fans of Linda Lael Miller and Joan Johnston

He’s got a job to do…

Former army cavalryman Quill McKenna takes pride in protecting the most powerful man in Stonechurch, Colorado: Mr. Ramsey Stonechurch himself. But the mine owner has enemies, and after several threats on his life, mines, and family, Quill decides to hire someone to help guard the boss’s daughter. Only problem is the uncontrollable attraction he feels toward the fiery-haired woman who takes the job.

…but she’s a piece of work.

Calico Nash has more knowledge of scouting and shooting than cross-stitching, but she agrees to pose as Ann’s private tutor while protecting her. But between her growing attraction to Quill and the escalating threats against the Stonechurches, Calico will soon have a choice to make—hang on to her hard-won independence or put her faith in Quill to create the kind of happy ending she never imagined…

I have to say I grabbed a copy of this on a bit of a whim but I am very happy I did.  This one made me laugh and fall for the main pair as there is something honest and unique about them.  The side characters were also well done but the times we see our main pair interact made the book for me.

Calico Nash is infamous…  People don’t know exactly who Calico really is but the exploits are talked about far and wide.  What we get is a woman *gasp* who isn’t traditional for the times.  She’s brash, outspoken, a great shot and above all else INDEPENDENT!  *faints*  I mean for the times she is definitely NOT a typical woman but I enjoyed that about her.  She was raised by her father and learned her bounty-hunting skills from him but honestly she doesn’t hunt just for the money.  She has very clear ideals and is willing to work to right things that aren’t taken seriously by most law enforcement.  She’s also very smart which serves her well when she takes a job pretending to be a teacher for a well-to-do young lady.  I enjoyed her wit and her willingness to own up to mistakes if the times warrant it but I mainly loved her ability to keep our hero on his toes.  She wants someone to love her but doesn’t understand this as it isn’t something she ever thought would be hers.  She is off her game at times with our hero but she recovers well and I think you’ll like her ways of getting him off-kilter.

Quill cannot lie.  I mean seriously he sucks at lying….  really he does…  I enjoyed him for this reason as it causes him some difficulties when he wants to keep Calico from doing something he wants to keep her safe from.  He’s smart and is wise enough to understand he’s not going to be able to keep her from getting her way but he does still try even though he loses.  I enjoyed watching him struggle with his attraction for a woman that should be all wrong for him.  I also quite enjoyed that while he did try to protect her it didn’t come from a place where he thought she was weak.  He really does appreciate her spirit even as it drives him insane.  He also is great at managing his charges even as they battle him every step of the way.

I think the main thing that kept me engaged was this wild ride that Quill and Calico take us on as they battle each other with wit, humor and mutual dislike that evolves in to something fun to see.  They really are well-matched and definitely bring out the best/worst in one another.

five-stars

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Silver Bastard – Joanna Wylde – 3.5 stars

April 7, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 1

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

Silver Bastard – Joanna Wylde – 3.5 starsSilver Bastard by Joanna Wylde
Published by Penguin on 2015-04-07
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
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three-half-stars

First in the new Silver Valley series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Reapers Motorcycle Club Novels

Fourteen months. For fourteen months, Puck Redhouse sat in a cell and kept his mouth shut, protecting the Silver Bastards MC from their enemies. Then he was free and it was time for his reward--full membership in the club, along with a party to celebrate. That's when he saw Becca Jones for the first time and set everything in motion. Before the night ended he'd violated his parole and stolen her away from everything she knew.

Five years. It was five years ago that Puck destroyed Becca and saved her all in one night. She's been terrified of him ever since, but she's even more terrified of the monsters he still protects her from... But Becca refuses to let fear control her. She's living her life and moving forward, until she gets a phone call from the past she can't ignore. She has to go back, and there's only one man she can trust to go with her--the ex-con biker who rescued her once before.

Puck will help her again, but this time it'll be on his terms. No more lies, no more tears, and no more holding back what he really wants...

This is my first time reading anything by Joanna Wylde and I must say I do need to go back and read more.  I enjoyed this story but did find myself struggling at times with the pace and the heroine.

Becca didn’t have the most ideal childhood and the way she meets our hero is not exactly the way one would want to meet anyone.  She’s rescued from her mess of a mother and excuse of a stepfather by a man who is freshly out of prison.  She’s taken to Idaho where she is lucky enough to be taken in by a couple who manage to give her a semblance of a real life and childhood but things are still not easy for her.  When we see her again she’s on her own in an apartment working a crappy job and going to cosmetology school in order to do something with her life.  While I liked her I did find myself struggling with her seeming wishy-washy personality that couldn’t decide if she should be with Puck, without Puck, cut her mom out of her life or keep her mom in her life.  I wanted to yell at times “MAKE YOUR DAMN MIND UP” but I refrained.  I did understand why she behaved that way but I think I could’ve done without some of it.  I did like her strength and it will serve her well as she manages the lifestyle of an old lady.

Puck… bless his kickass ways that get shot all to hell by his weakness for Becca.  He’s definitely dangerous but even as we see this side of him we get to see a man who takes a major risk in breaking her free.  She’s his and once he decides to claim her there is nothing anyone can do to stop it even as she seems to keep one eye on the door.  I loved how under the growly exterior there is a really good guy who just wants to make things right.  He’s not an angel nor is he a traditional good guy but even bad guys can have good hearts.  He means everything he says to her and while they both have moments where they say some truly awful things to one another but even this isn’t a surprise.  Both of them have had a tough time in life and hurt has a tendency to bring out the worst in them.  He is something to behold when he makes his intentions clear which makes it fun to see in action and is HOT… *fans self*

three-half-stars

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Below the Belt – Jeanette Murray – 4 Stars

April 6, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 0

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

Below the Belt – Jeanette Murray – 4 StarsBelow the Belt by Jeanette Murray
Published by Berkley Publishing Group on 2015-04-07
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Military, Romance, Sports
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
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FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

There's more than one way to win in the debut of the First to Fight series...

Athletic trainer Marianne Cook is ready to do whatever it takes to turn the men of the Marine Corps boxing team into fighting machines. After all, her ultimate goal is to land a job training professional athletes. But when she notices a certain hard-bodied marine trying to hide an injury, Marianne realizes that she’ll have to use covert tactics to get him talking.

First Lieutenant Brad Costa has waited years for the chance to fight for a spot on the Marine Corps boxing team, knowing he has to push twice as hard to get half as far as his younger counterparts. Brad tries to downplay his injuries to the attractive trainer who has his dreams in her hands, but Marianne isn’t buying it. Maybe it’s time to deploy some targeted flattery.

As Brad and Marianne’s attraction turns red-hot, there’s more than one person having a hard time keeping their eyes on the prize…

I will admit that I decided to read this book because of its cover and the fact that the blurb didn’t do anything to make me run away from the pretty cover made it easy to go “MINE”.  I ended up with a story I liked quite a bit and a team that I can’t wait to read more about.  The characters are fun and I admit that I’m particularly looking forward to when a certain younger, thinks he’s God’s gift to women, Marine meets his match.  *snicker*

In this story we get to meet a man who is driven to be on the Marine’s boxing team because of a desire to honor his father’s memory.  He’s always wanted this chance but when he injures himself early in the tryout process he’s struggling between what is right and what he needs to do to not be kicked out of the tryouts.  He’s aloof and grumpy but absolutely shocked at his reaction to the team trainer.  He doesn’t want to want her nor does he want the distraction of a relationship but he just can’t resist the way she calls to him.  I enjoyed seeing him struggle with his attraction to her but my favorite part was seeing him start to let people in.  He’s someone to admire other than his secret but I could understand why he took so long to finally admit what was happening to him although I wish he hadn’t gone about it the way he did.  His gesture at the end was funny to read but you knew it came from his heart.  Brad is such a good guy to his core he just needed to see it and understand that while he could be focused on making the team the key is… TEAM.

Our heroine has her own issues with wanting to be seen as the trainer not a woman.  When Brad starts to mess with her preconceived notions of what she wants moving forward she’s resistant.  I enjoyed watching her struggle but also appreciated her willingness to see where they went.  I did get frustrated a bit with her seeing the worst in some situations even as I understood where she was coming from.  She’s strong but is willing to see the other side once she stops to think about it.  I liked how she really just wanted him to open up to her but allowed him to deflect her at times.  I enjoyed seeing her admit to her mom that she had someone but mainly loved seeing her blossom in to her own as she became more comfortable with her job and her relationship with a man who adores her.

Both characters had a lot of waking up to do during this story and needed to accept who they were in order to make a future.  The way Ms. Murray weaves their story was a lot of fun to read and seeing how the rest of the characters interact makes me ready for more from this team.  I look forward to seeing more of the coaches and our pair from this story as the others in the team meet their match!

 

four-stars

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