Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises, Limited

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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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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 Virgin – Tiffany Reisz – 5 stars

March 30, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 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 Virgin – Tiffany Reisz – 5 starsThe Virgin by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited on March 31, 2015
Pages: 416
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

The controversial story before the story continues in the critically acclaimed and award-winning series The Original Sinners.

For years, Kingsley Edge warned Eleanor the day would come when she, the mistress of a well-respected Catholic priest, would have to run and hide. She always imagined if that day came she'd be running away with Søren. But instead, she's running from him.

Knowing Søren and Kingsley will their use their influence to bring her back, Eleanor alone, penniless and scared takes refuge at the one place the men in her life cannot follow: the abbey where her mother has taken orders. Behind the cloistered gates of the convent, Eleanor hides from the man she loves and hates in equal measure

She cannot, however, hide from her true nature. When Eleanor befriends a young virginal nun, she faces a startling sexual awakening. But Eleanor can't stay forever, and the lure of her real life beckons beyond the locked gates. But to follow her fate means to leave Kyrie behind, a sacrifice Eleanor refuses to make

The lure of the forbidden. The temptation to sin. The price of passion has never been higher, and Eleanor will have to pay it if she ever wants to go home again.

What do you get when you have a woman who isn’t so good at holding her tongue and a convent?  What happens when the thing you never expected happen …. happens?  What do you do when all that you know is up in the air and things look their worst?

These questions all get answered in this book and we get to go on a journey where a King meets his Queen and a young woman finally realizes who she is along with who she isn’t.

We also get to see Juliette’s reaction to Kingsley in a kilt and to see the start of the wedding that we all have been cheering for.  By the way I can’t say I would blame Juliette in the least not to mention the sight of Kingsley and Søren in kilts might make me a bit … ummmm…  yeah…  If you didn’t know who Tiffany had in mind for the two men above let me clue you in… For Søren – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau  and for Kingsley – Gaspard Ulliel

*Gives you a few minutes to cool down*

Again I am going to be careful to not give spoilers as I adore this series and the twists/turns are what make me happiest as I read these.  We get to see Nora start to evolve in to the woman we know in The Siren and the path she is on is one that all of us go thru in our lives.  I mean we all have those moments where we just don’t know what to do…  We don’t know who we really are nor do we have any idea of what to do with the rest of our lives until if we are lucky we have one of those moments where everything becomes clear.  Granted most of ours don’t involve discovering you are a switch in love with one of the most clearly dominant men known….  Also most of ours don’t involve running to a convent where you discover love and also what you are meant to be in the next part of your life.

I adored watching Elle become more and more her own person but mainly watch her mature in the time she has in hiding.  She’s starting to wise up and realize that things aren’t always so determined but that she not only has talent but is also her own person outside of the relationship that has defined her since she first met her priest.  She’s also good at realizing the best thing for her is outside the walls but the best thing for someone else is not the same…  This made me sad but also quite happy as it was the right decision and truly made for the right reason.

Now…  my favorite part of this was….  Kingsley meeting his Juliette…  I loved seeing our jaded and oh so weary King meet the woman who we know holds a big part of his heart and is his match in every single way.  Her story made me sad but it also sheds light on why they work so well together plus seeing King floored is something precious.  He’s very much a man who still hasn’t decided what he wants to be but in meeting her…. well…  we get to see the man we all adore as he steps up to be what he has always been meant to be.  I loved his journey and how this plays out as Nora is also having her own awakening.

The way the two stories weave together is amazing and it kept me enthralled from beginning to end.  The slight breaks as we get to see a bit of present day helps keep you from being overwhelmed but seeing two key figures finally get on the path that will ultimately bring them complete happiness was wondrous and beautiful even as it was angsty and painful.

As much as this pains me to say… only one more book to go….  I can’t wait for The Queen as much as I curse it as it will be the last book for a while (I’m holding out hope for more) from Tiffany with these characters as the primary focus.

 

five-stars

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The King – Tiffany Reisz – 5 stars

January 22, 2015 Harlequin, NetGalley, Read in 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 King – Tiffany Reisz – 5 starsThe King by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited on 2014-11-25
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 448
Source: NetGalley.com
The King: The Original Sinners Book 6<img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=booaholano0c-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00L0XO1VK" target="_blank">Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Cunning. Sex. Pure nerve. Only this potent threesome can raise him to his rightful place as ruler of Manhattan's kink kingdom.

 

Bouncing from bed to bed on the Upper East Side—handsomely paid in both bills and blackmail fodder—Kingsley Edge is brilliant, beautiful and utterly debauched. No carnal act or chemical compound can relieve his self-destructive apathy—only Søren, the one person he loves without limit or regret. A man he can never have, but in whose hands Kingsley is reborn to attain even greater heights of sin. He plans to open the ultimate BDSM club­: a dungeon playground for New York's A-list that'll change the scene forever.

 

The club becomes Kingsley's obsession—and he's enlisted some tough-as-nails help. His new assistant Sam is smart, secretive and totally immune to seduction (by men, at least). She and Kingsley make a wicked team. Still, their combined—and considerable—expertise in domination can't subdue the man who would kill their dream. The enigmatic Reverend Fuller won't rest until King's dream is destroyed. It's one man's sacred mission against another's….

I was a little late reading this due to a bit of a reading slump that took up most of my October, November and December…  I’m going to apologize to those who might have been interested in knowing my feelings on this one back when it first released but hey…  things happen..

Now..  I keep trying to forget that we only have 2 more stories after this one about our beloved Nora, Søren and Kingsley *whimpers* and this one helps remind me why I love this series, Tiffany’s writing and the world of the Original Sinners.  Like the others in the White Years we see glimpses of the current day interspersed with memories of the past and how they made the personalities in to those we fell in love with in the Red Years.  This one focuses on Kingsley and his complex relationship with Søren.  We get to see how the Eight Circle came in to being and finally get to see Sam.

Kingsley is at a crossroads in his life where all he does is indulge in self-destructive behavior doing nothing but being a playboy and running a not so clean club.  While he has some of the New York elite in his pocket he isn’t the power broker we see in the Red Years.  He’s still a bit lost after nearly being killed and missing something major from his life.  He likes to play but he hasn’t found something to truly make him feel alive until a figure from his past starts to make an appearance in his life once again….  Søren…  the man he loves and in some ways hates…  It hurt to see the vibrant King we know and love in the Red Years as such a shadow in the beginning of this.  I loved getting a glimpse of his pain in most ways but it wasn’t easy to read at times because of the pain.

I enjoyed seeing Søren and getting a glimpse of what was going on while the story told in The Saint was unfolding.  King was enjoyable as he realized how much his former lover would have to deal with if he ever opened his eyes to the other side of his precious Eleanor.  I also loved hearing about the readings that both Søren and Kingsley had from their Domme teacher as we know they ended up being fulfilled in a way that made me extremely happy.  I also enjoyed the story of Sam and how she plays a critical role in what becomes The Eighth Circle.  She was a character I want to see more of and I hope that Tiffany will give us a bit more of her in a short story or extra.

I have two favorite moments –

  • How the name of the club came to be – let’s just say there’s some fun that was had by King …  *snicker* and a certain other person.
  • Kingsley holding baby Fionn.  Seriously it was a beautiful moment and the love Grace shows for everyone is inspiring.

Once again this story has moments of hot sex but this story is more about how things came in to being and about the heart behind our trio.  I love these stories because of the story and the sexual aspect is secondary.

five-stars

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Falling for Max – Shannon Stacey – 5 Stars

July 29, 2014 Carina Press, Read in 2014, Snagged at RT 2014 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.

Falling for Max – Shannon Stacey – 5 StarsFalling for Max by Shannon Stacey
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited on 2014-07-29
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he's starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he's always been a little awkward when it comes to social interactions, and working from home doesn't help. He spends so much time alone, painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material. Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she's intrigued. When she finds out he's in the market for a wife, she's fascinated…and determined to help. Molding Max into every woman's dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori's plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she'll have to find a way to show just how she's fallen for him…the real him.

I can sum up this book in one word –

Adorable!!

Trust me once you read this fun story you will laugh at the usage of that word just like I do every time I use it in describing Max and his lovely Tori.  They really are meant for one another and bring out the best in their new partner.

Max has made a big decision – trust me you will burst out laughing as to how this came about – he’s ready to find a WIFE.  He’s decided he needs that in order to complete his life but now the issue is how does one find a wife???  As he discovers you need to first get a date with a woman that makes you want to keep seeing her in a romantic sense but with his reputation in town how can he be sure that people want him and not the man they’ve made up?  He’s the subject of many rumors in town of which you’ll get to read about as his story unfolds but the real Max was someone that I identified with and loved.  He’s so endearingly awkward that you will cheer for him to find his perfect woman and finding out that it is the same woman trying to help him adapt to dating was perfect.  I loved how he recognized his faults and really was trying to put aside his OCD and other quirks in order to put himself out there but ultimately I loved how he learned how love should be able to handle his real self, quirks and all.  He’s just *sigh* wonderfully real and I’m glad Shannon kept him true to all his oddities.

Tori was a tough one to crack.  I loved her but found myself get frustrated with her inability to let the past go and embrace the man who loved her beyond belief.  She’s so opposed to a committed relationship but Max wears her down.  She’s so good at understanding what makes him tic and I loved the way she worked to manage his quirks without judging him for them.  She manages to show him how much she loves and understands the real man just by being supportive.  She’s so funny when they finally decide to work off the sexual tension between them and her jealousy as she sees him on a date (that she set up) made me crack up.  She’s such a great friend to everyone but seeing her so stubbornly fight what she has with Max will make you want to shake sense in to her.

Overall this story had many moments that made me crack up and moments that made me tear up as we see two deserving people finally get what most people dream of.

I am so happy to have grabbed this while at RT in NOLA but even happier when Shannon signed one at BEA that Angela James gave to me at RAGT.

 

five-stars

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