Publisher: HarperCollins

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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
Goodreads
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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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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The Hating Game – Sally Thorne 4 stars

July 6, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley 1

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

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne 4 starsThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by HarperCollins on August 9th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary, Humorous, General
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
                       2) A person’s undoing
                       3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

One of my absolute favorite romance tropes is enemies to lovers.  I love watching the characters go from snapping and snarling at each other until they give in to their physical attraction.  They often then tell themselves that their attraction is purely physical until their emotional connection smacks them upside their head.    When I sat down to write this review I thought about why I am so drawn to the trope two reasons stood out.  The first is that insta-hate seems much more plausible to me than insta-love.  This isn’t necessarily specific to romantic relationships for me, but carries over to friendships as well.  Most of my closest friends are people I didn’t like when I first met them and now I can’t imagine my life without them.  The second reason is that I think so many of us have a list in our head of exactly what we think will make us happy in life, including our relationships so we avoid situations that don’t fit those narratives.  The reminder that what seems like it would make us happy on paper doesn’t always fit in reality is something I think we could all use now and then.  So given my love of the trope, when I read the blurb for The Hating Game I couldn’t wait to read it.

Most of us can relate to working with someone who we don’t care for, but can you imagine sitting directly across from them day in day out?  No thank you!   That is exactly what the main characters in Sally Thorne’s romantic comedy The Hating Game are dealing with.  Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are  executive assistants at very different publishing houses.  Lucy comes from Gamin Publishing whose employees see literature as art.  Josh on the other hand worked at Bexley Books where the employees believe the bottom line matters far more than the words on a page.  The differences in the styles of the two companies is never more clear than when we see Lucy and Josh interact.    To say that these two don’t like each other would seem to be an understatement in the beginning of the book.   They both take passive aggressive to a whole new keeping score on everything from who looks away first, smiles first etc… even going so far to keep score and a list of what they deem to be violations that they could report to HR (Think an in case of emergency break glass kind of situation).  When both characters are up for the same promotion their antics reach a whole new level.

Initially I felt that the antics of both main characters was very immature and I worried the book was going to be too “cutsie” for me, but once Lucy and Josh were thrown into situations where their game-face started to crack and we got a glimpse into their true feelings I was rooting for them all the way.  Josh’s character was so swoon worthy once you uncovered all of his cool composure and understood that much of what appeared to be dislike on his part was his own defense system.   I actually found myself irritated with Lucy because she was constantly overlooking the good things that Josh was doing for her well past the time it felt reasonable.  She redeemed herself in the end when she stood up for Josh when he needed her the most.

I don’t want to spoil any of the fun scenes that you will encounter in this story so I’ll just say that if you like the enemies to lovers trope this book should go on your TBR list right away.  You won’t regret it.

 

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Hard As You Can – Laura Kaye – 4.5 stars

February 23, 2014 Avon, Read in 2014, 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.

Hard As You Can – Laura Kaye – 4.5 starsHard As You Can by Laura Kaye
Published by Avon, HarperCollins on 2014-02-25
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Suspense, War & Military
Pages: 384
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Five dishonored soldiers.Former Special Forces.One last mission.These are the men of Hard Ink.Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.

I’ve got to just come right out and admit it..  I LOVE THIS SERIES!!  Sexy as hell men with heroines that aren’t completely pushovers…  what’s not to love?

This installment picks up near where we left the last installment with the rescue of Charlie. In this one we get to see more of the waitress that didn’t blow their cover but instead helped the men escape by buying them a critical couple of seconds.  As we get to see more of the nightmare she lives every day we also get to see more of the Churchmen and the gang that holds key information that could help our men clear their names.

Crystal isn’t 100% certain why she didn’t scream when she saw the men in masks fleeing the basements of the club she works at but something about the grey-eyed man made her decide to play along and let him go.  She also knows enough to not say anything when questioned by her boyfriend and his associates but for the life of her she isn’t sure why.  All she knows is there is something about him that makes her want things she has kept buried for a long time while playing a very dangerous game.  We get to see her struggle with what she wants and what she has to do for the next eight months until she can run away forever.  She’s strong and doesn’t throw pity parties for herself even when the situation she is in would break most people.  She’s smart, practical and above all else she is a survivor!  She’s taken everything that life has thrown at her to make a life for her sister that seems as normal as is possible but still on edge.  I loved watching her start to trust our hero and even though he presents danger to her in more ways than one she does see that he does nothing to hurt her or force her to do anything other than what she needs.  Seeing her take something for herself was an amazing moment and I’m glad we got to witness it via this book.

Shane is a classic hero in that he takes everything on himself with no thought about maybe just maybe things weren’t his fault.  He’s always blamed himself for a tragedy in his childhood but that tragedy made him the perfect man for Crystal.  He sees things she isn’t willing to show others and witnessing this giant of a man be so gentle with her and her sister was beautiful.  He instinctively knows what she needs but instead of forcing her to see things his way he lets her take the lead.  You’ll break a bit watching him struggle between what is right for his team and what he knows is right for her but the good news is she is smart enough to step back and figure it out without letting him go.  I think the moment that made me feel for him the most is when he finally opens up about what happened in his past and seeing the support he got was heart wrenching and yet so satisfying.  The fact that he finds a woman that will push him as needed but also be someone he can satisfy his need to protect his loved ones is such a wonderful thing.

Special thanks to Avon and Laura Kaye for giving me the chance to read this one early!  I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the men find their matches….  More more more please!

four-half-stars

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