Publisher: Penguin

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The Bourbon Kings – J.R. Ward – 3 stars

July 29, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015 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.

The Bourbon Kings – J.R. Ward – 3 starsThe Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Published by Penguin on 2015-07-28
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Romance, Sagas
Pages: 400
Source: the publisher
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three-stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.From the Hardcover edition.

I struggled with exactly how to rate this book before landing on a 3 star.  It has some things going for it but a few things going against it.  I can understand why some DNFed the book because it is full of EPIC WTFery but that WTFery was the thing that kept me entertained.  I mean it was like looking at a train wreck and being unable to turn away because you just want to know WTF happened next.

I equate this book to a cross between a telenovela and a traditional US soap opera…  we have the following:

  • Family Empire – come on you know Dallas, Dynasty and The Young and the Restless all have family businesses that are empires.  In this case we have a Kentucky Bourbon dynasty.
  • Sibling Squabbles – well in this case it isn’t so much a squabble as it is dynamics between the 3 children we see and the 4th that is non-existent.
  • Villains – Well in this case we have a bastard of a father, a bitch of an estranged wife and well an amazingly entitled asshole of a suitor (damn if you should call him that cause I’m sorry he’s just a supreme asshole)
  • Unrequited Love Interests – The heroine of this story, rival family’s daughter and the dun-dun-dun father of the lovechild
  • Secret Baby – The dun-dun-dun father of the lovechild that doesn’t know he’s a father….
  • Spoiled Princess – Beleive me when I say this woman is SPOILED…  She wouldn’t know how to live without her money and damn if she doesn’t make the single largest mistake because of this HUGE reliance on the finer things in life

Don’t go in to this story thinking you are reading a romance because to be honest the romance is in many respects the weakest part of this.  I enjoyed Lane and Lizzie but they weren’t the focus.  I also found myself a bit frustrated with Lizzie’s attitude during most of the story.  She’s very quick to jump to conclusions and typically the conclusions she jumps to are the most negative ones you can have.  I also felt the ending to be a bit abrupt and choppy but as much as I hate to admit this…  I’m hooked so give me more.

I am looking forward to the next books in this series because I think like this one I will be most interested in how the family deals with the revelations in this story.  I want to see what happens with the oldest brother and the sister as they find their matches because damn if those stories won’t prove interesting.  The dun-dun-dun father of the lovechild will prove the most interesting when he finds out the secret as he has finally decided he’s done playing the games…  or is he…  tune in for more from this series…  LOL

three-stars

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Under the Lights – Shannon Stacey – 4 stars

May 28, 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.

Under the Lights – Shannon Stacey – 4 starsUnder the Lights by Shannon Stacey
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-26
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 304
Source: the publisher
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four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Kowalski Family novels, a sweet, sexy new series about taking hits, making second chances, and finding love…

They were the golden boys of fall: Stewart Mills High School’s legendary championship winning football team. Fourteen years later, they’re back to relive their glory, save the team—and find themselves again…

Chase Sanders’s life has taken a lot of crazy turns lately. But returning to his hometown to help his old coach keep his high school football team afloat might be the craziest thing to happen to him yet. That is, until he starts falling for the last person he should—Coach’s gorgeous daughter…

Kelly McDonnell learned the hard way that cocky, charming men are nothing but trouble, so she knows Chase is bad news. Still, she can’t resist his smile—or the rest of him. But when his loyalty to her father conflicts with their growing attraction, any hope for a relationship might be blocked before it can even begin…

Where do I start?  As most of you know I am a HUGE Shannon Stacey fan and have managed to get my mom and others addicted to her stories over the past few years.  I wanted to love this story as much as I LOVE the Kowalski’s but I must admit I miss my things of DOOM references.  This was a lovely story that I quite enjoyed but I admittedly do miss getting more of the family I adore.

In this book we get to meet a man who is in the process of losing everything to a dishonest partner and has lost a woman he thought he would spend his life with.  We see a broken man who has worked so hard to get to where he is at but now what does he have?  He’s asked to help out a man who believed in him and became a father to him so why not take this time to escape his new reality while trying to figure out what to do…  He’s broken in some ways but strong in so many others that he just doesn’t see and you just want to beat him over the head with it.  You want to yell at him “You are so much more than a broken man…”  I enjoyed how much he was willing to help out those who are in more dire straits than himself while not burdening or whining to others about what he’s going thru.  I didn’t enjoy him keeping it all to himself as it didn’t help him or anything to keep completely quiet.  He’s very honorable and that is part of what makes him almost miss the best thing that could ever happen to him.

We meet a woman who quite honestly wears her heart on her sleeve even as she tries to keep it hidden.  She does so much for so many but struggles with wanting to be seen as someone on her own two feet.  She wants something she believes needs to come from someone safe but what she needs is someone that is also strong.  She wants everything planned to the nth degree and love isn’t something that can be planned.  You find it when you least expect and in packages that at times are completely opposite what you think you wanted.  She has such a good sense of humor when the “boys” get drunk and go wandering but I enjoyed it most when she truly stood up for what she wanted.  She’s tough, honest and while she wants to keep her little “fling” hidden from the town she never lies to our hero about why this is important.  She never expected him to be anything other than a fling and he never promised her anything.

These two do give us a wonderful story and I do look forward to more of this series.  I’m sure they will become just as addictive as the Kowalski clan in their own way…

four-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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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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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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Quarterback Draw – Jaci Burton – 4.5 stars

February 6, 2015 Berkley Trade, Read in 2015, Sent 2

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

Quarterback Draw – Jaci Burton – 4.5 starsQuarterback Draw by Jaci Burton
Published by Penguin on 2015-02-03
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Playing For Keeps

Grant Cassidy knows how to be a football star—flash that dazzling smile, throw the winning pass, get the girl. But while the hot quarterback loves the game and the lifestyle, no woman has come close to catching his heart. Then he matches wits with a smart, gorgeous model, and Grant finds himself wanting more than a fling.

Supermodel Katrina Koslova might live in a world of glitz and camera flashes, but she works hard to provide for the family that relies on her. She doesn’t have time for fun—much less a boyfriend—but Grant seems determined to be the exception to Katrina’s rule.

Their explosive chemistry is undeniable, but Katrina’s afraid to let go and rely on anyone but herself. Grant intends to ease her fears and prove he’s a man of style and substance.

Ummmmm I can’t say enough about the covers for this series…  talk about needing a towel to wipe up the drool but the story in this one was lovely.

We have two people who aren’t really looking for the ONE but find it when they get paired up at a swimsuit shoot.   Grant comes in to the photoshoot thinking let’s get this over with so I can head back and relax before the football season starts.  He isn’t overly fond of these shoots but they do pay well and he is smart enough to know that football doesn’t last forever.  PR is SOOOO not his thing but hey stuck in a tropical paradise isn’t a bad way to earn some dollars but he is surprised by a connection he feels with Katrina and even more surprised by how much he wants to get to know her better.  I mean he can have any woman he wants but there is something about her that causes him to want to pursue her.  He doesn’t get very far because the one thing Katrina does well is focus and ignore men vying for her attentions.

Katrina is used to doing everything with extreme control.  She has had to raise her younger siblings from an early age and her focus is on keeping the modeling career going in order to provide for them.  She has no time or desire to pursue a relationship or to be honest even have fun.  Her life revolves around her siblings and nothing will take her focus from that.  When she meets Grant she’s struck by their chemistry and the fact that she wants…  simple as that… she wants….  This is not something she is comfortable with and it leads to tension between them as Grant works hard to get her to let him in.

I liked both of their focus on family and that it means everything to both of them.  The romance between the pair builds nicely and has moments where the issues seem a bit too difficult to get over but I loved how compromise and valuing each other ended up being central to it working.  Grant does sort of walk all over barriers to get to Katrina but it was meant well and honestly was what she needed in order to really embrace living for herself and not just wrapped up with her siblings.

Her siblings were priceless and good kids so I loved their part in helping her realize that they would be ok with Katrina having a life….

Now for the fun stuff… I can’t believe I’m going to do this but I must get better about letting paper copies go so…  If you’d like to win my finished review copy of this title…  What sport do you find you love most?  One commenter will be lucky enough to win as long as they’ve entered by 11:59 pm US Central Time on Feb 11, 2015.

four-half-stars

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Ahead in the Heat – Lorelie Brown – 4 stars

January 6, 2015 Read in 2015, Sent, Signet Eclipse 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.

Ahead in the Heat – Lorelie Brown – 4 starsAhead in the Heat by Lorelie Brown
Published by Penguin on 2015-01-06
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
Ahead in the Heat: A Pacific Blue Novel<img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=booaholano0c-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00KWFZ8DW" target="_blank">Buy on Amazon
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four-stars

Sean Westin finds himself on the beaches of San Sebastian as he recovers from a bad break. But he’ll need more than sand and swells to heal his heart....The surfing World Championship Tour is under way, and Sean Westin is desperate to make his mark—until a stupid display of machismo in Bali leaves his shoulder busted. He has six weeks to get back on the waves or he may be looking at the end of his career.Annie Baxter is the best physical therapist in the business, and she knows it. After almost joining the pro circuit herself, she’s wary of working with big stars and their huge egos. But Sean is making her an incredible offer—full funding for her after-school skate center for underprivileged kids—and she’s finding him hard to resist....As intense therapy sessions turn into passionate intimacy, Sean unleashes a wild side of Annie that she’s suppressed for years. Only, Sean’s keeping secrets, and when his hidden history comes to the surface, everything—even Annie—might get torn away.

I really enjoyed reading more about the surfing world and the characters that inhabit it per Lorelie’s imagination.  There is something interesting about seeing a bit of the behind the scenes action that takes place on tour but mainly I enjoyed the heat between our main pair.  I look forward to more of this series and hopefully will also see more of the people we’ve seen thus far including hoping Nate gets someone for him that isn’t a total…

Annie once had a dream of becoming a professional surfer but due to an incident in her past she turned sour on not only the industry but surfing in general.  She now devotes her time and energy to her physical therapy business with a side of helping at-risk teenagers.  She’s driven but incredibly lonely and locked within herself but when she meets Sean she finds she wants something more.  She turns him down as a client until he makes an offer she cannot refuse but as she spends time with him she realizes that she can’t be his doctor but needs to see where the chemistry they share goes.  I liked her strength but mainly I enjoyed her intuition when it came to seeing behind the walls that Sean has built around his life.  She has her own issues that need to be worked out but she at least tries to be honest with herself and him even as she fights her own internal battle.

Sean was something else.  He may show the world that he’s a carefree playboy but in reality he’s a strong man who overcame a horrible childhood.  The scars of his childhood still haunt him and watching him struggle to keep them hidden from the world and Annie was painful.  He’s desperate to get back in the game after an injury but finds himself unable to keep Annie at a distance.  His drive to succeed is legendary but he still has a massive stressors as someone is digging in to the past he desperately wants to keep hidden.  I enjoyed his strength but mainly loved his heart in the ways he tried so hard to do what he needed to do in order to keep Annie happy.  Now mind you… he messes up…  so does she..  but both of them really just wanted to make the other one happy which made it a bit more palatable.

Overall a story with a nice amount of heat and a real dose of heart that will make you happy as they find one another to be exactly what they always needed.

four-stars

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You Really Got Me – Erika Kelly – 4.5 Stars

January 2, 2015 Penguin, Read in 2014 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.

You Really Got Me – Erika Kelly – 4.5 StarsYou Really Got Me by Erika Kelly
Published by Penguin on 2015-01-06
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
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four-half-stars

The first irresistible novel in a hot new series about a rock star on his way up—and the woman he wants to take all the way... Emmie Valencia has what it takes to be the music industry’s hottest band manager. She just needs to prove it. Determined to discover a killer new band, Emmie is ready to make her move. First stop: Austin, Texas. As a sizzling-hot lead singer, Slater Vaughn has no trouble raising heart rates—but his band’s been flat-lining for years. When Emmie, his bandmate’s sister, crashes with them in exchange for some free management, her industry know-how lands them a spot in the biggest music festival in Texas. But it isn’t just her business acumen that catches Slater’s attention. Emmie is sexy and warm, and—for the first time in his life—he wants more. But as irresistible as Slater is, Emmie is done with musicians. In her experience, a man can’t be a rock star and someone to trust with your heart—but Slater is determined to show her he’s both.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  I know I requested it because the premise sounded interesting but the depth that Ms. Kelly brought to this book with both the characters and the inner workings of the music industry was more that I had expected.

We get to meet our heroine Emmie at a crossroads in her life.  She has been working as the personal assistant for one of the premiere A/R guys in the music business but that isn’t where she thinks she belongs.  You see she wants to be an A/R guy (gal) and after being made aware of her boss not really planning on promoting her to that job she decides that enough is enough.  She embarks on a quest to prove she has the chops and goes to stay with her brother in Austin TX in order to help him out and find the next great thing.  While there she finds out that maybe just maybe she might have found love with the absolute (in her mind) worst fit for her.  She’s driven and very loyal to her brother but what I liked most was her fears were understandable and while I wanted to hurt her for her lack of trust in what they were feeling  I couldn’t blame her for how long it took her to realize she was wrong.  She owns her fears and concerns which is rare but even rarer that I didn’t find it overwhelmingly annoying.  The work that she undertakes in order to find herself was painful but felt fairly real in pace.  The chemistry she shares with Slater leaps off the page and you can’t help but want these two to finally admit what they need and want to one another.

Slater…. *sigh* …  He’s got his own issues but I loved how he works so hard to not seem interested in his bandmate’s sister.  He tries so hard to keep her at an arm’s distance but he can’t help but be drawn to someone that sees him and not just the rock star.  As they spend more and more time around one another they both find many things in common and ways that help both of them heal from damages inflicted by their childhood.  I loved his heart and how you got to see his talent shine thru the eyes of others.  He has a depth to him that I think was part of my favorite surprise to this story.  His embarrassment when she discovers how much work he actually does put in to the writing and composing was priceless.  I also understood his decision to make it up to her as to where they went from the ultimate angst moment in the story was also very well done.

Overall this was a very pleasant read with a hero that will make you wish you were Emmie.  There is something to be said about a man who really falls head over heels for his woman and isn’t afraid to let her see how much he truly needs her.

Thanks to the team at Penguin for giving me a chance to read this…  Ummmmm when can I have book 2?????

four-half-stars

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