Source: NetGalley.com

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Wild Hunger – Suzanne Wright 2.5 stars

May 29, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2018, Uncategorized 1

Wild Hunger – Suzanne Wright 2.5 starsWild Hunger by Suzanne Wright
Series: Phoenix Pack #7
Published by Montlake Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, General, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-half-stars
three-half-flames

When half–wolf shifter Frankie Newman receives an e-mail from a family member she didn’t know existed, a secret is revealed: as a child, Frankie witnessed her father killing her mother…and then himself. Frankie was torn from her pack by her mother’s human relatives, and the trauma was erased from her memory. Realizing that she’s been lied to her entire life, she’s never felt more alone. Until she catches the scent of an old friend—warmly familiar and intoxicating.

Trick Hardy, enforcer of the Phoenix Pack, can sense the rush of mutual attraction when he sees Frankie again. He knows immediately that she’s his true mate. But he also knows that, given her fragile state, he needs to tread with care—no matter how fierce his surging desires.

As aroused as Frankie is by Trick’s darkly dominant air and simmering desire, her priority right now is her past—not her future, no matter how tempting. But as more secrets emerge and Frankie’s life is threatened, Trick must do everything he can to keep her close and safe. After all, it’s their destiny.

Like lots of PNR fans, I am a fan of Suzanne Wright’s shifter series.  They are always follow the predictable format that makes them the cracky goodness I enjoy.  Wild Hunger delivered on all of the items readers have come to expect:

  • Fated mates – check
  • Super possessive alpha heroes – check
  • Snarky humor among pack mates, often at the expense of Greta who rightfully deserves it – check
  • Some flavor of bad guy or guys that ultimately threaten the heroine and/or the pack in general but who are ultimately defeated – check
  • Over the top sexual references and the notion of saving your ass for your mate – check

The story had all the elements that I look for in Wright’s books and would have gotten a higher ranking from me if it weren’t for one major problem.

You see, in Wild Hunger we are reminded multiple times that the hero of this story, Trick, has had a past that included sleeping with both men women.  Rock on, bring on the bisexual heroes you say and I agree.  Unfortunately rather than either opting not to specifically state that Trick is bisexual because the label is needed when we know his history or stating that Trick is bisexual, the story seems to make a point to make a statement that Trick isn’t gay.  Below are a couple of examples of this:

  • When a man who Trick has hooked up with in the past attempts to make the heroine question whether she will really be able to give Trick what he needs, she tells him that Trick isn’t gay.  When he doesn’t believe her she says “I’m pretty sure he’s straighter than the pole you dance on every Saturday.”
  • When Frankie (the heroine) is talking to a female member of the pack about the exchange above, the female packmate says “Seeing you and Trick together will have made him face that Trick isn’t gay, wich means he also had to face that you’re able to give Trick something he can’t give him – not unless he’s interested in a sex change anyway.

I just don’t understand why the author opted to address Trick’s sexuality this way when the fact that pack mates have hooked up with each other is openly known and accepted.  Clearly men and women both do it for Trick, why is there any need to make it about being or not being gay?

I hope that we will see this topic handled more appropriately in the future because I would hate to need to stop reading a series that I have enjoyed for years.

two-half-stars

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Burn Bright – Patricia Briggs 4 stars

March 25, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley, Read in 2018 2

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

Burn Bright – Patricia Briggs 4 starsBurn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Published by Ace on March 8th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs "spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well" (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other--one that lurks too close to home...

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok's pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf--but can't stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills--his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker--to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn.

Patricia Briggs was one of the first authors I read when I was introduced by a friend to the PNR genre.  I am a big fan of both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series so I was thrilled to have an opportunity to review Burn Bright.

I have loved watching the relationship between Ann and Charles develop over the series and adored that in Bur Bright we get to see how much Anna had grown.  Anna was so broken when she first came to Charles so I loved that in Burn Bright Anna was so much stronger and got to be someone who was actively protecting some of the most vulnerable members of the Morrok’s pack.

The Wildlings were such an interesting group of wolves and I hope we get to see them in the future.  It’s a fascinating contrast to have characters that are simultaneously broken in some fashion while still being incredibly dangerous.  Briggs did an outstanding job of making the reader feel both compassion and fear for each of the Wildlings we met.

Bram’s wife Leah is a character I have mostly despised through both series, but in Burn Bright my feelings have softened a bit.  In Burn Bright we get to glimpse the  softer side of Leah.  Ultimately Leah makes decisions that are for the best of the pack and I think I finally understand that the reason that Leah is so hateful is because she truly loves Bran and doesn’t get the same love back from him.  Therefore everyone else that Bran shows any affection for is just a reminder of what she doesn’t get from him.  Seeing that Bran had to leave rather than deal with Leah himself when he believed that she was the traitor gives me hopes that perhaps we will get to see the two of them get closer in the future.

I won’t spoil who the traitor was, but I will say I was so disappointed to find out who it was.  I would never have guessed that it was this wolf which I suppose was the point.  It’s just hard to find a character that you have enjoyed wasn’t at all who you thought they were.  My only consolation was that the back story that explains why this wolf was a traitor was masterfully done.

As always I look forward to the next installment into the world of Mercy, the Marrok, Charles and Anna.

 

 

 

four-stars

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The Charmer – Avery Flynn – 4 stars

March 19, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, NetGalley 0

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

The Charmer – Avery Flynn – 4 starsThe Charmer (A Hot Romantic Comedy) by Avery Flynn
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on September 25th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Don't miss the hot new romantic comedy follow-up to the smash hit The Negotiator...

Hot, filthy rich, and usually irresistible, Hudson Carlyle just met the one woman in Harbor City who’s immune to his legendary charm. Nerdy ant researcher Felicia Hartigan is the unsexiest dresser ever. She trips over air. And she’s in love with totally the wrong man. Hudson can’t stop thinking about her.

His regular moves won’t work here. He’s going to need a new plan, starting with helping her win over the man she thinks she wants. And if in the process she ends up falling for Hudson instead? Even better. Step one, charm her panties off. Step two, repeat step one as frequently as possible.

But what if the famous Carlyle charm finally fails him when he needs it most? Or worse, what if she figures out the one secret he’s kept from everyone, including his family, and walks away for good?

Each book in the Harbor City series is STANDALONE* The Negotiator* The Charmer* The Schemer

Have you ever read a book where you wanted to strangle, shake  and slap both of the main characters while simultaneously adoring them?  The charmer was one of those books for me.

Hudson and Felicia had so much chemistry and were absolutely perfect for eachother.  Felicia saw right through the charming facade that Hudson hid behind when dealing with the rest of the world, even his own family.  As a man who was accustomed to charming the panties off of any women he wanted to, Hudson didn’t quite know what to do with a woman who busted his chops like Felicia did.  I absolutely adored Hudson’s nickname for Felicia.  It conveyed both how he felt about her at the same time as it fit her firecracker personality.

All of this sounds great right? Now let me get to why I wanted to beat them at various points of the book.  Both Felicia and Hudson got so caught up in their original plan to make Tyler notice Felicia that they ignored what was right in front of them.  As a reader it was so frustrating to see them get close only for one or the other of them to either deliberately or inadvertently push the other away due to something they said.  All of the talk of lessons when their connection had so obviously moved beyond the initial plan or even a casual connection.  They both had moments of saying such hurtful things to the other that I literally wanted to reach into the book and throttle them both.

The payoff in the end was worth it.  Felicia realized that the man she had been chasing was more childhood fantasy than reality and the way Hudson demonstrated how important Felicia was absolutely lovely.  It was a perfect demonstration from the real Hudson Carlyle.

As a side note, I can’t wait to read Everly and Tyler’s book.  The battle of wills I see coming from those two is going to be epic!

four-stars

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Thalgor’s Witch – Nancy Holland DNF

February 15, 2018 Boookluvr Reads, DNF, NetGalley, Read in 2018 0

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

Thalgor’s Witch – Nancy Holland DNFThalgor's Witch Published by Tule Publishing on 1/22/2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
dnf

In a land of perpetual war and wandering, warrior Thalgor not only leads his people in battle, but keeps the hope alive that somebody his displaced tribe can rebuild the kingdom that was lost to the treachery between witches and men. When he captures a beautiful witch, he knows he cannot trust her. But to succeed in his quest to find a new home and prevail over his enemies, he also knows he needs her.

Erwyn might be a slave and feared for her powers and precognition, but she doesn’t cower when confronted by the feared warrior. Nor does she act as expected. Thalgor’s kindness confuses her. His flashes of humor confound her. And the reaction he ignites in her body creates a longing that she cannot deny.

Neither anticipated falling in love. The stakes are high, but when Thalgor is mortally wounded, Erwyn realizes she must accept help from an unlikely source to save him.

When I read the blurb for this book on NetGalley, it sounded like something that was right up my alley.  I’ve been on a binge read of UF and PNR and the premise was intriguing so I was excited to check it out.

Trigger Warning for references to rape.

Spoilers ahead

There were some problematic elements for me starting right away in chapter 1.  The following line is from one of Thalgor’s men after capturing a 5 year old child:

“Small, but female,” the man declared with an ugly laugh

This was followed almost immediately by this comment by the same man after he saw Erwyn who is the witch in this story:

“A full-size female,” the third man said, his toothless leer close enough for Erwyn to smell the rot of his breath.

Repulsive right?  Well this was followed by a this man groping Erwyn’s breast which is how we find out that witches have an inherent power that protects them from men.  This should have told me all I needed to know about this book.  If by page 10 the author needed to declare that witches have a power to keep themselves from being raped, I should have known there was more problematic material to come but I kept reading hoping this wouldn’t be the case.

In Chapter 4 after Erwyn exhausted herself healing members of Thalgor’s group following a battle, Thalgor carried her off into the woods with the intention of taking her.  While he changed he realized just how weak she was, the scene was tremendously uncomfortable.  The author highlighted how Erwyn was too exhausted to user her natural power to prevent her rape, and showed her mentally preparing herself for the rape to take place and pleading with him not to rape her.

And still I kept reading trying to finish the book I had agreed to review.

In Chapter 8 Erwyn discovers that she lost a child.  She was unaware that she was pregnant and had been using her powers which is extremely hard on an unborn child.  When she shared this news with Thalgor he was a uncompassionate asshole who instructed her not get pregnant again.  And guess who continued to have sex with her in a setting that appears to have no means of preventing pregnancy.   I am sure you can see where this is going.  When Erwyn is pregnant again and cannot help Thalgor or his people he’s a complete ass about it.  I was mentally raging about what a dick he was at this point but still tried to finish the book.

After Thalgor begins to exclude Erwyn from council meetings because he deems her unuseful now that she doesn’t have use of her powers (see he’s a dick), Erwyn begins to give him the cold shoulder.  She is avoiding him during the day and has no physical contact with him at night when they go to bed.  What do we get to see as Thalgor’s reaction?

“The next night he caught her staring at him with those unforgiving eyes and that lush body, and knew he could take her at will without her magic to protect her.  For the first time he almost understood what drove the man who become Rygar’s father.  But unlike that brute, Thalgor hated himself for the thought.

Are you kidding me?  This is supposed to be a romance between Thalgor and Erwyn and you have him thinking about raping her because she is refusing to have sex with him after he’s a dick?  Am I supposed to sympathize with his desire to rape her even though he supposedly hates himself for thinking about it.  You can fuck right off with that.

And this my friends is when I finally put down the book at 46% to never pick it up again.

There were many other problematic examples I could provide about this book, but who needs anymore of this nonsense in their life?  There are too many other amazing books out there to devote anymore time to this problematic book.

dnf

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Twice in a Lifetime – Jodie Griffin – 4 stars

January 24, 2018 NetGalley, Read in 2018, Riptide Publishing, Steph 0

Published by Riptide Publishing Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com

Ok Jodie knows I love her writing…  I also adore her as a person who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and love chatting with on Twitter…  before I get to the review I have to leave this here…

Yep…  I went there!

So on to the book, I don’t read a lot of F/F but I don’t see a lot of it in my feeds normally.  I have enjoyed the ones I have read so far and plan on trying to read more of them once I survive February so if you have any you’ve read let me know.  In this case we have a second chances romance where two women have had kids, been married and lived their lives with a lot of love but now are they willing to take the risk to love again?  There is a lot to overcome with one being the boss of the other and the fact that they are working in a very male, hetero field but these two women find a way to grasp this connection to create a new life with one another that is to be envied.

Talia is finally doing something she loves by working with the Police Department and their community involvement team.  She’s happy to be the assistant to a woman who sets sparks off and makes her want something that she doesn’t think she can have but as they work together the sparks seem to build to flames.  Talia had an amazing husband who she lost way too early but it has left her with a great view of love and now perhaps a chance to find it with a woman who makes her want.  I loved seeing her with her daughters as we get glimpses of how strong her partnership was with her husband.  You see how they built a life together and how that shaped the women her daughters have become.  They both had their own stories to go thru but they also provided Talia with the advice to go for what she wanted.  The support she received from them allows her to fight for what she wants.

Eve made me so happy as we got to see her fight for what she wanted while taking a risk that could impact the career she worked so hard to build.  She does make some choices that weren’t always the best but there was always a perceived good idea that underscored the choice.  I liked seeing her son and her reaction to his relationship as it felt like something I’d see in my real life should the situation arise.  I can see how much Eve cares for those around her and how badly she wants to help those who need it.  She’s strong but with Talia she does show how much love means to her.  She’s bold but practical and seeing how hard she fights to make things work will make you happy.  When the dark moment arrives it will hurt but how it plays out shows how much family means to her.

The story is a sweet love story with two women who love with everything in them.  It shows both in their relationship with each other and the ones they share with their children.  Give this one a try as it is truly a story of family and finding love later in life.

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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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The Real Thing – Melissa Foster DNF

October 6, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, DNF, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

The Real Thing – Melissa Foster DNFThe Real Thing by Melissa Foster
Published by Amazon Publishing on September 5th 2017
Pages: 286
Source: NetGalley.com
Goodreads

Bakery owner Willow Dalton's friendship with Zane Walker has always been a bit complicated. Now a scrumptiously hot A-list actor, Zane's always had a reputation as a player. He's arrogant, and he's definitely not boyfriend material. Sure, he did Willow a favor by agreeing to take her virginity before college, but is that reason enough for her to go along with a fake engagement a decade later--even if it comes with a real diamond ring?

Zane should have known better. Nothing involving Willow has ever been easy. Still, he knows her better than anyone, and becoming America's hottest new leading man means cleaning up his reputation. An "engagement" to curvy, sass-mouthed Willow is the perfect PR move...provided no one gets hurt.

Now Zane and Willow's little white lie has turned into an irresistible recipe for sweet temptation. And soon no one will be able to tell the difference between their fake engagement and the real thing--including them.

Sometimes you just know that a book isn’t going to be for you once you start reading it.  While I used to force myself to finish a book once I started it, this year I have stopped that practice.  With the state of the world today, I think all of us need to allow ourselves to find enjoyment where we can.   No one book is for everyone, so if it’s not for me that’s ok.

I love the fake girlfriend, fiance, wife trope in romance.  Watching a couple who is faking a relationship fall for each other gradually in the midst of their efforts to con someone else rarely fails to delight me.  At least one of the characters is so sure that relationships aren’t for them that it’s entertaining to watch their life be turned upside down when they figure out they fell for someone when they weren’t paying attention.

As excited as I was for a new fake relationship story, I knew very early on that The Real Thing wasn’t going to be for me.  I found Zane’s actions to get Willow to help him improve his image, regardless of whether she wanted to or not, to be extremely selfish and aggressive.  Why wouldn’t he call her and ask for her help as opposed to tricking her into believing she had a catering job for her bakery and ambushing her?   The fact he went so far as to have a moment between them captured by a photographer before even giving her a chance to agree made me want to punch him in the face. And telling someone they owe you for you agreeing to take their virginity years ago just made him a douche in my book.  By the beginning of chapter 4 I knew that I wasn’t going to connect with this storyline because as far as I was concerned, Zane needed to fall off the face of the earth.

On top of Zane being a jerk, I struggled with some of Willow’s dialog when it came to other women.  I get that Zane is supposed to be a movie star player, but referring to what would happen when he was in town as a “Zane Hotter-Than-Hell Walker slutfest” was kind of gross.  It implies the women are the problem when Willow’s real issue was with Zane’s behavior.

I am sure that both characters evolve throughout the book and we get to see more than the surface level interactions that I experienced to understand them better and that there will be plenty of readers who love this book.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

 

 

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Archangel’s Viper – Nalini Singh 5 stars

September 26, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Read in 2017 2

Archangel’s Viper – Nalini Singh 5 starsArchangel's Viper by Nalini Singh
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on September 26th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, General, Science Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel...or human...   Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman--it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.   Now, someone has put a bounty on her head...   Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself--because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening...   No one is safe.

You’ll have to pardon my fangirling for a moment, but with some books/authors it simply can’t be helped.  I love Nalini Singh’s PNR books!  It doesn’t matter if I am in the middle of another book, when a new Guild Hunter or Psy-Changeling  book comes out I immediately start reading it.  PNR worlds can be tricky (especially first books) because so much of the story centers on the building or description of the world and I can find myself struggling to feel connected enough to the main characters of the story because I am so focused on the world.   I am always amazed that given how detailed the worlds in both series are, I didn’t feel that frustration or disconnect from the story.  Nalini’s world always seems to provide the detail needed to connect you to her characters rather than take away from the.  She does such an outstanding job bringing details like color, texture, taste and emotion to life in her books that you can almost feel the backdrops she describes.  Every description brings you further into the world of her characters and bonds you to them so that you feel every emotion along with them.  Given that, it’s no wonder both series are a favorite re-read for so many readers.

Archangel’s Viper was such a wonderful installment to the Guild Hunter series.  I have been looking forward to seeing Holly and Viper since Holly was introduced to us as Sorrow.  Their back and forth banter made me hopeful that they would be paired up later in the series once Holly had time to heal, so I was thrilled when this book was announced.

I loved seeing how far Holly came since we last saw her.  Her confidence, determination and attitude were delightful.  The emphasis on her clothing and accessories gave us a glimpse not just into who Holly is today, but who she was prior to being thrust into the world of angels and vampires.  The back and forth between Holly and Viper made me smile because they truly had a dynamic that was simply their own.  When the everyone else was still treating Holly with kid gloves in some ways, Viper never shied away from treating her like his equal.  Whether that meant telling Holly truths she may not want to see, or physically testing her limits, it showed us how much confidence Viper had in Holly’s ability to exist in their world.

My favorite elements of this story (without spoilers) were:

  • Ashwini programming ringtones in Holly’s phone.  I love seeing the playfulness between such powerful beings.
  • All the nicknames Holly and Viper had for each other.  To others these may have seemed like insults, but in the end it was a way for the two of them to establish a subtle intimacy before they even realized what was happening.
  • Holly’s dislike for Viper’s sunglasses.  I love that a feature that made Viper seem so alien was something that never deterred Holly.  She was not only fascinated by his eyes and their behavior, but could read his eyes ina  way that other’s seemed unable to do.  While Viper didn’t believe his eyes reflected emotion in the same way that most eyes do, with Holly that wasn’t the case.
  • The details of Viper’s home that called out to both he and Holly.  Given that otherness of Viper I don’t think I realized how important it would be that whoever he ended up with would be drawn to some of the same comforts.
  • Viper absolutely melted my heart when he cooked for Holly.  Seriously, a vampire that doesn’t eat who goes out of his way to not just prepare food, but meals that were either centered around dishes that he knew Holly liked based on observing her or those that were a bridge to his own past.  Each one was prepared with such care that it was one of the most romantic scenes I have ever read.
  • The flavored blood that Ashwini sent with Venom.  This to me is an example of such a subtle detail making a world of difference to the story.  Listening to Venom describe the flavors and the memories associated with them (especially given his taste for flavored blood) humanized him in a way that I wasn’t prepared for.
  • The glimpses into Holly’s relationship with Dimitri.  Given his painful past, I love that he has become a father figure to Holly and Naasir.
  • Holly and Viper playing in Central Park.  That scene did such a good job showing us how alike Holly and Venom were, and it was the first time we got to see Holly let her abilities surface in a playful way.
  • That Venom gave Holly his true name.  To me it was symbolic of his final wall coming down between them.  It was the moment where I knew that Holly had his heart for eternity no matter what came next.

Fans of the Guild Hunter series will not be disappointed with this latest installment, and I dare say may find Viper their favorite hero in the entire series (sorry Dimitri 🙂 ).  To those that haven’t read any books in the series yet, I have only one thing to say… What Are You Waiting For?!

five-stars

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All or Nothing at All – Jennifer Probst – 3 stars

July 25, 2017 Boookluvr Reads, Gallery Books, NetGalley, Read in 2017 1

All or Nothing at All – Jennifer Probst – 3 starsAll or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst
Published by Gallery Books on July 25th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, General
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley.com
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three-stars

HGTV’s Property Brothers meets The Marriage Bargain in this third novel in the Billionaire Builders series, an all-new sexy contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

***Warning, this review will contain a pretty major spoiler.  I felt the topic needed to be touched on in the review, so if you haven’t read the book and don’t want spoilers, come back after you’ve had a chance to read the book 🙂 ***

 

For readers of the Billionaire Builders series, I am sure that you, like me, saw some elements of this story line coming a mile away.  It was clear that Tristan and Sydney would be the focus of his book, and given the glimpses that we have had of Sydney’s daughter Becca, that we would be looking at a secret baby romance.   Secret baby story lines can be tough because the author must impress upon the reader that the choice of keeping a child from their father was justifiable at the time, and that given the circumstances the hero would be able to forgive the heroine for her decision enough to finally have their HEA.   This criteria wasn’t completely met for me in All or Nothing at All which I will get into further later in the review.

In the 3rd installment of the Billionaire Builders series,  the book begins by showing us the moment that Tristan left town, and Sydney 7 years ago.  This glimpse helps set the stage for why they have such off the charts chemistry and so many unresolved issues as we move into the present.  These flashbacks continue throughout the book showing the reader scenes from both character’s perspective all the way from childhood through recent events.  While I think these flashbacks help demonstrate the history that the characters have with each other and how integrated Sydney was in their family, I do think they were too frequent and not all necessary to help the reader understand the dynamics between the characters.

The main plot point in this book is that when Tristan and Sydney once again find themselves considering a relationship, everything implodes when Sydney reveals to Tristan that he is in fact Becca’s father.  While I understood how Sydney would feel a momentary sense of panic given Tristan’s desire to leave his home to move to NYC, I didn’t buy in to this being a justifiable reason to keep his child from him for 7 years.  Sydney wasn’t just keeping Becca from Tristan when she made this decision, but also the rest of the Pierce family.  Given how much a part of the family Sydney was and how much she professed to love them all, this was where the story line didn’t fit for me.  She has worked in the Pierce family business all this time, spent time with Cal and Dalton (Tristan’s brothers) and yet never once seemed to second guess her decision.  In the end I felt that Sydney had made an extremely selfish decision because regardless of what would have happened between her and Tristan, she would have had a support system in the rest of the family.

While the secret baby wasn’t as well done as I had hoped, I enjoyed seeing Tristan and Sydney come back together and work out their issues.  The forced wedding angle was a bit over the top for me, but it did serve as a catalyst to keep them in close proximity.  It was also enjoyable to see Cal and Morgan’s wedding in this book.  Picturing that wedding dance sure gave me a chuckle.  I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Dalton and Raven’s engagement but I realize not everything was going to get tied up in this book.

I am a little sad to know that this series is finished because I did enjoy the brothers.  Seeing how far they have come in their relationships with each other was the most heartwarming part of All or Nothing at All for me.

If you have thoughts on this book or the series in general, I would love to hear them!

 

 

three-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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