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Audiobook Review – The Sweetheart Deal – Polly Dugan

the sweetheart dealThe Sweetheart Deal
Author: Polly Dugan
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Kathleen McInerney, John Glouchevitch, Brad Abrell, Adam McArthur, Aaron Landon, John Salwin
Run Time: 9hrs 40min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
Leo has long joked that, in the event of his death, he wants his best friend Garrett, a lifelong bachelor, to marry his wife, Audrey. One drunken night, he goes so far as to make Garrett promise to do so. Then, twelve years later, Leo, a veteran firefighter, dies in a skiing accident.

As Audrey navigates her new role as widow and single parent, Garrett quits his job in Boston and buys a one-way ticket out west. Before long, Audrey’s feelings for Garrett become more than platonic, and Garrett finds himself falling for Audrey, her boys, and their life together in Portland. When Audrey finds out about the drunken pact from years ago, though, the harmless promise that brought Garrett into her world becomes the obstacle to his remaining in it.

Review:
I’m not sure what it was about this audiobook that caught my eye when I was looking at the available list. I think because I am a sucker for romances (I mean, look at what this blog reviews most of the time), I was curious to see how the author would handle an issue like death of a husband and the potential romance between his widow and best friend. Yes, it felt kind of sketchy to me, but I was intrigued. This is the first book i’ve read by Ms Dugan, but taking a look at the descriptor of her other book, it seems as though she likes tackling these difficult themes and ideas (her other book looks at two women dating the same man and the outcomes).

From the get-go, I was glad (as bad as that maybe sounds) as to how she handled the death of the husband – it was sudden and unexpected, not prolonged. Having seen how both types of deaths have been handled in my family, I would take the sudden/unexpected over the prolonged any day of the week (if I was forced to chose…which I hope I never am). I also found that she did a good job of capturing the different cycles of grief that people go through – how Audrey handled the death of Leo, compared to Garrett (his best friend) compared to Leo and Audrey’s son’s – each was individual and you could see that the author had done research into different methods of coping, dealing with grief etc. I know that Garrett just up and quitting his life in Boston (where he was an established professor) was drastic but I could see it as his way of coping.

i think for me the most appealing (if that is the right word) of this was that it took place over a period of time – it wasn’t like there was the death and then wham bam, Audrey had moved on. You could see (most definitely in her) how she progressed through the stages until she could be in a relationship with someone again. That being said, I still found the time period to be too fast, Audrey and Leo had been together for close to 20 years and so to have her move on in less than a year, just seemed too quick.

For me, the most enjoyable parts (for lack of a better phrase) was seeing Garrett interact with Audrey and her family. Seeing him try to fit into an established role and navigate what were potentially rough seas. I found that the author did a good job of making all the voices of her characters unique – not only because the audiobook used multiple ones, but because they were different. That being said, maybe it was because I was listening to the audiobooks, but the dialogue tags drove me nuts. I know its a probably a personal peeve, but a few times, it got very he/Garrett said or she/Audrey said in their conversations and seemed almost redundant to me.

For me, the book itself was brought to life by the narration. Honestly, I don’t know looking back, if it is a) a book I would have picked up without it being an audiobook and b) if I would have stuck with it, if was I just reading it. I thought that the use of multiple narrators (a different one to narrate each POV) worked well – although looking now, it strikes me as funny that there was really only one female POV in the book, compared to the 5 men. Maybe it was because the majority of the book was alternating between Audrey and Garrett’s POV’s, with the other ones playing a more minor role. All of the narrators were new to me and I was intrigued enough that I want to check out more work they have done in the future.

I thought all of the narrators, especially Kathleen McInerney, who was the narrator for Audrey’s POV were able to convey the different emotions/feels that were tied to parts of the story. You could hear the grief in her voice early on in the narration, the desolation of realizing that the life she knew was gone – but at the same time, as she began to move on with her life, you could hear the strength returning to her and a sense of purpose.

While I liked both the book and the narration, I gave them 3.5 stars each. I would recommend The Sweetheart Deal with readers who like women’s lit and potentially new love later in life type books.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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TBR Tuesday – 09 June 15

TBR TuesdayWicked
Author: Sasha White

Purchased: November 11, 2009
Date Finished: 14 May, 2015
Time on TBR: 2012 Days

Review:
I’m always amazed at the books that I find when I start digging through my kindle archives and what inspired me to buy a certain book at a certain time. Looking at my record for this one, I bought it while I was deployed to Iraq in 2009 and not long before I headed home – so I’m thinking it may have been a book that I bought to read on the flight and then likely got distracted (I mean, really, those flights SUCK for reading). And then forgot about it (like it seems I have for many books on my TBR). But I needed a book for a reading challenge that had a single word titled (and was at least 250pgs in length) and this was one of the first ones that I found while browsing my kindle archives that I have actually managed to catalogue on Goodreads so far. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize at the time that this was a book 3 in the series, and I didn’t really have time to go back and read the previous 2 books in the series, so I hoped that I could just jump on in and not be too lost.

Thankfully, while this is a “series” they are only loosely combined – in that they are part of the Dungeon series, which is the club that individuals visit, but that the stories are all separate and can be read by themselves. I thought that the basis of the characters for Wicked – a divorce lawyer and Lara (who is actually very hard to describe character wise) was a great combo – the idea of the guy who needs dominance in his nightlife, because of the dichotomy in his day (sometimes having power, other times not). I found the suspense element of the story to be a bit of a let down – it just felt like it wasn’t really needed and I would have preferred to have seen more of a story between Karl and Lara, rather than the additional storyline – IMHO it just wasn’t really needed.

I’m intrigued enough by the series that I want to go back and read the previous two in the series (and its highly likely that I have at least one of them in the TBR pile somewhere). I gave Wicked 3.5 stars and will be definitely checking out more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in TBR Tuesday

 

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Review – Claiming Their Royal Mate – Andie Devaux

claiming their royal mateClaiming Their Royal Mate
Author: Andie Devaux
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Daniella Clark has lived blissfully unaware of her heritage, but as her true nature reveals itself, a need rises that she cannot control. Her sexy-as-sin neighbor, Owen, eases her carnal heat and introduces her to a world she never even suspected existed.

But the weretiger prime, Erick, wants her for his own. And he is more than willing to fight his second-in-command for the woman he claimed the moment he laid eyes on her luscious form. He will do anything to protect his people, and their future rests in Daniella’s hands.

Even as Daniella revels in the sensuality of the weretiger males, she fights to maintain her sense of self. But when old enemies arise, the battle for her heart isn’t the only fight they must face. And Daniella will have to decide how much she is willing to risk for the men who want her for their mate.

Review:
I’ll admit that I’m normally not a fan of serial type romances, but since this was the complete story, I decided to give it a try. I’ll even admit that I was kind of surprised with how much I enjoyed it and how well the story was constructed/written. Yes, I’ve been known to be very verbal about my dislike of the serial trend in general… I also appreciated how the author used different types of were- compared to current popular wolves/bears/lions (even if Tigers are big cats) ;) As this was a book that had been originally published in a serial format, each of the 4 sections had a satisfying beginning/middle/end – even if they were each only about 70pgs long. There were a few cliff-hangers between each of the sections where I just wanted to scream out loud – thankfully, I didn’t have to wait for a new installment to come along – I just don’t get how people can wait for story resolutions like this!

I found the authors writing style to be very engrossing and I found myself not wanting to put down the book once I started (and not just because of the cliff-hanger endings) – but because I was invested in the world that she created. And she wasn’t too shabby on the smexy scenes either, and since it was off the charts hot from the start, that doesn’t surprise me. Although, just so you are warned – this does feature a menage storyline – so stay clear if you don’t like those sorts of things. I liked how Ms Devaux developed the suspense element of the story – it was solidly written, but didn’t overwhelm the romance, which is always important to me. And most importantly, I was invested enough in the characters and the world building that I want to read more stuff written by the author in the future.

Overall, I gave Claiming Their Royal Mate 3.5 stars, mostly because I while I realized it was a serial, I wanted more to the storyline – it was solid, but there were a few places where there could have been some more development. But I’m intrigued enough that I want to read more by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor

Audies nominee paranormal

a second chanceA Second Chance
Author: Jodi Taylor
Series: #3 in the The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series
Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Zara Ramm
Run Time: 9hrs 14 min
Narration Rating: 4 stars

Description:
St Mary’s is back and nothing is going right for Max. Once again, it’s just one damned thing after another. The action jumps from an encounter with a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton to the bloody battlefield at Agincourt. Discover how a simple fact-finding assignment to witness the ancient and murderous cheese- rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC – concussion by cheese. The long awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy ends in personal catastrophe for Max and just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse – it’s back to the Cretaceous Period again to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose. So, make the tea, grab the chocolate biscuits, settle back and discover exactly why the entire history department has painted itself blue …

Review:
Oh where to begin, of the 6 books nominated for the paranormal category for the Audies, this is the one I was probably looking forward to the most. I’m a huge fan of time travel type stories (i mean, my addiction started with Outlander like 15 years ago), so when I was reading the description I was sucked in. From the get-go, A Second Chance was a roller coaster right of history, funny and educational at the same time. I could tell that the author had a passion for it because of not only the general history that most people know about different time periods, but all the other random factoids – like Cheese Rolling (yes, you read that right, Cheese Rolling!) And better yet, Cheese Rolling STILL EXISTS! Yes, I want to try it! (5 absurd food-based sports you couldn’t even make up”).

One of the things I enjoyed the most about the book was that Max and her folks didn’t try to change history, but were rather there to just observe it. It made it more enjoyable because you knew that none of the actions of the teams from St. Mary’s were going to change how the Battle of Agincourt played out, or what Newton did…I think if I had found myself in the same situation, it would have been hard to not want to change things, especially if you knew something bad was going to happen…so the fact that the historical encounters in the book were solely fact gathering missions made it intriguing to me. I starting thinking about where would I love to visit, if I was given the opportunity to travel back in time and honestly, its still up in the air. I’m going to have to think about it and who knows, maybe when I go back and listen to the rest of the series, since I will be doing that, maybe a trip will really spark my interest.

Zara Ramm was a new to me narrator, but I can safely save (as with several other narrators nominated in the paranormal category), it won’t be my last time listening to her. In fact, I’ve already purchased the first book in this series, as well as several freebies that are available (what can I say, I only have a slight problem with freebies)…i think one of the good things about how well her narration tied into the novel was that it was told from a female POV, so having one who was well modulated and articulate (as Max was, since she is a historian and a department leader) worked well. There were times during the narration I was laughing so hard at the antics of Max and her crew (and no, not just the cheese rolling), that I thought I was going to have to pull the car over so as to avoid an accident.

If you are interested in a comedic romp through history with a well-meaning but slightly disaster bound historian, then this series may be one for you. I do recommend not drinking while listening however, as you may find that you need to purchase a new computer monitor (or similar). 3.5 stars for the book and 4 stars for the narration.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Our Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship – Brittainy C. Cherry

totally ridiculousOur Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
All families have secrets, and Jules Stone’s is no exception. Deciding not to follow in her family’s Oscar-winning footsteps, Jules chooses to take a more behind-the-scenes career in one of the Top 10 Talent Agencies in Chicago. After being dumped five hours before spending Christmas with her dysfunctional family, she needs a plan to avoid their judgmental eyes.

Enter: Kayden Reece.

Kayden is the black sheep of his family, being the one actor drowning in a world of doctors and lawyers. Never really getting a jumpstart at his acting career or landing a big time role, he can feel his dad’s disappointment soaking into his spirit.

When Kayden gets a chance to meet and sign with a big name agent at Walter and Jacks Talent Agency, he’s ready to prove everyone wrong. Jules stumbles into the building in shambles, ugly crying, and begging to pay an actor a big sum of money to be her made-up boyfriend for five days, Kayden jumps at the opportunity—finally able to say he landed a role.

When secrets start to unravel, Kayden and Jules must learn that all families have their baggage, sometimes co-stars fall in lust, and it’s important to always have invisible mistletoe hanging around.

Review:
Sometimes when you are home with bronchitis and feeling cruddy, a cute romance is just what you need and Our Totally, Ridiculous, Made-up Christmas Relationship hit all my happy buttons. Last week I was lucky enough to get an unplanned 3 day vacation from work (unfortunately, not by choice) and while looking for something to read, I came across this book in Kindle Unlimited. Honestly, I think someone had recommended it, but darn if I can remember.

Anyways, I will admit that the title at first made me chuckle and then shake my head – because honestly, I was expecting a comedy of errors type plot device – I mean, at least, that is what I would image when you use the word ridiculous in a title. But it turned out to be a rather sweet romance – although I will admit that the secondary characters (family members mostly) were so whacked out that maybe ridiculous is an appropriate description.

While I’m not always a fan of the fake marriage/marriage of convenience plot device (I mean, since normally its needing to pose in order to get an inheritance or a job), in this case it worked for me, because it revolved around the simple desire of wanting to show your family that you are successful/loved etc. Yeah, maybe a bit cheesy, but when you are introduced to Jules family, you’ll find out why I say that. And opposite to that, there was Kayden’s family that was (pardon my french) a bunch of assholes (well, aside from his mom). They were the most obnoxious group of people I’ve read about in a good long while. One of the things I really liked about the book was that there wasn’t the huge secret/big misunderstanding trope that is used so frequently. While there was a bit of one, it didn’t take up the whole plot and was resolved relatively quickly.

Overall, a cute contemp romance that will just (hopefully) make you feel happy inside ;)

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Risk – Skye Jordan

the riskThe Risk
Author: Skye Jordan
Series: #1 in the Xtreme Heros series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Former Olympian turned physical therapist to the elite Julia Bailey knows all about pushing the limits. But when a sexual harassment suit costs her a dream job—not to mention her reputation—she takes on the biggest risk of her life. Rehabilitating the X Games’ most notorious bad boy might be just what she needs to secure the funds for her own treatment center. Problem is, the only kind of recovery her new client is interested in is under-the-covers freestyle—gear optional.

Daredevil snowboarder Noah Hunt is a rock star—on and off the slopes. A recent accident might have him down, but he’s far from out. He doesn’t care what the sexy therapist with the sweet curves says. He’s got sponsors to impress and trophies to collect, and taking things slow and steady just ain’t his style. A little dirty talk and a sizzling night later, Julia learns just how fast and hard he likes to play. Too bad for him, his heart goes all in, and one wrong move could cost him more than just his career.

Review:
Skye Jordan is a name that I have heard thrown around both groups on Goodreads and on Amazon as a author I should try, but as seems to be the case, I have a book of hers sitting on the pile, but not yet gotten around to reading. So when the opportunity arose to review her newest book as part of the launch blog tour I was intrigued enough by the description and by the cover (I mean, seriously, have you SEEN the cover?!?!) that I knew I wanted to try it and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.

From the get-go you could tell how much research the author had done not only into the world of snowboarding (which I know very little about), but also physical therapy (while never having busted my ankle, some of the techniques described have been used on me during various periods of recovery from other sports injuries). It added a sense of realism to the story – although I will admit that you could tell some of the process had been speed-up to fit with the storyline. However, from the description, I kind of expected more about the issues Julia had prior to working with Noah, but they were fairly hidden away/downplayed in the story – which was a bit of a let-down (I always figure if something is important enough to be featured prominently in the blurb, then why not include it more in the storyline…otherwise, it just feels as though it was added for angst and not really conducive to the story).

I liked the whole development between Noah and Julia as a relationship in general – but then I’m a sucker for doctor/patient and other healthcare themed romances. It very vaguely reminded me of an old school Sandra Brown (Adam’s Fall) but with the physical therapist being a former athlete. The romance between Noah and Julia felt hot and yet sweet at the same time – I actually like how she tortured him a bit before giving in and how she was willing to fight people who said “i’m the specialist that’s why” when it came to his health. My least favorite part of their romance was the random thoughts that Noah had towards the end that felt a bit 50shades-ish – it didn’t add to the story at all, and honestly felt like it was just added in as a shock factor. It was because of that, that I actually lowered my rating from 4 stars, down to 3.5 – it just felt unnecessary/didn’t work for me (don’t get me wrong, I read erotic romance regularly, but in this instance, it just wasn’t needed (IMHO).

Overall, I enjoyed the Risk – the romance was for the most part really well done and Ms Jordan did a good job developing the sexual tension between Noah and Julia. I will be curious to see where she takes the series with future books and I know that I will be moving other books that I have by her up my to-read pile.

Buy Links:
Amazon – The Risk (Xtreme Heroes 1)
Barnes and Noble – The Risk
Apple – The Risk
Kobo – The Risk

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Haven Lake – Holly Robinson

haven lakeHaven Lake
Author: Holly Robinson
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Sydney Bishop hasn’t returned to Haven Lake, her idyllic childhood home, since a pair of shocking, tragic deaths shattered her family when she was only sixteen. Now a child psychologist engaged to marry a successful surgeon, Sydney has worked hard to build a relationship with Dylan, her fiancé’s teenage son, so she feels nothing but empathy when he runs away—until she discovers that his hitchhiking journey has led him to Haven Lake and her mother Hannah’s sheep farm.

Sydney returns to Haven Lake for the first time in twenty years to coax the boy home. Against her daughter’s wishes, Hannah offers to take Dylan in until he’s ready to reveal his own troubling secrets. Now, for Dylan’s sake as well as their own, Sydney and Hannah must confront the devastating events that tore them apart and answer the questions that still haunt their family—and the suspicious surrounding community—about what really caused two people to die on their farm those many years ago.

Review:
This is a hard review for me to write because Holly Robinson has been a favorite author of mine since I read her book The Wishing Hill a couple of years ago, so when I got my hands on Haven Lake I was excited to dig on it. In fact, when I received my copy of it, I had a picture posted on twitter within about 10 minutes of opening the package. But when it came to reading it, I don’t know if I wasn’t in the right mood, or there was something that just wasn’t working for me, but I struggled with the initial stages. At one stage early on (I was maybe about 40 pages in), I put it down because I was struggling and there is sat, glaring at me from my bedside table for probably a good month or so (books rarely last that long as a current read). But on a snowy weekend, I curled up with Haven Lake and after I got past the chapter or so that I was stuck on, the rest of my reading was pretty much smooth sailing.

Much like her previous books, Haven Lake is a woman’s exploration into her life – what has gone wrong? what has gone right? what does she need to change to be where she wants to be? But I had issues relating to Sydney – I just felt like she wasn’t relatable – in fact, she was (at least to me an unfeeling bitch). She may have become slightly more redeemable as the book progressed for the most part, but honestly, yeah, I could have cared less.

I was much more interested in both Hannah and Sydney’s soon to be step-son, Dylan – they were to me the more interesting of the cast of characters. I’m always intrigued by people who decide to live off the grid (and while Hannah wasn’t completely off, she was fairly well unplugged) – mostly because I know I could never do it. I like my phone, my computer, Facebook, Starbucks etc wayyy to much ;) I also liked how Holly developed Dylan’s character – all I wanted to do while I was reading his portion was wrap him up in a huge hug (and then bitch-slap his father…). He reminded me of Gigi in Holly’s other book, Beach Plum Island. As a writer she has the troubled teen character very well developed (and they don’t seem to be cardboard cut-outs of each other, each are unique).

I ended up giving Haven Lake 3.5 stars because of my thoughts about Sydney through-out, since she was the main character and I just struggled to like her. As well as the fact that I very easily put this down and wasn’t in any rush to pick it back up, like I did with previous books by Holly. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as previous books, I think reader’s who like women’s lit may enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Book Review

 

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