Tag Archives: contemporary romance

Review – I’ll be Home For Christmas – Lori Wilde

i'll be home for christmasI’ll be Home For Christmas
Author: Lori Wilde
Series: #7 in the Twilight, Texas series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Christmas in Twilight, Texas, is all merriment and mistletoe. The Cookie Club is whipping up their most festive sweets, the townspeople are scrambling to get their holiday shopping done, and Joe—a hometown guy with a restless heart—is dreaming about the woman he wants to kiss most…

…And who happens to be staying at his sister’s place over the holidays, while Joe’s sister is away. But Joe isn’t quite sure he wants to be a living Christmas present to runaway law student Gabi Preston.

Joe thinks the sassy sweetheart he nicknames “Trouble” won’t inconvenience anything but his healthy sex drive. But when he discovers the reasons Gabi escaped from her life, he aches to give her everything she’s never had. As the magic of the season draws them together, the gift of love is the only one worth giving…

Its my favorite time of the year currently and by that I mean, the time of year when romantic christmas movies start showing up on various channels – one of my favorite movies in this arena is The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet where 2 strangers switch houses for Christmas to escape from the insanity of their lives – so imagine my surprise when I’ll Be Home for Christmas had a similar premise where the heroine, Gabi, switches homes with the hero’s sister, Katie.

While I had never read Lori Wilde before (although I think several of her books might be loitering on Mt TBR)…she was already off to a solid start for me. I’ll also admit (and probably previously noted) that I am a sucker for small town romances – so authors like Susan Mallery and her Fool’s Gold series are comfort reads to me; as well as books that feature family members in each book finding their HEA’s. So not only was I totally in my happy zone with a small town romance and a family storyline – I mean what could go wrong? (don’t worry, nothing did).

Honestly, its really hard for me to write reviews for books like this because it was just a solid read – I got sucked in to Joe and Gabi’s story – some of Gabi’s antic’s made me laugh, and I’ll be the first to admit, I had no idea what a Yurt was, until I read this book (if you want to know, you’ll have to google it). And there is something about guys that are the salt of the earth, work with their hands that just makes them more approachable (at least to me) – maybe because my dad is a blue-collar worker and its the environment I grew up in.

There were a few angsty moments where I wondered how the story was going to play out, but all is all, totally satisfying and I know that I will be coming back and reading the previous books in the series. That being said, it should be noted that this is #7 in a series, but can be read stand-alone – as a reader, I got to see the HEA’s of previous couples, but no real spoilers (for lack of a better word) from the other books – just a delight in knowing that there are more books for me to read. A solid 4 stars for this sweet Christmas read and (at least for me), the rest of the series will be going on my 2016 reading list.


Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – After the War – Jessica Scott

after the warAfter the War
Author: Jessica Scott
Series: #2 in the Homefront series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author via Netgalley

A terrible loss…
Captain Sarah Anders lost her husband to the Iraq war and has nearly lost the career she loves. Sent to Fort Hood, she only wants to do her job and take care of the daughter she’s raising on her own. She never counted on running straight into a memory she’d tried to forget.
A love he never forgot…
Captain Sean Nichols never got over Sarah. He simply tried to forget her amidst the war and the chaos of combat. But when she’s assigned to investigate his unit, he comes face to face with the woman no war or any amount of time could make him forget.
A dark secret…
As Sarah gets closer to the truth, Sean must accept that actions he took during the war may end the tentative love building between them. And even if Sarah can forgive him, Sean may never be able to forgive himself.

I always seem to hesitate when I pick up a book by Jessica Scott, not for fear of the writing, but more for fear of how much I am going to end up crying while reading…I can’t think of one of her books yet that hasn’t made me blubber like a baby in places and After the War was no different. In After the War, Ms Scott tackles the often unwritten about tragedy of war, the death of a spouse – especially, as in this instance, when the initial couple was dual military (meaning both were serving at the same time); and then following on, what if that widow(er) finds love again and how do they/can they move on. In the case of Sarah and Sean – there was that history between the two of them, which to me, made the relationship more believable. I could see from the writing that Sean still loved Sarah, even though they had been separated for many years and while Sarah was struggling with being a widow and a single mother, Jessica made her transition to love again appear believable to me.

As with all her other books, the other characters in After the War just enhanced the story and make it all the more real. Including the Col that Sarah worked for – I spent the vast majority of the book wanting to just scream at her for her behavior towards Sarah and yet at the same time, its behavior from senior officers that I have observed in real life (those that don’t have families and hate individuals who do because it interferes with their perception of the individual doing their job; the idea that if the Army (or Navy) wanted you to have a family they would have issued you one. I’ve been lucky enough to not personally experience this, but I know women who have.

As with her previous books in the series (and the series that lead into this one) – Jessica managed to walk the line between love and angst, but I will say that I did end up tearing up a little bit – not as much as I have in previous books, but enough that I was reaching for a box of tissues towards the end. After the War got 4 stars from me and I already have the next book in the series waiting on my kindle (although I am rapidly running out of books by her to read)

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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Book Review


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Audiobook Review – Upside Down – Lia Riley

upside downUpside Down
Author: Lia Riley
Series: #1 in the Off the Map series
Rating: ☆ ☆

Narrators: Brittany Uomoleale, Tim Wright
Run Time: 8hrs and 39min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

When i read the description of Upside Down, it seems like a book (or audiobook that I would be attracted to) – the plot description just drew me in. Unfortunately that is about all I can say about it, when it comes down to brass tacks. The idea of going on a student exchange and then finding love was intriguing and I’m surprised it doesn’t actually get used more in romance novels, but that being said, in the instance of Upside Down, it just didn’t work for me. I think my biggest issue with Upside Down was that for a good portion of the book, the sex overwhelmed the story and it just seemed underdeveloped. Yes, I know, me saying the sex took over the story is something you don’t hear very often, but it just felt like every time there was opportunities for the author to develop the plot and more the plot forward and instead the characters ended up in bed with each other.

I thought that the premise of the story was interesting, Natalia (or Talia as she was referred to in the book), trying to find herself after a family tragedy while studying abroad. And at the beginning it was like that, but unfortunately, the story took a quick down into the overly angsty realm and I really struggled to finish listening to it (and if I didn’t have it slotted into a challenge, I may have actually put it aside). I liked Bran as a character, but it seems that so many authors rely on the guy (or girl) with a secret premise to achieve the story (or in this case, both of them).

Both of the narrators, Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright, were new to me but I was intrigued enough by their narration that I may listen to other narrations done by them in the future. I found that both of the narrators were well-suited to the ages of the characters that they were narrating (meaning, they didn’t sound too old or too young for the ages of Talia and Bran). Overall, the narration of Upside Down made a mediocre story better but not by much. I gave the narration of Upside Down 3 stars.

While I know many readers like the new adult angsty romance, it just doesn’t work for me and unfortunately, Upside Down featured pretty much every element that I dislike in the genre – the big secret, the angst, more sex than plot. I gave Upside Down 2 stars but it may work for someone else more than it worked for me.

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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Audiobook Review


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Review – Inn at Last Chance – Hope Ramsey

inn last chanceInn at Last Chance
Author: Hope Ramsey
Series: #7 in the Last Chance series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via NetGalley

Jenny Carpenter is the unrivaled pie-baking champion of Last Chance, South Carolina’s annual Watermelon Festival and the town’s unofficial spinster. With her dream of marriage and children on hold, she focuses on another dream, turning the local haunted house into a charming bed-and-breakfast. But her plans go off course when the home’s former owner shows up on her doorstep on a dark and stormy night . . .

Mega-bestselling horror writer Gabriel Raintree is as mysterious and tortured as his heroes. His family’s long-deserted mansion is just the inspiration he needs to finish his latest twisted tale, or so he thinks until he learns it’s been sold. The new innkeeper proves to be as determined as she is kind, and soon Gabriel finds himself a paying guest in his own home. As Jenny and Gabe bring new passion to the old house, can she convince him to leave the ghosts of his past behind-and make Last Chance their first choice for a future together?town girl

I had the pleasure of meeting Hope Ramsey at an author/reader luncheon that I attended last year in Washington DC and I was reminded of a firecracker – she didn’t seem to stop moving during the time we were there. I didn’t realize until I got home that evening that I actually had one of her books sitting unread in my NetGalley account. so I decided to take the plunge and jumped into her series, even if it was #7 in an ongoing on (something I don’t normally do, but I didn’t really have the time to go back at read the previous 6 books).

I will admit that at first I was a bit lost as to how Jenny fit into the overall Last Chance storyline, but it seemed like she was the hometown girl and it was time for her to get her HEA. Whereas, Gabriel was the outcast – he had previously lived in the house that Jenny now owns and is restoring into a Bed and Breakfast until a tragedy struck his family. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting the paranormal aspect especially since I was expecting a straight contemporary romance (and where, as far as I could see, none of the previous books in the series had similar aspects).

I liked how Ms Ramsey developed the relationship between Jenny and Gabriel, although I thought he was a bit of a jackass early in the book. It was interesting seeing him find peace and resolution with his past. The mystery aspect was ok, and I liked how the author wrote the ghost to be a bit mischievous, a bit like a modern day Casper. I do feel as though I might have appreciated this entry in the series more if I had read the rest of the series, but at the same time, based on reading Inn at Last Chance, I don’t know if I will or not. Ultimately, I gave Inn at Last Chance 3 stars, but on the very low end.

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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – More than Water – Renee Erickson

more than waterMore than Water
Author: Renee Erickson
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel wrong. It just…feels.

EJ Cunning, an art history major, dates musicians. Foster Blake, a chemical engineering major, can’t sing a tune. They’re not each other’s type. They’re coworkers.

Then, one night leads to sex—sex between friends—which leads to an agreement. It all seems so simple—but nothing ever is.

Many layers build a person’s facade.

Look into the depths for what’s hidden within.

It’s more than water. It’s a story—a living and breathing substance beyond the reflective surface.

More than Water is one of those hidden gem romances that I probably never would have discovered if it wasn’t for someone raving about it on the amazon romance forum and it being available in Kindle Unlimited (I can safely save I’ve gotten my money’s worth over the last couple of months). Normally I’m not a huge fan of the new adult genre of romance because the vast majority of the books are overwhelming angst ridden, but this one hit all my sweet/happy spots. There was a bit of minor angst towards the end but overall, it was a genuine romance between two opposite personality people with a bit of geek love mixed in.

I loved that Foster was a chem engineering major, it is def. one that you don’t see often show up in book – it seems that the majority of the time, the majors that characters have lend themselves to more partying than actual studying; whereas in More than Water that is what drew me to Foster – how serious and down to earth he actually was, but at the same time, he could joke around like a normal guy (although I will say for the most part – there are exceptions, that isn’t my experience with engineering majors). And then there was EJ, who in defying her families wishes was pursuing a degree in art history. I loved how she was a rebel when compared to what her parents wanted her to do and yet, it made a really good story – More than Water wasn’t just a romance, it was about finding yourself in the world – who you are – are you going to be the water that follows the predetermined river, flowing smoothing over everything; or will you be the water that will eventually carve a new path and form a new river in the world…i don’t know about you, but I think I would prefer to be the latter over the former.

There was something about Ms Erickson’s writing that just drew me in – I started reading More than Water around 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, with the plan to only read a couple of chapters before going to do typical weekend shenanigans…and before I knew it, it was 4pm, i hadn’t accomplishing anything all day, with the exception of finishing up More than Water (yes, i read it all in one sitting – I can’t remember the last time a YA or NA book sucked me in like that). I think one of my favorite parts (aside from the romance that is) was the descriptions of EJ’s various pieces of artwork and how they suited the different parts of the story. I could tell from reading that the author had obviously done her homework into different forms of both art and chemistry and how they intermixed with each other.

Honestly, I could continue to fan girl about More Than Water and Ms Erickson for a while, but I’m looking forward to reading more books by her in the future. I gave More Than Water 4 stars and recommend it to people who like sweet and slightly sexy new adult romances that are light on the angst.

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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – Unsaid – Avery Aster

Author: Avery Aster
Series: #3 in the Manhattenites series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author Via Netgalley

Chelsea’s hottie Blake Morgan III has reemerged from a nasty breakup. His marriage was a frigid disaster beyond repair, and he vows to be single—forever. Bruised, but still hot in Prada, he creates his Seven Desires wish list, his sexiest imaginings. Blake soon realizes there’s only one man he may trust to make these uninhibited intentions come to fruition: his best friend Miguel Santana.

Lower East Side multimedia artist extraordinaire Miguel Santana may be known as the cocky Latin stud in the city, but all he’s wanted since college was Blake’s hand in marriage. He was livid when Blake walked down the aisle with the wrong guy. Miguel has his own list titled the Seven Needs, which are quite contrary to Blake’s dirty-boy deeds. They involve serious commitments, which may leave his new-to-the-singles-scene buddy sprinting for the door, destroying any hopes Miguel has for happiness.

Can these two hunks conquer their intimate fears and love one another as only best friends can? Join the star-studded cast in The Manhattanites series and see for yourself!

Have you ever picked up a book and felt like you were coming in at the 4th quarter of a game with no idea of what had happened in the previous 2…yes? because that is how I felt while reading Unsaid. I had previously read the first book in the series (Unscrupulous) and so when the author approached me and marketed it as bk 3 in the series but able to be read as a stand-alone, I figured what the heck…I have bk 2 on the TBR pile, and looking back, I REALLY wish that I had made time to read it first, because there were so many events that occurred in Unsaid that had a basis in events from Undressed that I felt lost a good portion of the way through.

On its own, I liked Blake and Miguel’s relationship and how their relationship developed…it was all the extra story lines with Taddy (from bk 1) and Lex (bk 2) that had me lost and scratching my head. That being said, I know how bk 2 ends (well, obviously) since Unsaid is basically a spoiler-fest for the previous 2 books.

I will say up front, if you don’t like a raunchy style of writing, then Ms Aster’s books probably aren’t for you. There is nothing prim and proper about her writing style, you know exactly what the characters are thinking, with swearing built in. Don’t get me wrong, bad language normally doesn’t bother me, but at times while reading Unsaid, I felt myself getting tired and skipping through scenes – which for me is the death knell of a book.

Normally a book like Unsaid would take me maybe a couple of days to read (depending on how my schedule looked), but I struggled with it and I think it was closer to a week before I finished it – there was even a few times where i considered putting it on the DNF pile, but I decided to stick it out. I’ll admit that I’m kind of conflicted on knowing whether or not I’ll read any more of Ms Asters stuff, I liked the first book I read by her, but this one not so much – I guess it is something that I will have to ponder in the near future. Overall, I gave Unsaid 2.5 stars but those who have read the previous 2 books in the series may enjoy it more than I did.

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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Book Review


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Audiobook Review – Rocket Man – Melanie Greene

23688675Rocket Man
Author: Melanie Greene
Series: #1 in the Roll of the Dice series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Amy Rubinate
Run Time: 12hrs 31min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Serena Colby wants one thing. Dillon Hamilton wants everything. Steady, focused graphic artist Serena has her life perfectly planned out. After a childhood being moved from one place to another, she craves the permanence of a home that’s hers and hers alone. And everything is lining up just right. That is, until disruptive copywriter Dillon comes blasting into her workplace and spins her personal life out of control. Though order-loving Serena shies away from Dillon’s messy complications, she can’t escape her fantasies. When Dillon’s determined pursuit leaves Serena breathless, it might just be ‘all systems are go’ for ROCKET MAN.

This is a harder review for me to write because I liked the premise of the story (I mean, I wouldn’t have accepted the audiobook for review if I didn’t) – but at the same time the execution fell a bit flat for me. Taking it from the beginning, I’ll admit to liking workplace romances, although I know how tenuous they can be, especially if something happens and there isn’t a happily ever after – so with that in mind, I dove into listening to Rocket Man (which BTW, I now have that song stuck in my head!).

From the get-go we meet Serena who is very organized and practical (pretty much the antithesis of me) and Dillon who turns her world upside down. If i had to pick a character that I identified the most of the main 2, it would have been Dillon – if you ask any of my friends, they will tell you how disorganized I can do and they are normally in shock, if I actually manage to arrive on time…(apparently 10years in the military didn’t teach me much…lol). but in all honesty, of the characters in Rocket Man, I probably actually identified with Janice the most and since the second book in the series is about her, I am considering reading it.

I think my biggest overall issue with Rocket Man wasn’t the story itself (although, I’ll be the first to admit there were a few times that I felt like Serena needed to be slapped silly – which of course, highlights my violent tendencies at times), was that there were places where the writing felt chunky and redundant. I don’t know if its because I read so fast that I normally don’t notice stuff like that but in listening, I hear everything and there were a few places where it felt like the author was just regurgitating a previous section of the book, not in huge chunks but a paragraph here or there, or a personality detail – it was just enough to irk me and pull me out of the story.

I honestly can’t remember if Amy Rubinate is a narrator that I have listened to before – I recognized her name when the author mentioned it in her review request, but when looking at her narration backlist, I didn’t see any books that I had listened to recently – so maybe its a case of hearing her name mentioned else and recognizing it. That being said, I liked her style of narration, it flowed well and felt very conversational. All of her voices were easily distinguishable for the different characters and it was easy to listen to. I’d likely pick up something narrated by her in the future.

Overall, I gave both the story and the narration of Rocket Man 3 stars, but I was intrigued enough to want to potentially check out more by the author in the future.

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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Audiobook Review


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