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Review – Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe – Katherine Garbera

Christmas at the Candied Apple Café
Author: Katherine Garbera
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author via NetGalley

Description:
There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

Review:
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…well, kinda sorta…at least the weather has started to cool down a bit (I even woke up to frost on the car earlier this week) – normally, I would wait until December to start digging into Christmas romances – but when I was offered the chance to review Christmas at the Candied Apple Café, I was intrigued by the description (as well as the whimsy of the cover) – that I said yes. It has also been a while since I’ve read anything written by Ms Garbara (like probably close to 8years), so seeing how her writing style has evolved over time was an added bonus.

Like the cover, there was something whimsical about Christmas at the Candied Apple Café – it was a story about learning to love again and moving on, to making new memories (and add in a nice bonus of a story that revolves around chocolate…which if anyone knows me knows I heartily subscribe to that lifestyle choice). While Iona wasn’t the chocolatier, she was the publicist responsible for a rather popular chocolate store who is being courted by the hero, Mads Eriksson, to be a unique store in his hotel chain. But it was Mads daughter who won me over in the writing of the story. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for books that feature kids (especially if they are key to the story) and Sofia was an adorable, yet precocious little girl. I just wanted to have her jump off the page, so that I could give her a hug and read her a story, but alas….

The romance between Iona and Mads wasn’t anything that blew me away – it just had a nice steady development with a bit of a flash and bang at a few different spots. I was honestly more interested in both Mads relationship with his daughter and how he was going to get past a recently suffered tragedy to love again. Christmas at the Candied Apple Café was just a comfortable read – the kind of book that I would read on a snowy day, snuggled up unti a blanket on the couch with the dog warming my feet. I’d give Christmas at the Candied Apple Café 3.5 stars and a recommendation for anyone looking for a cute Christmas romance.

About Katherine Garbera:
Katherine Garbera is the USA Today best-selling author of more than 90 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature Dachshund.

Katherine on Social Media:
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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First Line Friday’s – 27 October 2017

First Line Friday’s is a weekly feature, hosted by Hoarding Books – so grab a book off your pile and share the first line

“Christmas was the most special time of the year.”

From:
Christmas at the Candied Apple Café – Katherine Garbera

Yeah, I know, Christmas is still like 8 weeks away – but I was recently asked to review Katherine Garbera’s new book – so its kind of like, I guess its time to read a Christmas book (although I have a couple of other Christmas books on my pile). I remember reading Ms Garbera’s books when I used to devour books in the Harlequin Silhouette Desire imprint – but honestly haven’t read anything by her recently. Although looking at her recent backlist, there are definitely a few books I would like to add to Mt TBR.

When I was considering the request to participate in her book tour, I’ll admit that both the cover (since its kind of whimsical) caught my eye as well as the description. I’m only a chapter in so far, but its cute and will hopefully hit my happy button.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in First Line Fridays

 

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Review – Wicked Takeover – Tina Donahue

Wicked Takeover
Author: Tina Donahue
Series: #1 in the Wicked Brand series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
She’s just inherited a tattoo parlor…and the hunk who comes with it.

Lauren’s in a helluva mess. Not only has she lost her corporate HR job, she’s just inherited Wicked Brand, a struggling West Palm Beach tattoo parlor…along with the virile dude who runs it. Lauren’s full-figured, sorta pretty, and wanting him badly. Dream on. She’s here to sell the place as quickly as possible for some much-needed cash and score a new position in the corporate world.

Dante’s sinfully hot with a killer smile and beautifully inked biceps. He sees the heat in Lauren’s eyes despite her conservative appearance, recognizing the dynamite woman she could be if she’d just loosen up and have some wicked fun. Dominance and submission. Making love in a public place. Having her lush body always accessible to and ready for his.

Unwilling and unable to keep their hands to themselves, Lauren and Dante turn to carnal games and seduction. Until lust turns to surprising need and friendship to something deeper that might just change their futures.

Review:
It’s funny, when I got an email from Tina Donahue asking me if I would review her newest book, I totally jumped on it because I was like (mentally), I’ve read her before and enjoyed her writing…now looking back at my Goodreads shelf, I can’t find any books I read by her. So obviously I must have been smoking some kind of crack when I thought I had read her – but since I ended up really enjoying Wicked Takeover, maybe its a good thing I thought I had read her in the past 🙂 I think her biggest writing strength is that the conversations between Lauren and the crew at Wicked (Jasmina, Dante and Van Gogh) just flowed like a normal conversation. Sometimes I find that conversation writing can feel very stilted and patchy – but no worries here.

Holy Hotness between Lauren and Dante! I’m pretty sure I needed a fireman (hey, Kimberly Kincaid, you got one I can borrow) to come and hose me down – their scenes were just steaming up the place. I honesty don’t know if i’ll ever be able to look at Dove Ice Cream bars the same again…but it wasn’t just hot hot hot scenes between them. The relationship (while a tad insta-lust/love) had a decent amount of tension before sexual implosion (I’m pretty sure that is the only word I can use). There was one scene where Lauren and Dante….well, you know, I’m not going to tell you – you’ll just have to read it and find out (yes, that is kind of mean and i’m proud of it).

Besides the hotness of Lauren and Dante’s relationship, I thought Ms Donahue did a good job with developing Lauren and Dante both as characters. You got to see what drove them – Lauren and her search for a job after being laid off (which in her career field is unfortunately a sad commentary on affairs today) and Dante with how he ended up at Wicked (hint, its not quite a tear jerker, but has the potential). I think the one part I wish had been a bit more developed was the history behind Lauren and her father – we knew that he had left Lauren and her mother while Lauren was growing up – but you never really find out why.

So here’s the skinny – holy hotness, sizzling sexual tension – read it! You won’t regret it if you like contemporary romance!

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Running from a Rock Star

Running from a Rock Star
Author: Jami Albright
Series: #1 in the Brides on the Run series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Purchase Link: Amazon

Description:
She’s a good-girl control freak. He’s a bad boy in need of a clean image. Will these opposites attract or self-destruct?
Scarlett Kelly is the poster child for responsible living. Growing up as the daughter of the town floozy she’s made it her mission to be the exact opposite. So when she wakes up naked and hungover in bed with a bad-boy rockstar, Scarlett bolts immediately. But she never expected him to follow her home… and tell her they’re married!
Gavin needs to repair his image or his music career will go down the tubes. He’s also just learned he has a son he never knew existed! Gavin wants to settle down, and bribing his new wife to stay married may just fit everything into place.
Scarlett agrees to the ruse to help her family’s financial troubles even though she can hardly control herself around the rock star. As they search for Gavin’s son, will the cross-country adventure give them exactly what they’ve been missing or send them packing?

Review:
Running from a Rock Star was a random discovery for me through Kindle Unlimited – basically I searched for a word that I needed in a book title for a reading challenge (in this case, running), and then randomly picked a book that sounded interesting. Yeah – I know, kind of weird – but hey it worked and I discovered a new to me author that I will definitely be reading more of in the future. Having been a romance reader for many years – more often than not, I’m finding myself getting burnt out and bored with most of the recent released – so finding a book that can keep my attention (and that I can finish in a short time period) is kind of hard. Yeah, I know that probably sounds insane – but it’s definitely how I’ve been feeling lately.

I loved the mesh of Scarlett, the small town good girl (who writes her name in her underwear!!) and the on the edge bad boy rock star that was Gavin. Their relationship was explosive in a drunken antics kind of way that only a trip to Las Vegas can result in. If I need to say more, then all I can say is, what happens in Vegas definitely didn’t stay in Vegas for this book 🙂 Ms. Albright also pegged the small town vibe so perfectly – it almost made me have nightmares of some of my experiences growing up in a small town.

For me, one of the things that makes most romance novels that I love, are the secondary characters – Scarlett’s friend Luanne was a hoot and I can’t wait to see if she gets her HEA in Jami’s next book. Although the rest of Scarlett’s family (Aunt Honey in particular) made me just laugh. I cringed at the description of the small town gossip biddies (because there is no other word to describe them). I wasn’t a huge fan of Gavin’s manager – but i’m sure he is going to redeem himself in a later book (or at least he better!). Overall, 4 stars for Running from the Rock Star and I know i’ll be looking for more books by Ms. Albright in the future.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Book Review

 

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Review – Riptide – Skye Jordan

Riptide
Author: Skye Jordan
Series: #6 in the Renegades series

**Review Copy Provided by Author**

Description:
When pro surfer Zach Ellis isn’t traveling the world-wide competition circuit, he works as a Renegade stunt double for the hit TV series, Hawaiian Heat. After years of tangling with the ocean, his body has paid the price. So when he gets a shot at a star role on the show, Zach’s all in. He celebrates the career opportunity by taking a chance on a woman who’s not his usual island-girl type, only to discover he can’t bear to let her go.
 
Tessa Drake belongs mired in legislation battles in Washington DC, not standing on the sidelines of a filming set in Maui like a wannabe starlet. But even more important than her law career, Tessa needs Zach Ellis’s signature on legal papers. Papers that relinquish his parental rights so Tessa can adopt the girl who already calls her mommy. When she discovers Zach has slipped out of town before she makes contact, Tessa takes solace in the sexy star of Hawaiian Heat. A man whose warmth and dazzling grin makes her Mensa-level IQ vanish into thin air.
 
After an electrifying night together, Tessa is horrified to discover just who rocked her world. Zach is stunned to learn he’s a father. And both find themselves caught in a riptide pulling them in the opposite direction of their dreams.

Review:
I’ll admit, when I first got the email from the author asking if I would be interested in reviewing her newest Renegades book, I was a bit skeptical because I’ve been in a serious reading slump lately – I think I’ve had more 1-2 star reads in the last month than all of last year. But since I’ve pretty much wholly enjoyed all the previous books written by her – I figured what the heck and said, sure I would love to read it. And it did the trick to help pull me out of my slump!

Previous to this, I’d only read the first book in the Renegades series, but I will definitely be adding the other ones to the TBR pile (or borrowing via KU) in the near future. This was one of those books that just tugged at my heart-strings with the storyline (adoption, single mom) and add in the hot hunky stunt double (who was a former pro surfer – ummm yes please) for a solid romance that just made me all happy inside. Unlike many books I’ve read that feature children, where they kind of just stay off to the side, Ms Jordan made sure that Sophia was integral to the story – I laughed at some of the one-liners she came up – total gems that you would expect to hear from a 3/4 year old as well as the portrayal of the epic kid meltdowns (you know, when you just look at them wrong and the world implodes).

I also learnt a lot about legislative law (which I’d never really heard of before this) – aka, the lawyers that work with politicians to craft the bills that go before congress. I applaud the author for maintaining a very even keel POV on something that is often so fraught with emotions (never really demonizing any one group of people that play a role in the process). I always love when I learn new things from reading romance novels 🙂

I know that I’m looking forward to going back and reading the intervening books in the Renegades series, as well as more books by Syke Jordan in the future. A solid 4 star read and a recommendation for anyone who likes action driving contemporary romance.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Negotiator – Avery Flynn

The Negotiator
Author: Avery Flynn
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
Wanted: Personal Buffer

Often snarly, workaholic executive seeks “buffer” from annoying outside distractions AKA people. Free spirits with personal boundary issues, excessive quirks, or general squeamishness need not apply. Salary negotiable. Confidentiality required.

Workaholic billionaire Sawyer Carlyle may have joked he needed a “buffer” from their marriage-obsessed mom, but he didn’t need a waiting room filled with “candidates” to further distract him. (Thanks, bro.) But when a sexy job applicant shooes his mom and the socialite in tow out of his office, Sawyer sees the genius of the plan. And the woman. In fact, Miss Clover Lee might just get the fastest promotion in history, from buffer to fake fiancé…

This “free-spirit” might look like hot sunshine and lickable rainbows, but she negotiates like a pitbull. Before Sawyer knows what hit him, he’s agreed to give up Friday nights for reality tv, his Saturdays for flea markets (why buy junk still baffles him), his Tuesdays and Thursdays for “date nights” (aka panty-losing opportunities if he plays his cards right). And now she wants lavender bath salts and tulips delivered every Monday?

Yup, she’s just screwing with him. Good thing she’s got this non-negotiatable six-weeks-and-she’s-gone rule or Sawyer may have just met this match…

Review:
I don’t know if I was in a bit of a reading funk, or if real-life was just kind of overwhelmed – but this wasn’t my favorite Avery Flynn (and it kills me to say that because she is an auto-buy author for me). Don’t get me wrong – it was cute definitely a cute romantic comedy with her trademark snarky humor and hot in places – but I just wasn’t as sucked into it as I have been with previous books. Other books by hers, I’ve based closed myself off to read it – but when it came time to read this one – I just didn’t have the time to do that (which might have contributed to my lack of concentration when it came to reading).

I will admit that I found Clover to be one of the more unique characters that I have read recently which did contribute to my enjoyment level – she was kind of quirky in a relatable way. But Sawyer just seemed very much in the hard-working young billionaire character mold (which if I’m honest, is not a character that I typically find myself attracted too). So my enjoyment of the two main characters kind of played off each other. The actual “relationship” negotiation was one of my favorite parts of the story (as well as the scene in the diner early on after Clover’s first event as Sawyer’s Personal Buffer (now, if I could be the buffer for him, sign me up please 🙂 )

The Negotiator was a solid 3.5 stars for me – and I do recommend it to anyone who likes snarky romantic comedies (and I have no doubt that I’ll maybe re-read it in the future, to see if maybe this is a mood based rating that could change).

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Delectable – Mila West

Delectable
Author: Mila West
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Catherine Rousseau is an ambitious senator with a painful past. She sacrifices herself for her country and knows how to get what she wants. When she sets her sights on the Oval Office and amending the Constitution, she can’t afford to be distracted. Especially not by Harrison Parker, the sexy and brooding senator newly appointed to Congress.

But when they’re thrown together and their goals collide, will they find themselves chasing justice . . . and each other?

Review:
It isn’t often that I find a romance that features not one but two politicians and even less rare that they are on the same political party as each other…because that opposing party definitely would add tension to the story. So when I came across Delectable (via Kindle Unlimited), I was intrigued and so borrowed it to read. And then it languished on my kindle for close to a month (yeah, i’m one of those KU readers).

anyways, my biggest desire when I finished reading Delectable (and it only took me like an hour) was that it was slightly longer (it came in at just over 100pgs). I believe it had so much more potential with a more developed storyline – but instead I felt like portions of it were rushed and just felt like it was missing something. The end was satisfying and for me, the epilogue added that needed closure to Catherine and Harrison’s story.

While I enjoyed reading Delectable, and felt that Ms West had an engaging writing style, I ultimately needed a bit more to the story to give it a higher rating. I do hope to read more by her in the future.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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