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Audiobook Review – Opening Up – Lauren Dane

opening upOpening Up
Author: Lauren Dane
Series: #1 in the Ink & Chrome series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Sasha Dunbrooke
Audiobook Length: 9hrs, 55min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
The men of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle shop are great with their hands… and they’re not afraid to get dirty.

PJ is exactly the kind of woman Twisted Steel owner Asa Barrons doesn’t need. The last thing he wants to do is mix business with pleasure, and PJ has some of the best custom detailing he’s ever seen. But the chemistry between them won’t be denied, and soon he’s introducing her to a whole new world in the bedroom, pushing her far beyond anything she’s ever experienced. PJ finds she can’t get enough, but how far is too far before he consumes her completely?

Review:
I’ve lost track of how many Lauren Dane books i’ve read over the years, but in all that time, I’ve never actually listened to one (that actually surprises me because of the amount of audiobooks that i’ve listened to over the years). Typically, I know when I pick up a book of hers, i’ll be immediately sucked it – that it will be hot and steamy at times (and oh wow, was it!), that will likely be a quick read (mostly because once I start reading, I can’t stop!).

In Opening Up, we meet Asa Barrons, one of the owners of Twisted Steel – a custom car business – he is the kind of tough guy with a soft interior that Dane does really well as a character – he’s all tough and business, but that right woman, just makes him fall to his knees. And that right woman, is PJ…I’ll admit that having a woman go by her initials isn’t necessarily a common occurance, in real life or in books, but she countered Asa’s hardness in all the right ways. its hard for me to describe what I liked and didn’t like about PJ – I think for the most part it was how she continued to face shit (for lack of a better word) from her family (specifically her father) and yet, didn’t let that deter her from her dreams/wishes of doing custom paint work on cars (which is just perfect considering the business that Asa owns). she also wasn’t a dainty flower, as seems to be the common character in romance novels – she wasn’t a virgin and knew exactly what she wanted from men and in bed. While there were a few times that I wanted to scream in fustration about how her family treated her, I loved seeing PJ grow and overcome their objections and find her way towards Asa.

Sasha Dunbrooke is a new to me narrator, but i can guarantee it won’t be the last time that I listen to her. She managed to hit all my emotional buttons at various times during Opening Up – I both laughed and cried in several places, sucked into the storyline that I was. I was so glad that I had a substantial amount of time that I was out and running and errands because i got to essentially binge listen a good half of the book in the space of a couple of days, rather than just getting to listen in fits and starts. I honestly have no real complaints about Sasha’s narration – its hard to pick if there is anything that I disliked about her narration…she had a good range of voices for the various characters, her men sounded like men (and not like women with a really bad falsetto)…overall, just a solid and enjoyable listen.

Overall, I gave the book itself 3.5 stars and the narration 4 stars. Fans of Lauren Dane will enjoy Opening Up and I recommend to people who like hot, sexy romance with a bad boy and slightly bad girl.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Review – A Passion to Pursue – Kelsey Browning

a passion to pursueA Passion to Pursue
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #2 in the Prophecy of Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
What if a pair of cowboy boots could foretell true love?

For years, Texas girl Greer Maddox waited to inherit her legacy as the next prophecy bootmaker. But that day never came. Now, instead of living out her rightful destiny, she’s lost, restlessly jumping from one art project to the next.

Until the day leather tooler Alejandro Villanueva strolls into town looking like ten kinds of sexy trouble.

After surviving his dark and dangerous past, all Alex wants is a quiet future. Alone, where his former life and mistakes can’t hurt anyone else. Even casually screwing around with a girl next door like Greer–whose dulce de leche voice and curvy body make him sweat–is a bad idea. But when she gets involved in his attempts to win the Prophecy Boot Company’s tooling contract, waving adios is the last thing on his mind.

Their attraction flares hot and undeniable. He wants her, and even knowing he shouldn’t have her can’t stop him from indulging in the temptation she offers. But when his past comes calling, he is forced to choose between hiding from his sins, or saving the woman he loves.

Review:
When a book has characters saying things like “I think I just orgasmed a rainbow” you know that you are going to have an enjoyable and likely laughing out loud reading experience. And that is exactly what I got when I read A Passion to Pursue by one of my auto-buy authors, Kelsey Browning. I know instinctively when picking up a book by her that i’ll likely laugh, maybe cry and just find myself in a happy place.

A Passion to Pursue takes the reader back to Prophecy, Texas where the legend of the prophecy boot is part of the town’s identity. This time we get to know Greer at a deeper level (we had previously met her as she is Cal’s sister – Cal being the hero of the first book in the series). And then there is Alex (although his real name is Alejandro – which just kind of rolls off the tongue in a sexy kind of way)…the leather carver who is being considered by Prophecy Boot Company to come on board and carve the designs in the boots that would lead people to their soul-mates (or is it sole-mates)😉 Kelsey created a character that had so many mysteries – why did he need the money that the Prophecy Boot Company would pay them? why does he have tattoo’s on half his body? Every time I thought I was beginning to understand him as a character, something else new was revealed.

I think the thing that drew me most to the story, aside from the holy hotness factor of the Greer/Alex romance, was seeing the struggle that Greer went through trying to find her place in the world. She had always been around people who knew what they were destined to be – Delaney being the Prophecy boot designer, Alex and his leather carving – but she never truly found her place in the world. Seeing her struggle with that in A Passion to Pursue made me thing about struggles that many people go through as they try to find their place – heck, i’m older than Greer is and at times, I still feel like I am trying to find my place in the world.

If you are looking for a spicy read, with a sexy tattooed artist with some serious life choice undertones, A Passion to Pursue might be the read for you. Of course, I do recommend reading the first book in the series if you want to get up to date on the series first. I gave 4 stars to A Passion to Pursue and intrigued to see where Kelsey takes the series next…she definately introduced a few characters in A Passion to Pursue who I would be interested to know more about.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Anthology – Burning Bright

burning brightTitle: Burning Bright – Four Chanukah Love Stories
Authors: Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.

It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?

Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away—then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.

When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman’s apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together they just might discover a Home for Chanukah.

All Tamar expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed.

Review:
Sometimes I love when random books pop up in my feed as recommendations. This year, Burning Bright was one of them that I came across and since it focused on Chanukah, and since I can’t remember ever reading any books with that as a basis, I’m glad i decided to take the plunge. And as always with anthologies, I love discovering new authors – in the case of Burning Bright, the only author I had previously read was Megan Hart.

Burning Bright consisted of 4 stories, all with a different take on Chanukah – although for me, my two favorites were the first one, written by Megan Hart and the last one written by KK Hendin. The other day (at least to me) were only so-so and I didn’t really enjoy them – so i’m going to quickly review my two least favorite ones first, before I talk about my favorite ones. I think i’m going to refer to the Megan Hart and KK Hendin contributions as bookends – i seem to always end up using favorite authors as bookends on my shelves, and it is the case with this anthology😉

Fundamentally, there was nothing really wrong with the stories by Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen – they were well-written, they just personally didn’t appeal to my reading asthetic. In a Dose of Gelt (Jennifer Gracen), we meet Shari and Evan, both lawyers who work at the same firm and in love. my problem was that I typically struggle with stories where the main couple is already in a relationship with each other – although there are often interesting dynamics, they just leave me feeling empty – I like the newness of figuring out a relationship (even though second chance romances where they couple is NOT together is a favorite trope of mine). That being said, Evan did do some serious grovelling – I just didn’t like the whole premise and how it was executed. The same could be said for A Home for Chanukah (Stacey Agdern) – the premise itself was interesting, but I struggled with the continual head-hopping throughout. It wasn’t just a simple back and forth POV each chapter, but rather multiple times in each chapter – one saving grace was that each POV was labelled, so at least there was that consistency.

My two favorites in the anthology were Miracle (Megan Hart) and All I Got (KK Hardin) – there was something brutally raw about both of these that just drew me to them. in Miracle, we got to experience Ben’s separation from his family and not being in the safety zone that his religion had previously provided – finding himself in a world that is less strict that where he came from. I really enjoyed this one because it was raw and emotional, but at the same time, I learnt some new stuff. And then there was KK Hardin’s contribution, All I Got which probably fell more into the new adult realm, since the main character was engaged in education. But when she falls in love on a trip to Israel (which is also on my bucket list of places i would love to visit one day), she discovered just how small the world truly is.

As always with an anthology, I was left with wanting to potentially read more books by the authors and look forward to good reads in the future. Overall, I gave the anthology 3.5 stars with 2 books getting 4 stars and 2 getting 3.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – The Kidnapped Christmas Bride – Jane Porter

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00050]The Kidnapped Christmas Bride
Author: Jane Porter
Series: #3 in the Taming of the Sheenans series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided via Netgalley

Description:
All he wants is a Christmas memory…

Trey Sheenan has cultivated his reputation as Marietta’s resident bad boy, until one day he lets things go too far and he loses everything—his freedom, his fiance McKenna Douglas, and his infant son.

McKenna has loved Trey since they were kids, but she’s had enough. When Trey is sent away for five years, McKenna is determined to do what’s right for her and baby TJ, which means putting her mistakes—namely Trey—behind her, and move on.

When Trey is released early, he returns to Marietta determined to beg McKenna’s forgiveness and become the father TJ needs him to be, only to discover that he’s too late. McKenna’s marrying local insurance agent Lawrence Joplin in a candlelight Christmas wedding.

Or is she?

Once again, Trey risks everything, but this time it’s for love….and the memory of one perfect Christmas together as a family.

Review:
The Kidnapped Christmas Bride is a book that I’ve had sitting on the pile for quote a while (yes, bad person who requested the ARC and didn’t read in a timely manner), but with Christmas rapidly approaching (and yet, the weather thinking it is much more like early fall); I was looking for a book that I hoped would get me into the Christmas-ish type mood. The picture of the bride in her wedding dress with snow covering the ground seemed like the perfect way to try and get into a Christmas mood.

This was also the first time that I’d read anything by Jane Porter, although I’ve seen her books at my local library before. So I also got to dig my teeth into someone new, which is something I enjoy. The Kidnapped Christmas Bride was well-written, so much so that I wanted more – it was a short read but I felt like it was a complete story. I will point out that The Kidnapped Christmas Bride is book 3 in a series, so there were some hints of the previous books and how everything worked out in them (since I know there are many people out there who like to read books in order – i’m not one of them).

The Kidnapped Christmas Bride used second chance romance and redemption romance/trying to get your life back, in this case, after a stint in jail. I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually read a fiction book that featured someone who had very recently been released from prison (most of the ones I can think of, it had been in their past, as part of the bad boy persona). So this was something different for me and I kind of liked the approach that the author took. Although I don’t know if kidnapping your former love is the way to necessarily start your life over again (just sayin…). While I liked Trey, McKenna kind of rubbed me the wrong way – I could understand Trey’s actions, but hers were kind of tacky, i mean, it was her wedding day…maybe its because I have a hard time seeing how people can get all the way to the wedding day/the alter before realizing it isn’t the relationship for them…like seriously! I think in part that is why I only gave this book 3 stars.

That being said, while I wasn’t a fan of McKenna, I enjoyed the authors writing style enough, that I will probably check out something else writing by her in the future.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – A Love to Last – Kelsey Browning

a love to lastA Love to Last
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #1 in Prophecy of Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Her boots were made for walking…

Drifter Delaney Shields plans to breeze through Prophecy, Texas, before setting off on an around-the-world trip of a lifetime. She never expects to see sexy-as-sin Cal Maddox, the man she ran out on a decade ago. One look between them and their past attraction ignites, flaming hotter than ever. But acting on it would be disastrous because she’s not the sticking kind, and Cal has roots a mile deep.

Cal Maddox left the military only to find both the health of his dad and his hometown failing. When Delaney walks into his father’s custom boot shop, she spurs emotional memories and sexual fantasies Cal has no business indulging in. Especially once he realizes she’s the next Prophecy bootmaker, the only person who can design custom cowboy boots with the power to change a person’s destiny. But if fanning those old flames will keep her in Prophecy, he’s willing to take the heat, even if it means keeping secrets and risking his heart again.

Duty and desire throw Cal and Delaney together, but will their feelings be strong enough to forge a new bond or will they destroy their second chance at love?

Review:
Sometimes when everything looks dull and dreary in the world, you just need to curl up under the covers with a favorite author and read their newest release and that is just what I did when Kelsey Browning’s newest book came out. It had been a fairly crappy week in the world with different events, so all I wanted to do was shut down and find my happy place. And from the time I picked up A Love to Last, to finishing up the final page, I was in my happy place. Unfortunately, as with previous books, my enjoyment ended all too soon because of my inability to stop reading her stuff once I start (and yes, that makes for some long days following book releases…)

Anyone who follows Kelsey on social media has probably seen the picture of her sitting in a chair with her feet, clad in cowboy boots sticking out to the side – so when I saw that the book had a basis in a company that designs and makes custom boots. Added to that, the whole idea of a prophecy boot – a boot that has its exact pair in your soul (or is it sole) mate. And to make a triple whammy, A Love to Last is a second chance romance which is one of my favorite tropes in the romance genre.

there is something about Delaney that made me both jealous of how footloose and fancy free she was, but at the same time, making me want to execute a well-placed Gibbs slap. And yet, at the same time, I just wanted to give her a hug because that just seemed to be what she needed. And while I know Cal was there for her, yeah, well….lol. And then there was Cal – wanting to be all that his family needed, but not quite fitting the bill when it comes to inheriting his father’s legacy as the prophecy boot maker. I think we have probably all felt that – the desire to be something that maybe just wasn’t meant to be.

As always, the romance of Delaney and Cal was supported with a very colorful cast of characters, including Cal’s father, the current (and ornery prophecy bootmaker), as well as siblings, and townspeople. I’m excited to see where this series goes over the next couple of books. A solid 4 stars and can’t wait for me – a perfect read for a rainy day.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – Designed for Murder – Avery Flynn

designed for murderDesigned for Murder
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: #4 in the Killer Style series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Some fashion statements can kill…

Mika Ito combines her two favorite things in life—textile design and live-action role-playing (LARP)—by creating costumes for her fellow Magic Battledome gamers. Lately, someone’s been assaulting LARPers and stealing their costumes. Concerned for the safety of her friends, Mika hires Maltese Security…only to discover that the lead investigator is the super-hot stranger she just hooked up with.

Carlos Castillo is all too familiar with Magic Battledome. A former legend in role-playing circles, he was all about gaming, until things went very, very wrong for him. Now he’s forced to return to the game undercover—as Mika’s boyfriend—to find some answers. Only playing “boyfriend” with his gorgeous one-night stand is more temptation than a guy can withstand…

Someone wants the costumes enough to kill for them. And when it comes to murder, nothing is what it seems…

Review:
So this is my second attempt at writing a review for Designed for Murder because wordpress decided to eat my original one (and its still lost somewhere in cyberspace…I wonder if that is like a parallel dimension that is where missing socks and tupperware lids also end up?) But back to the adventure that was Designed for Murder. So being that this was the fourth book in the series, it was like coming back to visit a family – or rather, turning to a trusted company to help you out of scrape.

Anyways, when I finished the previous book in the series, I wondered if Carloes (or ‘los) was going to get his own book. He had had a pretty tumultuous ride in the previous books, ending it a pretty massive betrayal and making decisions that separated him from things that he loved and was known for. But then Mika, the heroine in Designed for Murder comes along and it is Carlos’ unique skills that she needs to help her solve the case of who is assaulting the members of her court. Yes, her court because the basis of Designed for Murder is LARP or live-action role-playing. I’ll admit that I know like next to nothing about it, but I love that non-traditional hobbies are starting to make more of an appear in genre fiction.

I found the mystery element of the story to be well-done and kept me guessing until not long before it was revealed. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the series was how looking back there were small clues, that I just completely missed in my initial read. But at the same time, that is one of the things I love about Avery’s writing – she always keeps me guessing until the very end. I gave Designed for Murder a solid 4 stars with Avery’s normally witty writing style and smexy scenes.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Book Review

 

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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

Description:
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…

Review:
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.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Book Review

 

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