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Review – Pupcakes – Annie England Noblin

Pupcakes
Author: Annie England Noblin
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
All she wants is a settled-down life.

What she gets is a dog—and a whole new normal . . .

There he stood in the doorway: overweight, depressed and nearly homeless—a pug named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was Brydie Benson’s latest problem, arriving on top of her messy divorce and sudden move. Brydie needed a place to start over, so this rent-free home seemed a great idea. She just never counted on Teddy, or his owner, the Germantown Retirement Village’s toughest customer, Pauline Neumann.

And because rent-free doesn’t mean bills-free, Brydie gets a night-shift job at a big-box grocery. Whoever guessed there were so many people who wanted baked goods after midnight?

Then, she gets an idea—why not combine her baking skills with her new-found dog knowledge? And so her store Pupcakes is born. Along with a new start comes a possible new love, in the form of Nathan Reid, a local doctor with a sassy Irish Wolfhound named Sasha. And as fall turns to winter, and then to Christmas, Brydie begins to realize that life is a little bit like learning a new recipe for puff pastry—it takes a few tries to get it just right!

Review:
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a bookcovers that have dogs on them – my eye catches on them in bookstores and at the library. So when I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin, it was like yes please (although, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of pugs, there is just something about them…) Ms. Noblin is a new author to me, but after reading Pupcakes, I can say that it won’t be the last time I read something by her. There was nothing really unique about her writing style, but it just drew me in. After suffering a bit of a reading slump the last few weeks (on top of being busy at work), I needed a book that engaged me that I wanted to keep reading.

Using Theodore Roosevelt (yes, that was the dogs name) as a vehicle to tell the story was something that make it engaging. The dog wasn’t just an accessory to a character, but was primary to moving the story from beginning to end. But it wasn’t just a story of a woman and dog – it was about finding yourself about life changing events, about rediscovering who you are and finding love again. I felt that while I hadn’t experienced any of what Brydie had gone through that she was still relatable. Then there was Nathan – ahhh, I love a good doctor 🙂 (I don’t think I need to say much more than that right?) In general the cast of characters (Joe, Rosa, Lillian from the overnight bakery) and Pauline (without who there wouldn’t have been a Teddy Roosevelt to fall in love with).

An ultimately satisfying story that made me want to keep reading, as well as try my hand at making homemade dog cookies (i’m sure my two would love me even more if I did that)…I think one thing that would have made the book great, would have been some of the different recipes that Brydie created. A solid 3.5 stars and another added to Mt. I-want-to-read-more-of! 😉

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Audiobook Review – Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: #1 in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Audiobook Narrator: Nicola Barber
Run Time: 9hrs, 26min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Review:
I have to admit that the premise of Stalking Jack the Ripper intrigued me, but I was a bit disappointed with how it all played out. I liked the idea of a female practicing forensic medicine in this time era – since it was so not done. But Audrey Rose as a character was horribly annoying and for someone as skilled as she was supposed to be in understanding people and crimes, also naïve. Now I will say that Thomas Creswell will definitely described as being eye (and most definitely ear candy).

The historical aspect of the story was fun and I liked how the author took portions of the real history about Jack the Ripper and his victim’s to make the story more believable. There was a pretty substantial author’s note at the end went into some more detail about why she opted to cover the parts that she did. But when considering both the character development and the historical aspects of the story – the historical definitely won out over the actual characters in the story. I did like how the author tied the story up at the end, so there were no open ends…but don’t worry – I won’t tell you guys what happened because that would ruin all the fun 🙂

Nicola Barber isn’t a new narrator to me (although I’m totally blanking on what else I’ve listened to her narrate right now) and I enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper more than I may have if I had read it. I found that she had a solid range of voices that fit all the different characters from the naïve young girl, to the hot forensic science student to Audrey Rose’s cantankerous old father. I never had any moments where I had to stop and think about what character was speaking at a given time. In fact, I found myself hoping for some traffic on my commute home (yeah, I should probably burn in hell for that), so I could listen to a bit more. While I wanted to slap Audrey Rose upside the head, at least the narration was solid.

I’m kind of conflicted if I will read (or most likely listen) to the second book when it comes out – I kind of what to and yet, if Audrey Rose is as naïve in the next one, I just don’t know…

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Audiobook Review, Review, Uncategorized

 

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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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Audiobook Review – The Marriage Games – C.D. Reiss

The Marriage Games
Author: C.D. Reiss
Series: #1 in the The Games Duet
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrators: Elena Wolfe, Sebastian York
Run Time: 9hrs, 15min
Audiobook Producer: Flip City Media Inc.
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Description:
THIRTY DAYS
That’s all Adam Steinbeck demands of his wife.
Thirty days in a remote cottage, doing everything he demands. After that, he’ll sign her divorce papers and give her complete ownership of their company.
THIRTY DAYS
That’s how long he has to rediscover the man he once was. The Dominant Master he hid when he fell in love with her five years ago.
THIRTY DAYS
She wants the business they built badly enough to go to the cottage for a month. Cut off ties to the world and do his bidding. She can submit to him with her body, but her heart will never yield.
She thinks this is his pathetic attempt to repair their marriage.
She’s wrong.

Review:
The Marriage Games is the second of the two books in my Armchair Audies listens that I had previously read prior to the nominees being announced. I discovered C.D. Reiss last year when her Coda series was nominated for another Audie – so I was excited to see her with another nomination this year. But I will its hard to describe the initial disappointment I felt when I read The Marriage Games earlier in the year – reading it, I just didn’t feel the emotion that I felt like I should have – I just felt really detached from the whole storyline – which is a complete opposite experience to how I felt when I listened to it more recently.

Anyways, since I had already read The Marriage Games, I was able to invest myself more fully into my enjoyment of the audiobook – since I knew what was going to happen (although as normal, I did discover that there were things I had missed in my initial reading of it – which considering how long it took me to read it initially, is surprising). Since I was able to focus more on the audio than the story – let me tell you how much I LOVED the narration by Elena Wolfe and Sebastian York! I know like knees going weak, making me want to drool in sexiness type narration! (and I don’t say that often).

I love how audiobooks with dual narrators has developed over time – I have listened to all different combinations – predominantly one narrator with highlights of an other, narrators that alternate POV’s, but still narrate opposite gender if they appear in that specific POV and then there is a true duet, like the Marriage Games, where Elena and Sebastian were fully integrated so that Elena did all the female narration and Sebastian all the male – it was like listening to an actual conversation where there were multiple men and women speaking in a holistic way. I actually enjoyed my listen of the Marriage Games so much, that I went ahead and bought the second book in the duet (Separation Games) to listen to as soon as I was done – which I hadn’t felt inclined to do after I finished reading it a few months previously.

The Marriage Games was definitely a case where 2 brilliant narrators took a slightly less than impressive book (at least to me) and elevated it to knee-weakening level. While my rating for the Marriage Games stayed at 3.5 stars, the audiobook narration was easily 4.5 stars. Elena Wolfe and Sebastian York is a narrator duet that I would love to see more of.

 

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