Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns to Truly, Idaho, and to the fate of sexy SEAL Blake Junger.

GIMMEE A B-R-E-A-K!

Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she's paid for all that popularity—her husband's run off with what's left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn't.

GIMMEE A S-H-O-T!

Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he's determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.

GIMMEE YOUR H-E-A-R-T!

I’m going to hit the highs and lows of what I enjoyed and what didn’t work for me with this latest offering from Rachel Gibson. I find her books to be easy, fun reads that I can zip through in a day and What I Love About You fits that description as well. I enjoyed the heroine Natalie and her drive after having the rug pulled out from under her by her (now) ex-husband. She’s a single mom, running her own business and trying to move past all the lies her husband told her. I found her to be a very likable character and I wanted to see her find some happiness.

Blake Junger is dealing with his addiction to alcohol and so far, he’s winning. The ghosts are always there, tempting him, but he’s determined to beat it all on his own. The addiction he deals with daily but the PTSD flashbacks come at the worst possible times and it’s something that could change the direction of his life, specifically related to his job working private security. He and Natalie might make an unlikely pair, but she brings him to life in more ways than one.

Now, what I didn’t enjoy – the romance between Natalie and Blake felt very predictable. They start with it being sex only, that moves into love, that moves into Blake feeling like he doesn’t deserve Natalie and hurts her ‘for her own good’ type thing. Bring on the angst and the big reunion, declarations of love and HEA at the end. I guess I just ended up enjoying the other storylines outside the romance quite a bit more. Natalie and her struggles with bringing her ex-husband back into her life for her daughter’s sake and Blake dealing with his pain and addiction. The non-romance part of the book was really interesting but the romance itself just didn’t do it for me.

While I enjoyed parts of What I Love About You, I can’t say there was anything that really made this story stand out from all the other romantic contemporary books out there. Fans of Rachel Gibson should enjoy this one, as I did, just not enough for it to be a book I’d recommend.


Rating: C-

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Avon
Rachel Gibson: Webpage | Facebook
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*Book provided by publisher for review* 

 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: It's In His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis

ONE KISS CAN LAST FOREVER

Becca Thorpe has uprooted her life and escaped to the beach. Now's her chance to get away from city living, throw caution to the ocean winds, and live in the moment. Especially if the moment includes the deliciously sexy surfer she meets shortly after arriving in Lucky Harbor. Something about the dark intensity of Sam's eyes and the thrill she gets at his touch convinces her to stay awhile.

Boatbuilder and investment genius Sam Brody is a self-made man who knows how dangerous it can be to mix business and pleasure. But he can't resist offering Becca a job just to hear her laugh and have her near. Yet when her brother comes to town asking for help, will he tempt her back to her glamorous life in the city? Or do Sam and little Lucky Harbor have a chance to win Becca's heart?

My first impressions of this book were that it was a good read, but it was a book that ended up being kind of easy to put down. There was nothing that really grabbed me about the story, possibly a case of the curse of a new trilogy?

I did enjoy the three best friends that this last Lucky Harbor trilogy is centered around: Sam, Tanner and Cole, all of them are long time friends and business partners, each of them has their own personal issues they’re dealing with. I’m already looking forward to learning more about Cole and Tanner, especially Tanner who seems to be fighting the worst demons.

First up, we get to know Sam, and I really liked him. He’s also the reason I kept reading and stayed with the story. He’s sweet, an alpha, a typical (in a good way) Shalvis hero. He’s got love issues (don’t they all?) but I liked him as a character and how he came across on page.

But the opposite could be said for my feelings about Becca, who I found to be annoying. There was something about her that didn’t work for me. I especially didn’t like how she got on Sam’s case for not being nicer to his dead beat dad without even knowing any of the history. I really wanted Sam to just say mind your own business! But of course, he’s too nice to do that. I don’t know. She’s had a tough past surviving a rape, stopped a musical career due to stage fright, pulled away from her drug addict brother who isn’t ready to help himself. So yeah, she’s got issues that are bleeding into her present, but I just didn’t warm up to her as easily as I did with Sam.

We do get some good best friend scenes, especially between the guys and it served the purpose of making me interested in learning more about them and coming back to finish off this trilogy with Cole’s book next and Tanner, up last.

I’ve always enjoyed coming back to Lucky Harbor with each new installment and while I can’t say this was a standout book for me in the series, it’s still a nice, light read that left me curious enough to come back for more.


Rating: C

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Jill Shalvis: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Hope Burns (Hope #3) by Jaci Burton

A novel of small-town hearts and big dreams...

Molly Burnett dreads returning to her hometown of Hope for her sister’s wedding, especially knowing she’ll have to endure a weekend with the one man she never wants to see again. It’s only a couple of days, so Molly will try to forget her painful past with high school sweetheart Carter Richards. Because despite the bitter memories, she still can’t forget what they once meant to each other.

But when Molly is forced to extend her stay, Carter sees this as his second chance to do things right, to start over again with the only woman he’s ever loved. This time, he isn’t going to let Molly run. Together they’re going to confront the past and put it behind them, and hope for a future as bright as the flame that still burns hot between them.

I’m going to start off this short and sweet review by saying that the hero, Carter is simply an awesome guy. He’s a hard worker, loves his family and small town, enjoys helping others, I mean really, he’s just a sweet guy. He and Molly were teens in love until she got pregnant and miscarried. Their relationship fell apart soon after and Molly ran. Now she’s back in Hope for the first time in 12 years for her sister’s wedding and then “she’s outta there” – get used to that line, Molly says it over and over and over again. But after her mother suffers an accident and Molly’s help is needed, she stays in Hope for longer than she wanted and is forced to deal with her feelings toward Carter, the guy she’s never stopped loving but the same guy that she can’t let the past go with.

If it weren’t for Carter, I’d have probably DNF’d this book. He’s great and I liked everything about him. From his interactions with his friends, his family, the town, he was a character that worked for me. My issues were all with Molly. She has her foot one step outside of Hope the entire time and makes sure we all know it as she tacks on after everything she says things like - “but I won’t be here to see this” or “I’m leaving soon because that’s just the life I enjoy”. Gah. I wanted to shake her and yell at her to just leave already! Maybe if her reasoning for wanting to leave again was more believable and made sense I could have got on board with it. But her reasoning seemed to always come down to, that’s just her life and that wasn’t good enough for me. So of course in the end she runs away, too scared to actually be an adult and talk to Carter about what she’s feeling. To make matters worse and the one issue I had with Carter, he was going to go after her. No Carter, just no. She was the one who needed to do all the groveling and come back to you! I won’t spoil how it all goes down, but their happy ending is neatly wrapped up in the span of about one page. The ending was way too abrupt and another chapter or epilogue was needed to really feel like things were wrapped up.

As is the case with many of Burton’s books, I enjoyed the supporting cast, especially the girlfriend scenes as those are always fun to see play out. But it just wasn’t enough. Not even a hot, sweet hero could get me to enjoy this book and sadly it’s a miss for me. I can’t deal with a heroine like Molly, I never warmed up to her and I ultimately wanted her to just leave like she kept saying instead of sticking around for her man.


Rating: D

Release Date: September, 30, 2014
Publisher: Jove
Jaci Burton: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Chained by Night (Moonbound Clan #2) by Larissa Ione

THE FUTURE OF HIS TRIBE 
Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.

THE LOVER OF HIS SOUL 

But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?

Aylin is a twin, the second born, and while her clans history dictated that she should have been drowned immediately at birth, plus she was born with a bum leg, she was kept alive (for reasons we find out at the end). Only Aylin wished more than once that she had been killed. She was tortured, belittled, basically her life was a living hell in her father’s clan. While her older sister was treated like a princess and desired, Aylin was shunned, being forced to feed from the wrists of unwilling men and even worse, not being able to feed a male, which in turn would have helped her physically. No one wanted lame, disfigured Aylin. Now with her sister Rasha set to mate with Hunter, leader of a rival vampire clan, Aylin’s last hope, having her sister act as a buffer of sorts, is gone and she’s soon to be mated to another vampire clan leader. A vampire so horrible, Aylin would be better off dead. But first she accompanies Rasha on the trip to meet Hunter when all hell breaks loose when human vampire hunters capture them before they can reach Hunter.

Hunter rescues Aylin, at first mistaking her for Rasha, but soon learns that it’s really Rasha’s sister he can’t stop thinking about. When Rasha refuses to join Hunter on a quest to complete three tasks set forth by a powerful demon, tasks that should Hunter fail to complete, the demon would take Hunter’s first born. After Rasha (a bitch in her own right) refuses, Aylin can’t accept that and offers to go in her place, bad leg and all. Along with these quests, Hunter then has to deal with escalating violence not only between the vampire clans, but with the human hunters who are gaining in numbers and gaining in strength.

I loved Aylin. She kept me interested from the moment she came on page and didn’t let my attention go. There’s something about the underdog that I always connect with and Aylin, even though life has shown her no kindness, has remained strong, resilient and has a huge heart. She doesn’t let a bad leg stop her and that’s proven time and again, especially during the three tasks she tries to help Hunter complete. She even, without a second thought, makes a sacrifice for Hunter that’s both heartbreaking and incredibly sweet and it solidifies Hunter’s need to mate and imprint with Aylin and not Rasha, even though it means absolute war between their clans.

Hunter is an interesting hero – he’s trying to run his clan the exact opposite of the way his horrible father did and the way most other clans are being run. He’s not heartless, but he’s ruthless when it’s called for. He’s an alpha leader and his MINE instincts come out with Aylin and that’s always fun to see play out. I will say, the sex didn’t take over the story and I liked that. There’s a lot of focus on the world and seeing how the clans will be aligned and the fallout from Hunter mating with Aylin, which is the cause for the large showdown at the end. Hunter and Aylin are sexy and have some great scenes, but I liked that focus was on more than just sex, it was about seeing them come together and the consequences of that.

I found this book to be a lot easier to get hooked into than the first book, which isn’t unusual. The world is familiar now and I like the vampire vs human and clan vs clan elements that are built upon. We get more information on other supporting characters and I’m interested to learn more, especially when it comes to Myne, a vampire who has so many issues and I want to know them all.

Chained by Night has great action, solid storytelling and a heroine that I really enjoyed. Aylin is strong, fierce and she’s a survivor. I loved seeing her find love and acceptance with Hunter and for the first time in her life, find happiness.


Rating: B

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Books
Larissa Ione: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*Book provided by publisher for review* 

 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Red Blooded (Jessica McClain #4) by Amanda Carlson

Jessica is on her way to Hell. After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast... new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

Jessica’s off to hell to rescue her brother who’s being held captive there. She’s still unable to communicate with her father, the alpha, but she has bigger concerns with finding her brother. Especially since time acts differently in hell, one hour or one year could have passed for her brother since he was taken so Jess is determined to get there as soon as she’s able to work a bit of magic the witches are trying to help her with. The witches know she won’t last long in hell if she doesn’t have better command of her magic and creating protective circles, but when a trial test run goes wrong, Jessica takes in and holds on to a type of magic she shouldn’t have been able to and the next thing you know, POP, Jessica is transported to hell.

As soon as she arrives, Jessica comes across another woman being held captive, Lili, who spins a tale of woe to Jess. It’s clear from the start we don’t know whether to believe what Lili is saying, that she’s set on revenge against the Prince of Hell, who she claims, has trapped her here or if her motivates are drastically different. Jessica doesn’t feel as though she has a choice but to form an alliance with Lili when she offers to lead Jessica to her brother for Jess’s help in freeing her from the cell that’s been spelled against her. And this begins Jessica’s crazy adventures in hell that go from encountering all types of dangerous beings in her path to her brother, to finding her brother, having her friends pop into hell to help out, a show down with a powerful character and the birth of a new Coalition.

For as much action as there is in Red Blooded, I found myself bored with the story and the pacing throughout the entire book. I kept thinking that there was so much action going on, I should be on the edge of my seat, instead even with so much going on, it didn’t feel like much progress was being made, like one step forward, two steps back the entire time. Nearly the entire book takes place in hell, and it got to the point where I just wanted it to be over. Every time Jessica and her group would get close to getting out, something else would come at them, or another obstacle got in the way. It was just too much.

There were a few interesting series-storyline developments, mainly the formation of the supernatural Coalition and its members. That will be interesting to see play out in future books. There’s still the ongoing storyline centered around Jessica’s father and their pack. This leads to the book’s cliffhanger. Yes, each book ends with a cliffhanger and even though I know this going in, I still hate it. I didn’t finish the book thinking about how anxious I was to get the next story based on how Red Blooded ends. Instead I finished and thought, typical. Not exactly the reaction one wants to have when finishing a book that ends in mid-action.

On the romance side, since Jessica is alone in hell for a good portion of the book, her mate, Rourke, isn’t around. He does eventually show up as part of the group that pops into hell. They have a few stolen moments together but that’s about it.

I can’t say I was all that taken with Red Blooded. I still find myself interested in Jessica and her world, the powers she’s still trying to manage within herself. The action here was non-stop but I just didn’t feel like there was as much progress made as there should have been so parts of the book were a bit boring and it was an easy read to put down. I’ll still keep going with the series for now, but even with the routine cliffhanger, I won’t be waiting on pins and needles for Jessica’s next adventure.


Rating: C

Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Amanda Carlson: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.

That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.

All’s fair in love and football…Game on.
Drew doesn’t make me feel like myself. He makes me feel better than myself. As if there is a little broken part of me, rattling and loose, and whenever he’s near it falls into place and tightens.
Anna Jones has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She’s tired of school and just wants to graduate and figure out where to go next. What she doesn’t expect is to catch the eye of her college’s Heisman winning quarterback Drew Baylor in one of their classes. Anna has issues with self confidence that goes back to her high school years. She was the girl who either blended into the wall and went unnoticed or was noticed for all the wrong reasons. She’s grown up now, being a late bloomer, but she still has a hard time feeling ‘good enough’ in some situations, the glaring situation being the girl that Drew wants by his side.

Drew is the golden guy on campus. He’s a born leader and a perfectionist, he’s book smart and loves the game of football. But even being surrounded by teammates and his best friends still leaves him feeling isolated and lonely. Drew lost both his parents and he’s alone in the world. He threw himself into football and has a bright NFL career ahead of him. But sitting next to Anna in class one day shifts his whole world. He wants to get to know her better and she really doesn’t want anything to do with him so Drew takes some of his late father’s advice and pursues her slowly with patience and Anna doesn’t stand a chance.

They start out having sex, but no kissing per Anna’s rule, it’s too intimate and she wants to keep this as strictly a hook up. That way, her heart won’t get involved (yeah right) and she’ll be able to maintain some distance. But Drew doesn’t want that and in addition to the great sex, they start to really get to know each other and this is the where the story truly hooked me. They open up to each other in a way that neither one ever has with anyone else. They come to rely on the other person and when one of them needs comfort, they run to the other person.


For a moment we lay quiet, Drew curled around me, his cheek against mine, the corners of our lips touching as we pant. Slowly, I come back to myself, aware of his fingers stroking my shoulder and the pulse of his cock within me.

It’s so quiet that when he whispers in my ear, my whole body shivers from the sound. “You’ve destroyed me, Anna Jones.”

I know exactly what he means, because he’s destroyed me too.


Everything about this story worked for me. From the first person narrative that always seems to hook me in right away, being able to get into the characters minds, to the point of view alternating between Drew and Anna, I really felt like I got to know each character so intimately and it made me invested in them both early on. The dialogue between all the characters, not just Anna and Drew, is sharp and smart with plenty of quick banter between everyone on page. My one assumption with most new adult stories is that the characters will come off immature – and sure I shouldn’t assuming anything, and that’s especially the case here. Drew, Anna and their friends come across on page as mature young adults who are easy to relate to in a way that I never expected from young 20-something characters.

Drew and Anna’s relationship plays out over many months and I loved seeing it develop through the passage of time. It made it easier to believe in and I loved watching this young couple go through many ups and downs as they try to figure out a way to make things work and come together. Drew’s always in the lime light and has been for many years so he’s oblivious to some of the things (mean comments, social media, etc) that get directed Anna’s way. She’s struggling to ignore the outside noise knowing full well that’s a big downside to being with Drew. This couple goes through it all, funny, laugh out loud moments, sweet and sexy times and some heavy emotional scenes that had me going from laughing at them to crying with them.

I never thought I’d be here typing that one of my favorite reads of 2014 is a new adult book, but it is. The Hook Up has everything I love in a story. Characters that I cared about so much, moments throughout the book that had me sighing in happiness or wiping away a tear because the pain someone felt was so strong and real. Kristen Callihan has created such a rich, engaging group of people who are trying to find their way in life and I can’t get enough. This book has turned Callihan into an auto-read author for me, if she puts something out there I’ll read it, her series are just that addicting. I highly recommend giving The Hook Up a read, this non-NA reader was completely taken by these characters and days later I’m still thinking about the story.


Rating: A+

Release Date: September 8, 2014
Kristen Callihan: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss #1) by Nalini Singh

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

Zachary Fox, known as just Fox to his friends family and millions of fans, sees Molly across a room at a party and wants to get to know her, right away. Molly, thinking that Fox is a gorgeous rock God, can’t imagine he’d ever want to get to know someone like her, but when he stops her as she’s leaving and makes it clear he’s interested she figures why not. A sexy night she’ll never forget and then hopefully her heart can move on - she’s in. But Fox has other things in mind, namely wanting Molly to be with him for more than one night, but getting her to agree will take some major convincing on his part. Since he and his band are in Molly’s town for a month, they agree to see each other exclusively for that month. Fox certainly has other long terms plans, but decides to tread slowly as Molly’s past experiences make her very skittish in the present. But as emotions start to get all tangled up, Molly can’t imagine not having Fox in her life and makes the ultimate leap of faith to be with him and try to make this somewhat unconventional relationship work between a rock star and a librarian.

The story is broken out into two parts, the first part being the month Fox and Molly get to know each other hidden away from the spotlight, the second part being them together as a couple, facing the media and the world. The first half dragged a bit for me. I liked getting to know Fox and Molly, but their story really picked up in the second part when they were faced with the reality of what their relationship would be like in the public eye and both of them having to face demons from their past to be able to make a go of it together. For Molly, it’s incredibly hard as she was in the middle of a public scandal thanks to her dad being caught with an underage girl that made headlines. It not only made headlines, but it made Molly’s teenage life a living hell and ever since she’s tried to live her life as quietly and planned out as possible. It just takes a guy like Fox to shake all that up and I appreciated that while there were a few bumps in the road, their relationship was built on trust and actually talking to each other about things that were bothering them.

Fox is sexy beyond words. He’s magic on stage as the lead singer of his band and he’s sexy with Molly, getting her to open up and try any and everything with him. Honestly, I was a bit surprised with just how much sex was in the book. I've seen the book labeled as new adult, but I have a hard time calling this one new adult. The heroine is 24, the hero is 27 and it’s very much a contemporary romance, with some very sexy scenes included. Sure, there were a few moments where I thought Molly was acting her age, in a bad way, but for the most part, the dialogue, Fox, Molly and all the supporting characters introduced came across as mature and made me very excited to see where this series will go next. In addition to the rest of the band members we get to know well, we’re introduced to Molly’s best friend, Charlotte and get snippets of her relationship with her boss, a man she can’t stand…or so she says. Their story appears to be happening at the same time as Fox and Molly’s, just off page, so I can’t wait to fill in some blanks where they’re concerned and learn more about Charlie. There is also another romance brewing between Molly’s sister Thea and band member David – another relationship that I can’t wait to see play out.

I really enjoyed Rock Addiction and the setup for this new world Singh’s created. There were a few moments of over-the-top sweetness, but it overall hit a nice romantic tone for me. I found all the characters that were introduced to be likable and interesting. Fox – sexy rockstar, a bit bossy and in charge in the bedroom. He had me grinning pretty much throughout the entire story. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the supporting storylines play out on page, the sneak peeks we get during Rock Addiction just made me want more.


Rating: B

Release Date: September 9, 2014
Nalini Singh: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | iBooks
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 
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