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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Sep
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: P.S. From Paris Author: Marc Levy Narrator: Tim Campbell; Translated by Sam Taylor Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Brilliance Audio Finding fame with his unintentionally written first novel, Paul escapes his life as an architect in San Fransisco, moving to Paris where he spends the next seven years writing in solitude. Worried about their friend and feeling that fate needs a little help, his best friends sign up Paul for an online match-making service. What begins as an awkward misunderstand blossoms into a true and meaningful friendship with Mia. World-renowned actress Mia can’t pretend to be happy with her cheating husband any longer, running to stay with her best friend in Paris. There she struggles with her lingering love and hurt, trying to find meaning for her life, when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an America author. Soon she and Paul work hard to convince themselves that their bond is nothing more than that between close friends. I absolutely enjoyed listening to the audiobook production of P. S. From Paris. The book opens with two separate stories – the events surrounding Paul and the events surrounding Mia. We learn how lonely Paul is and how he tries to convince himself he’s okay. On the other hand, Mia knows how miserable she is but is frightened to take any risks. They live parallel lives until “fate” (in the form of Lauren and Arthur) push them together. I love how awkward and similar the two are. They seem like a great fit, but they work so hard to convince themselves they are just friends. Yet through this guise, the pair open up and learn to trust and eventually love. What I love most about this story is the movie screen feel of the romance. It truly is a bit over-the-top and larger-than-life. I can see a young Audrey Hepburn playing Mia, so full of hope, not letting circumstances pull her down. She’s charming and silly all at once. Her behaviors mimic those of a pampered movie star, but she’s got a heart of gold. I love that both best friend Daisy and new friend Paul are able to see the internal spark under Mia’s shiny facade. The overall plot is a bit extravagant, but that opens the story up to silly misunderstandings and outrageous mix ups. But these situations aren’t always light, and there is one...
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Sep
18

Review: Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey

Review: Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey Too Beautiful to Break Author: Tessa Bailey Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I’m not crying, you’re crying. That sniffle? Gotta be my allergies. Maybe it’s my present state of mind, but Belmont and Sage’s book got to me. I mean, all of the previous titles in the Romancing the Clarksons saga got to me a little, but there’s been a build-up through the series to Bel’s book—and not just because it’s the end of the journey the sibs’ mother charged them to take as her dying wish. AKA, read this series in order. It is SO worth it. It’s probably because I closely identify with the characters. Oh, not because of how I was raised or some freak accident when I was a child. Because of how Bel & Sage are as people. “You didn’t even have to tell me that,” she whispered. “I already knew Because you’re a man who values everyone’s happiness above himself. And that’s what makes you the greatest man any of us will ever know. There’s never been anyone like you, Belmont. There never will be again. How lucky am I that I get to love you?” Let that sink in for a minute. The above passage is a little spoilery, but not really—we know from reading Rita, Aaron, and Peggy’s books that Bel & Sage have it bad for one another. Seeing it on the page though? That floored me. Like a lot of things did as I read Too Beautiful to Break. His black coat blew out behind him in the cold wind, but he seemed untouched by the weather. He was the weather…he was everything. And his arms were wide open for her. I guess I never really saw Bel like this before. Looking at him through Sage’s eyes really made me see him. He reminds me of a gunslinger from the old west, strolling into town and ready to take on anyone and anything for a good reason. Learning about why Belmont is rather closed off from his siblings floored me, and I honestly cried for Bel as a child. It explains how he is, and the presentation was well done after such a stupendous lead-up. Her hazel eyes were wide on his. “No more waiting to touch now. Everything about us is…right.” She laughed and shook her head, a tear sliding down her cheek. “Isn’t it?” Belmont pressed his mouth to her forehead. “More than right,...
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Sep
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Falling From the Sky by Sarina Bowen

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Falling From the Sky by Sarina Bowen Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Falling From the Sky Author: Sarina Bowen Narrators: Tanya Eby, Aiden Snow Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Gravity #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions The second story in Ms. Bowen’s Gravity series opens about a year after the conclusion of  Coming in From the Cold, with Dane, Willow and their new baby living out West, thus leaving behind best friend Willow. During one of the couple’s visits back to Vermont to sell Willow’s farm, they introduce Callie to snowboarder Hank, who proceeds to have a career-ending accident on the slopes. Fast forward nine months: Callie is the director of a rehabilitation study at her hospital and Hank is one of its participants. Hank is drawn to Callie and looking to be more than friends, but Callie is ready to start a new life and move to California. I absolutely adored Callie and Hank’s story. What could have been predictable and ordinary is exciting and romantic. Right from the start, their mutual attraction causes both to toss caution to the wind and give something “more” a try. However, due to certain “issues” Hank experiences, things go south quickly. Luckily both are able to move past their insecurities and fears to open up a genuine dialogue and develop a true friendship. I like that both the male and female narrators are different in book 2 than in the first title, especially since the story focuses on two new feature characters. I found both narrators to be a bit better suited to the characters and enjoyed them more than the first go around. I noticed I prefered the female narrator at 1.25x and male narrator at 1.5x but kept the playback speed at 1.5x. The male’s voice is deliciously deep with a rich timbre. It’s a great voice for Hank, who is a huge man with intense emotions. Similarly, the female narrator is a good fit for the intelligent, yet worrisome Callie. I did find Ms. Eby’s male voices are a bit on the feminine side, but not bad. Falling From the Sky is a delightful romance that warmed my heart. Ms. Bowen gives Callie and Hank a HEA without the need to fix all their issues. The story brings humor and heart, taking me on an emotional journey from highs to lows. My Rating: A- Male Narration: B+ Female Narration: B+ Review copy provided by Blunder Woman Productions About the Book:...
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Sep
13

Review: Tripped Out by Lorelei James

Review: Tripped Out by Lorelei James Tripped Out Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: After leaving her well-paying corporate job, Stirling Gradsky took a chance and went into business with her brother. Now they own and operate High Society, a medicinal and recreational marijuana facility. Liam Argent has dedicated his life to understanding the chemical properties of marijuana and loves all the perks of working for High Society. But the constant head-butting and pranking with Stirling needs to end so they can grow the company. While I have enjoyed the other 1,001 Dark Night / Blacktop Cowboy stories, I felt Tripped Out was not on par with its predecessors. First, I felt like I was dropped into the story with no idea what’s going on. It’s written as if I know these characters, but I don’t remember them at all, even though Stirling is sister to London, the heroine in the first novella, and we meet Stirling and Liam in the third book. I felt like I started off kilter and I never found a good balance. It is evident that the author did her homework with respect to the subject matter, and I found the information on the emerging medicinal and recreational marijuana markets interesting. However, I felt that there was way too much information about marijuana use and production, making it feel like a technical report, rather than developing the characters and focusing on the romance. This leads to another issue I had with the story. The characters are big proponents of the use of marijuana, but at times, I felt that they were lecturing me, the reader, taking a holier-than-thou attitude. The two main characters have huge chips on their shoulders and their attitudes are almost condescending. Yet, then the author uses ridiculous stoner stereotypes and actions. And the way they use marijuana to “take the edge off”… needing it at the end (or even during) a stressful day, is reminiscent of an alcoholic needing a drink. As I stated, I don’t feel the author put enough into the development of the characters. While there are some funny moments and sexy situations, overall I found myself annoyed with Liam and Stirling. Their bantering, even when for fun, grated on me most times. Unfortunately, I never felt a strong romantic connection between the pair, making the story okay, but not one I’d read again. My Rating: C- Finished It – Liked a little, didn’t like a lot About...
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Sep
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold by Sarina Bowen

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold by Sarina Bowen Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold Author: Sarina Bowen Narrators: Joe Arden, Maxine Mitchell Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Gravity #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Willow is stuck in a dream life that was never her dream. Following her then boyfriend to raise chickens on a farm in Vermont, Willow was dumped and left in debt when he found a pretty face with a trust fund, moving to California. Trying to get home one night before the blizzard gets any worse, Willow swerves off the road and is left with a sexy stranger. Dane loves being an Olympic skier, but he’s lonely and hiding a huge secret which keeps him from forming any attachments. Running off the road during a blizzard, Dane finds himself trapped with a beautiful woman who is willing to share one night of passion. But when a freak accident takes him out of competition for the season, he’s forced to face his nightmares head on. Coming in From the Cold is a cute contemporary romance that makes the hero and heroine work for their HEA. The opening scene, with the pair stuck in a jeep during a blizzard, is a wonderful way for the couple to very quickly get to know one another. They trade complaints while stuck, waiting for the plows. The situation creates a false sense of intimacy, allowing both to share secrets and do things (*cough* jeepsex *cough*) they normally wouldn’t do. One thing leads to another and soon the pair take things further than planned. Dane has a HUGE chip on his shoulder, which leads to some MAJOR asshat behavior and an unintentional spill on the slopes. Being laid up and unable to compete adds to his destructive mood, and I honestly wasn’t sure he’d be able to redeem himself. But because Willow is a psychology doctoral student, she has insight as to Dane’s behavior. While she’s not ready to jump back into bed with him, she’s able to put the situation into perspective with a bit of emotional detachment, allowing me to travel her journey to forgiveness with her. She’s not unemotional and still hurts, but understands. The dual POV story has both a male and female narrator for the two POVs. Both narrators are pretty good: not great, but solid. At first, I listened to the book at 1.25x speed, and I did have an issue with Ms. Mitchell...
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Sep
4

Review: Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey

Review: Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey Disorderly Conduct Author: Tessa Bailey Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I love reading book series. It’s honestly one of my favorite things. I get to meet some characters, get to know them, have some sh*t happen, and then it gets fixed (or the author is mean and leaves us hanging…) and they live happily for now. Until the next book in the series comes out and there’s another crisis. OR…we meet ‘supporting cast’ members in the first title who become the leads in a subsequent book. The Academy series by Tessa Bailey is the latter. Slated for three titles, the first two titles are about police academy recruits/students…whatever you call them. The third? I’ve heard is about a grumpy part-time instructor. But, we’re here to talk about Disorderly Conduct today. And, oh…my. This title is a five-alarm-fire-in-your-panties hot. I mean, when things start as super casual-slash-friends-with-benefits, it’s gonna be hot—especially since Tessa Bailey is the author. I loved the pacing and the entire premise of the title—I mean, who wouldn’t? Casual nookie that turns into something more? *fans self* Yeah. That’s the best. One thing I wasn’t too keen on, but got over, was the way Charlie handled the entire situation. The deception and lies—nothing dangerous, just a breach of trust he has to redeem himself for later. I know a book needs conflict, and if we just had Charlie and Ever shift their relationship from F*ckBuddies to Friends and eventually transition to a couple, there’s nothing that would tear them apart and put them back together—the thing that holds the reader’s interest (besides phenomenal characterization and writing). So, I understand why it was done…and it was done well. It worked as an excellent plot point. Ever is a great, independent character that doesn’t NEED a man to be complete. I mean, throughout the title she talks about a bunch of things that makes her seem like she needs to be in a relationship, but it’s really only her falling for (or realizing she’s fallen for) Charlie. This isn’t an in-your-face OHMYGODILOVEHIM romance. There’s a slow burn that made me want to yell at the characters (may have done this…) and/or skip to the end to make sure they made it through okay (I trust Tessa to give me at least a HFN, so I didn’t). And, here’s the thing about Ever. She starts out with ‘rules’ about her relationships. As in, there IS no relationship....
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Aug
31

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: All or Nothing at All Author: Jennifer Probst Narrators: Madeleine Maby and Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Billionaire Builders #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Sydney Greene never stopped loving Tristan Pierce, even when he left their hometown to pursue his dreams in Manhattan. Before he left, Sydney discovered she was pregnant, but not wanting to trap him, she let him leave without a word. Fast forward seven years and Tristan is home, reunited with his brothers and making a life for himself. Even though the pair barely speak, his attraction to Sydney is stronger than ever, so Tristan figures it may be time to revisit their once passionate fling. Now Sydney will see if their feelings can overcome the secret she’s been hiding all these years. All or Nothing at All is the third story about the sexy, wealthy Pierce brothers. I absolutely LOVED the first two books, so it is hard for me to say that I had a big issue with this one. First, what I liked… Sydney and Tristan are meant to be, but they always let external issues and a lack of communication stand in their way of happiness. I enjoyed watching the pair finally get over their initial coldness when Tristan returned two years ago. Tristan’s eyes are opened to the woman Syd’s become, and his lust for both her brain and body are genuine. I really enjoyed the first part of the book and felt it was going to be another favorite. However… ****NOTE some of the issues I discuss may be considered spoilerish**** It’s obvious from the get go, there would be an explosion between the pair once the truth about Sydney’s daughter came out. I honestly expected it to get ugly for a bit, and then we’d enjoy learning how the pair gets past the hurt. What I didn’t expect, and frankly didn’t like at all, was the mindset and actions of Tristan once he learned the truth. His hurt drives him to force Sydney into marriage and require her to sleep in the same bed as him. Sure, Sydney still feels an attraction to him, and she doesn’t just stop loving him, but his behavior is unhealthy and too much. It’s beyond my comfort level and borderline abusive in my eyes. He uses emotional blackmail and brings her sleeping body back to his bed every night. I almost...
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Aug
30

Review: Three Player Game by Jaime Samms

Review: Three Player Game by Jaime Samms Three Player Game Author: Jaime Samms Reviewer: B. Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: While I generally like the Bluewater Bay series, and even though I found the previous story that revolved around these characters (How the Cookie Crumbles, Bluewater Bay #12) to be sweet as well as charming, I was considerably more conflicted about Three Player Game. As intricately tied to its predecessor as it was, I ended up stopping to do a thorough reread—which I actually enjoyed very much—in order to fill in some blanks that came up early in this story. Despite that necessity, however, this resulted in a more severe comparison between the two, which might have done more harm overall. Initially, I had a difficult time reconciling the Lee and Vince in Three Player Game with the conniving and “mousy” (respectively) personalities they exhibited in How the Cookie Crumbles. Early in Three Player Game, Vince claims that he’s more than what anyone else believes him to be, but, his saying so wasn’t enough to outweigh my doubts. It took a little while, but those misgivings were ultimately replaced by varying degrees of fondness for all three men, although Pete and Lee were my favorites. Another problem that I never was able to see past was that both Vince and Pete seemed to view Lee as a target or acquisition—no matter how precious to them he might be. Having said that, the lack of pre-existing definitions, in conjunction with Pete’s raw earnestness, helped make the affection between Pete and Lee feel more honest and easy to me. In contrast, Vince deliberately—though not with any force—overstepped Lee’s boundaries more than once, which kept me from fully accepting their connection as an entirely healthy one. Regardless, the “means to an end” nature of their actions was uncomfortable at times, and affected the entire narrative for me, as a result. Although I had a difficult time with several elements of Three Player Game, there were quite a few things that I liked, as well. One of the most important, I believe, is that the narrative doesn’t gloss over the complexities a polyamorous relationship likely entails. I felt that, while the issues these characters face are worthy of serious consideration, the author didn’t insinuate that they are applicable to everyone. I also appreciated that, while the three men eventually form a cohesive unit, the individual relationships in play within it are unique and must be treated as such by all...
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Aug
23

Review: Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Review: Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan Holiday in the Hamptons Author: Sarah Morgan Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Fliss and Seth share a history that was left in the past ten years ago. He broke her heart, she broke his, and they walked away from their brief but passionate love. However, now Seth is in Manhattan, working at the vet office Fliss and her twin/business partner, Harriet, frequent with the animals they care for. Since talking to Seth would be too difficult for Fliss, she flees the city only to end up in Seth’s arms. Right from the start, Holiday in the Hamptons sets the stage perfectly for the emotional journey that is Fliss and Seth, and I fell in love with the idea of Fliss and Seth. Teenage crushes, first loves, broke up for all the wrong reasons. This second-chance romance brings together two people who have always been in love, but lack of communication and some other external issues tore them apart. The opening prologue set the stage for what I knew would be both a heart-wrenching and heart-warming story. I love that their relationship brought readers some of both. This is probably the slowest slow-burn romance I’ve read, but it’s just marvelous. The emotional connections are worth it. I was concerned with Fliss’s idea of pretending to be her twin, Harriet, as I am not a fan of the mistaken-identity trope. But my worries were for naught, because the author has fun with the situation, yet never lets it get out of hand. I mean… if you are related to someone, can you really fool them by pretending to be another? There are several silly moments, but there is a larger benefit to Fliss’s efforts. When pretending to be Harriet, Fliss doesn’t have to have her walls up, and she can talk to Seth. While they don’t share anything earth-shattering, it creates the foundation for their new friendship, something that wouldn’t have happened without the protection of pretending to be Harriet. Fliss had a rough childhood, and many of her issues with personal connections stem from her upbringing. I admire that the author demonstrates how tough it was through flashbacks and ties it into her difficulties as an adult. I also love that Fliss is a work in progress – committing to changing, and that there is no pretty bow put around her issues. We know there is still work ahead. Which is also why I had a...
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Aug
21

Review: Misconduct by Samantha Kane

Review: Misconduct by Samantha Kane Misconduct Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having survived a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, Carmina moved to Birmingham to be close to her best friend (and only other survivor) and to get away from her overprotective family. Now that she’s gotten on her own two feet, Carmina is ready to try dating, and sex, again. Rebels’ rookie, Tom, is the perfect man for the job, but she also can’t stop thinking about Tom’s best friend and roommate, Danny. Not sure how to proceed, Carmina rely’s on Tom’s help to move forward. After nearly giving up on this series after the second title, I have to say I have rather enjoyed the last two books. Misconduct explores the aspects of a ménage within the confines of a safe and mostly accepting community. While it’s the fourth such book in the series, the story of Carmina, Danny, and Tom’s relationship is its own. With Tom as the only one ready to explore his deepest fantasies, it takes a while for the trio to form.  I like that Ms. Kane allows both Carmina and Danny to express their reluctance and fears over a non-traditional relationship, with Danny agitated and angry over unwanted advances. There is no sudden “flipping the switch,” making everything all good. It takes time. It gives the entire situation a realness that wasn’t present in the first two books of the series. I also appreciate that the focus of Misconduct is the budding relationship and connections between Carmina, Danny, and Tom. Yes, this is a football book, and the author puts her characters in the game. However, while football is the setting for the book, it isn’t a guiding force over the romance, as it was in the first two titles. Sharing the interpersonal impacts of the ménage, rather than the impact to the team, creates a more heartfelt story. I like that the romance and sex scenes are driven by the characters and their desires, rather than the other way around. This is more of a “slow burn” romance, in that it takes some time for the trio to work out. However, it is still smoking hot – just give it time. It could have been just another ménage story with lots of sex, but Misconduct is so much more. The author take time to develop solid characters who dictate the storyline. Outside the fame and football, Danny, Tom, and Carmina are real...
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