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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Apr
19

Review + Giveaway: Selfie by Amy Lane

Review + Giveaway: Selfie by Amy Lane Selfie Author: Amy Lane Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The Bluewater Bay series has continually proven to be among the best I’ve ever read, and Selfie, by Amy Lane, is one my favorites to date. Told from the perspective of Connor Montgomery, movie star and grieving “basket case,” it isn’t the tale of a Phoenix rising, or miraculous rebirth. It is, rather, a story about coping and healing, honesty and loss, and loving again. To begin with, Ms. Lane is an undeniable asset to this series, as was already proven with her previous additions, “Nascha” (from Lights, Camera, Cupid!) and The Deep of the Sound. I absolutely fell in love with these characters. Connor is, frankly, a heart-broken mess. He’s also enviably strong, quirky beyond reason, and kind to a fault. My heart ached for him over and over, but I couldn’t stop hoping that he would be okay with everything in me. As much as I liked Connor, though, Noah Dakers, local Philosophy grad and driver/bodyguard/PA/etc. for the studio producing “Wolf’s Landing,” stole my heart and kept it. Noah is gorgeous, inside and out. I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t completely love about him. He’s incredibly astute, patient, funny, brilliantly sarcastic, sexier than should surely be allowed, so loving it hurts—pretty much perfect in all the ways that make me want to read Selfie again and again. While Connor and Noah are the two main characters, it would be wrong to ignore Connor’s former love, Vinnie, as the third. He’s simply always there. One thing that I appreciated a great deal about Ms. Lane’s treatment of his memory is that it changes as Connor tries to find a way to live again. Initially, his perfection is suggested by the enormity of his absence in Connor’s life. But, that idyllic love starts to break down memory by memory, becoming something real—cracked and frayed in places, and giving Connor’s reawakening a weight it might not otherwise have had. Just as important, I think, is that, while Vinnie’s flaws are presented with a stripped-bare honesty, it is done without taking the easy out and completely vilifying him. One of the most beautiful things about Selfie is its treatment of the unquantifiable nature of grief. Through the characters’ various perspectives, Ms. Lane dissects the reality of loss and presents it as a living, evolving entity, unique to each individual, even though common threads may be shared...
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Apr
13

Review + Giveaway: My Perfect Mistake by Kelly Siskind

Review + Giveaway: My Perfect Mistake by Kelly Siskind My Perfect Mistake Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: For five years, Shay did everything for Richard and then he dumped her. During those years, Shay changed who she was to please Richard, even leaving behind an amazing job opportunity. Now she and her best friends, Lily and Raven, are in Aspen for a crazy ski weekend, reclaiming the pre-Dick Shay. Kolton and his buddies, Sawyer and Nico, escaped their crazy lives to have some time away on the slopes of Aspen. His boutique outerwear business with Sawyer is taking off and being a single dad is wearing him down. This is the longest Kolton has been away from his 7-year-old son, Jackson, but he needs some time to regroup. When a collision on the slopes literally pushes Kolton and Shay together, neither can stand to be around the other, but they also realize they can’t fight their powerful attraction.  My Perfect Mistake is an enemies-to-lovers romance, with the pair alternating between arguing and making out. The I-Hate-You-But-I-Want-You spark ignites some explosive emotions and leads to passionate sex. Shay and Kolton’s story isn’t necessarily wholly original or written in magical prose, yet their journey gripped me, kept me glued to the kindle, and captured me. Their romance is powerful and absorbing all at once. I was invested in their success, both professionally and romantically, and I enjoyed almost every moment of the book (although I wasn’t happy with the set up for Kolton’s mea culpa). I appreciate that the author doesn’t dumb down the issues surrounding the couple, rather making the characters talk and work through problems. Ms. Siskind excels at the little moments. She finds ways for the characters to express the depths of their feelings in both small moments and grand gestures. For example, early on in the book, Kolton reflects back on the four days he spent with Shay in Aspen. In one paragraph, we learn exactly how much Shay effected Kolton and altered his life on the inside. While he hasn’t changed his routine or lifestyle, he realizes more than ever, he wants Shay in his life… and that Shay has replaced his first love, Marina, as the benchmark to measure all potential dates and mates. It’s well-timed and simply put, packing a powerful punch. Kolton and Shay are explosive and passionate. While they both have hang-ups, I like that their passion takes control often, which is how they...
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Mar
29

Review: Compromised by Emmy Curtis

Review: Compromised by Emmy Curtis Compromised Author: Emmy Curtis Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: This is my first read of an Emmy Curtis book and Compromised, being #5 in the series, puts me at a disadvantage of any backstory that I may have missed.  That being said, I wish I had some. We come into the story on Sadie Walker and Simon Tennant’s wedding day.  Being new to the series, I don’t know if we had any of the courtship in previous books or any knowledge of what brought these two together.  It was an oddity to me to take the love in a relationship for granted at the beginning of a romance without any of the romance.  Sadie’s father happens to be the director of the C.I.A.  Simon happens to be a Delta Force operative.  Despite this combination, everyone is surprised when the wedding erupts in gunfire, most significantly Sadie.  Really?  While shocking and sad, Sadie can’t deal.  She not only calls off the wedding, she calls off the relationship and sends Simon packing without even discussing it. In fact, Sadie eliminates Simon from her life completely and spends a year becoming a field operative for the C.I.A.  This is how she up in Athens, Greece, on her first assignment out of training.  Simon also happens to be there on his own assignment.  What follows is lots of angry make-up sex between two people who haven’t even spoken to each other in over a year.  Sadie thinks ill of Simon; Simon assumes the worst about Sadie.  It doesn’t make either of them especially likable.  Furthermore, Simon keeps commenting on how much Sadie has changed since they were together and how much he likes the changes.  Did he really love her before?  I only found myself routing for their reconciliation because they deserved each other.  In not having the love story upfront, their reunion felt like little more than chemistry.  It never felt like there was a real relationship binding them together at a deeper level. Sadie and Simon’s assignments do overlap in Greece, and I actually wished I had more of the intrigue, more of the covert ops stuff. The book is not an especially long read and I think could have benefitted from some enrichment without losing the pacing.  Overall, I liked it, I just wanted more from it. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. But...
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Mar
28

Review + Giveaway: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis

Review + Giveaway: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis Nobody But You Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Sophie Marren was a naive, young bride who married the first man who paid her some attention. Too bad Lucas turned out to be such a jerk. He kicked her out, emptied her checking account, and left her with nothing. However, when the judge asked what she wanted in the divorce, she was so angry, she took the one thing that would hurt her ex the most: his precious boat. Now she’s unemployed and broke, living on a boat she hates. Vowing never to fall in love again, she doesn’t trust herself around the sexy Jacob Kincaid. Jacob Kincaid is home on leave for the first time in nine years. When he left Cedar Ridge to join the Army, his twin brother and best friend, Hudson, told him never to return, and so Jacob didn’t. However, after his buddy was killed in a meaningless roadside bombing, Jacob decides it is time to make amends. What he didn’t expect was to fall for a funny, sexy woman who is hiding on a boat in his lake. While Nobody But You is the third book in the Cedar Ridge series, I had no trouble jumping into the series without having read the first two titles. Jacob and Sophie are injured souls who are lost in their lives. Their immediate attraction drew me in and kept me interested in their story. Early on, they share a few drinks and let their guards down, having an honest heart-to-heart, once again, drawing me into their relationship. I adored Jacob; how much he feels for Sophie and how he wants to do right for her and his family. He’s honorable and caring, albeit a bit stubborn. His POV was filled with his fears and desires over his feelings for Sophie, and I loved knowing how hard he was falling for her. Sophie was a mixed bag for me. I admire her determination and obstinance, yet at the same time, she felt very wishy-washy. I had issues with her constant stance that she would never fall in love again, yet after a very short time, she has no problem falling for Jacob.The “I love you” came way too soon. Sophie and Jacob are two deeply wounded people, and I understand his willingness to jump in with two feet, but not hers. The whole premise of the story is that she’s not...
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Mar
25

Review: Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren

Review: Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren Dark Wild Night Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Twimom My Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Oliver and Lola have been best of friends for eight months, ever since they were briefly married in a wild night in Vegas. However, unlike their friends, Oliver and Lola never consummated their relationship, and have remained strictly in the friend zone. Lola is consumed by her work: becoming a NYT best seller / graphic novelist sensation overnight, her book is now in the process of being made into a movie. Oliver’s newly opened comic book shop is wildly popular, and he works every day. Their friends all see how perfect they are for each other, but Lola and Oliver are both scared of messing up the friendship to push for more. Dark Wild Night is the third book in the Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren. Although the book is a standalone romance, we meet Oliver and Lola in the first book, and I think seeing them in the previous books helps define their backgrounds and makes for a stronger history. As the book opens, we witness how much their mutual bond means to both, and how much each loves the other. The unrequited love is so overwhelming, that I am swept up in their secret desires as much as the characters are. The authors are masters at building up the emotional and sexual tension, and I literally felt like I was going to explode before these two finally fell into that first kiss. Oliver is an amazing man: he’s patient and gentle. He wants what is best for Lola, even if it means sacrificing his own feelings. So that moment, when he first senses the change in Lola, is so exciting, I imagine him like a dog with its tail wagging, watching his owner come home. The love inside of him wants to burst out, and he can barely contain it. And it is so overwhelming that Lola nearly drowns in her feelings. She’s terrified of being like her mom, who abandoned her and her dad, and she’s scared of losing Oliver forever. Her fear is tangible, but it is equal to the power of her love. In the end, I loved Lola and Oliver’s story, but I wanted more. There was so much overwhelming emotion at the beginning of the book, but then it got lost in Lola’s desperate crazed life. And I get where Oliver was coming from, but...
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Mar
24

Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren

Review: Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren Dirty Rowdy Thing Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Twimom My Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Harlow Vega is having a bad day. After a less than memorable one-night-stand, being awakened by said boy’s mother at 6:00 am, and then running into her ex-husband (of 12 hours), Finn at Starbucks, she finds out her mother has stage 3 breast cancer. Needing to take the edge off her life and forget her troubles, she reengages with Finn for some mind-blowing sex. The problem is, she can’t get Finn, the sexy Canadian fisherman, out of her head. Finn Roberts thought he knew Harlow, with her rich parents and larger-than-life persona. He didn’t mind being her sexual distraction until he started to know the real Harlow. Now he’s falling for her and doesn’t know what to do. Dirty Rowdy Thing is intense! I absolutely love Harlow and Finn, both individually and together. They compliment one another so well, and it’s heartbreaking when they both realize it and chose to step back. Neither is ready to deal with the overwhelming emotions that begin to surface as they spend more and more time together, both in the bedroom and out. And WOW! in the bedroom, the pair are smoking hot! Their sex is incredible: hot, naughty, and powerful. Of all the books, I think Dirty Rowdy Thing has the most intense and detailed sex scenes of the series. But it’s not sex just for the sake of sex, regardless of what the pair thinks. The scenes provide windows into the characters’ hearts and souls. They are literally laid bare to the other. As much as I used to dislike the alternating first person POVs, I am now a fan when it’s done right, and in this series, it is done right. I realized after the fact (and even while reading the first book), that I missed it terribly with Mia and Ansel’s story. I love knowing that the guy is falling as hard as the girl. I love getting his prospective on the relationship and the sex. It makes the book so much more fulfilling. Another thing I love about this series, and Dirty Rowdy Thing in particular, is how the authors don’t rise to a quick climax (pun intended) and ending. The conflict builds over time, and the characters are given space to think, react, and resolve the issues without feeling rushed. It’s wonderful storytelling. And the romance is made better for it....
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Mar
24

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Professor’s Student by Bronwyn Green Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bound Series Title: The Professor’s Student Author: Bronwyn Green Narrator: Tatiana Sokolov Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Bound #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, BDSM Audiobook Source: Author Once again, I’m excited to have the opportunity to listen to a book from one of my favorite series: Bound by Bronwyn Green and Jessica Jarman. This time around, I’m listening to the third book, The Professor’s Student by Ms. Green. The story centers around Professor Josie Green, an American archeology professor, who is on a six week summer dig in Ireland, at Professor Declan O’Shaughnessy’s site. The pair have instant chemistry and engaging in a monogamous D/s relationship for the duration of her stay. When I initially read and reviewed the book I wrote: The Professor’s Student falls well within the erotic romance genre, with a focus more in the bedroom and less out of it. I really like Declan and Josie, and their play is sexy, fun, and just plain hot. Ms. Green is a master at crafting sexy, sensual scenes. While I missed some of the more emotional moments that I enjoyed in [the previous Bound stories], I still found The Professor’s Student a wonderful read and a perfect low-conflict, “getaway” story. As for the storyline, my feelings haven’t changed. I really enjoyed the story, and I continued to feel like the book is more passion and eroticism than love. Josie and Declan spend much of their time apart or only in the bedroom, and I wanted to be shown not told that they bonded on a deeper level. With that said, Tatiana Sokolov’s performance added a lot of value to my overall enjoyment of the story. Ms. Sokolov’s narrative voice, which is close to, if not the same as, Josie’s voice, is easy and fitting. Her Irish accented male voice for Declan is superb. I was extremely impressed with constancy and tone of narration throughout the book. Ms. Sokolov brings a lot of emotion – Josie’s embarrassment and shy desire, as well as Declan’s dominating nature – into her performance. In the end, I enjoyed my “reread” of The Professor’s Student and found that I liked it a bit more the second time around. Ms. Sokolov adds much to the story with her performance. Story B+ Narration...
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Mar
23

Review: Heartbreaker by Kat & Stone Bastion

Review: Heartbreaker by Kat & Stone Bastion Heartbreaker Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I read Heartbreaker in one sitting. It was great to see characters from the Bastion’s No Weddings series reappear, and that really helped me dive right in, jaws a chompin’, to see what would happen with Kiki and Darren. Probably helps that I completely identify with both of them on the artistic level, huh? I mean, how do you pair up a musician and an artist? Well, Kat and Stone Bastion figured it out. One of the things I loved most about Heartbreaker, the first title in the Unbreakable series, is Kiki’s transformation. Yup, I’m totally a sucker for characters that have a major change-of-heart. If you’re one of those visually-creative-types, it’s actually rather interesting to see Kiki’s changes. Her way-of-life. How she prioritizes things. Just her general outlook and how she views things is…different. Another thing about Kiki that hit home was her policy about guys at the beginning of the story. Watching that concept change for her was rather… interesting for me. The visual art part of my brain was highly intrigued. And her independence? Mmmhm. Anyone that knows me will TOTALLY understand why I completely identified with Kiki. Darren, or just D, was initially an enigma for me. I have to admit, part of the reason I was compelled to keep reading was to figure him, and his situation, out. I do want to say that he’s a musician, and that automatically makes me connect with him at a different level. While it seems D is an all-or-nothing kind of guy, that’s kinda familiar to me. See, musician-types are frequently like this. But, we’re kinda open-minded about a lot of stuff, too. You know, if you want to draw generalities. The super cool thing was that Mr. Bastion is a drummer. DUDE! I DID NOT KNOW THIS!!! These are one of the cool things you put in your bio! So, I was pretty familiar with the legit music terms used (and those that were percussion-specific were well-explained). One of my close friends in college was a drummer. This guy was phenomenal. Reading about D reminded me of Vince. It was a great stroll down memory lane. Even in the blurb, we learn that Kiki isn’t looking for a relationship. Ever. Setting herself up with a friends-with-benefits thing seems to be the next best thing, though. Until it becomes more. A LOT more....
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Mar
22

Quickie Review: Stripped Down by Lorelei James

Quickie Review: Stripped Down by Lorelei James Stripped Down Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Wynton “Wyn” Grant is best man for his younger brother, Sutton, who met the love of his life, London, a mere six months ago (Sutton and London’s story was the focus of the first novella, Roped In). Melissa “Mel” Lockhart is the best friend and maid of honor for the bride. While London has made attempts to set up Wyn and Mel, it wasn’t until the wedding until the pair meet, and instant fireworks erupted. Two peas-in-a-pod, each enjoys sex and being with one another. When Wynton’s dad has a heart attack at the wedding reception, Melissa steps up to stay with Wynton to provide both emotional support, as well as physical help with the range, regardless of her own physical wellbeing. Stripped Down is a fast-paced story with a romance that moves rapidly; bumps in the road resolving quickly. The couple even joke about how fast they fall in love. It’s apparent that they are made for one another, although secrets nearly break the pair apart. Luckily calm heads and strong hearts win out in the end. The romance is sexy and explosive. The pair is extremely blunt with their desires and vast sexual histories, making them a good match. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Never challenge a cowboy to a little naughty competition…  A flirty game of sexual truth or dare between best man, Wynton Grant, and maid of honor, Melissa Lockhart during their BFF’s wedding reception results in a steamy hookup.  But their plans for a one and done change when a family crisis leaves Wyn shorthanded at the Grant Ranch. Experienced horsewoman Mel volunteers to help out and gets way more than she bargained for living under the same roof as the sexy rancher. Playing house has never appealed to Wyn…until now.  But the feisty redhead is keeping secrets and Wyn’s not above stripping her bare—body and soul—to get to the bottom of it…  Release Date: September 1, 2015 Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts Series: Blacktop Cowboys #6.7, 1,001 Dark Nights #22 ISBN: #978-1940887715 Genre: Contemporary Cowboy Romance Format(s): paperback (122 pages), e-book, audiobook Book Source: Publisher Purchase Info: Stripped Down (Blacktop Cowboys / 1,001 Dark Nights Story) Reviews in the Series: Roped In (Blacktop Cowboys #6.5, 1,001 Dark Nights...
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Mar
17

Reviews: Sweet Filthy Boy + Sweet Filthy Morning After by Christina Lauren

Reviews: Sweet Filthy Boy + Sweet Filthy Morning After by Christina Lauren Sweet Filthy Boy Sweet Filthy Morning After Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Twimom What I’m Talking About: Sweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons #1) Having recently listened to and LOVING the audiobook of Wicked Sexy Liar (WSL), the fourth book in Christina Lauren’s NA series about recent UCSD grads, I found myself compelled to get more of these characters and their stories. So I decided to pick up the first book, Sweet Filthy Boy, on my kindle, and I’m so glad that I did. Having started with the fourth book in the series, I was already familiar with main couple featured in Sweet Filthy Boy. However, I didn’t know their history and story, other than a few small details, so no spoilers to ruin the enjoyment of the journey. Mia and Ansel have a whirlwind, lust-driven weekend in Vegas, which leads to her following him to Paris for the summer. But the trip over isn’t romantic in the least (and is in fact, one of the most laughable, horrible situations), and there is a huge strain between the pair once they arrive at Ansel’s home. In fact, the awkwardness is horrifying at times and my heart hurts for the pair. However, the couple learns to share and open up though cos-play and scenes, which leads to some uber sexy moments. Their romance is exquisite: equal parts lust, heartache, and love. While I thought I knew what would be the major bump in the road, I was still surprised when it happened, leading my heart to fall to pieces along with Mia’s. The authors are skilled at sharing deep emotions without telling or preaching. The one thing that threw me a bit and surprised me is that the story was only shared from the first person POV of the book’s heroine, Mia. This is because the few NA titles I’ve read, along with a book in this series (WSL), are shared from the alternating first person POVs of the hero and heroine. I have to admit that after all my harping on why I don’t necessarily care for the alternating first person POVs, I missed it! I wanted to hear from Ansel – I wanted to know he was falling as hard as Mia, I wanted to know why he shares and doesn’t share what he did (although in hindsight, the twist wouldn’t have had as big of an impact if we’d known this!) In the end, I adored Mia and...
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