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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Aug
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Nuts Author: Alice Clayton Narrators: Shayna Thibodeaux & Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hudson Valley #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio In an effort to escape the small town where she grew up and her mother’s crazy ways, Roxie went to culinary school and moved to LA where she’s started her own business, catering to the stars. However, when her mom needs Roxie, she heads home to Bailey Falls, NY, to run the family dinner for the summer. JUST the summer. What she wasn’t expecting was to enjoy her reacquaintance with her hometown or meeting a sexy farmer who gives her a reason to extend her trip home. Leo left the bright lights and fast pace of Manhattan behind to start an organic farm in the Hudson Valley. He loves his new life and the friends he’s made in Bailey Falls. However when Roxie shows up, his world turns upside down, and he realizes he may want more from life than his friends and farm. Overall, Nuts is a wonderfully written, humorous contemporary romance. The story flowed from start to end; a delightful song with both high and low notes, yet never strayed from its melodious tune. Watching Roxie struggle with finding her own way, examining her past and how it shapes her views, was a joy. The descriptions and imagery Roxie provides through her POV created a three-dimensional world in which I wanted to live. Leo is every woman’s fantasy – kind, loving, good looking, successful, and an incredible lover. Having never given his heart away since his last girlfriend many years ago, it made his falling for Roxie all the more special. Although the story is told only from Roxie’s POV, it was made clear to the listener that he was head over heels for her. As a couple, they are so sexy AND adorable. I loved the banter and innuendos shared between Roxie and Leo. Roxie’s inner dialogue was completely entertaining. I loved how she thought about each reaction and non-reaction she had, picking it apart to try and understand herself. She’s snarky and fun, but thoughtful and generous. Her relationships with her mom and former high school crush, Chad, shared a lot about her personality and created a wonderful community around which she can base her life. Chad allows Roxie to realize she can still be LA Roxie while being hometown Roxie....
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Aug
3

Review: The Right Kind of Trouble by Shiloh Walker

Review: The Right Kind of Trouble by Shiloh Walker The Right Kind of Trouble Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Reading the McKays series has been a delight. In The Right Kind of Trouble, readers of the first two titles will be pleased to know we get to hear a whole lot more about Moira and Gideon, as well as revisiting couples we’ve come to know and love. Brannon and Hannah, as well as Neve and Ian, play integral roles through this title, which wraps up the plot arc for these characters. Moira McKay has had a rough life. Her parents’ death caused her to grow up entirely too soon, putting her own life—and love—on hold. But that’s not all. Mystery is wrapped around the matriarch of the McKay clan. What IS the ‘treasure’ of which legend was built? Moira knows, and someone is out to dredge the information out of her. Moira is an interesting character. She’s powerful, yet sensitive and—dare I say it—needy…in all the right ways. She’s afraid to show her vulnerability to those around her. As she’s grown the McKay empire, she’s learned a thing or two about trust and where to place it. The thing is, there’s always a wrench thrown into what we think we know. Moira’s strength and tenacity is what draws me to her as a character. She’s not one to give up, nor is she one to take things lightly when they’re super serious. Compounded with hits to her business holdings, Moira is…irritated, and maybe a bit terrified. She has serious cause to reflect on her life, and makes some startling revelations. This is where Gideon comes in. Not only is he the chief of police in McKay’s Treasure, he’s Moira’s the one that got away. Fireworks splash across the sky any time these two are in close proximity. We’ve seen it in the first two titles in the series, and The Right Kind of Trouble gives us a spectacular finale display. One of the things about Gideon, however, is the fact that he’s been put off so much by Moira that he’s reluctant to let his heart be entrapped by the redheaded vixen. It’s super difficult to open up and let love in when you’ve been burned by the most brilliant thing you’ve ever seen more times than you can bear. Like many of Ms. Walker’s titles, it’s difficult to review without spoilers. Suffice it to say: I DIDN’T SEE THIS ONE COMING....
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Aug
1

Review: Just What I Needed by Lorelei James

Review: Just What I Needed by Lorelei James Just What I Needed Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Trinity is an artist who is having a majorly bad day. She decided to drown her miseries at a local dive with her best friend, who then left her alone. Trying to avoid her loser ex-boyfriend, she walks over and kisses the gorgeous stranger who she spied across the room. Luckily for Trinity, Walker is a true gentleman, and the pair sense an immediate connection. Walker feels an unexplainable pull towards the slightly off-center woman who just walked up and kissed him hello. Knowing there is something more than just physical attraction, he convinces her they should go out on a date. Unfortunately, Trinity gave Walker the wrong number, and now he’s wondering if she’s just another misstep in his dating history. That is until the universe brings her into his life, again. Just What I Needed is the second story in Ms. James’ contemporary romance series centering on the Lund family of the Minneapolis, MN area. A highly successful, yet genuinely real family, the siblings and cousins are hard-working, close-knit, and fun to be around. However, Walker, the only Lund-heir to strike out on his own and not work for the family, feels like a black sheep. He has a huge chip on his shoulder and feels like his family doesn’t care about him – are too busy for him. While I can appreciate his attitude and why he feels that way, I didn’t like how heavily it played on Walker and his actions. I wanted to give him a swift kick at times, telling him to buck up and talk to his family rather than mope. Trinity has her own issues. At times, I thought that she may have a slight mental illness, but at other times, it’s treated more cavalierly, as if it’s only an “artist’s temperament.” It was confusing and a bit off-putting if she did have a mental illness and it wasn’t being treated/addressed. She also had a rough upbringing by a father and stepmother that cared little for her and her artistic abilities. Put this together with her work ethic and the artistic process, she’s emotionally unavailable and difficult to deal with at times. But I liked her a lot. She’s upfront about her “oddities,” and knows she’s not easy to be around. She’s kind and honest, but also apparently a doormat at times. She has a...
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Jul
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Then Came You by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Then Came You by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Then Came You Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Animal Magnetism #5 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Doctors Emily and Wyatt had a one-night stand three months ago at a vet conference in Reno. Never expecting to see each other again, it was a bit of a shock when Emily discovers her new supervisor is that sexy man with whom she had an uncharacteristic affair. The revelation that Emily is Belle Haven’s newest intern is equally shocking to Wyatt, who refuses to let his heart be broken by someone with one foot out the door, again. With each return to Sunshine, Idaho, I find myself more in love with the characters and stories of the Animal Magnetism series by Jill Shalvis. This delightful contemporary romance series follows the lives and loves of those who live and work in and around the town’s sizable animal hospital. In Then Came You, we witness two new characters who both work as vets for the Belle Haven clinic. Although both are (mostly) new to the series, the characters fit with ease into Sunshine’s close-knit group. The story is almost the reverse of Kate and Grif’s story (Rumor Has It), with Emily having one foot out the door and ready to head back to sunny LA to work, live, and help care for her father. She’s got a plan, but it’s one that she thinks she should follow to find happiness. It takes Wyatt’s firm but tender romancing, as well as her sister’s blunt heart-to-hearts, to help her see that she needs to make room for her own happiness rather than do what she thinks is best for everyone else. Meanwhile Wyatt thinks he’s open and honest with Emily, but he’s holding back a piece of himself, unwilling to tell Emily just how much he cares for her. Wyatt didn’t have a say in being dragged all over the world by his jet-setting parents growing up, so Wyatt refuses to influence anyone’s decision on where to life. His misguided behavior was frustrating for me at times, but he and Emily were so good together, it didn’t bother me like it may have in other books. In addition to the romance, the book had a semi-mystery that surfaced from time to time, giving the story added tension. Although I pretty much figured out the plot right from the get-go, I appreciated how the author worked...
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Jul
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love So True by Marquita Valentine

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love So True by Marquita Valentine Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Book: Love So True Author: Marquita Valentine Narrator: Piper Goodeve Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Lawson Brothers #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: purchased What I’m Talking About Love So True is the second story in the small town contemporary romance series based on the good-looking and hard-working Lawson brothers. This time around, the story focuses on Prodigal Son, Lucas Lawson, who served five years in prison for his participation in an investment scandal that emptied the pockets of several of Jessamine’s residents. The one thing that kept him going was the memory of Bailey Yates’s smile. Bailey, a single mom who has had her own share of bad choices and sideways looks from the town’s residents, sees how Lucas has changed and gives him a chance. While Lucas doesn’t feel deserving, he is humble and accepts her help. And although both agree hooking up would be a bad idea, they can’t help themselves. I really enjoyed Love So True. I loved how vulnerable both Bailey and Lucas are, but each is ready to take life by the reins and do what they want. And while I was so worried that this book, like its predecessor, would focus on the many external issues that could tear them apart, my fears were for naught. Ms. Valentine does a marvelous job keeping the focus of the book on the developing romance between Bailey and Lucas, and as pair, how they deal with the hurdles and obstacles in their way. And unlike the first book in this series, the issues between Bailey and Lucas didn’t feel contrived and were dealt with in a mature and timely manner. The narration by Piper Goodeve is good, but still not great for me. I enjoy Ms. Goodeve’s narrative voice, as well as her female characters, bringing in a mix of the sweet south combined with thoughtfulness. But her male characters are too soft and gentle for my liking. The male voices just don’t seem to fit the characters as well, especially when being romantic or trying to take charge. Overall, Love So True is a delightful romance that is full of heart. My rating: B+ Narration: B-...
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Jul
20

Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh

Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh Rock Wedding Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Nalini Singh wraps up her wonderful Rock Kiss series with Abe and Sarah’s story. Abe and Sarah share a tragic history that was chronicled briefly over the course of the series, so ending with their reunion is a fitting way to cap it off. The couple was married, but it was a very one-sided love. Abe was too wrapped up in the sorrow of his baby sister’s death, staying closed off and afraid to love. Turning to drugs and alcohol to bury his pain, his coldness eventually drove Sarah away, and into the arms of another man. That man wasn’t much better: emotionally abusive and selfish. Abe and Sarah’s story begins again when Abe, now clean and sober, protects Sarah from her ex. This event happened at the end of the previous title, Rock Redemption, and although Rock Wedding starts in the past, the bulk of the story occurs after the end of the prior title. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Rock Wedding and had trouble putting down the book. The best aspect of the story is that it takes place after both Abe and Sarah hit rock bottom, focusing on rebuilding from the ashes rather than watching them crash and burn. Each had grown up and changed mostly prior to the start of the story, and their maturity carried through to an amazing relationship. Rock Wedding was about a healthy, loving relationship. But don’t mistake healthy for easy! There were issues, especially with trust, but there weren’t contrived problems. Sarah and Abe’s journey is highly emotional and rewarding for the reader. I will admit that I was worried at the beginning, with the fact that their reunion is punctuation with what I would call a “repetitive issue.” Work with me folks – I’m trying to be spoiler-free here! However… even though there is a repetitive aspect, Ms. Singh places the focus on Sarah and Abe’s growing relationship, developing trust via actions and words, and the repetitive piece adds to rather than detracts from the story. And the actions Abe takes are extraordinarily kind and sweet; however the couple is full of sexy and hot as well! I loved how open and honest the pair was, sharing and giving equally. I think Rock Wedding may be my favorite book of the series. I especially enjoyed that the hard drama was behind the couple, and this...
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Jul
15

Review: Romanced by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Review: Romanced by a SEAL by Cat Johnson Romanced by a SEAL Author: Cat Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having watched Jon and Ali fall for one another in the first Hot SEALs book, Night with a SEAL, I was excited to read their follow up story in Romanced by a SEAL. As the book opens, Jon and Ali have been living together for a while, but their relationship is stagnant. Unknown to his teammates/friends and Ali, Jon decides to take an off-the-record job going undercover to infiltrate ISIS. Of course his secrecy is causing all sorts of tension at home. Overall, I enjoyed Romanced by a SEAL, especially since Jon and Ali’s initial story concluded with an HFN ending. The couple went through some major ups and downs in this one, tugging at my heart more than once. While the first half of the book focused on Jon’s mission and the troubles between the pair, the second half was a joy to read, following the couple as they worked through their very serious issues and communication breakdown. Once the pair started talking and working through things, I felt the tempo of the book improved, and I sunk into the story more. As per usual, Ms. Johnson’s attention to military detail is impressive. I appreciated the detail and (I’ll assume) accuracy of Jon’s situation as he went undercover. However, for me, it felt a bit misplaced in this romance story, especially since it is on the shorter side. Personally, I want more relationship building and less seriousness in the first half of the book. Jon’s situation was very delicate and extremely serious, and while the author does a very good job keeping the tone appropriate to the situation, I felt that the military storyline overtook the romance for too much of the book. In the end, Romanced by a SEAL was a delightful read, and the second half of the book made up for any issues I had in the earlier parts of the story. While I had a couple small issues, the author did a great job eventually addressing any matters that concerned me. I like that, overall, the storylines felt realistic yet HEA. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: As a SEAL, Jon Rudnick dodged copper and lead without flinching, but just the thought of one tiny gold band around his ring finger sends him into a cold sweat. Love is one thing, but marriage is another. He’s...
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Jul
13

Review: Ruined by Shiloh Walker

Review: Ruined by Shiloh Walker Ruined Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Love tortured heroes who get a well-deserved Happily Ever After? Shiloh Walker is the master. And, these Barnes Brothers books? They are like the how-to guide for overcoming adversity. Ruined is the fourth title in the Barnes Brothers series. While it’s not necessary to read the books in order, I recommend it. We get cameos from other couples from earlier in the series, and it’d just make more sense (besides getting to see what’s up with those previous main characters). Sebastien’s brothers, his family, are really important to him, and we see the love and nurturing from those relatives throughout the title. This is a great book to show a model nuclear family, as well. Mr. & Mrs. Barnes have raised a brood of rambunctious boys who have ended up being wonderful men. Sebastien is a great example. Sebastien Barnes was the second brother to make it big in show business. His older brother, Zach, was on a TV series and Seb was ‘discovered’. He’s been on this rollercoaster career ride, and he took it in stride—being the playboy and never outwardly wanting to settle down. While he’s carried a torch for Marin for a long, LONG time, he was unable to act on it because Marin is a… bit older than he is. They were at different places in their lives. It’s probably a good thing Marin and Seb didn’t hook up previously, to be honest. Sebastien dated this girl that ended up in a… situation. He became… involved, and ended up with a scar on his previously pretty-boy face. I pictured Seb like the boy next door. Gorgeous, well-built, polite, and able to manipulate the media like a master. It’s only natural he’d think his scar would be a career ender. Oh, and the whole ‘incident’ totally jacked with his head. He fell into this huge abyss of self-blame and had a huge pity-party for himself. Pretty natural, right? I mean, who wouldn’t? His entire life had been turned upside down. Stop. Reframe. When I have a major life-changer coming on, I am pretty good at playing recluse. THIS was Seb’s ticket to hermit-dom. I half expected a volleyball with a bloody handprint to show up because Seb put himself on a figurative island surrounded with great white sharks, man-o-war jellyfish, and every other dangerous sea creature imaginable. Enter: Marin. It’s like that girl kept...
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Jul
1

Review: Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis

Review: Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis Sweet Little Lies Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having recently moved into her new digs and spending time with the locals at O’Riley’s Bar, Pru Harris realizes she’s got a big thing for Finn, one of the bar’s owners. However, Pru has a huge secret that could put an end to her new friends and comfortable life. Finn O’Riley is married to his job and keeping his younger brother, Sean, on the straight-and-narrow. But when Pru breezes into his bar, he realizes he is missing something in his life, something that only Pru can fill. Okay, I’ll say right from the start… Generally, I don’t enjoy the “keeping a big secret” trope. I think because it stresses me out, knowing that eventually the secret will come out and feelings will be hurt. It’s predictable and therefore, not always good storytelling. With that said, I absolutely adored Sweet Little Lies. Ms. Shalvis was able to take a standard story and give it both character and heart. I fell hard for Finn and Pru, so when things went predictably south, rather than rolling my eyes, my heart broke along side theirs. Finn and Pru both have tragic back stories, each dealing with it in his/her own way. Finn takes control through buying a bar and making a life for his brother and himself. Pru finds happiness in assuaging her guilt through helping those her family hurt. It’s almost like two sides of the same coin, so when they connect, they fit perfectly. And both are such likable characters; neither feels wallows in pity over their circumstances, rather each embraces happiness and joy. In the romance department, sparks fly when the pair connect. I love that there is no drawn out courtship or silly games. Their mutual attraction is sweet and extremely sexy. I also enjoyed each of the side characters. Ms. Shalvis created a world in which I want to live and play. The friendships are tight and fun. The neighborhood is quirky and quaint. The author establishes a strong base for the series and future stories. I’m ready to move in. The one big issue I had with the book was the inconsistency of Pru’s sobriety. Early on in the book, it was established that Pru does not drink alcohol, and she has a very compelling reason. Yet later on, Pru had beer at a baseball game, and possibly had drinks on a couple...
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Jun
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Everywhere and Every Way by Jennifer Probst

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Everywhere and Every Way by Jennifer Probst Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Everywhere and Every Way Author: Jennifer Probst Narrators: Madeleine Maby and Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Billionaire Builders #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Caleb Pierce has lived under his father’s thumb, working for the family construction company, biding time until it is his turn to take over Pierce Brothers Construction. So when his father dies suddenly, Cal must convince his two estranged brothers to come home and help him with the business or face losing everything. Morgan Reins is a self-made interior designer for the stars. She has what it takes and does whatever needed to get the job done. Now that her A-list clients want a custom home in Caleb’s little town, she knows that Pierce Brothers is the only company for the job. Convincing Cal to take on her project will test her limits. Everywhere and Every Way is the first in a new series and my first experience reading a Jennifer Probst title. I enjoyed the light-hearted, small town feel of the story and got wrapped up in Morgan and Cal’s relationship. Generally, I liked both Cal and Morgan and found their romance, once it kicked into gear, sexy and fun. Their individual struggles were realistic and intriguing. I especially liked watching each deal with his/her demons and troubles, and finally coming through on top in the end. My biggest complaint about the title is that it just took way too long for Cal and Morgan to finally connect. At well past the halfway mark in the book, I found that while I liked the story, I was having trouble getting into the relationship because Morgan was working so hard not to have one. There were no sparks or steam. They had shared one kiss, and I was annoyed with the lack of progression, as well as some silly, unnecessary side stories. Yet once the connection was made, sparks flew, and I was completely engrossed in both the romance, as well as the efforts the Pierce brothers were making towards reconciliation. Everywhere and Every Way is mutually narrated by Madeleine Maby and Sebastian York, with Ms. Maby covering the sections told from Morgan’s POV and Mr. York performing the sections shared from Cal’s POV. Overall, the narration as okay. I liked Mr. York’s performance slightly more than Ms. Maby’s. I felt his heat and warmth suited Cal perfectly, while Mr. York’s voice for Morgan had...
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