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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Feb
7

Review: Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin

Review: Dare to Lie by Jen McLaughlin Dare to Lie Author: Jen McLaughlin Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Scotty, a Fed for the DEA, is deep undercover and a member of the ruthless Sons of Steel Row gang. Scotty is pulled aside by head of gang, Tate, and told a huge secret… Tate has a sister who knows NOTHING about his gang life. He wants Scotty to attend a charity bachelor auction his sister Skylar is hosting, but if he touches her, his life is forfeit. Skylar, a hard-working, independent 23-year old medical school student, is holding a charity bachelor auction. When she meets Scotty, she knows it’s a destined-to-be arrangement and bids on Scotty for herself. Even though he tells her he’s no good, Sky cannot stay away. Dare to Lie was a mixed bag for me. Honestly, the first quarter of the book irritated me. There were too many issues and eyerolling moments. Yet, I stuck with it, and after the halfway mark, I couldn’t put down the book. Scotty and Sky do make a good couple, despite their dishonest start. The couple keeps secrets within secrets, neither being 100 percent upfront, so of course, there are major issues once the truth slowly works its way into the light. I didn’t mind the secret-keeping parts because it was all part of the bigger story, but I did have issues with other aspects of the book. First of all, Sky is portrayed as a woman who has an amazing gift of seeing people for exactly who they are on the inside. Yet, she supposedly has no clue her brother is the head of a ruthless gang. While this is eventually addressed, it comes of as an inconsistency in the character development and bothered me more than once. Also, this… “because even though I hadn’t looked at him yet… Something about him brought me to life.” Sky literally bumps into Scotty for the first time, and without even looking at him or hearing his voice, they have a connection? Just no. This did not work for me at all. One other thing that bothered me up front was the humanizing of Tate, the head of SoSR. This is a Southie (Boston) gang known for utter violence. Yet here is Tate, suddenly a softy in many ways. It didn’t sit well with me. One cannot be the leader of a gang like this without being cutthroat and amoral. I need my bad guys to be...
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Feb
1

Review: Chase Me by Farrah Rochon

Review: Chase Me by Farrah Rochon Chase Me Author: Farrah Rochon Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Indina Holmes has no need, nor any desire, for a relationship in her busy, successful life. After being burned badly in the past, she’s good maintaining her bedroom-only relationship with co-worker Griffin Sims. But when she takes Griffin on her family reunion cruise, messy feelings start to emerge, and Indina doesn’t know how to process. Griffin Sims has enjoyed sharing his bed with Indina for the better part of a year, but lately, he wants more. Afraid to push, he seizes the opportunity to get closer to her when she invites him away for the weekend. Being around her family not only solidifies Griffin’s desire to make Indina his, but also opens up wounds surrounding his own family. Chase Me was an enjoyable, easy read. With a cruise and family fun as the backdrop, I felt like I was on my own mini-vacation. And although this is the fourth book in the Holmes Brothers series, the romance was standalone, and there is a reboot feeling to the story as the author focuses on another part of the Holmes’ family. While I never felt like I missed out not having read the first three titles, I do think reading the books would have helped me keep straight the large number of characters in Indina’s life and family. Indina is a great heroine! First… she’s forty-two years old! I love that she’s made her way and is living her life on her own terms. She doesn’t express regret that she’s not married with kids, rather, she enjoys her life as Auntie, surrounded by her family and friends. Yet, she’s strong and secure enough to question her life, but not her life’s choices, as messy feelings emerge after spending time outside the bedroom with Griffin. Meanwhile Griffin won my heart right from the start. He so wants more with Indina, but won’t push her. He’s such a good guy, and I want him to succeed. His strong sense of himself drew me in, and my heart cracked as Griffin realized he couldn’t continue with the status quo because of his feelings for Indina. I also loved the side story involving his family. Overall, Chase Me is a delightful, feel-good romance. Other than some slight repetition with Indina’s relationship fears, the story was well told. I liked that both Griffin and Indina had baggage, and while it caused problems, it...
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Jan
30

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane

Review: Jacked Up by Samantha Kane Jacked Up Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Living out his dream of playing pro football, Sam signs on with the Birmingham Rebels after returning from a tour in Afghanistan. Sam, who suffers PTSD, hasn’t been with a woman since his return home over two years ago out of fear sex will trigger his nightmares. Best friend and teammate King only wants what is best for Sam and thinks helping him get laid will help him get over his fears. Heading to the shore for some fun, the pair meets Jane Foster, the perfect girl for Sam. Sam and Jane are completely attracted, but Sam will only have sex with her if King is in the room, to stop him if he starts having nightmares. With Jane on board, the couple has the best sex of their lives, especially when they involve King in the action. However, that was just for one night, and the guys and Jane go their separate ways. Fast-forward to the fall and the Birmingham Rebels are struggling. But an accidental run-in with Jane sparks a fire inside Sam, changing his outlook on life and football. Jacked Up is the third ménage in the Birmingham Rebels series. By now, most of the team embraces the non-conforming relationships and sexuality of the players and coaches, although those outside the team still aren’t as accepting. This openness affords this particular trio the ability to speak more openly about their desires, making the story less about the social issues and more about the individual fears and concerns. I felt that the book was better because the story wasn’t as focused on breaking taboos. Even Sam’s doctor tells him no one cares who he sleeps with. Right from the start, I really liked this threesome. Sam, King, and Jane are all relatable people. I love that they are friends who are exploring and learning. And both males are sweet and kind: good guys. Together, the trio has amazing chemistry! I like that they are normal people who happen to learn they like a bit more kink in the bedroom. Reading the story from all POVs (Sam, King, and Jane), together with the open and honest dialogue, made me love the characters. I loved how Jane wrestles with what she wants and feels when she’s with Sam and King, instead of what she thinks she should like and how she should act. We’ve all experienced...
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Jan
25

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker F*ck Club: Riley Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Here’s the thing with Shiloh Walker books. They’re tough, gritty, and they rip your heart out. But, dammit. Those characters work for every ounce of happily ever after they get. F*ck Club: Riley is no exception. Riley has been the adult of his three siblings for entirely too long. After his parents’ sudden death, he put his life on hold to take care of his brother and sister. He did a lot of things to make ends meet and to pay off the debt left in their parents’ wake. Some were more… lucrative than others. And also illegal. But he’s always been in love with Bree. Bree—what we learn of her from Riley’s point-of-view—is a victim of circumstance. The girl should’ve dug herself out long before this point, but when someone is being emotionally abused and feels as though they’re worthless, there’s not much to look forward to. And no reason to leave. Until something catastrophic happens. Here’s the deal with this book. They both need to spill their guts. The information each has is sensitive, and both parties feel like it would change the perception of the other person toward them. Admitting one’s weaknesses and shortcomings—and naming their demons—are the most intimate types of conversations to have with someone we love. Those sensitive to domestic violence—verbal, emotional, and physical abuse (although the violence itself isn’t described in detail—but we see the aftermath) may want to skip this one. Ms. Walker ripped my heart out, rubbed salt in the wound, stomped all over the still-beating organ, and re-inserted the bruised muscle before stitching me closed without anesthesia with F*ck Club: Riley. I really want more books in this series—I see two more coming…and can’t wait for Shame’s. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: “The first rule of F*ck Club…we don’t talk about it. We just do the job and get paid.” And Riley Steele did his job very well. He’ll be the first to admit that his current life isn’t the one he’d foreseen. It’s not even one he really wants, but after his parents died and he was left to care for two siblings and a mountain of debt, he was willing to do almost anything. Now, after almost ten years of being paid to pleasure, he’s almost numb to it…and to women. That all changes with one phone call. Brianna Sharpe,...
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Jan
23

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis Accidentally on Purpose Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Elle Wheaton is the successful manager of hot downtown San Francisco property and is putting herself through school with aspirations of owning her own accounting firm. She doesn’t let anything or anyone get in her way. However, with Archer Hunt as the head of her building’s security, she has a few hurdles to jump. They have a past. She’s still attracted to him, but wants a man who is safe, secure, and stable. Archer is none of these things. Archer, ex-police officer, owns his own private investigation and security firm. He saved a 16-year old street rat, Elle, when he was a 22-year old rookie cop. He wants Elle badly but will never act on it because he knows he reminds her of the bad times in her past. So instead, he protects her from a far, getting in some ribbing when he can. Elle and Archer make a terrific pair. Although the couple plays games, especially with their mutual attraction, their history creates a deep connection that neither can shake. Right from the start, I loved how much Archer wants to protect Elle – how much he desires her, but won’t jeopardize her emotional well-being by moving in on her. He understands Elle like no other, and he realizes she still feels like she owes him a huge debt for saving her life. I admire that he won’t act on his feelings; concerned she’ll only reciprocate out of a sense of debt. Meanwhile, Elle longs for Archer and is beyond frustrated he won’t act on their attraction. After a year of this back-and-forth, it was only a matter of time before the pair’s attraction ignited into a passionate affair. Even after Elle and Archer give into lust, their concerns over hurting the other keep them apart, so there is no easy road to HEA. Yet, it works because they are honest with themselves and each other, allowing time to work out the hiccups. The story behind Accidentally on Purpose was engrossing. Not because it was a special or unique tale, not because it was filled with deep plot lines or smart dialogue, but because the author created real characters that I cared about. I was emotionally invested in their well-being and wrapped up in how things would play out. Archer and Elle are perfect for one another, and they take the time necessary to...
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Jan
17

Review: Distilled by Deelylah Mullin

Review: Distilled by Deelylah Mullin Distilled (A Love Brothers Anthology) Author: Deelylah Mullin Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Some of you know that I’m not a huge contemporary romance reader.  However, I found something new that I really enjoyed by fellow TWITA reviewer, Vampbard.  Her novella, Distilled, was something different, and I really enjoyed it. What I loved about this novella is that our main characters are survivors.  They both have suffered different traumatic issues and are on a forever road of recovery.  I liked how these scars were integral parts of them.  These imperfect characters found a perfect fit with each other.  The grittiness of these elements weighted the realism for me.  Roni and Kurtis are three dimensional to me and I loved that aspect. Though only a novella, the story flowed very nicely and had a whole novel feel.  The plight of Kurtis trying to stop the sabotage and be able to watch his dream reach fruition was compelling.  I was biting my nails.  Without giving anything away, I suspected the saboteur, but there were a few details I did not catch until the end. Distilled is a modern everyday love story – one that took imperfect people and bound them in perfect love.  The scars of life only enhanced these characters bringing them right up and off the page.  If you want something different, something beautifully gritty, give this novella a taste. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: At Clementine Distillery, bourbon isn’t the only new development. When Roni Diarmuid took a position at Clementine Distillery, she planned on developing the best craft bourbon money could buy. She never factored in having a tall, suave, and devastatingly handsome boss, Kurtis Clements, who would make her panties melt. Fortunately, the company doesn’t have a no fraternization rule. When the universe seems to be against Roni and Kurtis’ romance—and the success of Clementine Distillery—accidents happen, things go awry, and all hell breaks loose. Will Roni and Kurtis—and Clementine—survive the accidents and sabotage, or will they fold? This novella is included in the Celebrate – A Love Brothers Anthology.. Release Date: December 15, 2016 Publisher: Self-published Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella Format(s): E-book Book Source: Author *Note of disclosure: The author, Deelylah Mullin, is Vampbard, reviewer here at TWITA. Purchase Info:...
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Jan
11

Review: Marry Me on Main Street by LuAnn McLane

Review: Marry Me on Main Street by LuAnn McLane Marry Me on Main Street Author: LuAnn McLane Reviewer: Ang Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: As usual I enjoyed my time back in the picturesque Cricket Creek. Walking Main Street with its Christmas decorations and light covering of snow was the perfect way to spend my holiday. The characters were fun and flirtatious, the setting perfection and the chemistry spot on. That being said i did have a few issues with Marry Me on Main Street. For starters: the title. I can’t tell you why I have issue with it without spoiling the novel, but if you read the book, I think you’ll understand the reason for my annoyance. You can’t just title a novel for the sake of alliteration. Second, as in past novels, I felt like the secondary romance between John and Betsy got the short end of the stick. Yes, I did get told how things ended, but I got no details. The lead up is great, the banter between them fantastic, I was told both their back stories, but then BOOM! Big. Black. Hole. Nothing! I turned the page and it was Christmas and everything had been resolved. How? What was the process? Seriously! Give me details!! Third, Danny and Susan. Oh how I adored them. They are sweet and funny, I laughed out loud in Barnes and Noble several times, and it got me lots of looks. But I couldn’t help myself; the humor caught me off guard and was so funny I had to laugh out loud. However, towards the end I felt like they lost steam. I understand that Danny was working through things with his family, but couldn’t I have been included in some of those conversations? Just like with John and Betsy, we got the “foreplay” but skipped the “climax.” (every pun intended) It’s like a magic wand was waved in various parts of the story and therefore no details were needed. This is very much unlike Ms. McLean, and I didn’t care for it at all. You’ve invested me in these people, their lives and their future so give me the details as they reach a resolution. Don’t assume I’ve read previous books and know that Danny’s family operates they way they do. Show me. Despite the above issues, I did enjoy Marry Me on Main Street. It was a fun, flirty, lighthearted romance and the perfect way to spend a cold winter day. If you’ve never been to...
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Jan
9

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind

Review: Hooked on Trouble by Kelly Siskind Hooked on Trouble Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: It’s been sixteen months since Raven and Nico shared something special that fateful night in Aspen, and now that she’s living in his city, she needs to forgive his broken promises and move on. With a fresh start in Vancouver, Raven plans to find a job she loves, start a planning business with her two best friends, and find her older sister, Rose, who left home 17 years ago when Raven was only nine. Nico acknowledges that Raven has every reason to be pissed and hold a grudge after he promised not to hurt her back in Aspen, yet he walked away without an explanation. He desperately wants her and needs to get her alone so he can tell her about his family’s troubles and why he broke his promise. And maybe this time, they can explore and deepen that special connection they both felt. After absolutely loving the first two books in Ms. Siskind’s Over the Top series (A Fine Mess is my favorite read of 2016!), I was eager to read Raven and Nico’s story. Unfortunately, Hooked on Trouble became the victim of too much anticipation and unfair expectations on my part. While I enjoyed the book, it just didn’t grab me like the previous books did, and I found myself unfairly comparing the other couples’ stories to Raven and Nico’s tale. Even with my frustrations, there were many things I enjoyed about Hooked on Trouble. What I did love was the unadulterated attraction Nico and Raven shared. It went well beyond physical. They both knew right from the get go in Aspen they had a connection that was special. I liked how open they were together; the sharing makes their relationship special and unique. I loved that Raven could not hold on to her anger when Nico was around her. I also liked Nico and his family. Ms. Siskind uses his interactions with his mom, brother, and sister, as well as his inner-monologue, to showcase the type of guy he is, including his own fears and insecurities. While not fair, I couldn’t help compare but Raven and Nico to the previous couples; however, Nico and Raven are DARK with DARK histories. They are not light and silly. They are sarcasm and tattoos. I think this darker side and seriousness weighed down the story too much. While I adored their chemistry and their cutsie...
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Jan
9

Review: It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin

Review: It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin It Happened in Scotland Author: Patience Griffin Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I have a soft spot for stories set in the British Isles.  When I think of some of the movies I love, it’s no surprise that The Quiet Man, P.S. I Love You, and the wonderfully quirky The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain are in the top ten.  The scenery is as significant as the story—even part of the story.  I was inclined to like It Happened in Scotland by its location alone. Griffin made a bold move by setting her story during the cold winter months that do not hold the scenic glamor of spring and summer. The bitter winds off the ocean fit the sad, if hopeful beginning to It Happened in Scotland. Rachel had a bad marriage to Joe, Brodie’s cousin.  The two were as close as brothers, and both loved Rachel.  Rachel, not really knowing her own mind at the time had come to Scotland for the wedding.  That’s when she met Brodie and fell in love with him.  Still, she went through with the wedding and lived to regret it.  The couple were in the process of getting a divorce when Joe died unexpectedly. Years later, Rachel is returning to Scotland so their young daughter can get to know her father’s family and country. Rachel realizes almost immediately that she wants a second chance with Brodie who has been simultaneously missing and hating her for six years.  I wanted more about Brodie besides his broken heart and the guilt he carries about loving his cousin’s wife.  What’s Brodie doing out on his fishing boat?  In January?  What does he do with his haul each day?  There’s a discussion about him being able to support a wife and family, but in what manner?  Does he smell like fish or the ocean?  We needed more Brodie details. At its heart, this is a story of second chances.  There was a lot of denial, questioning, and not enough romance between main characters Brodie and Rachel.  It needed about 50% less angst and 30% more description of the scenic town that was so dear, Rachel wants to call it home.  Where’s the verbal brochure? (Probably in the first five books.) Still, Griffin is occasionally wonderfully insightful and I liked her writing style. In the strictest sense, It Happened in Scotland can be read as a standalone book,...
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Jan
6

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood

Review + Blog Tour: Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood Long Shadows Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jericho Crewe spent more than a decade trying to shed his past and the legacy of the father who drove him away. Though he lost a lot in the attempt, his new life in LA has made leaving his best friend and lover behind worth it. Mostly. But, a single phone call is enough to bring him running back, and, despite his efforts to reinvent himself, he quickly learns that home won’t let go so easily. I found Long Shadows interesting in many ways, not the least of which is its main character, Jericho Crewe. He’s at once resilient, uncertain, loyal, stubborn, independent, compassionate, and so on. He’s also dealing with a sizable case of denial when it comes to being back in Mosely, Montana, and Wade Granger, in particular—which I thought were some of his best moments. While he didn’t leave as vivid an impression on me as Wade did, I think Jericho has a lot of potential to develop over the course of the series, and am looking forward to seeing how he handles his new situation. My undeniably favorite thing about Long Shadows is the re-acquaintance of the two main characters. Rather than bogging the narrative down with regret, most of the scenes involving Jericho and Wade are touched with awareness, companionship, and a nostalgic fondness that reaffirms their story isn’t nearly as finished as Jericho would like to think it is. I’ve read a good many tales where the temptation that exists between reunited characters is laid out plainly, but this is one of the few that actually made me believe it. While it’s a somewhat familiar situation in different genres, the author doesn’t use the “desperate times call for legal infractions” sort of economy that’s present in Mosely, Montana as the cause of every bad thing that happens in the story. But, neither is it a blanket excuse for it. Rather, most of the characters walk a wobbly line between convenience and necessity when it comes to the law, and I found that ambiguity perfectly acceptable in Wade and Kayla’s cases, in particular. Another great thing about Long Shadows is that there’s so much more to it than any of the relationships that are involved. It is a suspenseful narrative that involves different government agencies, as well as local law enforcement, secrets and cover-ups, covert alliances, and a solid application of...
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