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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Dec
29

Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy The Deal Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Please ignore the cheesy book description—seriously.  The Deal has all the hallmarks of a typical contemporary romance (i.e. insanely fit and beautiful people, wealth, talent, and unreasonably intense sexual chemistry,) but none of the cheese.  This is actually a really good read. In a surprising move for the first book in a romance series, Kennedy tackles some significant and heavy topics relating to rape and abuse.  She works with her characters to move through and dump emotional baggage in a believable way without weighing down the readers responses.  When you get to the end, you’ve been on a ride, but it is one you are compelled to complete. Best of all, it does it with wit. I appreciated so much that the writing is tight, the pacing is good, without ever making me feel like I like I was missing anything.  We get a happy ending with no loose ends.  Rather than being thick with subplots, Kennedy takes the approach of using first person, but flipping back and forth between the two main characters in a “He Said, She Said” kind of format. As the reader, we get to be in both their heads as they figure out how to go from being singles to being a couple, especially when one of them has zero interest in relationships. Check out this quote: I have to say, this is the first time a girl’s been worried about getting caught in my bedroom. Normally they strut out like they’ve just bagged Brad Pitt. Hannah takes a breath. “We studied. We watched TV. I went home late. That’s what happened. Got it?” I fight back laughter. “As you wish.”  “Did you really just Princess Bride me?” “Did you really just use Princess Bride as a verb?” Garrett and Hannah are sarcastic, funny, sexy, and entirely believable while still being unrealistically talented and good looking. Kennedy makes it work.  They shouldn’t have met, they shouldn’t be together, but they are perfect for each other. I bought the whole package.  I could nitpick over a slightly anti-climactic ending, but it’s not worth it.  The over feeling of the story is upbeat and worth my time. To emphasize my point, I reread the book immediately.  I almost never reread contemporary books. Then I bought the next one in the Off-Campus series, The Mistake, which focuses on John Logan, Garrett’s teammate and best...
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Dec
24

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Animal Magnetism Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Animal Magnetism #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Having burned out on listing to urban fantasy titles, I decided to go with a contemporary, small town romance to brighten my mood. Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis fit the bill perfectly. Sunshine, Idaho, is a small town where everyone knows each other AND all their business. Lilah Young has lived most of her life in Sunshine, keeping everyone close in her heart, including the rescue animals she cares for so lovingly. But Lilah is lonely, and when you live in a small town, prospects are slim. So when Brady Miller comes to town, Lilah decides to take charge of her attraction and invites Brady to a short, no-strings-attached fling for the month he’s in town. Overall, Animal Magnetism hits all the right notes. It’s a sweet, slow-burning love story between two people who must come to terms with the fact that their feelings are more than lust and desire. The slower tempo allows for the pair to develop a great friendship, making their eventual declaration of love all the more meaningful. Although in the beginning, I felt the pace dragged a little too slowly, once the author developed the world and introduced the characters, the pace moved more quickly. And don’t let the slow-burning part fool you – Lilah and Brady have incredible chemistry that they explore frequently. The performance by Karen White is good. She nails Lilah’s sweet, strong voice, accentuating Lilah’s sensitive and caring nature, but giving her a backbone at the same time. I did find the narration a bit slow even at 1.25x speed, but it did grow on me as the story progressed. I wasn’t as keen on her permanence of the male voices, which seemed slightly too feminine to me. In the end, I enjoyed my trip to Sunshine, Idaho, and will most certainly make a return trip in the future. My Rating: B, I liked it Narration: B-, I liked it, but I had a few small issues...
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Dec
14

Review: Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw

Review: Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw Behr Facts Author: Pat Henshaw Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Abraham “Abe” Behr is the head of his family’s business, Behr Construction. The company is losing money, and it appears it may be the sabotage of disgruntled family members. Abe brings in outsider Jeffrey Mason, CPA, to help with the books and figure out what’s going on with the finances. While Jeff may not know about it, there is bad blood between the Behrs and Masons, making it more difficult for some in the Behr family to accept Jeff’s work. As the pair work together to solve the mystery, they realize that they are becoming more than friends. Behr Facts is the love story of an unlikely pair, making it despite their own hang ups. It’s an enjoyable novella with likable characters. And while not completely original, it’s still a good story. I have not read the previous books in the series, and while loosely connected, they are standalone in nature. The story is shared in the first person POV of Abe, which was a bit off-putting at first, since most romances are usually told in third person POV. I stumbled around the dialogue for a bit until I got used to it. And while it seemed pretty obvious to me as to what was going on at Behr, apparently it took Jeff and Abe several weeks. This seemed a bit unrealistic to me, as who would allow losses like Behr was experiencing for weeks before making a move to stop it? One thing that bothered me a bit was that the author tries to address bigotry and hate in this short story, but it felt forced and used stereotypes rather than integrating actions and reactions in a more original way. The whole story has a cookie cutter feel: not bad but not unique. In the end, Behr Facts turned out to be more about a man discovering who he is and what he wants out of life rather than an engrossing romance. Abe was always doing what was expect of him by others and never anything for himself. His journey is all about self-discovery and finding true happiness. It’s a feel good, everything-turns-out-great kind of story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the story didn’t stand out, it still was enjoyable. My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly...
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Dec
2

Review: Out of Sync by Bronwyn Green

Review: Out of Sync by Bronwyn Green Out of Sync Author: Bronwyn Green Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Morgan Weaver isn’t happy. He’s in a job he hates, working for the family business. He spends little time outside the office, and he hasn’t composed or played music in years. Once a promising musician, Morgan walked away from what he loved to fulfill his father’s expectations. On the other hand, James (Jamie) Shepherd continued making the music that he and Morgan loved and is now a famous musician. Once roommates, James and Morgan haven’t seen each other in over ten years. However, James remained friends with Morgan’s sister, Tristan, so when he finds out that Morgan is refusing to play at her wedding, he decides to confront the man who used to be his best friend. Right from the start, Out of Sync captured my mind and heart. I found myself engrossed in Jamie and Morgan’s story, uncovering what happened that drove a wedge between them, and watching them rediscover their passion and love for both music and each other. With the time that has passed, both men have matured and hardened, providing a hurdle to overcome, yet allowing each to be more comfortable with himself and the sparks between them. This story gave me all the feels. The author does an amazing job capturing the longing and heartache both men have felt over the years. When they finally come together, it is amazingly sexy and passionate. I ached for the pair as they navigated the bumpy road to happiness. And their journey is filled with detours and potholes, causing this reader to cry out in heartbreak. I love the emotion the author packs into the story, crashing into me from all sides. Additionally, Ms. Greene creates fabulous settings with amazing details and clarity. One of my favorite examples is a scene early on, when James makes breakfast for Morgan. The descriptions were so spot on that I could see and smell the eggs cooking. It’s these kind of touches that make the story come alive and more memorable. In the end, I really loved reading Out of Sync. Jamie and Morgan’s story is touching, hot, sexy, and sweet, but at its core, it is a wonderful romance that swept me off my feet. Out of Sync hit all the right notes and left me satisfied. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Ten years ago, Morgan Weaver walked away from everything...
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Nov
27

Review: Unabashed by Sasha White

Review: Unabashed by Sasha White Unabashed Author: Sasha White Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Note about the series order: After completing Unabashed, the author realized that it is actually the second story in the series, although it was written and released third. It is the continuing story of Ronnie and Ian, which started in the first book, Unfettered. Additionally, this story was originally released as a short novella in the Every Which Way anthology. It has been reworked and lengthened for this release. We originally met mechanic Ronnie and computer geek Ian in the first Overwatch story, Unfettered. The pair grew up together, but never explored the potential sparks that hung in the air when they were younger. Now, Ronnie seeks acceptance as a submissive, and finds her dream Dom in Ian. Unabashed picks up immediately after the conclusion of Unfettered, as the pair begin a new romance and venture further into the D/s aspect of their relationship. Although Unabashed was previously released, this version has been greatly expanded, giving much more thought and energy into developing their relationship and additionally adding in their first public scene at Overwatch. The original short was more like a slice of life, whereas this version is a more complete story with stronger relationship development. All in all, Unabashed is a delightful romance with emphasis on developing a relationship through trust and sex. The BDSM elements are used to further the trust and growth between the pair. The book continues the ongoing love story of Ian and Ronnie, making great strides towards an HEA and true love. But their romance truly begins with Unfettered; therefore, I strongly urge readers to start at the beginning in order to fully appreciate their journey. Seeing Ronnie and Ian grow as a couple is the foundation of Unabashed, and it will not be nearly enjoyable without seeing their start. The Overwatch series explores the passion that ignites when lovers trust one another with their innermost desires. Ms. White writes sexy stories that are both exciting and entertaining; following couples from sensual play to their happily-ever-afters. I look forward to reading more from this series, discovering each member’s secrets and desires while finding true love. My Rating:  B, Liked It   About the Book: She’s finally found a man who sees her for the woman she is, and she’s not holding back. Mechanic Veronica “Ronnie” Mack joined the Overwatch club because she’d given up on finding love, and decided...
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Nov
23

Review: Controlled Burn by Shannon Stacey

Review: Controlled Burn by Shannon Stacey Controlled Burn Author: Shannon Stacey Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: As a lieutenant with the Boston Fire Department, Rick Gullotti is surrounded by his makeshift family of firefighters. Additionally, he has rented the third floor of Joe and Marie Broussard’s home for years, making him part of their family, especially since their only child, Davey, left in his early twenties and never returned, cutting Joe and Marie out of his life. So when Joe takes a fall, Rick rushes to the hospital to help out, knowing that the phone call to Davey will do no good. Jessica Broussard is the VP of her father’s financial services firm. While he is unavailable and out-of-touch, she takes a call that tells her the grandparents she’s never met may need help. On a whim, she decides to fly out to Boston to meet the people her father hates, to find out if they even know about her, and try to help them plan for their future as they age. Once again, I found myself completely wrapped up in Ms. Stacey’s Boston Fire world, which focuses on family – both biological and those we make for ourselves. In Controlled Burn, the Broussard family takes center stage, as Joe and Marie meet and adjust to the granddaughter they never knew existed. Meanwhile, they struggle with the very real issues of growing older and living in a big home that requires a lot of upkeep. On its own, these issues make for an engrossing story; however they also play into the romantic storyline, putting Jessica and Rick together, for better or worse. Luckily it’s all very, very good! Jessica has always been there for her father, as he has been there for her. Being raised by a single dad, Jessica never really questioned her father’s intent and motives. Although she recognizes his faults and doesn’t necessarily make excuses, she tends to go along with his judgement because overall, he’s a good man. I don’t know how things were before this book, but I do like what I see in Jessica once she arrives in Boston. Needless to say, when her father discovers her trip to his parents home, he’s not happy. But Jessica handles herself well with her father. She recognizes when he’s trying to manipulate her and balances her wants and needs with his position as her boss. She plays him well and makes a small stand while keeping her...
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Nov
17

Review: Strings Attached by Stephanie Julian

Review: Strings Attached by Stephanie Julian Strings Attached Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Trudeau Morrison manages and runs ManDown Films for famous producer Greg Hicks. She is a self-made woman, who has a plan for her life and is determined to work hard to make it happen. However, ever since Greg hired rock star Sebastian Valenti to score his latest film, Tru has found it more and more difficult to stay on task. After years of mega-stardom as the guitarist for Baseline Sins, Sebastian Valenti almost lost his life in an accidental overdose and breakdown about a year ago. While staying with the Golden Brothers at their ritzy hotel for a much needed break, Baz befriended Greg Hicks and eventually started working for him. But now Baz realizes he’s starting to miss his bandmates and friends, and wonders if he is too broken to have that rock star life again. While Strings Attached is listed as the first book in the new Baseline Sins series, it is actually the fifth book in Ms. Julian’s Salon Games series. While one could jump in and read the book as a standalone romance, I feel readers would really miss out on much of the world building and character development of the supporting cast if they skipped reading the original series. I was immediately sucked in to Tru and Baz’s story because I’d read about both characters in the previous books. Although Tru and Baz are like oil and water and bicker constantly, they have great chemistry. The “opposites attract trope” is at its best as we witness the pair combust under an intense mutual attraction fueled by a genuine concern for each other. All it takes is seeing one another outside the usual work environment to ignite the flames. But it’s not all sunshine and roses, as Tru’s brain overrides her sexual desire and need. Tru is all the more real to me, as she tries to remember what her life plan is and why she needs to stick with it. I’m very much the same Type-A, planner persona, and can relate to her internal conflicts as she pushes forward, trying to understand and deal with (in an orderly manner) her own emotions. What makes this story so enjoyable are the supporting characters who surround this couple. They aren’t just window dressings, showing up from book to book, but rather, confidants who help the main characters better understand their own actions...
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Nov
11

Review: The Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynnette Austin

Review: The Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynnette Austin The Best Laid Wedding Plans Author: Lynnette Austin Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a girl who grew up in the South and truly loves Savannah, I was really excited to read The Best Laid Wedding Plans. I was excited to be transported back to the sights, smells, and people of my childhood. Unfortunately The Best Laid Wedding Plans dropped the ball. The Best Laid Wedding Plans fell completely flat; I actually felt like I was reading a book placed in the South, but written by someone who had never done more than drive through it or watch a movie about it. The wonderful thing about books placed in the South is that the setting can almost be a character in its own right, especially if the author takes the time to show us around and paint us a picture rather than blandly state things like the rose garden had been over taken by weeds. I want to see the rose garden. I want to smell the roses, the myriad of colors developed after 150 years, smell the variety, see the rich deep reds mingled with the soft yellows and the pinks. But Ms. Austin didn’t do this. She walked us passed the garden and mentioned it had been started before the Civil Wa,r but she never REALLY takes us into the garden. This is supposed to be a setting for weddings, why? What makes it special? Unfortunately, you’ll never know by reading this book. Another thing that bothered me is that the title of the series, and the wedding business, is Magnolia Brides, yet magnolias are only mentioned twice, and only in passing. Why was this title chosen? What is the significance of Magnolia’s in the South? I grew up there, so I know why this would be a choice for a business name, but many others won’t understand, and I feel like it was a missed opportunity. It was just another example of failing to embrace the opportunity that the setting gives. If you’re going to place a book in the South, embrace the South. Now I don’t want to come off as a hater, it wasn’t all bad. Despite a SLOW beginning, Jenni Beth and Cole are likable characters who find healing in second chances. Their chemistry is spot on, and the build up well written. I enjoyed the bickering as they both struggled with their issues yet found a way to become vulnerable enough to...
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Nov
9

Review: Found at the Library by Christi Snow

Review: Found at the Library by Christi Snow Found at the Library Author: Christi Snow Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Writing science-fiction novels might keep him mostly single, but that dedication has brought Robert McIntyre a great deal of success. He’s a little self-absorbed, maybe, but, when his muse is talking, and the deadlines are looming, he figures it’s to be expected. But, when he gets the chance to redeem himself after a bad first impression, he falls for the gorgeous man who’s upended his world more than he ever thought possible. If only holding on to him could be so easy. After many years of loving the books that his dyslexia prevented him from reading, Tommy Garrett has made a place for himself creating a different kind of art out of the pages themselves. It may not be the way he wanted things to be, but with the help of his collection of audiobooks, all of those other settings and characters have come to life for him anyway. Although falling for an author was never part of his plan, nothing could have prepared him for the quirky sci-fi writer who (literally) broke into his life and turned it inside out. I thought Mac and Tommy were both very interesting characters from the beginning of Found at the Library, and they became even more so as the story progressed. While I’ve often heard that being involved with someone who earns their living in a creative profession carries with it the potential for a variety of issues, Ms. Snow illustrates some very difficult ones here. Initially, their professions—as an author and artist, respectively—make Tommy and Mac perfect for each other. Despite their mutual need to withdraw from all forms of human interaction when they are working on a project, they are generous and considerate of the other’s obligations and needs, and seeing the way they cared for one another was my favorite part of the story. That’s not to say that things are always easy between the two. In fact, their relationship does not begin well at all. Despite an obvious and immediate physical connection, they manage to thoroughly offend one another and generate a startling amount of ill will in the process. Of course, that they do have such an undeniable carnal attraction makes the next few chapters quite a lot of fun. And since neither man is very good at expressing himself verbally, I found it especially endearing that they are best able...
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Nov
3

Review: The Exhibitionist by Tara Sue Me

Review: The Exhibitionist by Tara Sue Me The Exhibitionist Author: Tara Sue Me Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I’ve been reading Tara Sue Me’s Submissive series for a while now. I’ve loved it because it shows how a real couple, albeit a *rich* couple, navigate a relationship. That’s why I fell in love with it. Today, after reading The Exhibitionist and sleeping on it, I’m still pretty much stuck as to why I’m not feelin’ this title. I think it’s the conflict. Like in some romance titles, there’s internal conflict. Nothing that’s *really* external for both Nathaniel and Abby. I’m pretty sure that was it, because the issues didn’t *seem* that big. Maybe it’s because of my own relationship with Mr. VampBard that this really annoys me. Abby has something that bothers her. Remember Charlene from previous books? Yeah. She’s still hanging around. Abby’s jealousy is, I think, her conflict, whereas Nathaniel’s conflict is wondering if he is enough. There are some seriously hot play sessions, as well as some sweet sex in this title. I felt like I was hopping from one sex scene to the next, and the connective tissue was superficial in many cases. We learn more about Jeff & Dena, and I’m glad—I needed to see their HEA after reading their book. We learn in the end matter that Sasha & Cole get a book (or maybe I’m just reading into the foreshadowing in the book as well as the sneak peek). I know not every relationship is picture-perfect. It’s gotta be hard for authors to keep coming up with stuff readers want. I actually understand the reason for a book like this. It’s important to relate the exhibitionist side some people have. Many of us are more demonstrative in public, versus keeping all that for behind closed doors. One thing I think was covered well in this title was the way people continue to grow and change. It’s important that we recognize these changes in our significant others, and TALK about it. Needs, wants, and desires change over time. How we evolve as a couple, in the face of these changes, is what matters. I think that element of the internal conflict could’ve been handled better. I’m still interested in picking up more titles in the Submissive series. I’m not breaking up with the series or anything. This title just didn’t do it for me. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About...
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