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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Nov
26

Review: Captivated by You by Sylvia Day

Review: Captivated by You by Sylvia Day Captivated by You Author: Sylvia Day Reviewer: VampBard Rating: D What I’m Talking About: I knew what I was getting into when I chose to read Captivated by You by Sylvia Day. To be honest, I’m not a quitter. Once I start a series, I read it through until the end. Unless something happens that really irritates me. With that said, I’m breaking up with the Crossfire series, which kills my slightly obsessive-compulsive need to finish something I’ve started. I wanted to really like this book, and that especially holds true for Captivated by You. However, the only reason I finished this title was in the hope that there’d be a big reveal at the end that would keep me entrenched in the series. To be honest, I think that this entire book could have been done in 100 pages or less. There wasn’t that much plot happening and wasn’t a lot of development that happened with the characters to warrant 350-plus pages. What I liked: I liked seeing Eva and Gideon again. Initially. I liked revisiting the supporting characters. I liked seeing Eva continue to be kick-ass, for the most part. What annoyed me: the story really went nowhere. The plot arc was minimally progressed, and I felt that the words were gratuitous—that I had four hours of my life that I’d never get back. Eva and Gideon—especially Gideon—irritated the hell out of me by the end of the book. The character seemed even more whiny than in the previous book. I UNDERSTAND broken. Hell, life hasn’t been picture-perfect for anyone. But a billionaire should get his act together and work through his issues. Not be the ‘I am an island’ guy. Especially when he has something to strive for—being the man he wants to be for Eva. I don’t get the motivation to not work through his issues, especially when it means he can’t sleep in bed with Eva—supposedly the love of his life, the one that makes him whole. The side stories—Megumi, Mark & Steven, Carey, and Gideon’s exes—seemed superficial and really had no resolution, no change in the way things were happening. And nothing that really moved the plot forward, especially for Gideon. Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Day is a wonderful author. Her way with words draws the reader in, which is probably the reason I actually finished Captivated by You. Unfortunately, skillful prose isn’t enough to keep me reading the Crossfire series. I’m...
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Nov
19

Review: Holiday on Ice by Jaci Burton

Review: Holiday on Ice by Jaci Burton Holiday on Ice Author: Jaci Burton Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Holiday on Ice is a little Christmas gift from Burton to her readers.  It’s the kind of little novella that you can pick up and finish during the holiday chaos when you just need a moment to yourself.  It’s a bit of Christmas spirit, a little winter fun, and a lot of steamy, um… recreation. Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer is on the New York Traveler’s professional hockey team with Drew Hogan of Burton’s earlier novel Melting the Ice. He has some recent history with Stella Slovinski who has just landed one of the dance leads in a new Broadway musical that will open in the spring.  Burton does a good job of getting us to accept the depth of their relationship quickly because of their shared past. We move through the Christmas season as the couple reunites, overcomes misunderstanding, and finds their happily ever after. Unfortunately Holiday on Ice suffers from the same predictability that its predecessors did.  Burton has been here before.  Once again we have a woman who has been badly burned in a previous relationship.  At the first hint something is not all bliss in the relationship, she goes jumping to conclusions or isolates herself against any relationship at all until our hero shows how great a guy he really is, and deserving of her trust, to win her back in the end.  Burton just did this in Hope Burns, book three of the Hope Series and in Melting the Ice.  Nevertheless Burton’s regular readers will not be disappointed. Holiday on Ice includes a preview of Quarterback Draw due out February 2015, the next full book in the Play-by-Play series and Love After All due out March 31, 2015, the next book in the Hope series. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Superstar hockey player Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer and dancer Stella Slovinski have picked up where they left off a year ago, resuming their hot, uncomplicated affair. Stella refuses to call it dating, or a relationship. But lately, Trick is looking for more… Stella’s been burned before—in a relationship she never talks about—not with her family, not with her friends, and definitely not with Trick. But now it’s the holiday season and Trick is determined to give Stella his heart wrapped up in a bow. He knows Stella is the right woman for him, but he’ll have to melt the ice...
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Nov
17

Review: Three Christmases by Kat & Stone Bastion

Review: Three Christmases by Kat & Stone Bastion Three Christmases Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Three Christmases is the final full novel in Kat & Stone Bastion’s wonderful serial series No Weddings. To say I adored this book is an understatement. Sexy and sultry, with an undercurrent of conflict, the story kept me engaged and turning page after page, looking for the emotional release Kat & Stone have built into the series. I found it. And damn, was I happy with the outcome. I knew this dynamic writing duo wouldn’t leave me hanging with this title. In following the slow-burn relationship of Cade and Hannah through these well-crafted novels, I have grown to love these characters. I found myself rooting for their relationship like a cheerleader on speed. Each turn of events tore me up. Ultimately, however, the ride the Bastions take their readers on with the story of Cade & Hannah’s relationship is realistic, heart-warming, and filled with real-world connections that shook me in a way that few titles I’ve read this year have managed. With Cade taking a job that would keep him a continent away from Hannah, I knew things would be rough. I snagged my box of tissues and settled in for the ride, trusting the Bastions to make it all better in the end. I felt every qualm Cade had about his separation from Hannah, each moment of doubt about his decision to not be by her side on a daily basis. Conversely, I was angry on Hannah’s behalf. This isn’t something expressed in the book, though, I was upset because Cade made such a life-changing decision without consulting her. They’re supposed to be partners, a team…right? I felt, however, that Hannah was right to react the way she did—I would have done the same. But what niggled at me all the way through the book was why Hannah didn’t express her true feelings about the situation. Oh, tricky one, Bastions! By the end I got it. And it made the wonderful resolution that much more powerful for me. One of the points of conflict in Three Christmases was about Hannah’s biological father. I want more info about this whole situation. I’m a detail-oriented reader, and I’m cool with the way the plot resolved, but I naturally want more backstory with more details. What I wouldn’t give to see a small scene with Hannah’s mom, and the reasons why she made the decisions she...
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Nov
12

Review: Romancing the Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Review: Romancing the Billionaire by Jessica Clare Romancing the Billionaire Author: Jessica Clare Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Romancing the Billionaire, the fifth title in Jessica Clare’s Billionaire Boys Club series was my vacation read. I couldn’t put it down, folks. I started reading and made it through half the book before I succumbed to sleep. I actually told Mr. VampBard that I needed to finish before we could continue on with vacation activities. For real. I was super excited to finally get Johnathan’s story. I came into this series a little late (and I fully intend to pick up the books I’ve missed), but have an affinity for these guys. A soft-spot in my heart for how messed up some of them are, and how they manage to overcome adversity in order to win the love of their life. And I felt an extreme draw to Johnathan and Violet’s story. Johnathan Lyons has been the ultimate playboy. He’s gone through women revolving-door style, never letting them get to know him, or giving himself a chance to fall in love. He’s carried a torch for Violet for ten years, and hoped against hope he would have the opportunity to win her back at some point. I think the reason I liked Johnathan so much is because he reminds me of Mr. VampBard. He’s sweet and protective, yet manages to let Violet be herself. He allows her to come to him on her terms, even though they’re on a ‘mission’ set in motion by the death of Violet’s father and Johnathan’s mentor/friend. Their journey through overcoming the past, reconciling it, and moving forward made me want to be a better person. To learn to love as selflessly as Johnathan, and to forgive like Violet. I know. Shut up, VampBard. Books don’t make you feel like that. But really, when you connect with one in a powerful way, they do. Johnathan, while it seemed at times as though he let his money manipulate situations, he was, in my opinion, using his resources. And that’s always okay in my book. I did struggle with a couple instances of willy-nilly spending, thinking that Violet would have come around faster if he’d been more like the Johnathan of ten years ago. But, reality check. No one stagnates. We all continue to grow, and our experiences in life shape us. Johnathan would have been lying to himself as well as Violet if he’d been the person he was those...
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Nov
10

Review: What a Woman Gets by Judi Fennell

Review: What a Woman Gets by Judi Fennell What a Woman Gets Author: Judi Fennell Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Cassidy Davenport has spent most of her entire life living under the benefit of her father’s name. No expense was too great, and Cassidy was expected to be her father’s perfect hostess and showpiece. However, after befriending a terminally ill young boy, Cassidy realizes she’s tired of living in the gilded cage kept by her ice-cold father. Liam Manley is one of the four Manley siblings (his two brothers are the main characters of the previous two books). Like his brothers, Liam lost a poker bet with his younger sister, Mary-Alice Catherine (Mac), and must spend a month cleaning the house of Cassidy Davenport to help with his sister’s maid service business. When Mitchell Davenport evicts his own daughter out of her home, Liam agrees to take in Cassidy, who is penniless and has no place to go. Although the pair share a strong mutual attraction, past pain and hurt has created tarnished views for both. What will living together do to this pair? What a Woman Gets is the third story in Ms. Fennell’s delightful Manley Maid series. The book overlaps in time with the previous two, even sharing some common scenes; however, each book may be read as a stand alone or in any order. The series chronicles the lives of the Manley siblings as each meets his/her match and falls in love. I enjoyed Liam and Cassidy’s story for what it is: a sweet romance with relatively little conflict. Liam’s ex, Rachel, did a number on him, using him for his relative wealth and position. Because of Rachel, Liam believes Cassidy to be selfish and only interested in superficial status. I liked reading Liam’s point-of-view as he realizes Cassidy isn’t Rachel, although he’s using it as an excuse to keep from getting hurt. The author does a great job bringing Liam around slowly, making each interaction with Cassidy count. Cassidy is a strong woman, and I appreciate getting to know her from both her own point-of-view monologuing, and through her actions in how she deals with both her father and Liam. I liked Cassidy’s tenacity and spunk, although I could not relate to the fact that she had no clue how to do basic cooking or laundry. I applaud Cassidy’s physical restraint, knowing she needs to trust Liam, and visa-versa, before they can act on their mutual attraction. The pair...
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Oct
23

Review: Sweet Harmony by LuAnn McLane

Review: Sweet Harmony by LuAnn McLane Sweet Harmony Author: LuAnn McLane Reviewer: Ang Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I completely enjoyed Sweet Harmony by LuAnne McLane. It was a fun, sweet, romantic read, perfect for sitting by the pool or for reading on a cool rainy fall afternoon with a cup of cocoa. As usual Cricket Creek did not fail to welcome me to their small, sweet southern town complete with quirky and interesting characters. This episode in Cricket Creek revolves around Cat Carson and Jeff Greenfield, both country music stars who are thrown together from the moment Cat pulls into Cricket Creek from Nashville. Their banter is funny, Cat’s clumsy tendencies and Jeff’s old school southern boy charm as he rescues her is perfect.  Their chemistry intense right from the start so watching them fight it makes for a fast paced story line you can’t help but keep turning the pages. It was interesting watching them both grow and figure out who they were in connection to each other and their careers, ultimately learning that with the right effort you can have it all: love, a sense of self, and a successful career. As is typical of Ms. McLane we had a second set of characters, Maria and Pete, not in the twenty something set that were also a strong part of the story. The pair, who after years of being apart, are trying to reconnect and learn to trust and love each other again. Those who have read my past reviews of the Cricket Creek series know that my biggest complaint with Ms. McLane’s novels has been that the second story line ends up getting hurried or even buried for the sake of the twenty somethings. So I am thrilled to say that that issue was resolved in Sweet Harmony!!  For the first time you aren’t left wondering, and it was fabulous!! All in all, I’d give this novel a solid A- My only issues were tiny, like the constant song and music references, which felt a bit over the top for me. Also, I tend to think in song lyrics and the alternation of the names was a bit much, but really those things are tiny and likely only grated on me because of my sleep deprived brain is a tad over sensitive. As I mentioned earlier, the novel was fun, sweet and romantic: a prefect read for a fall afternoon, even if you’ve never visited Cricket Creek before. My Rating: ...
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Oct
21

Review: Two Bar Mitzvahs by Kat & Stone Bastion

Review: Two Bar Mitzvahs by Kat & Stone Bastion Two Bar Mitzvahs Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I think Mr. VampBard is going to confiscate my Kindle. I inhaled Two Bar Mitzvahs, and may be a smidge guilty of not really watching a show we were eagerly anticipating. Worth. It. The most poignant moments in the third book of the No Weddings series had me in tears. Since we’re back in Cade’s POV for this book, I was really happy to catch up with him again. I liked the conflict between Hannah and Cade in this book: the intensity of their emotions. The way it seemed as though Cade’s voice caressed Hannah’s name. The way Hannah’s spine straightened and she fought for their relationship. But what I liked the most about this couple, in this book, was watching them grow closer and closer. Cade’s perspective connects a little more with me for some reason, too. The external conflict? Genius. I’d really like to talk about it, so someone hurry up and read Two Bar Mitzvahs, okay?!?! Hannah continues to recover from the breakup with her d-baggy ex, and the run-in she had with him previously. I think she’s doing a great job moving forward in her life. She seems to have things together, and really drives the connection between the couple. Just like in real life, sometimes one person is doing all the relationship maintenance, and sometimes it shifts to the other person. That’s what being in a REAL relationship is about. Cade gets to deal with his past when it walks up to him. Only she’s totally psycho. For real. I’m not sure what Cade ever saw in her in the first place, and I’m glad Hannah trusted in him – in THEM – enough to believe Cade even though things didn’t appear that way (you’ll understand when you read…). I also really liked the way Cade continued to be a take-charge kinda guy, even when he knew he’d have to deal with his ex. What I didn’t like, however, is how Cade gave up in one section. These books definitely need to be read in order. There’s only 3ish weeks between release of titles, so it’s not forever to wait. I’m glad that Kat & Stone Bastion decided to serialize Cade and Hannah’s story. I don’t think just one traditional novel would tell their story as effectively. Well, that and the fact that if it WAS told the...
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Oct
17

Review: Primal by Sasha White

Review: Primal by Sasha White Primal Author: Sasha White Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Adam Kessler doesn’t want to be anyone’s hero, yet he finds himself as a part-time vigilante for hire, and one evening when out for a run, he rescues Olivia Hamilton from being mugged and raped. Afraid her desires for him are caused by the adrenaline of the moment, Adam rejects Olivia’s welcome arms the night of her attack, waiting to see if she’d call him after she comes to her senses. Dr. Olivia Hamilton is a well-established psychologist and a very independent woman. She realizes her feelings for Adam are textbook knight-in-shining armor reactions, but somehow, she knows Adam means more to her than any man she’s meet before. Taking a chance, Olivia calls Adam and discovers a whole new side to herself in the process. Primal is the second story in Ms. White’s Overwatch series featuring the owner and members of a private BDSM club. As the owner of Overwatch, Adam feels the need to protect each one of its members. His protective streak doesn’t end there, as witnessed by his drive to keep Olivia safe from harm after meeting her just once. Adam doesn’t view himself as the good guy, yet his every thought and action exudes his innate honor and high ethical code. The book opens with a serious, albeit short, attack on Olivia, which honestly ends before it begins. While the scene is not difficult or graphic, the nature of the assault created some discomfort on my end when Olivia started coming on to Adam. Thankfully, Adam recognizes what is going on and backs away, leaving my concerns behind. I appreciate the author’s thoughtful handling of what could have been a major issue for me. Adam and Olivia have an immediate, intense connection, full of steamy chemistry and smokin’ smex. The pair’s amazing rapport was carried throughout the book, both in and out of the bedroom, and I appreciated that both are smart, well-adjusted characters. Adam introduces Olivia to his Dominant side and the possibility of a D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationship. While this, and a couple of scenes at the club, classifies the title as “BDSM,” the nature of the play is BDSM-lite and suitable for anyone who may have an interest in the genre. While Primal is not a long story and is relatively drama-free, there are a couple of small conflicts which cause some commotion for the pair. I like that...
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Oct
9

Review: Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Review: Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare Beauty and the Billionaire Author: Jessica Clare Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: One. Sitting. I read Beauty and the Billionaire in one sitting. You know those memes all over Facebook – ‘I decided staying up all night to finish my book was more important than being mentally present today,’ MmHmm. That’s me. Because the book was THAT good. This is kind-of based on one of my Disney favorites, Beauty and the Beast. Um. WAY better adult version of the tale though. We all know the trope. Physically & emotionally damaged dude falls for the girl. Doesn’t think he worthy (may actually have people taunting that he’s not worthy), doesn’t think he’s loveable, and doesn’t think someone like her would fall for someone like him. Hunter is our Beast, and OMFG – I seriously LOVE me some tortured heroes. And Hunter definitely qualifies. Your heart will break for him. Tears, people. Actual. Tears. What the heck IS that?!?! I was mad on his behalf. Seriously ticked off (in hindsight, I often get upset on the behalf of characters…). And over-all simply adoring Hunter. I’m not even going to try to imagine what someone that has perceived himself a social outcast because of the way he was treated when younger. I want to cry when I think about that kind of stuff. This is the opening of the book: “Hunter Buchanan didn’t believe in love at first sight. Hell, he didn’t much believe in love at all.” I think that is when I fell for Hunter. Gretchen is strong-willed, outspoken, and pretty much reminded me of myself at so many points throughout the novel. Like, all the things. Well, not ALL all. Suffice it to say, I believe Gretchen is a likable and relatable character for anyone that has inhaled a breath. Ever. I would totally be her best friend. She’s a writer, and she’s undertaking a new project BEFORE THE PREVIOUS ONE IS FINISHED. My compulsion for seeing something to completion went a bit nutzoid over this, but that’s a ‘me’ thing. The free-spiritedness of Gretchen is what makes her endearing. Oh, and the way she pokes fun at her ghost writing gig. I can practically see her eyes rolling as she thinks about that plot. Readers learn at the beginning of the book that Hunter manipulates the situation so he can meet Gretchen. With all the sass that Gretchen has, Hunter never thought he’d have a...
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Oct
6

Quickie Review: Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

Quickie Review: Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh Rock Courtship Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Rock Courtship is a novella in the Rock Kiss series which parallels in time to the first book of the series, Rock Addiction. It tells the behind-the-scenes love story of School Boy Choir drummer, David, and the band’s publicist, Thea. The pair were introduced and in the peripheral of Molly (Thea’s sister) and Fox’s story. David has LONG lusted after and pined for Thea from afar. He sat and waited through her horrible engagement to her ex, and gave her time to grieve. The pair were close friends, and David has always wanted more. After the appropriate amount of time, he asked Thea out for dinner and she turned him down COLD. Thea never dates rocks stars or her clients, even though David means so very much to her. But when he emails her an intellectual memo of reasons she should date him, Thea feels her barriers breaking for this man who holds the power to crush her heart. The novella is sweet and mostly void of lengthy conflict. It fills in the details about a few incidents that were brushed over in Rock Addiction. We see how David and Thea deal with their own ghosts and work as a team to fight for their mutual love. Although the conflicts are not plentiful, the author uses them to help the pair grow closer together, rather than drive them further apart. In the end, Rock Courtship is a quick, sweet love story with a smallish, yet decent conflict and resolution. The romance is hot and there are a couple of smokin’ smex scenes. Like its counterpart, it is not necessarily realistic, but I enjoyed Thea and David’s tale and my return to the Rock Kiss world. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty? A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move. Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients–or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots. What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with...
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