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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Feb
15

Review: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

Review: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders Under Her Skin Author: Adriana Anders Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Here’s what I know after reading Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders. Gimme. More. Thoughtful, well-developed characters with a wonderfully paced arc drove me through the entire book. I loved Uma. For reasons. Um. And this one needs a trigger warning for domestic abuse—mostly the verbal/emotional kind, but there’s physical too. And that b@stard was twisted. But…she is fierce, feisty, and is going to be a difficult character to forget. I loved Ivan because he’s not the typical alpha male we traditionally see in contemporary romance. As his story unraveled, I was increasingly drawn into the story. I’m leaving this super vague because I think readers need to experience the reveal of each detail about Ivan. Together, Uma and Ivan are hot. Even with their baggage, they’re real. They have real baggage. They have real issues. They have real situations. I definitely want to see more of them—even if it’s a novella or glimpses in other books in the series. The second Blank Canvas title will release April 4, 2017 and is up for preorder. The third is slated for an August 2017 release. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Her Body is His Canvas  A darkly possessive relationship has left Uma alone and on the run. Beneath her drab clothing, she hides a terrible secret—proof of her abuse, tattooed onto her skin in a lurid reminder of everything she’s survived. Caught between a brutal past and an uncertain future, Uma’s reluctant to bare herself to anyone…much less a rough ex-con whose rage drives him in ways she will never understand. But beneath his frightening exterior, Ivan is gentle. Warm. Compassionate. And just as determined to heal Uma’s broken heart as he is to destroy the monster who left his mark scrawled across the delicate tapestry of her skin. Release Date: February 7, 2017 Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Series: Blank Canvas #1 ISBN: 1492633844 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): paperback (352 pages), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info:...
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Feb
13

Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Hard Wired Author: Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: How often are words our greatest enemy? The ones we ought to say, but don’t. The ones we shouldn’t say that come screaming out of us, unfiltered and angry, when silence would be better. And, the ones that might make all the difference in the world, if only we could be brave enough to speak. Jesse Garvy and Ian Larsen, the two main characters in Hard Wired, by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, seem to run the gamut. As has been the case with the previous titles in the Cyberlove series, I absolutely loved this story. Jesse and Ian have been fixtures from the very beginning as Kai Bannon’s chat mods, “Garvy” and “Cherry,” and seeing them get their own book is a gift. As a fan, I appreciated the overlap between the varying perspectives, which served as a reminder that every “secondary character” in real life is living their own narrative in parallel to my own. While it is another exploration of internet-generated connections, Hard Wired still manages to be unique in both tone and substance. Despite being friends for years, Ian and Jesse are strangers in many ways until they are placed in a position to relearn one another, their relationship bisected when “real life” doesn’t go according to plan. My heart hurt for both of them as things began to unravel, but I enjoyed their journey back to each other very, very much. Another thing I liked about Hard Wired was that the writing, in general, has gotten even better—although there was nothing lacking in the previous stories. Filled with vivid descriptions of colors, scents, tastes, and sensations, this story came to life for me in a way that a lot of others haven’t. There were also more than a few passages that I found to be particularly on point, many involving Ian’s difficulties with personal interactions. The addition of just the right amount of humor and snark makes Hard Wired a new favorite. In the end, I think the entire Cyberlove series is both timely and relevant, and Hard Wired is an especially welcome part of the world these two authors have created. Seeing some of the characters from previous stories was a lot of fun, Kai and Garrett, most notably, and it was good to know that certain other members of Kai’s chat crew are still very much...
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Feb
8

Review: Seeking Mr. Wrong by Natalie Charles

Review: Seeking Mr. Wrong by Natalie Charles Seeking Mr. Wrong Author: Natalie Charles Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Seeking Mr. Wrong is a book for anyone who reads a lot (too much) contemporary romance.  Readers will be able to identify all the markers they expect, but will love the acknowledgement of everything that annoys them.  Cute and sweet Lettie Osbourne writes children’s books about manners.  Her publisher gets sold to an outfit that specializes in erotica while she still has one book left on her contract and the advance is long gone.  To fulfill her obligation, she takes on the challenge of writing in the new-to-her genre. Lettie admits, “I never understood the appeal of the angry alpha male.  If I were to make a list of qualities that I want in a mate, it wouldn’t include stomping.  Maybe a willingness to make dinner every now and then and a basic understanding of laundry.”  As she struggles to embrace her inner vixen, she meets the mostly vanilla, non-alpha male that is the love of her life.  Yes, he looks like Superman, but this is a guy who doesn’t own a red tie.  This is a love story about some pretty nice, normal people.  While they meet, fall in love, break up, and hopefully make-up, Lettie has a smutty running commentary in her head à la James Thurber’s 1939 The Secret Lives of Walter Mitty.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P332De250mE She also does mental interviews with Oprah.  One word: hilarious.  Through the process she learns a lot about herself both painful and funny.  Lettie’s inner voice is wonderfully sarcastic, but her editor stole the best line.  In a conversation about the manuscript Lettie submits, “…I despise the word moist, so I’m going to strike it from the manuscript and ask you to come up with something else.  Same with panties.  Can’t stand it.  Makes me think of my childhood.  Give her a lace thong instead.”  I was on the elliptical at the gym.  I stopped and cheered.  Yes, people stared.  Worth it.  Buying this book?  Totally worth it. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Lettie Osbourne has lived her whole life by the book. Sweet, predictable, and certainly not living life on the edge, she’s always been content to make a living as a kindergarten teacher who writes adorable children’s books on the side. After her fiancé leaves her, Lettie decides she is perfectly content to accept her fate as mother to her beloved dog Odin...
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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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