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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Sep
12

Review: Playing to Win by Jaci Burton

Review: Playing to Win by Jaci Burton Playing to Win Author: Jaci Burton  Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012 Publisher: Berkeley Trade Play by Play #4 ISBN: #978-0425247839 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      Football star Cole Riley is notorious for doing as he pleases—on the field and off. He parties hard and fights harder, but if he doesn’t clean up his act, his career is over—so Cole reluctantly agrees to work with image makeover consultant Savannah Brooks. He’s not used to being told what to do, especially by some (admittedly hot) Southern belle. As for Savannah, she’s not convinced she can transform this cocky (and aggressively sexy) force of nature. But she’s determined to give it her best shot.      When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down the ground rules: no personal complications. If she can turn off the tingle she feels every time Cole gives her a hot stare with his gorgeous baby blues, he can turn off his desire as well. But for two people determined to have it all, a hands-off policy can only last so long before one of them yields. What Nima’s talking about:      The fourth installment of Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series, Playing to Win, is worth picking up just to stare at the cover.  Fitness model Jed Hill once again lends his “hip dents” or “hip dips” to ignite our imagination of what main character Cole Riley might look like in the flesh.  In an interview with About Happy Books, Burton said of Hill’s previous appearance on her book The Perfect Play, “Of course, who can deny the appeal of a hot, sweaty guy on the cover of a book, right?”      If you can tear your eyes away from the cover, (or maybe the cover away from the book so you can pin him to your pillowcase) to actually open the book, Cole Riley comes to life.  I liked Cole.  I didn’t always understand how his past produced his current behavior because he was a good guy at heart from a good family.  His family seemed to keep him grounded, but he had this apparent need to act out and it didn’t feel genuine.  Savannah’s need to keep a professional distance from Cole made more sense.      Parts of this single-afternoon-read were clearly formulaic, but not in a way which I can really fault.  It felt more like I could predict what...
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Jul
23

Review: Too Hot To Handle by LC Dean

Review: Too Hot To Handle by LC Dean Too Hot To Handle Author: L.C. Dean  Release Date: April 21, 2012 Publisher: Decadent Publishing Genre: GLBT Contemporary Romance, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Why the hell do I torture myself? Sitting in the sun and hiding a hard-on from his best friend is not Tucker’s idea of fun. He’d rather drink beer and fantasize than destroy what he and Jase have. A good f*** between friends, what the hell’s wrong with that? Heat and lust make a man do crazy shit, but Jase intends to prove he and Tuck can be lovers and friends. When desire flares under the Texas summer sun, will it burn too hot to handle. What B is talking about: Tucker’s best friend is gorgeous, blond, and completely perfect. If only Jason wasn’t straight as well as a total player. Still, Tuck can handle lusting after him from afar, as long as nothing happens to ruin the friendship they have. Jason’s got some secrets of his own, as it turns out, and he’s got plans for his personal geek that’ll change them both forever. I tend to be a sucker for “odd couple” pairings, and Tucker and Jason definitely fall into that category. Jase is all brawn, and Tuck is the self-conscious geek who has no idea how hot he really is. Too Hot to Handle is a very short story, so there are quite a few clichés, but they streamline the backstory and allow the tale to stay true to it’s primary purpose, which is the explicit sexual reinvention of a solid friendship between two men.  Tucker and Jason are easy to like, and I enjoyed sitting back and taking in their story as it unfolded, without the need pick through unnecessary details. For a story of this length, that’s a definite bonus. The two men are awfully good together, and possess distinct enough personalities to keep them interesting. There was a slightly uncomfortable scene to add conflict to a story that might otherwise be too easy, but Jason remedied the mistake as quickly and enthusiastically as possible. Too Hot to Handle is essentially a snapshot of one extremely sexy afternoon of wish fulfillment between two best friends. Although I read it in less than an hour, I enjoyed it quite a bit. There’s a fair amount of predictability and some phrasing that I stumbled over a little, but the sex between the two men is hot, and the...
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Jul
18

Review: Because of You by Jessica Scott

Review: Because of You by Jessica Scott Because of You Author: Jessica Scott  Release Date: Nov. 14, 2011 Publisher: Random House: Loveswept Coming Home Series #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book: Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels – for the first time in a long time – like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected – her deepest desire. What Nima’s talking about: Because of You is the first book of Jessica Scott’s Coming Home series.  It has an intensity that’s a little unexpected in a romance.  It is not a fluffy, poolside read.  Scott is a career soldier, a company commander in charge of 130 soldiers, and mother of two kids, whose husband is currently serving in Iraq.  Scott’s descriptions of war and life back home for those who wait are completely authentic. There’s no question that she understands her subject matter. Main character Shane Garrison, Sergeant First Class is severely injured while deployed in Iraq.  He shows a range of emotion while coming to terms the limitations of his recovery and therapy.  After the dissolution of his marriage, his entire identity was consumed by his role as Sergeant.  His men were his family.  To be state-side and out of commission while most of his men continued to fight, was to be alone in the worst way.  I liked the way he showed his emotions to nurse Jen St. James, the other main character and Shane’s love interest, in spite of himself.   Jen too, I liked as an individual.  As a breast cancer survivor, something no often seen in the romance genre, she knows what it is be at your lowest and physically unable...
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Jul
9

Review: One Hot Night by Tatum Throne

Review: One Hot Night by Tatum Throne One Hot Night Author: Tatum Throne  Release Date: May 31, 2012 Publisher: Siren Genre: Contemporary Romance/Erotica Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book: Exactly one year ago, Samantha “Sam” Emery was nearly killed by her ex-lover. Now as an executive chef for Kalen Industries in New York, Sam has struggled to move on. At K.I.’s annual party, Sam is seduced to the dance floor by a man she only met once in passing. Passions ignite, and one dance leads to a fiery one-night stand with a man she thinks she will never see again. Sam is pursued by Austin, a man who knows something about her troubled past. Caught by Austin and the physical scars of her past, will Sam realize she has something worth fighting for before it’s too late? What VampBard’s talking about: One Hot Night, a slim novella (PDF said 83 pages) that takes on a difficult topic, was pretty much ‘sexy time’ from the beginning.  There’s a lot of makin’ whoopie in this title.   Samantha has been through a lot.  Her near-death experience has left her shaken and lacking the ability to trust in relationships.    She is ashamed of her body – the scarring that remains as a constant reminder of the trauma.  Beyond the body image issues, Sam seemed to be mentally working through the entire thing, still.  I felt that Sam was definitely a wishy-washy lead female character.  I want him…I don’t want him.  The guy isn’t a daisy from which petals are being plucked.  Since Sam is a chef, I was hoping to see more than powdered sugar ‘in the sack’ scenes.   Austin is a pretty primal, sexual, testosterone-laden male.  In the novella, he’s described as a predator when he looks at Samantha.    Several times.  Despite this description, I actually liked Austin.  He seems to have a heart that is full of passion and COMpassion.  I felt sorry for Austin, because I felt that Sam treated him horribly.   I’m not sure whether the PDF I read is the same as those that will be sold…  I hope this title went through another edit or two prior to release.  In general, this IS a good story arc.  I simply felt that there could have been more done with the story, and that the language used – especially during sexual acts – was predictable.  I didn’t enjoy the self-defeating attitude of Samantha, and I didn’t like parts of...
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Jul
5

Review: Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra

Review: Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra Please welcome Ang, who brings you today’s Guest Review of…  Carolina Home Author: Virginia Kantra  Release Date: July 3, 2012 Publisher: Berkley Dare Island #1 ISBN: #978-0425250938 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      Home to the Fletcher family for generations, Dare Island is a fishing village rocked by changing times—its traditions slipping away like the sands of the North Carolina coast. Single dad and fishing boat captain Matt Fletcher deferred his own dreams to support his innkeeper parents and build a future for his sixteen-year-old son. Matt has learned to weather life’s storms by steering a steady emotional course…and keeping a commitment-free approach to love.      Newcomer Allison Carter came to Dare Island to escape the emotional demands of her wealthy family. The young teacher aims to build a life here, to make a lasting place for herself. She doesn’t want to be another in the long line of Women Who Once Dated Matt Fletcher. It’s both tempting and dangerous to believe she can be something more.      Then Matt’s brother Luke makes a sudden return home, with a child of his own—and a request that will change all their lives. With a child’s welfare at stake, Matt must turn to Allison to teach him to let go of the past, open his eyes…and follow his heart. What Ang is talking about:       Anyone who has read my earlier reviews knows that I value a good story, even in a romance novel. I want good characters and a sold plot line. Steamy sex scenes are a bonus but can’t carry the book. Carolina Home has the bones to be a really great novel and the opening to a great series but it missed the mark in a few areas for me. For starters we are introduced to so many characters and given so much information on these characters that I had a difficult time remembering who’s story I was reading. For example, I became so involved in Dawn’s back story and Tess’s story that when I went to tell a friend about the book I couldn’t even remember the main character’s name. He became Josh’s dad and Allison’s love interest but I couldn’t for the life of me remember that his name was Matt.      I can tell you about Matt’s Dad and Mom, Tess and Tom and what they do and the struggles...
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Jul
2

Review: The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher

Review: The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher Please welcome Mags, who brings you today’s Guest Review of…  The Opportunist Author: Tarryn Fisher Release Date: Nov. 14, 2011 Publisher: Self-published ISBN: 978-1469982786 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Paperback (426 pgs), e-book Book Source: purchased myself (e-book) About the book: Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex -boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With a bad reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah. It’s a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption. What Mags is talking about: The Opportunist starts with an innocent enough question: What would you do if you had a second chance with your first love? It sounds like a story about second chances and what people will do to get it right the second time but that is where the safety of a predictable story line crashes into the wall at 100 mph.  Enter Olivia Kaspen; she just cannot get out of her own way. She has panache for keeping people at arms length and if they happen to get too close, she does everything she can to run them off. She is a control freak in a slightly maniacal and completely obsessive way. Still, there is an air of vulnerability about her that is heartbreakingly endearing. I cannot help but love Olivia and all her stubbornness. On a fateful afternoon she runs into to her ex, Caleb only to discover that he has lost his memory in an accident.  Enter Caleb Drake, he is gorgeous, enigmatic and is used to getting whatever he wants. I adore Caleb, I completely understand Olivia’s attraction. I could eat that boy up with a spoon! However, when Olivia challenges his theory of self, he becomes infatuated and obsessed with possessing her. The toxic mixture of damaged and obsessed lay waste to their relationship in the worst possible ways. 3 years later he is a blank slate standing in a music store ready to explore the heady chemistry he feels with a beautiful “stranger.”   What I liked: The start of every great book is a great storyline and Ms....
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Jun
27

Review: For Your Eyes Only by Ann Mayburn

Review: For Your Eyes Only by Ann Mayburn For Your Eyes Only Author: Ann Mayburn  Release Date: May 24, 2012 Publisher: Honey Mountain Publishing Tales From the IWSS Book 1 ISBN: #978-1476097404 Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book:       Amanda accepts an invite by the prestigious Institute for Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. Volunteering for their study means she must divulge her deepest, naughtiest fantasies and then act on them. But one wicked fantasy involves watching her boyfriend do something so intimate, so forbidden that she’s afraid he will refuse and may even break off their relationship.       Jared can’t believe his gorgeous girlfriend wants to see another woman take his anal virginity. But he wants to make her wildest fantasies come true, and maybe finally engage in some secret fantasies of his own…       Warning: This story contains a loving couple indulging in some very steamy fantasies including F/F kissing and light touching along with a deliciously naughty F/M/F pegging scene. What B is talking about:       What would it be like to make your hottest sexual fantasy come true in a safe environment, with no risks, and without hurting anyone? What if, even better, that fantasy was part of an experiment that would benefit women everywhere? Welcome to the Institute for Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, or the IWSS, for short.       The IWSS is an interesting home for these fantasies, mostly because its objective is so basic: to help a significant portion of the female population achieve sexual fulfillment through the exploration of individual fantasies. I think it’s much like the benefit the genre as a whole has the potential to provide, depending on the reader’s response.       Amanda and Jared are already devoted to one another, but she wants to push the edges of Jared’s comfort zone to include one particular fantasy she can’t let go of. He’s everything she could possibly want in a man, and definitely a “keeper,” but she’s convinced there’s room in their sexual relationship for more. Although, technically, For Your Eyes Only is about Amanda’s fantasy, both she and Jared get what they want from the endeavor.       The enactment of the fantasy itself is brief but extremely steamy, and Amanda ends up pushing her own boundaries, as well as putting Jared’s to the test. Ms. Mayburn doesn’t try to make the story more complicated than the exploration of a fantasy, leaving...
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Jun
21

Review: Colters’ Promise by Maya Banks

Review: Colters’ Promise by Maya Banks Colters’ Promise Author: Maya Banks  Release Date: June 5, 2012 Publisher: Berkley Colters’ Legacy Book #3 ISBN: 978-0425258620 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s):  Paperback (256 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: When it came to overcoming the odds of a tragic past, Lily was determined to move on. The three Colter brothers helped her do it. They taught her new ways to love, new dreams to share, and offered her a new life that she never thought possible. Now is a time for celebration, and what better way than with a long-awaited family reunion, a homecoming that will bring together the entire Colter family and a few surprises no one anticipated. But first, there’s still something from Lily’s past she still needs to reconcile–even when all the while she is holding close to her heart a newfound secret that will change her future, forever enrich the Colter legacy, and make every promise come true. What VampBard’s talking about: While I haven’t read the first two books in Ms. Banks’ Colters’ Legacy series, I must admit that Ms. Banks did a pretty decent job filling in the blanks for readers new to her series.  I didn’t feel too lost, but there are some remaining questions.   I **really** liked Holly, Lily and Callie.  The appear to be strong female characters, and y’all know how I like the strong women!  Seems as though each of them have struggled through a rough time in their lives, they’ve come out no worse for wear on the other side.  Looks like they’re pretty competent at pulling others through rough times, as well.  It also looks as though they really like to take care of their men.  That’s where it gets a bit non-traditional.   The Colter brothers – senior – appear to completely dote on Holly.    They seem to be totally OK with the lifestyle they’ve chosen, which happens to be three brothers sharing one wife.  Hrm.  OK.  Interestingly enough, their SONS share one wife as well.  The Colter brothers – junior – also dote on their wife, Lily.  These husbands seem to be very intuitive and nurturing when it comes to their wives.   So.  The plot.  The conflict seemed to center around Lily finding out she was pregnant, Holly’s appendicitis, and Callie dealing with her sister-in-law’s abuse at the hands of someone she loved.  Nothing earth-shattering.  Nothing that isn’t normal, every-day life.    I can relate to every one of...
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Jun
11

Review: Beauty and the Best by Judi Fennell

Review: Beauty and the Best by Judi Fennell Beauty and the Best Author: Judi Fennell  Release Date: April 6, 2012 Publisher: self-published ISBN: #978-0985453411 Genre: Contemporary Romance, angels Format(s): paperback (296 pgs), e-book Book Source: Author About the book: Jolie Gardener, personal chef by day, aspiring romance writer by night, likes to talk and does it a lot. She has to because if she stops, all the pain, disillusionment, and abandonment of her AWOL mother, question-mark father, and foster-care childhood will rise up like a chocolate soufflé on steroids, sweeping away the fragile infrastructure of her life. But she’s fine. Really. She is. Or so she thinks. Todd Best isn’t fine. He knows it. And doesn’t care. After his wife died—the woman who believed in him when he was a struggling artist—he put painting aside, moved from their home, and lost himself in the minutiae of daily life. Alone. Private. The way he likes it. The last thing he needs is some chatty cook seeping into the perfectly bland canvas of his life. Or so he thinks. So when Jonathan, a guardian-angel-in-training, turns himself into a kitten to help these two lonely souls find a happily ever after together, it ought to be a piece of cake. Or so he thinks…   What I’m talking about: What a wonderful, refreshing, happy story! Right from the start I was in love with the hero, Todd Best. A lonely, depressed man who lost his wife two years ago, he has all but given up on life and the will to continue his work (a famous artist) and even to feed himself. His concerned family has hired different personal chefs to help him over the past two years, and now Jolie is starting the task. On her first morning, Todd stumbles into the kitchen, hungover and naked. Instead of being arrogant and cocky as we would expect a famous man to be, we learn from Todd’s inner monologue that he is embarrassed by his actions.  Jolie has had a tough life – alcoholic mom, never knew her dad, in and out of foster homes. She’s seen it all, but she has managed to make the most of her life and to rise above the circumstances. Yet there is a price to her success – she has shut out almost everyone, scare to be hurt and let down again. She won’t let her emotions get hold and allow herself to hope. Early on we learn of Jolie’s plans to author a romance...
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Jun
1

Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox About Last Night Author:  Ruthie Knox   Release Date: June 11, 2012 Publisher: Random House – Loveswept ISBN: #978-034553516 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go… in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her. Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine — even her name turns him on — with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies. When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime? What Nima’s talking about: Like Ruthie Knox’s last novel, Ride with Me, I sat down to just “start” reading her latest, About Last Night.  It was one the busiest days I’ve had in months and the first chapter was going to be my reward for meeting a major deadline.  I was a full quarter into the book before real life came pounding down the door, and I had to pull myself out of the relationship quickly evolving between main characters Nev and Cath.  I came back to it later that night after fixing dinner and told myself I was going to “just get comfortable at the computer” before starting the next project on my list.  Naturally, I read the rest of the whole darn thing in that one sitting.  I had no business blowing off so much work, but I was consumed.  Three lousy hours of sleep was worth it to go to bed knowing how it all resolved. The overall story arc is not overly complicated with subplots, and in this case, that’s a good thing.  The narrowness and simplicity of the story serve to make it an intense experience.  You have everything invested in the characters and what happens to this unlikely couple.  Cath is a chronic mistake-maker. She...
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