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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Jan
10

Guest Review: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Guest Review: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young Before Jamaica Lane Author: Samantha Young Reviewer: Guest Review Rating: A Today we welcome back Nena from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly review blog. She brings you today’s Guest Review. What I’m Talking About: Before Jamaica Lane is the third installment in the On Dublin Street Series by Samantha Young. Old and new fans of contemporary fiction will devour this one. I have been following Samantha Young since she self-published On Dublin Street back in August of 2012, when the books sales skyrocketed in a matter of days, and she remained at the top of the charts for several weeks. I loved On Dublin Street. I love the concept, the writing, the characters, but most importantly, the flow of her prose. I couldn’t put the book down. When the second book in the series came out (Down London Road) my expectations were high. Samantha Young produced a good novel but not spectacular like the first book. The writing was strong, but I felt like the protagonist in Down London Road never got the spotlight. The main characters from the first book kept coming in and out in a very unbalanced way. To say that I was disappointed is a bit of an understatement. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to read on this series, until I remember that Samantha’s writing has always been her strongest asset. Even if the plot didn’t meet my expectations, I would still read it in one sitting. Before Jamaica Lane is a book that stands on it’s own. Whether you are a returning fan or a new reader, you will love getting to know Olivia and Nate: Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants. Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident. The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted....
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Jan
6

Review: Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

Review: Hope Flames by Jaci Burton Hope Flames Author: Jaci Burton  Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Hope Ignites is the first full length novel in the Hope Series. We were first introduced to the little town of Hope, Oklahoma, in author Jaci Burton’s contribution, “Hope Smolders,” to the Hot Summer Nights anthology released in July of 2013.  According to her author bio, Burton resides in Oklahoma and repeats the success of authors like Ruthie Knox who imagined the little hamlet of Camelot, Ohio, the state of which she is a resident, in her Camelot Series.  As a reader, the authenticity of the author’s connection with the geographical area is apparent, and I appreciated that. I genuinely liked this book, although I can’t really put my finger on why.  This one afternoon, fluffy read has a single, uncomplicated (rather predictable actually) plot, but that doesn’t disqualify it as a worthy read.  This story focuses on the relationship (or lack of one) between Dr.Emma Burnett, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and local beat cop Luke McCormack.  Emma has a significant chapter in her past which has affected why she is in Hope to set up her veterinary practice.  I don’t want to downplay her experience because it deserves its due, but for as hard as Emma was working to move forward with her life, she was very repetitive in referring to it, thinking about it, and letting it motivate her—all without telling the reader what it was for the entire first third of the book.  In fact, those initial chapters read like an extended ad for animal shelters.  Everyone in this story loves animals, especially dogs, and has them with the exception of one of Emma’s friends whose landlord doesn’t allow pets.  If you love your dog, this is your book. Having been burned by an ill-suited marriage, Luke doesn’t want to settle down ever again.  In fact, he’s very attractive and has no trouble in the one-night-stand department. He doesn’t need or want a relationship.  Perhaps it’s watching Emma and Luke try to avoid each other that makes it so much fun when they do come together.  (Hey, this is a romance, I’m not giving anything away here…)  Burton lets us feel the safety of small town life so that when something bad happens, as it inevitably does to everyone, even in small towns, we don’t really feel the threat, expecting Officer Luke to show up and save the day.  It does, however, provide...
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Dec
4

Review: Melting Ms Frost by Kat Black

Review: Melting Ms Frost by Kat Black Melting Ms. Frost Author: Kat Black Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Author Kat Black, based in the United Kingdom—not to be  confused with the children’s author of the same name based in Massachusetts—has recently released Melting Ms. Frost, a contemporary romance with very light domination and submission themes.  Unfortunately, the title of Melting Ms. Frost is basically the entire plot.  The whole book is devoted to the conquest and submission of Annabelle Frost by Aidan Flynn.  That’s not entirely bad.  I don’t mind the occasional book that focuses solely and intently on a single pairing. In this case, however, the weak secondary plots only serve to emphasize the lack of significant growth or change in Annabelle and Aidan.  To me, Annabelle’s eventual letting go isn’t a fundamental change in her personality, but rather giving in to what was already there.  She gets unstuck, but doesn’t really change much. I didn’t really enjoy the secondary characters, especially Annabelle’s mother.  Her weakness inspires a relentless rigidity and coldness in Annabelle that seems, at times, to be overdone.  She is in her mid-twenties, has a successful career, but no friends of any kind.  It seems to me she would have found someone, even in her college days, with which to vent and share a bottle of wine.  Unfortunately she doesn’t come off as likable and after two-hundred pages of sexual tension with no satisfaction, I was left wondering why Aidan was continuing to bother. There’s a slow burn and then there’s barely glowing embers.  Get on with it already! But bother he does.  Aidan has an endearing Irish accent and a very clever ability to banter.  I was surprised by how often he was able to trip Annabelle up on her own words of logic and practicality to shock and disturb her well-ordered world.  With his constant pursuit and relentless efforts, we do eventually see a softer, more likable side to Annabelle, but it’s a long time in coming.  I think this book would actually make a better movie so that we could see the facial expressions that turn crude and raunchy dialog into naughty in a good way.  As a reader I felt I had to bring a lot to the story that wasn’t written in.  Thankfully Black was eventually able to convince me that Aidan was using his directness with intent in order to get through Annabelle’s personal fortresses and not just because he is that crass....
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Nov
26

Review: The Gypsy Ribbon: Suit of Wands by Shannon MacLeod

Review: The Gypsy Ribbon: Suit of Wands by Shannon MacLeod The Gypsy Ribbon: Suit of Wands Author: Shannon MacLeod  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Shannon MacLeod’s second title in her Arcana Love series, The Gypsy Ribbon, has the perfect blend of romance, humor and tension. Not just sexual tension, either. Get your thoughts out of the gutter! With this title, I’ve started writing my review at the 50% mark. There were quotes and passages that I didn’t want to miss in writing my review, and if I highlight everything I adore on my e-reader and try to sift through it later, I’ll be a sobbing mess. Ms. MacLeod does a fabulous job with the omniscient perspective – we get to know what multiple significant characters are thinking. I. Love. This. I don’t think I’d want to only know this story from Beth’s perspective, or from James’s perspective either. Well-played choice of POV! “I have no intention of having sex with you. What you and I will be doing is making love, and from what I understand there’s a big difference. I’m after more than your body tonight, darlin’. I want all of you and nothing less.” I’m sure no one wants to hear me wax poetic about how every person needs to feel loved and cherished in any physical relationship. But. We do. One of the things I adore about James is the way he’s remote. He doesn’t build relationships easily, nor does he allow people to cross the piranha-ridden moat he’s built around himself. Isolated from his family – his source of life – James appears to be withering. Damn sensitive musicians. How do they make me love them so easily? Watching him blossom and grow after meeting Beth though? Probably one of the best character arcs I’ve read in a long time. “First. Last. Only. Mine, his heart purred.” Alright. This thought process by our hard-rock hero, James, made me a pile of girl goo swooning in his glory. And these aren’t spotty sightings of Mr. Romantic, either. He’s all-in for the romance with Beth. Lucky girl. Lisbeth is our lucky heroine. She’s definitely a heroine because she saved James. I love the way Ms. MacLeod infused the Tarot with Beth, using it for foreshadowing purposes as well as to build tension. While Beth was originally a tentative character, I really liked watching her grow into her relationship with Seamus (Seamus = James… you’ll understand why the shift once you read!). I had to...
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Nov
19

Review: Moonlight Kiss by LuAnn McLane

Review: Moonlight Kiss by LuAnn McLane Moonlight Kiss Author: LuAnn McLean Reviewer: Ang Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: LuAnn McLean paints a lovely small town picture in Moonlight Kiss. She nails the charm, quirks, nosiness, friendliness, and sense of community you’d experience in a small southern town as you walk the streets of Cricket Creek with Addison and Reid. She fully embraces you in the feel and flavor of this small Kentucky town, a place I wouldn’t mind visiting if it actually existed. In addition to the sweet southern charm of the town, Ms. McLean writes engaging and sweet characters who’s chemistry you feel right from the start. Addison stumbles into Cricket Creek running from a tabloid feast fest of a break-up, and Reid is busy trying to help save the family farm. Both have sworn off relationships in order to get their heads start only to find them selves quickly failing in love. I found their story to be fun and sweet, if not entirely believable. There were no major hiccups in their story, and you know going in that Addy and Reid will have their happily ever after. The romance I was more interested in was that of Rick and Maggie. Rick is Addison’s almost father-in-law and Maggie is a local realtor who helps him find a a cabin to rent while he regroups and hides from the paparazzi. Their romance is so sweet and touching it was wonderful to read. Ms. McLean does a great job with these secondary characters, but like in the preceding book, Whisper’s Edge, just as we get to the end she drops them. There is sorta, kinda some closure at the end, but not really. There’s a great “I’m sorry” moment and then nothing, boom they’re gone. It aggravated me to say the least. If you are going to spend that much time investing into both relationships then BOTH relationships need to be given a conclusion. This oversight and the slightly unrealistic ending are the only things that brought my rating down. It could have been an A- book. Instead I’m giving it a B- rating because Rick and Maggie were totally short changed in my opinion. The book has tons going for it in way of dialogue great characters, beautifully written setting, and a totally awwww ending, but until the secondary romance gets its due I won’t be rating McLean’s books any higher. However, if you like small southern towns and sweet endings you’ll enjoy this book. I mostly did despite my issues. Rating:...
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Oct
7

Review: Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

Review: Drawn Together by Lauren Dane Drawn Togther Author: Lauren Dane Reviewer: Nima Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Drawn Together takes us back to the roots of the Brown Family Novels.  This is the story of Raven Smith; that is not her full name and it is full of meaning—which I will not spoil for you.  It is, however, one of many things that makes Raven unique.  Raven is tied to the Brown family through Erin, her best friend (Laid Bare, #1) and Erin’s brother Brody (Coming Undone, #2).  Raven used to date Brody, but now works for him in his tattoo store as a talented artist. This far into the series, characters from nearly all the books make appearances or are referenced.  In fact, they make up almost all the peripheral characters populating the story.  For this reason, it’s easier to understand some of the dynamics if you have read the previous books.  It’s not absolutely necessary, but I think reading books one and two makes for a better read.  This book also crosses over into Dane’s Delicious Series making for an even larger casting call.  The Brown family and their friends tend to be so overly supportive that it can be drippy at times.  I laughed out loud when Raven made the comment, “They’re all so nice.  Perky.  Everyone loves everyone else and they’re close and blah.”  That kept me going during the slower parts to the end of the book where we finally get the character growth and change that we’re yearning for. I appreciated how the twist in this book, which I did not see coming, mostly played out.  In previous books, such as Tart, Dane simply told us that the most significant thing in the book happened after the fact.  In contrast to that, Drawn Together lets us experience the events, the significance of them, and how they affect and change her characters. In general, Dane’s writing tends to be somewhat hit or miss for me, and I liked this one a little better than others that I have read.  I think a large part of that will be what the reader brings to the story, especially since Raven and her love interest Johan Warner are in the neighborhood of forty years old.  This is not the blush of young love, it’s the “been around the block and so beat up I’m never going to fall again” love.  There is a fair amount of dom sex in...
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Oct
1

Review: Long Shot by Hanna Martine

Review: Long Shot by Hanna Martine Long Shot Author: Hanna Martine  Reviewer: Una Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: Long Shot is the premier novel in the new Highland Games series by Hanna Martine.  In short, for a non-contemporary lover like me – I loved it!  I mean, seriously, what’s not to love; men in kilts showing off skills and serious muscles = melt! As I have said before, I prefer my romance with some paranormal or fantasy element blended in, if not at least some murder or mystery.  I typically do not read strict contemporary romance.  However, when I saw that Ms. Martine was starting a new series with men in kilts, I thought I would give it a shot.  I thoroughly enjoyed her Elementals series and thought this might be interesting.  Boy, am I glad I volunteered. The story of Leith and Jen was engaging and well grounded.  The usual complaints that I have for contemporaries was blessedly missing.  This book shares the story of a young love that ended quite badly, which is then reignited by outside circumstances.  And due to these circumstances, they are then forced to work together and therefore work through the issues that divided them.  It was thankfully not predictable even though we do have a happy ending.  Their journey was passionate, good and bad as well as heartwarming.  The physical passion between them sizzles as the sexual tension grows and then flames. Both Leith and Jen have their own demons and issues each needs to deal with – that they think they have overcome.  But until faced with each other – they come to realize they still have much to resolve.  Jen’s relationships with her sister, niece and mother are quite troubled.  However, it seems that most of the “issues” are between Jen and her mother and Jen and her sister.  Although I felt some back-story was glossed over a bit in this element, I really admire how Jen and her sister were able to bridge their gap. It was interesting to watch Jen finally look at herself; where she has been, where she is, and where she is going.  Her personal journey to self-realization was a long time coming.  Without a close knit circle of friends, it is not surprising that Jen has lost herself in work in order to fill herself with something even at the expense of her family. In contrast, Leith’s issues are different.  He is the town’s golden boy.  He was...
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Sep
27

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl So Tough to Tame Author: Victoria Dahl Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A, 4.5 stars What I’m Talking About: I never thought I would be enamored with a cowboy as much as I am Walker Pearce.  Victoria Dahl continues my love affair with Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in So Tough to Tame, the third title in her Jackson series. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Ms. Dahl’s Jackson Hole.  It was fabulous to have cameos from characters we’ve previously seen, becoming reacquainted with and catching up with their lives.  The handful of scenes involving former main characters was, in my opinion, a little brief and could have expanded a smidge more on what’s going on with them.  I also enjoyed the underlying plot line regarding Miss Rayleen and her verbal-volley partner, Easy, which seems to resolve in this title.  I love Miss Rayleen.  I hope to be as spunky and sassy as she is, at her age!  I also was overjoyed to see Ms. Dahl’s ‘Ability Ranch’ in this title.  As a special education teacher, I love it when kids with challenges are portrayed full of awesomeness and in a positive way – not pitied or shoved in a corner. Charlie Allington – short for Charlotte – was a great main character.  I was so surprised at the plot twist and resolution that revolved around Charlie during the last 10% of So Tough to Tame that I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store more than the normal 10 minutes just to finish.  I loved the way she handled pretty much every difficult situation tossed her direction.  The way she guarded her heart (ineffectively) from Walker was great.  She wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns gushing about him when he wasn’t there.  She had other real-world problems to occupy her brain.  This smart character really used her brains to diffuse a potentially volatile situation, and for that alone, Charlie gets points in my book.  Ms. Dahl even managed to stump me over several plot points regarding Charlie.  Kudos! Walker. Pearce.  Mmmmhm.  Rugged cowboy.  Tremendous flirt.  Heartbreaker extraordinaire.  I thought that Ms. Dahl did a fabulous job bringing him to life for her reader.  From his expressions to his emotions, I felt as though Walker were the guy-next-door.  The Mr. Popular in school.  I felt like the plotlines involving Walker, including his dad and his former relationship, were a great parallel to the issues facing Charlie and established both characters as individuals with...
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Sep
6

Review: No Reservations by Stephanie Julian

Review: No Reservations by Stephanie Julian No Reservations Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Twimom227 Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: The second story in Ms. Julian’s marvelous Salon Games series begins with the New Year’s Eve party scene from the first book, By Private Invitation, when Kate Song meets Tyler Golden–only this time we see the scene from Kate’s point-of-view (POV). Kate is attending party with BFF Annabelle while Kate’s finance, Arnie, stays home. Soon enough, the book jumps to present day, which lines up with the conclusion of the first book. This is where we discover Kate telling Tyler that she’s broken off her engagement. Tyler Golden owns one-half of the lush Philadelphia hotel, Haven, along side his brother, Jared (hero from By Private Invitation). After his fiancée died two years ago from a brain tumor, Tyler hasn’t felt a big attraction to any woman, until he meets Kate. I’m just going to come out and say that No Reservations is another wonderful story from Ms. Julian’s Salon Games series and one of the best erotic romance stories of 2013. The author knows how to write amazingly erotic sex scenes with tender romance and real emotions at the heart of the story. Tyler and Kate experience an immediate and intense attraction, which they readily explore right from the start. The pair wants to explore and be free with one another, but also to get to know and understand one another. Even with a few reservations, they allow themselves to go after what makes them feel good. I admire that Ms. Julian allows their relationship to grow and progress almost too smoothly right from the start, only tossing in the occasional realistic bump like “is it too soon to call her or have I waited enough time.” There are no huge road blocks preventing the couple from falling fast, which they do. Experiencing the tale from both Kate and Tyler’s POV, we explore their fears and hopes, which seem to mesh so well. Yet, their story isn’t conflict free as Tyler must make a major decision on the future of his career, and likewise, Kate looks to explore her life-long dream of costume design. Overall, their situations and relationship are handled so beautifully. One of the best things in the story is the development of the characters’ emotions. They build organically and without hinderance. The characters mature and grow in such a way that allows me to be part of their world and brought...
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Aug
29

Review: Ningaloo Nights by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Review: Ningaloo Nights by Tracy Cooper-Posey Ningaloo Nights Author: Tracy Cooper-Posey  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A-, 4 stars What I’m Talking About: Ningaloo Nights was my first foray into Tracy Cooper-Posey’s Go Get ‘em Women collection, but not my first journey into the page-scorching erotic romance that I’ve come to know and love from this talented author.  With a heat index of 5 out of 5 (seriously, I was blushing IN PUBLIC while reading this one!), be sure the air conditioning is working, and the ice bin is full! Amazon says this to-the-point novella is around 92 pages.  When I was reading a PDF e-arc, at around the 85% mark, the story ended (I was wondering what was going to happen for the next 15-ish percent…) and there’s previews for other titles by the author… You’re warned   Also, there was one oversight on a plot-point that annoyed me.  This is the ONLY reason this title didn’t earn a 5-star rating.  Aaannnddd… I can’t tell you what it is, because it’s spoilerish. In the remote lands of Western Australia, Mason Hayward is a cool drink of water:  refreshing, satisfying and craved every moment.  While he keeps part of himself frozen and locked away from others, he definitely defrosts for Sherry!  With a completely fractured and fragmented heart, Mason mourns a loss so great that he’s isolated himself from society.  He hides behind a misplaced sense of responsibility, and has enough emotional baggage to fill a FedEx Ground truck.  But, he’s hot.  Incredibly built. And is tender and compassionate.  Seriously.  He’s the perfect hero.  One reason why I love novellas.  We get to see chinks in the armor, but don’t have to go through the whole nasty flaws-to-redemption thing.  The inner conflict we saw within Mason was enough to make the plot strong and character-driven. Sassy New York cop Sherry Abandonato watches the search for her missing sister heat up even more than the Australian wilderness in February.  And she has no desire to put out the flames.  I thought that the author’s choice for Sherry’s last name was interesting.  I thought that Sherry had abandonment issues early on in the story.  With the major losses she’s suffered in her life, and now searching for her presumed-dead sister, she should probably be a blubbering, hysterical mess.  Not so.  As spunky as Sherry is, she is able to give herself over to the care of Mason-the-hottie.  And she’s clearly choosing to let him be her guide on the...
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