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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Nov
30

Review: Snowed In by Jenna Bayley-Burke

Review: Snowed In by Jenna Bayley-Burke Snowed In Author: Jenna Bailey-Burke Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: There isn’t much to tell you about the plot of Snowed In that’s not in the blurb—or the title for that matter. What I can tell you is that I genuinely liked this story when I had admittedly low expectations. Just a few weeks ago I reviewed a novella, Like Fresh Fallen Snow, with a very similar premise: successful independent woman works hard, goes to a large event at a hotel, gets snowed in with the man of her dreams, tries to remain independent and ignore her feelings. The set-up in both cases feels entirely contrived. Then again, when the title can serve as the description, you can’t fault it for false advertising. So why did I like Snowed In when I was disposed not to? Scott Parker. Scott is the best thing about the book. Even if he weren’t tall, dark, and handsome, there’s nothing so attractive as a man who’s in love and desperate to commit. Bayley-Burke puts it beautifully in her dedication, “For everyone who’s ever been burned by a stupid boy. May you find love with a smart one. Let’s hope he’s gorgeous and rich, tall and sporting a six-pack, with captivating eyes and a penchant for saying, ‘I love you’ at random moments. Bonus points if he does the dishes and has memorized Ian Kerner’s She Comes First.” The female lead as the aggressor isn’t the original twist it once was, but Scott still seems to hold all the cards, even when Marissa is the one coming on to him. Scott doesn’t just want a post wedding fling with Marissa Clark, he wants to keep her for the long haul. Marissa has been hurt in the past and the wedding they’re both attending is all kinds of awkward because of it. When they get snowed in together, Marissa just wants to blow off some stress between the sheets before she goes back to her regularly scheduled life. Scott has other plans and uses the time to make his case. It’s clear to the reader, even if Marissa hasn’t figured it out, that the reason she’s so stubborn when it comes to Scott isn’t because she doesn’t have time for a man in her life, she’s dated since the painful incident, but rather she knows instinctively that Scott matters. She must discover how to integrate the person she was with the one...
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Nov
22

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan Miracle on 5th Avenue Author: Sarah Morgan Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Eva Jordan LOVES snowflakes, Christmas, and all the holiday hoopla. Although she continues to suffer the loss of her grandmother just over a year ago, Eva owes it to her grandmother to live each day to its fullest. She’s agreed to prepare food for and decorate the apartment of bestselling author Lucas Blade at the request of his grandmother, Mitsy. Eva and Mitsy have become friends over the time Eva and her friends started their event planning and concierge company. Lucas Blade hates snowflakes, Christmas, and all the holiday hoopla. Three years ago, his wife was killed in a car accident on a snowy night. It’s the anniversary of her death. He’s told his family and agent that he’s on a writing retreat in Vermont, but instead, he’s hiding in his Manhattan condo. He hasn’t even started his latest book, which is due Christmas Eve, and no one knows. He’s consumed with grief over Sallyanne, his late wife. Miracle on 5th Avenue is another delightful romance from Sarah Morgan. Her small-town-turned-big-city trio of best friends warmed my heart with their journeys through life as they each find their romantic partners. Eva is no exception. She is sweet and kind; she believes there are happily-ever-afters and sees good in everyone. Meanwhile, Lucas is jaded and cynical; he’s lost in love and deals with the pressures of fame on a daily basis. Although they are complete opposites, something sparks between the pair, and their mutual desires are palpable. Each draws out the best from the other – challenging the other to think outside their individual comfort zones. They are seduced by intellectual and titillating conversation, eventually giving into physical desires. Ms. Morgan does a fabulous job developing Eva and Lucas, giving them strong, realistic personalities and character traits, with actions that stay true to those natures. Overall, the romance is sweet and gentle, with enough bumps in the road to make it gripping. However, I was put off in the start of the book when Eva mistakes Lucas for an intruder. I get this is a light contemporary romance, but there is NO WAY Eva should be ogling and smelling the man who attacked her… She doesn’t know it’s Lucas and honestly fears for her life. She should be mindlessly scared, not noticing his smoldering eyes. Miracle on 5th Avenue is a sweet and uplifting...
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Nov
21

Review: At Last by Addison Fox

Review: At Last by Addison Fox At Last Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Addison Fox has become a reliable Go-To author for me.  Her writing is intelligent and satisfying.  At Last marks the beginning of a new series, The Brooklyn Brotherhood.  Three boys, Nick, Fender, and Landon were in the foster care system when Louisa Mills adopted them.  They saved her from a rock bottom moment, and she saved them bleak futures.  Even though the boys are grown now, each carries the baggage of rough beginnings. At Last is Nick’s story as he faces down some of that baggage while he tries to make a significant advance in his life.  Emma Vandenburg Bradley is intimately intertwined in that process and is facing down some demons of her own.  Emma and Nick were lab partners in high school and are now forced to work together again.  Now every move they make carries a lot more weight than a letter grade. Fox is, like her name, clever. I appreciate clever.  One of my favorite lines regarded an observation Nick made of his brother Landon, a video game designer.  Nick noted, “Nothing ruffled Landon.  In the zombie apocalypse that was life, Landon just knew how to get by, his brains intact.” I’ve found over the course of several books I’ve read by Fox, she is an observant writer and interesting insights are voiced by her characters. This is part of what makes her a reliably good writer. Because At Last sets up the rest of the series, there are at least two other storylines that are inserted, a little oddly, mid-novel. The overlap didn’t necessarily add a whole lot to Nick and Emma’s story arc, but will provide a starting place for those books still to come.  I’m looking forward to all of them. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Welcome to Park Heights, Brooklyn where three brothers discover the meaning of family, and taking a chance on love. After a year of turmoil, Emma Vandenburg Bradley returned home to Park Heights to run her family’s business – a Brooklyn institution – Unity brewery. Still trying to get her feet back under her, she definitely doesn’t want to be on the spectacularly bad date that ends with getting caught in a bar fight and her high school crush coming to her rescue. Nick Kelley’s career in the NFL was cut short, but now he has a successful bar in...
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Nov
18

Review: Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

Review: Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey Holiday with a Twist Author: Shannon Stacey Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Leigh Holloway is back home for the holidays, and she’s hiding a big secret from her family. Not wanting to upset the apple cart at Christmas, Leigh hides the fact that she broke things off with her fiancé and quit her job in Houston two months ago. However, meeting up with childhood friend Croy stirs up all sorts of feelings, and now she’s trying to keep their holiday fling under wraps until she can get back to Houston and get on with her life. Holiday with a Twist is an enjoyable holiday novella, complete with warm fuzzies and family fun. Leigh and Croy share a history, and although their friendship has been on hold for several years, I like that they fell into an easy camaraderie from that first night she walked into his bar. Ms. Stacey builds their shared past through recollection and dialogue, keeping the reader in present day while filling in the missing pieces. Falling for someone who was once a close friend gives the romance more weight and substance within the confines of the shorter space of a novella. While the perceived need for Leigh to keep her relationship status a secret could have grown out of control, it was never overused, with her secrets unraveling before I got annoyed by her lack of honesty. Her reasons for her actions felt very real and relatable, and we all know, once a lie is out there, it’s hard to be forthright. Luckily, this is Christmas in small town New Hampshire, where everything works out as it should! Holiday with a Twist is a wonderful holiday treat. I highly recommend curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy this sexy, sweet novella from Ms. Stacey. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: After a messy breakup, Leigh Holloway is ready to start her life over. Until her parents put the family home on the market and call her back for one final, memory-making Christmas. The last thing she wants to do is deprive her mom of the perfect holiday, so she’ll lie her way through the visit and worry about her future in the New Year. Too bad the only bar in town is owned by a guy she seriously wronged in high school.  Leigh’s best friend broke Croy Dawson’s heart, and Croy knows it...
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Nov
17

Review: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin

Review: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin Picture Perfect Wedding Author: Lynnette Austin Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: True to form, Picture Perfect Wedding is a fun and spunky story of second chances, forgiveness and going home again. Set is the picturesque low country just outside of Savannah, Georgia, and filled with colorful characters, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit: reconnecting with old friends like Cole and Jenni Beth and getting to know new friends like Beck and Tansey, the spunky couple this story revolves around. Beck and Tansy were high school sweethearts, engaged to be married, and then Tansy married another man. Although Beck swears he’s moved on, the chemistry between the two doesn’t lie. Somehow they have to find a way to live in the same small town because avoiding each other simply isn’t an option in a place like Misty Bottoms. Ms. Austin does a lovely job of balancing the heartache and issues of the past without letting it become the actual story. We get the background, we understand the why, but get to focus on how they will move past it. It is a fun, sweet, chemistry filled process that had me turning pages and occasionally even laughing out loud. It was sweet to watch the process of healing happen not only between Tansy and Beck but also with Tansy’s daughter Gracie, who added a lovely innocence to the starting over storyline. The overall story is fun, well written, and filled with beautiful settings, wonderful friendships and memorable secondary characters like the matchmaking Kitty and Tansy’s colorful Aunt. All of which make a perfect backdrop to Beck and Tansy’s story. If you enjoy a good southern setting, coupled with a great chemistry and themes of forgiveness and family, then you will love escaping to Misty Bottoms in Picture Perfect Wedding. My Rating: A, Loved It   About the Book: Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable-until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child. Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter-especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring...
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Nov
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Score Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: Savannah Peachwood & Andrew Eiden Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Off-Campus #3 Genre: NA Contemporary Romance Source: purchased Allie Hayes has had it with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Sean, and finally breaks it off for good. With her past behavior of giving into Sean’s apologies, she turns to best friend Hannah for help staying away from Sean that first weekend. Unfortunately, Hannah is out of town with her boyfriend, but they insist she hideout at Garrett’s house with his roommates. Hockey stud and all-around player Dean Di-Laurentis knows his best friend’s girlfriend’s best friend Allie is off limits when she shows up looking for a place to hide from the temptation of getting back together with her ex. But isn’t rebound sex the best thing for getting over an ex? However, now that he’s been with Allie, he can’t shake her out of his system. Having absolutely loved the first two books in Ms. Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, I was chomping at the bit waiting for The Score to finally make it to Audible. Although she changed her narrator for this one, overall, the wait was worth it. Ms. Kennedy has a knack for telling humorous, heartfelt stories that make me both laugh and cry. Allie and Dean are well matched. They are both so passionate, and with the freedom of labeling their relationship a fling, they explore each other in open and honest ways. However, they keep the fling a secret, which leads to some hilarious moments, and it places pressure on the pair which I feel helps the relationship in the long run. And while there is a lot of exploration, the pair grows close because of a developing friendship which bolsters each other in surprising ways. While there were times that the overall story was a little predictable, I didn’t care. I was so wrapped up in Dean and Allie’s story that I just listened and enjoyed. I laughed out loud and I got teary eyed. It’s just fun, high-quality storytelling. And I appreciate that the book is really about two young people trying to figure out who they want to be, and be okay with the fact it may not be what they were planning all along. I was disappointed that Lorelei Avalon was replaced as the sole narrator for the series. Savannah Peachwood & Andrew Eiden hold their own and do a respectable...
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Nov
16

Review: Dirty Wicked by Shayla Black

Review: Dirty Wicked by Shayla Black Dirty Wicked Author: Shayla Black Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Set up and sent to jail for a violent crime he didn’t commit, Nick Navarro is determined to take vengeance on the corrupt district attorney who framed him and killed his best friend, Mike Porter. Sasha Porter holds the key to putting away Clifford for good. Now if Nick can keep his desperate need for his best friend’s widow, Nick and Sasha may yet survive the ordeal. Dirty Wicked is a quick and danger-filled love story. Clifford is a evil, corrupt soul, who will stop at nothing to see Nick, Sasha, and her three-year-old daughter, Hannah, dead. I like that he’s not a good man in any way, making him a easy character to loathe.  Additionally, being on the run adds an element of suspense to the story, which in turn allows the author the freedom to create intense feelings between the couple, regardless of how little they know of one another. While Ms. Black won me over with her ability to create strong emotional bonds between the hero and heroine in her previous 1,001 Dark Nights novellas, she fell short of the mark with Dirty Wicked. There were good moments and sexy scenes, but there were also easy outs and ridiculous actions (or non-actions). The pair fell into unwarranted “I love you’s” after only two days, and the descriptive text like “he could taste the love in her kiss,” and “Devotion flowed from her fingertips. Acceptance oozed from her soft palms,” felt a bit over the top to me. Yet there are brilliant moments like when Nick felt pushing Sasha into sex would keep her away, lessening his temptation. “You can force me to spread my legs for you and give you everything between them. You can’t force me to share everything under my skin.” The demonstrates Sasha’s a fighter and still has some spirit left despite the circumstances. This is followed by Nick’s “Until you can give me all that, don’t offer me your body again,” which allows a little glimpse of his true desires though. Unfortunately, those moments were outnumbered by the less brilliant ones. In the end, Dirty Wicked was a let down for me after loving the previous two 1,001 Dark Nights titles by Ms. Black. Although there were wonderful moments in the story, Dirty Wicked had too many stereotypes and a cookie-cutter plot. The story just didn’t feel well-thought out to me....
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Nov
15

Review: Beauty and the Billionaire: The Wedding by Jessica Clare

Review: Beauty and the Billionaire: The Wedding by Jessica Clare Beauty and the Billionaire: The Wedding Author: Jessica Clare Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Beauty and the Billionaire is just fun.  Coming in at number eight in the series, it is not strictly necessary to have read the previous seven books and novellas of the Billionaire Boys Club series, the story does stand on its own.  Having said that, it is infinitely better if you have that background to fill out the characters and their motivations. I liked the characters, but I liked them already. This little romp, which I read easily on a hopper flight from Scranton to Atlanta, combines Christmas and a wedding. While it is a romance, it is not what I expected.  The story isn’t so much about the stressed out bride who keeps firing caterers because they can’t make a decent croquembouche, but the reconciliation with her rock star sister.  It was a story about family at a time of the year you want to think that snow and cookies can fix any problem. This is a lovely holiday escape. My single criticism:  Again with the exploding ovaries. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Someone’s out to ruin Gretchen’s happy-ever-after on the eve before the big day. Can she trust Hunter, the man she’s given her heart to? And can she rely on her sister Daphne (the least reliable person of all!) to help her salvage things? Or is this marriage going to go down in flames before Gretchen and Hunter ever get to the altar? Release Date: November 15, 2016 Publisher: InterMix Series: Billionaire Boys Club #8 Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella Format(s): e-book, audiobook Book Source: Publisher Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare (Billionaire Boys Club #1) Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare (Billionaire Boys Club #2) The Wrong Billionaire’s Bed by Jessica Clare (Billionaire Boys Club #3) Romancing the Billionaire by Jessica Clare (Billionaire Boys Club #5) One Night with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare (Billionaire Boys Club...
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Nov
14

Review: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

Review: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey Too Hot to Handle Author: Tessa Bailey Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: In case you already read my review of the second title in the Romancing the Clarksons series, here’s the first! If not, there’s a link below 😉 There’s nothing like instant attraction/chemistry to get a story rolling. There’s a lot of good ways to write the instalove trope, and then there’s some stories that make me roll my eyes so many times I worry they’ll get stuck in my head. Tessa Bailey does a great job handling the premise in Too Hot to Handle. Here’s the thing. Instalove does happen. It’s a magical thing, to be honest. The gut-deep knowledge you’ve just met your other half. Realizing, as you get to know them better, you’re complimentary in all the right places, and the same in others. What happens in Too Hot to Handle is… more than instalove, in my opinion. With two inherently damaged (and that’s a serious understatement) main characters that both seem to have zero self-esteem, Rita and Jasper come from different worlds. There’s this magical thread that seemed to twist around them, kinda like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. I almost felt like they were struggling with the ‘version of truths’ they’d previously believed. Um. Hello. If you’ve been following along for a bit, you guys know I don’t usually go for the spoilery stuff. I need to connect with the books I read. My personal theme for Too Hot to Handle was perception. Rita, a spit-fire chef who learned at the elbow of her recently deceased mom, hasn’t ever felt worthy. With some personal failures under her belt, it’s time for her to reassess, and the road trip with her sibs seems like a perfect place for that to happen. Now, this was the hard part for me to connect with. I’m really close to my sister. She sets me straight when my perception is skewed. I know not everyone is as fortunate to have that kind of a relationship with their siblings, and I always feel badly for people who are estranged from their family. I felt super bad for Rita. I totally get how Rita felt like a failure, though. That hit pretty close, so I was able to keep a decent connection with Rita throughout the story. Jasper was a victim of perception. And he wanted to change it. When we were young, we all did a...
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Nov
10

Review: One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis

Review: One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis One Snowy Night Author: Jill Shalvis Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Picking up from events started in the previous full-length book, it’s Christmas Eve and both Max and Rory want to get home. Rory, who ran away at 17, hasn’t been back to see her family since she’s gotten her life straighten out. Rory’s friend and boss asks Max to drive her from San Francisco to Tahoe, unaware the pair shares a history. Unknown to their friends, Max and Rory went to high school together, and they themselves don’t ever talk about it. While Rory was a quiet kid with a huge crush on big-time jock Max, she remains unaware of the events she triggered just before she left town, changing the course of Max’s life forever. Now the pair must overcome hours in a car together while fighting an undeniable attraction. Rory and Max were adorable in the previous book, The Trouble with Mistletoe, and so I was excited they got their own book. The story was fast-paced and generally lighthearted, with just-a-touch of Christmas romance. However, I felt the entire relationship moved a tad too fast for my liking. I appreciate that Ms. Shalvis built a past for the pair, and seeing them make eyes for each other in the previous book, helped validate their passion. Yet, the couple goes from flirting to forever in a matter of hours. Overall, One Snowy Night is very quick and easy to read, although you may need to suspend reality for a bit. Rory and Max’s story is uncomplicated and breezy, despite their history and the weather. The drama is a bit over the top and the relationship goes from zero to 100 in a very short period. But still, it is an enjoyable, lighthearted story that I finished in one setting. Warning: The digital ARC copy I read had a lot of backend material, with the novella actually ending at the 58% mark. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl. Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since...
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