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Currently Browsing: contemporary romance
Dec
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas by Jaci Burton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas by Jaci Burton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Love Me by Christmas Author:  Jaci Burton Narrator: Samantha Cook Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Tantor Audio Ellie Washington lost the love of her life five years ago on Christmas eve. Pregnant and alone, Ellie moved in with her brother-in-law, who was also hurting from the sudden death of his brother. Nick helped raise his nephew, and the trio grew into a comfortable life. However, feelings have been changing over the past year, and now Ellie and Nick need to decide if they can take a chance on love. Love Me by Christmas is a short holiday romance about second chances. I like how the author set this up. I was concerned about any ick factor because Nick is Ellie’s dead husband’s brother. But the author creates a history, having Ellie and her unborn child move in right after John’s death, providing mutual support for five years, and finally, only in the past year did feelings change… it works. The story is pretty straightforward. Nick and Ellie both care deeply for one another, and sorting out what those feelings are – untangling the bundle of emotions – is messy. Ellie is full of concern over letting go of her husband and that it’s wrong to love his brother. It’s all very understandable and real. However, it gives the pair plenty of hurdles to jump, with little forward movement. And then, after a while, Ellie’s constant consternation becomes repetitive. On the plus side, the narrator does a delightful job, with a solid cadence at 1.5x speed. The narrator’s soft voice suits Ellie well, both cautious and reserved after losing her husband so young. Additionally, Ms. Cook’s male voices are deep enough to sound masculine. Love Me by Christmas is a sentimental, sweet story set around the Christmas season. I did have a few issues with the lack of action and forward momentum, then with Ellie’s constant self-lecturing about how her love isn’t right or that she’s holding back Nick. However, I the love story was still entertaining and enjoyable for the holiday season. My Rating: B- Narrator: B Review copy provided by Tantor Audio About the Book: Some bad girls need a firm hand to keep them in line. Ellie Washington lost her husband in a tragedy five years ago at Christmas. She wouldn’t have made it through her grief if not for her husband’s brother,...
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Dec
6

Review: Forever Yours by Addison Fox

Review: Forever Yours by Addison Fox Forever Yours Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Forever Yours is the third installment in the Brooklyn Brotherhood series. The brief novella takes advantage of a lengthy history between Jasmine “Jaz” Shane and Cade Rossi. We were introduced to these characters in the last book Just Once. Jasmine is Detective Daphne Rossi’s life long best friend and Cade is Daphne’s older brother, also a member of the NYPD.  Jaz has been in love with Cade since she was nine years old.  Cade knows everything there is to know about Jaz, but has only recently begun to realize she may be the right woman for him. These two have not flirted in the traditional sense as the book description suggests.  Rather they have been sparing like near-siblings in their own form of foreplay. A catalyst incident moves them out of their bickering and into relationship territory, for which they are the only ones who seem surprised.  Because it takes history for granted, it really should be read in order rather than taken as a standalone. Also, because that history is assumed, we can jump from the friend zone into a forever relationship in just 100 or pages. I hope Fox takes on subjects in future books that are brought up in Forever Yours, but not really addressed.  Some of those subjects include racism and sexual assault.  They are too significant to ignore in the lives of her characters given the Brooklyn, New York backdrop.  Book four, Only You, comes out this month. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Detective Cade Rossi has spent the majority of his life oblivious to Jasmine Shane. She’s always been his little sister’s best friend, but after coming to her rescue one night, Cade is starting to see the woman behind the lawyerly suits. Since childhood, Jasmine has harbored an embarrassing crush on Cade. She’s seen him work his way through nearly every eligible bachelorette in Park Heights, Brooklyn, and Jasmine’s given up hope of them ever having a chance together. But summer is the perfect time for a fling, and as Cade and Jasmine grow closer, what starts out as an innocent flirtation could turn into so much more… Release Date: June 13, 2017 Publisher: Swerve Series: The Brooklyn Brotherhood #3 Genre: Contemporary Romance, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: At Last by Addison Fox (Brooklyn Brotherhood #1) Just...
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Dec
6

Review: Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker

Review: Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker Love on the Tracks Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: At only 20 years old, Rowan Andrews is competing in her second Snow and Ice Games (SIGs). She has dedicated her whole life to training for the sport she loves: luge. Entering the games as a medal contender for the United States, nothing can throw Rowan off her game. That is until she meets her celebrity crush, singer Zane Rivera. Zane Rivera, lead singer for an insanely popular boy band, needs a break from his bandmates and the craziness of his life, so when the opportunity arises to surprise his fan, and SIG superstar, Rowan, he takes an impromptu trip to Denver. Once America gets a taste of Rowan and Zane together, they want more, and the pair fake a few dates, hoping to increase their social media coverage. However, the fake dates are starting to feel like the real deal. Overall, I enjoyed Love on the Tracks, and found it to be a solid, entertaining start to this new series. I enjoyed the descriptions and feel of the games and what it means to be a professional/serious athlete. The author does a fabulous job putting me inside the heart and mind of Rowan, learning the ups and downs of such an intense lifestyle. With that said, Rowan was difficult for me to connect with. I like that her sport comes first and that she goes after what she wants without (much) hesitation. She’s strong and unusually mature beyond her 20 years. Yet, I did struggle a bit with her age and maturity level at the start of the book. I suppose because it’s been way too long since I’ve been that age, it was difficult for me to relate to her. But she stays true to her heart and dreams, which I really liked. Zane is a sweet and caring guy; not the typical Justin Bieber asshole popstar. He’s also pretty young, but at 26, and after a decade of touring, he feels like an old soul. He’s perfect for Rowan because he cares and won’t let his agent dictate all of his moves. He’s loyal to his bandmates, friends, and family, so it’s no surprise that he treats Rowan with utter respect. At first it was hard for me to get into their relationship – they felt so young, especially her, but after I got into the story, that all went away....
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Dec
4

Review: Rogue Affair Anthology

Review: Rogue Affair Anthology Rogue Affair Authors: Tamsen Parker, Ainsley Booth, Olivia Made, Kris Ripper, Amy Jo Cousins, Emma Barry, Adriana Anders, Kelly Maher, Stacey Agdern, Jane Lee Blair. Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I read three titles in this collection, and I’m really sad I didn’t have time to read more. Go pick this up, you guys. Dedication of a Lifetime by Tamsen Parker: This story totally hit me in the feels. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had THIS convo with Mr. VampBard. And the REALNESS of the relationship between Sean and Isaiah—oh, my. Get thee to a fainting couch, pronto. I loved the interplay between these two guys. School counselor Sean wants to fix the world, or at least he’s willing to bear the weight on his slim shoulders. No social justice slouch himself, Sean’s medical researcher husband Isaiah is exhausted by one assault to decency after another. Their world is crumbling, their marriage is in trouble, and Isaiah suggests they run away from it all but Sean balks. Will they honor the vows they made to one another or will their relationship be another casualty of the world gone mad?  Personal Proposal by Ainsley Booth: Astrid and Brianne. **content sigh** Brianne has balls of steel and is hiding out. Both of these women seem to have strong personalities and what I liked the most about their story was how there seemed to be an instant attraction yet they were so unsure. It was really endearing. I liked seeing Brianne through Astrid’s artist’s eye. New boss. Secret crush. Big problems.  Brianne can’t afford a crush on her new boss. Thanks to a storm of media attention, she’s fled her old life and desperately needs to please the aloof and demanding Astrid Dane. So she ignores the zing of chemistry every time they touch, and the ache inside each night as she tumbles into a cold, lonely bed. But as their work gets harder, and their days longer, boundaries crumble and Astrid finally puts her cards on the table with an unexpected proposal.  Such Great Heights by Adriana Anders: Shut. Up. I’m not crying. This poignant story highlighting an issue that definitely requires more attention felt so real. I felt like I was hiking up a handicapped path. Sleeping (etc.) in a tent. And the torment of someone haunted by his past. Small town reporter O’Neal Jones is a sucker for a good story. Which...
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Dec
4

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren Roomies Author: Christina Lauren Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Holland, born in a cab and the youngest of six kids, lives in Manhattan on the support of her doting uncles, who are more like fathers. She has a masters degree in fine arts – an aspiring writing, who isn’t writing. She’s got little direction in her life, but when an accident puts her in contact with the subway busker she’s been crushing on for six months, Holland’s life turns upside down. With a little bit of the 1995 Sandra Bullock movie, While You Were Sleeping, and a little bit of the 1991 film, Green Card, Roomies is a delightful romance about self-discovery and making dreams come true. When Holland finds a way to help her Uncle Robert with his broadway musical by marrying classical guitarist Calvin so he can stay in country, she decides to go for it. It’s a turning point for Holland who realizes she wants to marry Calvin because she never takes risks, and at twenty-five years old, is bored with life. She recognizes that maybe the reason she can’t write is because she’s not really living. Through Holland’s eyes we get to know Calvin, who is charming, sexy, sweet, and kind. He’s humble and gracious, and readers can tell that it’s not just Holland’s rose-colored, lustful glasses that filter how we see Calvin. There are stumbles, and yet, he continues to shine. Holland always puts the needs of others before her own. It’s through the getting-to-know each other process (for the green card application), that Holland recognizes some things about herself; that she’s a supporting character in her own life. And this is what eventually drives Holland to become more than a supporting character. Additionally, Holland doesn’t feel worthy of Calvin’s affection, and as they get to know one another, we experience the range of Holland’s feelings, most of all her uncertainty. The wondering if Calvin’s flirtatious actions are true or for show… my heart was pounding along side of Holland’s. Her flaws make her real and on some level, all of her insecurities are familiar: that piece of Holland that is always trying to help others. Who is unsure of where to go with life. Who doubts she can find true meaning and love in her life. Honestly, my only complaint is I wanted more. Although we get to see a lot of the pair as a couple and falling in...
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Nov
29

Review + Giveaway: The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parish

Review + Giveaway: The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parish The Remaking of Corbin Wale Author: Roan Parrish Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Although I’ve read several titles by this author, and have enjoyed each one a great deal, I had a difficult time with both the reading of The Remaking of Corbin Wale, as well as writing this review. Evocative, sensual, and magical—I can’t remember ever reading anything like it, and wanted to love it because of that alone. Each of the five senses is teased into complicity, and the author’s general storytelling abilities are evident throughout. Phrasing such as: “In Alex’s arms, time was measured in breaths and distance in the wrinkles of the clothing between them…” handily caught me up in the narrative are everywhere, seeming almost careless in their delivery, if it weren’t for their undeniable importance. I also thought both Corbin and Alex were wonderful characters, although it was Corbin who repeatedly drew me in and kept the story pleasantly unsteady. Corbin has made a wall of himself, reinforced by a lifetime of inherited hurt and loneliness, and I couldn’t help being fascinated by the increasing fractures along its surface shaped by his wanting of Alex. The two are different in so many ways, but somehow collide at the merging of belief and magic, sensation and desire—the jumble of their pieces sliding together in a cohesiveness that neither is much inclined to refute. Almost a character in and of itself, the Wale curse is an ever-present nemesis, always lurking and threatening, and shaping so much of Corbin’s life that it really does seem to be a tangible thing. At first, I thought the curse begged the familiar question: does it exert a power of its own on those subject to it, or does it derive influence from the strength of their belief in its existence? In Corbin’s case, however, that became irrelevant as soon as Alex joined him in his determination to break it, rather than doubt its actuality. Overall, I found The Remaking of Corbin Wale to be a unique and sweet holiday read. While there were several moments when I was unable to completely immerse myself in the narrative, I’ve decided they are more personal in nature and shouldn’t dissuade anyone else from giving it a try. Additionally, 20% of the proceeds from the sale of this title will be donated to the Russian LGBT Network, which, on initial inspection, seems like a very worthy cause. My Rating:  B+...
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Nov
27

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan Moonlight Over Manhattan Author: Sarah Morgan Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Harriet Knight has always been introverted, relying on her more confident twin, Fliss, to help her navigate the uncomfortable sea of humanity outside their apartment. But now Fliss has moved out to live with her fiancé, and Harriet has decided it’s time to push herself outside her comfort zone in order to seek changes in her life. She’s put herself on a month-long challenge to do something she wouldn’t normally everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Dr. Ethan Black works in the ER of a Manhattan hospital. He’s great at this job, knowledgeable, friendly, and able to put aside the overwhelming array of emotions that can spring up in his intense line of work. But when he meets Harriet who simply twisted her ankle and takes his professional advice at face value, he realizes he’s become too cynical. When Ethan agrees to watch his sister’s dog for a short time and Harriet comes as part of the package, Ethan begins to question his own outlooks on life. Moonlight Over Manhattan is another wonderful romance in Ms. Morgan’s enjoyable From Manhattan with Love series. This time, the story focuses on Fliss’s twin, Harriet, the timid sister who lets Daniel and Fliss take care of her. In the previous two books, we’ve gotten glimpses of Harriet, but in Moonlight Over Manhattan, Harriet is allow to develop and grow. Challenge Harriet, the name she calls herself because of her goal to do something outside of her comfort zone for a month, is full of surprises, doing things that would be difficult for Harriet. But what happens over the course of the book is that Challenge Harriet and Harriet become one. She learns how to be comfortable in her own skin and discovers she can trip up, recover, and move ahead. And Ethan’s genuine joy in seeing this transformation in Harriet is contagious. I found myself cheering for Harriet each time she tried something new. While Ethan is an equal partner in this romance, I feel his storyline is overshadowed by Harriet’s. Not only did it seem he had fewer POVs, but because he has given up on love and the messy emotions that get in the way of his job, we don’t get a lot of emotion out of his POVs. Yet, he’s empathetic and kind, with a bedside manner of a saint. And Ethan is freakishly perceptive, in...
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Nov
20

Review: Most Eligible Bastard by Annika Martin

Review: Most Eligible Bastard by Annika Martin Most Eligible Bastard Author: Annika Martin Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Vicky works hard to provide for her sister and keep their modest life running smoothly, even when it means pretending to be a dog whisperer for the unpleasant and lonely Bernadette Locke. However, when Bernadette passes away leaving her fortune to her dog Smuckers, and Vicky as his regent, Bernadette’s son Henry accuses Vicky of being a con artist. Although Vicky never asked for any of it, she’s not going to let this sexy, rich man push her around. Let the games begin… Although billed as a romantic comedy, Most Eligible Bastard isn’t light and fluffy. Ms. Martin has a dark, wicked sense of humor that I love, but it may not be for everyone. The humor in the book is off beat, silly, sarcastic, and naughty. I love it! And considering Vicky’s past-the issues she’s had to overcome, there is dark in this story as well. While primarily a romance, there is much more going on in the story. I enjoy how the author gives bits and pieces of what happened to Vicky as a teen. Putting together the parts one at a time adds a bit of heightened tension to the read. I know something awful happened, and that history is somehow repeating itself, but without knowing the whole picture, it put me on edge. And honestly, the opening third of the book took me outside my comfort zone. I struggle with stories where a person telling the truth is railroaded into looking like they lied. When the victim becomes the bad guy. The injustice hurts something deep inside me. And this story has it two-fold. First in the back flashes and memories, but also in present day as things are repeating themselves. However, I realized that somewhere along the way, the maddening panic I felt because of the injustice went away because Henry started believing in Vicky. The story was no longer about her fighting for innocence, rather it becomes about Vicky and Henry getting to know each other and finding happiness with one another. Vicky and Henry make the perfect, unlikely couple: kind of like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Henry and Vicky are different sides of the same coin. Henry doesn’t recognize that he has a gapping hole in his life, while Vicky knows exactly what’s missing from her life. I enjoy how the pair grow and...
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Nov
17

Blog Tour + Review: Citywide by Santino Hassell

Blog Tour + Review: Citywide by Santino Hassell Citywide Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== “For everyone who couldn’t get enough of Jaiden and the Queens Crew. This anthology is for you!” This introduction by the author very neatly sums up everything most fans of the Five Boroughs series need to know about Citywide. Fascinating, complex, and impossible to overlook, these originally supporting characters’ voices resonated so strongly throughout the previous stories that the notion of the series without them has become unimaginable. So, it was with an inordinate fondness and eagerness that I began reading Citywide, and ended up caring even more deeply for each and every one of them by its end. “Rerouted” As previously noted, Chris, Jace, and Aiden have been favorites of mine since they first appeared in the series, and theirs was the story in the collection I was looking forward to the most. Chris has illuminated every scene he’s been in, while Aiden and Jace have always made me crave to learn anything about them that I could. Serving as both introduction and HEA, “Rerouted” exceeded all my expectations, starting Citywide off with as hopeful a beginning as I could have wished for. “Gridlocked” Tough, judicious, and fiercely loyal, Tonya has likewise commanded my interest whenever she’s appeared in the Five Boroughs stories. While she could have been cast solely as the Queens Crew’s walking reality check, it was always evident that she was much more. As the outrageous—though equally devoted—heiress and sidekick, Meredith has evolved quite a bit since her first appearance, and made a more compelling match for Tonya in Citywide than I initially expected. While I imagined I’d enjoy “Gridlocked” primarily for the chance to get to know Tonya better, I was both surprised and very happy that the pair got the new start they did. “Derailed” As the only one of these novellas that focuses exclusively on two of the original members of the Queens Crew, “Derailed” was the most difficult for me to read. The history Stephanie and Angel share is complicated, even taking into account the intimacy of their larger group, and the battleground they’ve taken up residence...
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Nov
15

Review: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Review: Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper Sweet Tea and Sympathy Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Margot Cary’s life just fell apart. Hoping for a partnership with the elite event planning firm she’s given ten years of her life to, Margot finds herself fired and blackballed after an event for the upper crust of Chicago implodes with dramatic flare. Her only option for help is her estranged birth father’s family back in Lake Sackett, Georgia. Margot’s mom left Lake Sackett and her first husband behind when Margot was three. She remarried and her step-dad adopted Margot when she was four. Margot knows nothing about her biological father’s family. Sweet Tea and Sympathy is everything I hoped for in Ms. Harper’s new Southern Eclectic series. On the “woman’s fiction” side of contemporary romance, the book is first and foremost the coming-of-age tale of Margot. Having lived under the constraints of her mother and step-father for years, Margot doesn’t know how to relate to her southern relatives. Moving to Georgia allows Margot to blossom and grow in ways she never would have expected. The story works because Margot doesn’t show up in Lake Sackett looking down her nose at her southern relatives. She has questions and harbors hurts, but she doesn’t let those prevent her from swallowing her pride and taking up Aunt Tootie’s offer for help. She doesn’t let stereotypes and small town politics keep her from getting to know her family, and realizing she genuinely enjoys being around them. While she’s used to upper-crust, she doesn’t complain about her living quarters or jobs. It all works because deep down, Margot is a beautiful, caring person, with a bit of an edge and a lot of snark. She takes each day as it comes, and although she’s working hard to get out of Sackett, she doesn’t resent the need to be there. Sweet Tea and Sympathy is also a slow burn, sweet romance. She does find a hot widowed dad, which raises some eyebrows when she’s seen in Kyle’s presence. While the lovin’ is not the major focus of the book, the romance is a huge part of who Margot becomes. I love their sweet walks and sexy kisses, but mostly it’s their honest friendship that makes it all work. In the end, I found myself utterly engrossed in Sweet Tea and Sympathy. The story is a gentle romance, but also Margot’s story of finding herself. I laughed out loud in...
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