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Feb
23

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Any Time, Any Place by Jennifer Probst

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Any Time, Any Place by Jennifer Probst Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Any Time, Any Place Author: Jennifer Probst Narrators: Madeleine Maby and Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Billionaire Builders #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio When Raven’s only parent, her loving father, was killed with his mistress in a car accident as they fled to Paris, she was left confused and alone. While Diane Pierce died a martyr of sorts, Raven’s dad was cast as the villain, and Raven vowed revenge on the Pierce family for muddying her father’s good name. It wasn’t until eight months ago that Raven realized the handsome trio of brothers that came into her bar were those dreadful Pierce brothers. Dalton Pierce was devastated upon finding out that his mother was leaving the family when she died suddenly in a horrific car wreck. Years later, he still feels a huge emptiness in his life. He’s glad to be reunited with his brothers and helping to run Pierce Construction, but he feels like something of his own is missing. And the more time he spends with Raven, the more he thinks she may be what is missing. Any Time, Any Place picks up the story of the three Pierce brothers reuniting and taking over the family construction business after the death of their father. As the youngest, he was most impacted by the loss of their mother years ago. He rebelled in his own ways, swearing never to settle down, but now finds something he wants in Raven. He senses a deeper connection and he wants to explore it, but she keeps him at arm’s length because of the secret she holds. However, Raven has let go of her need for revenge, instead moving on with her life and looking for someone special to share it with. I love how she denies herself the pleasure of Dalton, not letting her guard down because she views it as a betrayal to her father. Both Dalton and Raven are fantastic characters. Each is strong and independent, yet sensitive and willing to anything for friends and family. Their strong wills make for excellent banter and even better sexual tension. I’ll admit that as much as I loved Dalton’s sly grin and mischievous flirting, I had a major girl-crush on Raven. She’s the owner of her own bar/restaurant, skilled boxer, talented mixologist, and she teaches the local women how to count cards so they can beat the guys in...
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Feb
22

Review: Just Once by Addison Fox

Review: Just Once by Addison Fox Just Once Author: Addison Fox Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Just Once is a slightly darker, definitely more serious book than the first one in the Brooklyn Brotherhood series. I liked that it was different because main character Landon McGee is very different from his professional football star turned bar owner brother Nick. Landon is quiet, a bit of a loner, and lives mostly inside his own head. Sharing anything with anyone is tough.  He’s learned to trust his adopted mother Lusia Mills and his adopted brothers, but Daphne Rossi, is going to have to work hard to earn the level of trust she wants.  Landon is going to have to learn to trust if he’s going to keep her or any woman. There was a rush to date and sex, the two becoming romantically involved shortly after a break-in at his business. No matter how self-aware she were, I think a determined police officer like Daphne would have waited longer to act on any feelings she had for Landon during an open case.  That part felt a little contrived, although it did allow for the support of being in a relationship while these two excised their demons and tried to solve the crime committed against Landon.  It wasn’t a huge mental stretch to figure out the key players, but it wasn’t an open and shut case either.  This allowed the focus to be on Daphne and Landon rather than what happened to Landon. Unfortunately, the case which brought the two lovers together didn’t get enough attention, in my opinion. I wanted a more dramatic conclusion, but it was handled as an after-thought in the epilogue. I thought Fox could have even dragged it into the next book with an even more explosive result.  Instead she kept the focus on her lovers.  I can’t fault her for that, it was a choice, but I feel that there was space to do both by making the manuscript a little longer.  Coming in at under 300 pages, I don’t think some additional length would have put anyone off reading the book—especially because Fox is a solid writer. I’m looking forward to the third installment, presumably Fender’s book since we met the target of his affection in Just Once.  That should be an interesting book with key players from completely opposite backgrounds. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Landon McGee has a past he’d rather stayed buried...
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Feb
21

Review: Daily Grind by Anna Zabo

Review: Daily Grind by Anna Zabo Daily Grind Author: Anna Zabo Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Running an independent, neighborhood coffee shop has been slowly breaking Brian Keppler for years. After a key employee is hired away by the consulting firm upstairs, he’s been taking on more and more of the work himself, spending less time on the other important parts of his life—and exorcising his frustrations on his remaining employees and anyone who tries to love him. Being bisexual and closeted isn’t helping things, either. “Miserable” sums Brian up pretty tidily these days, and having his world turned upside down by the arrival of the sexy CEO of a successful robotics company wasn’t at all on his to-do list. So, why does the idea of losing him seem like too high a price to pay? Robert Ancroft fought long and hard to make his company a success. And nearly lost himself in the process. Fortunately, he was able to find a balance that didn’t drain him to the marrow day in and day out. Watching the man who has started to mean so much to him sink into the same, endless exhaustion is heartbreaking, but Robert is trying his best to help Brian see what life could be like for them if he were willing to devote even a small part of himself to the relationship they could have. Still, everyone has their limits, and this fight may be one he just can’t win. Written in the third-person from both Brian and Rob’s perspectives, Daily Grind was a highly enjoyable read that I think definitely has a place on my “keeper” list. Both main characters are complex and I appreciated that they were able to get a chance to pursue an authentic kind of happiness after the age of thirty-five. Although the trials Robert and Brian face are the primary force driving the narrative, there are many wonderful scenes written against the backdrop of Pittsburgh (and the surrounding area) that have me itching to visit there myself. Some of my favorites are seen through the lens of Robert’s camera, and I thought it was especially sweet that their connection deepened most profoundly during these moments. Their relationship is an intensely sexual one, but the added depth provided by the other parts of the story, particularly Robert’s own complicated history and his introduction to Brian’s family, made Daily Grind all the more enjoyable for me. While Daily Grind works well as a...
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Feb
20

Review: Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London

Review: Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London Sinful Scottish Laird Author: Julia London Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The widowed Lady Chatwick, Daisy, while more than capable of taking care of herself and son, lives in a time where men rule. Upon his deathbed, her late husband, Clive stipulated that she must find a suitable man and remarry within three years of his death, or she forfeits her son’s inheritance, because he felt Daisy (a woman) would be unable to raise their son alone. With less than a year left to remarry and a long line of greedy suitors, Daisy finds hope in a letter from her childhood love that he will be returning to London soon and wishes to marry her. In an effort to stave off the Bishop and his match-making, Daisy heads to the Scottish Highlands to her late husband’s neglected hunting lodge. As a member of London’s society, Daisy is looked down upon by the Highlanders, although once they hear of her fortune, she finds more suitors at her doorstep. Everyone seems interested in Daisy, except her handsome neighbor, Cairlean, the Laird of Auchenard. Sinful Scottish Laird is a delightful historical romance that hits all the right notes for me. I love Daisy: a strong, well-educated woman who demands life be lived on her terms. Even though she is still tied to her late-husband’s commands, she takes her time to find a man that will be a good match for both her son and her. I love that she takes life by the reigns and isn’t afraid to play games or speak her mind. She’s not ignorant, but will play the part if it gets her what she wants. Coy and beautiful, she lives life to its fullest during the time she has. She’s not afraid to take risks to be happy. On the other hand, Cailean has been burned by life and is afraid to take chances. He doesn’t trust outsiders and won’t play Daisy’s games. At first, he seems to be the wrong match for Daisy. Yet the enigma that is Daisy draws in Cailean until he cannot withstand the force of their mutual desire. He begins to see and appreciate Daisy for who she truly is, even if she drives him mad. Yet, he won’t risk his heart, or Daisy’s standing, so he allows himself to continually walk away. It’s heartbreaking, yet makes each “reunion” so passionate. Although I know very little of the Scottish/English history,...
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Feb
15

Review: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

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

Review: Hard Wired by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

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

Review: Seeking Mr. Wrong by Natalie Charles

Review: Seeking Mr. Wrong by Natalie Charles Seeking Mr. Wrong Author: Natalie Charles Reviewer: Nima Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Seeking Mr. Wrong is a book for anyone who reads a lot (too much) contemporary romance.  Readers will be able to identify all the markers they expect, but will love the acknowledgement of everything that annoys them.  Cute and sweet Lettie Osbourne writes children’s books about manners.  Her publisher gets sold to an outfit that specializes in erotica while she still has one book left on her contract and the advance is long gone.  To fulfill her obligation, she takes on the challenge of writing in the new-to-her genre. Lettie admits, “I never understood the appeal of the angry alpha male.  If I were to make a list of qualities that I want in a mate, it wouldn’t include stomping.  Maybe a willingness to make dinner every now and then and a basic understanding of laundry.”  As she struggles to embrace her inner vixen, she meets the mostly vanilla, non-alpha male that is the love of her life.  Yes, he looks like Superman, but this is a guy who doesn’t own a red tie.  This is a love story about some pretty nice, normal people.  While they meet, fall in love, break up, and hopefully make-up, Lettie has a smutty running commentary in her head à la James Thurber’s 1939 The Secret Lives of Walter Mitty.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P332De250mE She also does mental interviews with Oprah.  One word: hilarious.  Through the process she learns a lot about herself both painful and funny.  Lettie’s inner voice is wonderfully sarcastic, but her editor stole the best line.  In a conversation about the manuscript Lettie submits, “…I despise the word moist, so I’m going to strike it from the manuscript and ask you to come up with something else.  Same with panties.  Can’t stand it.  Makes me think of my childhood.  Give her a lace thong instead.”  I was on the elliptical at the gym.  I stopped and cheered.  Yes, people stared.  Worth it.  Buying this book?  Totally worth it. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Lettie Osbourne has lived her whole life by the book. Sweet, predictable, and certainly not living life on the edge, she’s always been content to make a living as a kindergarten teacher who writes adorable children’s books on the side. After her fiancé leaves her, Lettie decides she is perfectly content to accept her fate as mother to her beloved dog Odin...
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Jan
31

Review: Wolf at the Door by Hailey Edwards

Review: Wolf at the Door by Hailey Edwards Wolf at the Door Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Yes. Every time I read one of the Black Dog books, I completely rave. This review won’t be any different. So, if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, pick up Dog with a Bone and get reading. Hailey Edwards has a significant backlist with these titles that’ll keep you busy for a minute ☺ So. Dell & Isaac. Gods, I love them together so hard. We were introduced to them in the Gemini titles, but getting to focus on them as a main couple in the Lorimar Pack spin-off is absolutely wonderful. Their relationship is so complex–it’s nice to see the give-and-take between them. Oh, and if you’ve been reading along with me, we go back to Faerie and get to see a character or two—as well as revisit some plot stuff—from Thierrey’s time there. **nods sagely** Expertly woven plot here, people. I can’t imagine the planning to pull off winding together all these details in such a way that my inner plot geek goes, “Holy hell! From way back when?” I really loved going back to Faerie—even if the visit did seem altogether too brief. Over the Moon is the next title in the Lorimar Pack series, and we get more Dell. Yay! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: Prison is no one’s idea of a good time, and it’s even worse for Dell. Confinement has her inner wolf snarling as she paces their cell, and there’s no end in sight. Just as she reaches her breaking point, the pack liaison shows up with an offer she can’t refuse. Dell’s freedom in exchange for going to Faerie and recapturing the fae prince responsible for her current digs.  But this fool’s errand won’t be a solo mission. Isaac Cahill has lost Dell twice, and he’ll be damned if she slips through his fingers again. This time, he’s not letting her out of his sight. Even if it means earning more than a few love bites from his pissed off she-wolf.  What they discover on their perilous quest is that war is closer than anyone imagined. As trusted allies fall and dangerous new threats emerge, Dell discovers one defining truth. Isaac is hers, and she’ll fight to the death for him. And, at the rate this war is coming, she might not have long to wait.  Release Date: January 25, 2017 Publisher:...
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Jan
25

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker

Review: F*ck Club: Riley by Shiloh Walker F*ck Club: Riley Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Here’s the thing with Shiloh Walker books. They’re tough, gritty, and they rip your heart out. But, dammit. Those characters work for every ounce of happily ever after they get. F*ck Club: Riley is no exception. Riley has been the adult of his three siblings for entirely too long. After his parents’ sudden death, he put his life on hold to take care of his brother and sister. He did a lot of things to make ends meet and to pay off the debt left in their parents’ wake. Some were more… lucrative than others. And also illegal. But he’s always been in love with Bree. Bree—what we learn of her from Riley’s point-of-view—is a victim of circumstance. The girl should’ve dug herself out long before this point, but when someone is being emotionally abused and feels as though they’re worthless, there’s not much to look forward to. And no reason to leave. Until something catastrophic happens. Here’s the deal with this book. They both need to spill their guts. The information each has is sensitive, and both parties feel like it would change the perception of the other person toward them. Admitting one’s weaknesses and shortcomings—and naming their demons—are the most intimate types of conversations to have with someone we love. Those sensitive to domestic violence—verbal, emotional, and physical abuse (although the violence itself isn’t described in detail—but we see the aftermath) may want to skip this one. Ms. Walker ripped my heart out, rubbed salt in the wound, stomped all over the still-beating organ, and re-inserted the bruised muscle before stitching me closed without anesthesia with F*ck Club: Riley. I really want more books in this series—I see two more coming…and can’t wait for Shame’s. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: “The first rule of F*ck Club…we don’t talk about it. We just do the job and get paid.” And Riley Steele did his job very well. He’ll be the first to admit that his current life isn’t the one he’d foreseen. It’s not even one he really wants, but after his parents died and he was left to care for two siblings and a mountain of debt, he was willing to do almost anything. Now, after almost ten years of being paid to pleasure, he’s almost numb to it…and to women. That all changes with one phone call. Brianna Sharpe,...
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Jan
25

Review: Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen

Review: Bait N’ Witch by Abigail Owen Bait N’ Witch Author: Abigail Owen Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una enjoyed the latest story in the Legendary Consultants series.  Greyson and Rowan’s story was compelling and filled with humor and passion.  Although the novel has a lighthearted feel, neither the passion between Greyson and Rowan, nor the anxiety of the plot as Rowan tries to hide her identity while also trying to protect Greyson’s triplet daughters, is diminished. We were introduced to Rowan in the previous novel.  She was the unfortunate witch forced to do the bidding of Kaios.  Now the Mage High Council has their top enforcer, Greyson, hunting her down.  When Rowan turns to Delilah for help, she decides to have Rowan hide in plain sight.  Which is how Rowan finds herself the new nanny to Greyson’s out of control teenage triplet daughters.  As crazy and clichéd as it sounds, it works.  The mystery of the girls’ powers, the hunts for Rowan, and the attraction between Greyson and Rowan all weave together through the story creating a nicely balanced plot. Rowan needs to hide from the Mage High Council for more than just her role in Kaios’ plot.  She has secrets she must hide, not only about her own abilities, but also her training.  Rowan is innately a good witch, and we really loved how she did her best to be a good nanny.  Her genuine care for the girls was sweet and we enjoyed the honest relationship that developed between them.  We also liked how Greyson and Rowan’s relationship wasn’t forced but slowly built. Although the novel is short, the story is rich and completely satisfying.  We are intrigued by the ending and continue to wonder about what and who Delilah is.  Hopefully she will get her own happily ever after story.  If you enjoy lighthearted but passionate fantasy romance, you might just want to pick up the Legendary Consultants series. Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: In love with the witch hunter father of her charges… Rowan McAuliffe has been hiding most of her life. Secretly trained in her powers by an unusual source, she’d been taught not to trust anyone. Especially other witches. However, after she was forced to perform a hateful act against her will, she now hides from the Mage High Council who seek answers, and possibly her life. Greyson Masters is the Council’s best enforcer–a witch hunter who lays...
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