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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
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
9

Review: Rule Breaker by Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Review: Rule Breaker by Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion Rule Breaker Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Touted as a modern day Romeo and Juliet story, I was intrigued. I’ve always been a huge sucker for Shakespearean redux. An earlier story, modeled on the Bard’s R&J was West Side Story.  Here endeth your literature lesson. I promise. I did see a few parallels to these other stories, but what I never expected was two stories of personal growth and personal acceptance. What a message to convey to readers. While Mase and Leilani both come from vastly different worlds, the racial bias, and familial expectations are something we all struggle to overcome. It’s a real thing today. We’re all guilted into fulfilling a dream someone else has for us. Becoming someone that’s out to chase the almighty dollar. Our worth as people is measured by our bank accounts. And that’s a sad, sad state. I was so uplifted by Mase’s journey, as well as Leilani’s, I took time to journal and review some previous entries. And part of the reason I had to go back was because of these six words, strung into three sentences: Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds. I really love reading stories like this, because they’re uplifting and help me walk my own journey. But it wasn’t just a really awesome, feel-good book. The Bastions bring us damaged characters. Their personal demons are larger than anything I’ve had to deal with, fortunately. But what hope! If Mase and Leilani can overcome their challenges, surely lil ol’ me is perfectly capable. I skimmed through one section. There’s a cancer-related death, and that’s my hard-limit, folks. I don’t care how it’s framed or gift-wrapped. So, I missed a little of Leilani there. I’m pretty pleased even without that aspect, though. And what I’m even more impressed with is the description. Rich. Description. I’m not even kidding. I felt like I was riding a wave a couple times. I felt as though I was sitting on a beach looking at stars. I was living a little of the island life on a dreary fall day in Michigan. Pick up Rule Breaker It’s the second title in the Unbreakable series. If you read the No Weddings series, you’ll recognize Mase. Kinda. He’s a more introspective and less jokester. I still totally adore him, though. My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: Leilani Kealoha wants to be set free. Of family expectations....
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Nov
8

Review: When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall

Review: When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall When a Laird Finds a Lass Author: Lecia Cornwall Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As much as I enjoyed the previous novel, Beauty and the Highland Beast, I truly loved When a Laird Finds a Lass.  Sadly though, Vampbard isn’t able to review this book with me as she is nursing a minor injury so you are stuck with just my thoughts. Just as with the previous story, this novel is based on a fairy tale.  When a Laird Finds a Lass is inspired by The Little Mermaid with a little bit of West Side Story thrown in. I loved how the essence of the fairy tale is brought to life. Like the mermaid, Marcail is found on the beach by Malcolm.  He not only brings her to his people, but also protects her.  When he fears he has lost her, he conquers his own fears to find her. I loved Malcolm and Marcail.  They are both a little lost and through each other, find themselves.  I loved the romance between them.  Both are strong characters and are a balanced mix of honor and intelligence, tempered by kindness.  Raised away from the highlands, Malcolm is a lowlander lawyer.  Not only does he not dress like a highlander, he certainly does not act like one… at first.  As he connects to his highland roots, he truly becomes the Laird of Dunbronach.  One they desperately needed.  Marcail is a strong factor in his growth.  Though she suffers amnesia, she doesn’t seem to lose her personality.  The amnesia only seems to free her from previous constraints.  She was a formidable heroine and the perfect match for Malcolm. I had great difficulty putting this novel down.  It flowed seamlessly.  I loved the balance of the romance and the plight of Malcolm and the clan.  It was fascinating to see the grain of truth behind the magic.  The fairy tale elements were woven into the story in such a way that they grounded the novel.  It was also fun to revisit Marcail’s family.  I loved this novel and look forward to the next one.  If you love fairy tales reimagined into Scottish romance with a dash of realism, you definitely need to check out this series. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: She is his greatest enemy and his only salvation. Malcolm MacDonald, a lawyer in Edinburgh, unexpectedly inherits his father’s title of Laird of Dunbronach, forcing him to...
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Nov
4

Review + Excerpt: Ruled by Elle Kennedy

Review + Excerpt: Ruled by Elle Kennedy Ruled Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: The Outlaws series by Elle Kennedy is my go-to dystopian read. I’m not even sure why. Oh, wait. I know. Ms. Kennedy has crafted a world in which I get lost. Each of the three titles has focused on people struggling with their every day conflicts—what it’s like to live in that kind of society. Ruled isn’t any different. And I adored this book. Here’s your warning, folks: if you’re not a fan of boy bits touching boy bits, this isn’t a read for you. And if ménage isn’t your thing? Consider giving this one a try—it’s… different and I loved it (even though I’m a big fan of a well-written ménage, this was still different!). We need to talk about Reese. She was introduced in the first Outlaws title. She’s portrayed as a cold-hearted witch, basically. But that isn’t the case. It was really awesome getting to know Reese. Getting inside her head. Watching her change. Sloane is Reese’s shadow. Her right-hand man. He’s been around for about five years, and has had Reese’s back for every single minute. We learn why, and I was sincerely floored. I’d had theories, but none of them panned out. Congrats to Ms. Kennedy for surprising me. Rylan. OMG. My gut wrenched for him during this book. The road to happily ever after is never easy, and everyone deserves one. Getting Reese to hers was a special brand of heartache for me. The poor woman, in charge of Foxworth, had so many skeletons in her closet it was like a haunted house at Halloween. The things that haunted her aren’t for the squeamish, and made me think. I could actually relate to Reese in a way I haven’t related to a character in a long time. The parallels I drew to myself were powerful and allowed me to take a step back and re-evaluate a few things in my own life. I highly recommend Elle Kennedy’s the Outlaws series for dystopian fans, as well as readers of romance who like things gritty and hard-hitting. I have a theory about the next couple, for the next book—but it’d be spoilery to talk about. It makes me extremely happy, though! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: In the latest novel in the series with the “sexiest, baddest, hottest”* outlaws around, one woman must choose between the two men who want...
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Nov
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Turn Coat Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #11 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Turn Coat When long time nemesis Morgan shows up near death at his door, Harry makes the hard decision to help Morgan, potentially further damaging his reputation with the White Council. Along with protecting Morgan, Harry must deal with a deadly skinwalker,  the White Court Vampires, and a traitor among his own kind. For several books now, Harry has been slowly unraveling the mysteries of these unknown threats, and Turn Coat brings his poking around to a head. With so much taking place within the pages of this title, I strongly urge anyone new to the series to start at the beginning. The Dresden Files should NOT be read out of order. Turn Coat has the feel of a transition story, taking listeners (readers) from point A to point B without much change. Harry’s search for the unidentified “black council” members and its nefarious purpose has gone on for sometime without any real progress. While there is quite a bit of forward momentum with this story arc, bringing Harry closer to the truth, there isn’t any conclusion by the end of the book, leaving me scratching my head and yearning for more. It was an exciting, enjoyable, yet sometimes confusing ride, but in the end, I hadn’t gone all that far. With that said, a LOT happens around and to Harry in Turn Coat. By the end of the book, I was left with more questions than answers. Different factions and storylines, which have always been somewhat separate in each of the Dresden Files books, are starting to crossover and blur. It feels like each little action in Turn Coat is building and snowballing, and soon everything will explode. What does make this an extremely enjoyable tale is the depth of emotion and changing relationships within the chaos of the actions. Harry’s relationship with his commander and lover, Ana, is brought under a harsh light, making Harry question himself and his actions. Second, Harry’s relationship with apprentice Molly is evolving as she tries to learn and grow. With the constant threat of death hanging over the pair if Molly crosses the line, I fear every action Molly makes will be for the wrong reasons. Then there is the oddity of Harry and Morgan, which brings about some heartfelt moments in the story, leaving...
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Oct
31

Review: Texas Tall by Kaki Warner

Review: Texas Tall by Kaki Warner Texas Tall Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: A What I’m Talking About: It is no secret that I tend to really enjoy Kaki Warner’s novels, and Tall Texas was no exception. It is a lovely story about second and even third chances, along with finding healing and learning to forgive yourself and others. It tackles themes like equality and trust without getting preachy and has the perfect balance of sweetness, spunk and humor. I adored Ty and Lottie and all their issues, together and apart. I felt like their struggles were real and relatable to the time period, as were their strengths. Their chemistry was fun, which made for terrific banter and sweet soulful moments that added wonderfully to the story. The secondary characters were equally well written with their own strengths that added a great dynamic to the story and reiterated the variety of themes without taking away from Ty and Lottie. The descriptions are vivid, romantic and chocked full of crisp beautiful images. Likewise the language as a whole is beautiful flows like the smell of cotton blossoms on a spring breeze for example: “He was her anchor-her lost self- the part that had been missing from her life that made her whole.” It is imagery like this, coupled with the colorful characters and strong storyline, that had me turning page after page. All in all, I would highly recommend this fun, fast moving tale placed in the wild of Texas. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy every moment of your time with Ty and Lottie. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Seeking vengeance for a tragic past, Tyree Benton joined the Rangers and became a different man—but his brutal actions still twist his conscience. Now he’s found a woman he could love, but she deserves more than a man who makes a living getting shot at. If Ty were honorable, he’d leave her alone. But he can’t seem to stay away…. Orphaned at fourteen, Charlotte Weyland has used her talent for numbers to build enough of a fortune to fund Ty’s dream of owning a ranch…if he’s not too stubborn to accept her help. But when Charlotte’s past catches up to her, she finds herself on one side of the law with Ty on the other. To keep their dreams alive, they’ll have to make compromises, but doing so might cost them everything they have… Release Date: October 4, 2016 Publisher: Berkley Series:...
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Oct
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Roman Crazy Authors: Alice Clayton & Nina Bocci Narrator: Randi Geddens Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Broads Abroad #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Finding her husband eagerly enjoying his secretary in all those ways he shouldn’t, Avery Bardot finally realizes her marriage to Daniel is over. Not wanting to stay in Boston while her world falls apart, Avery jumps on a plane to Rome, where she stays with her best friend, Daisy. However, on her first night in town, Avery runs into the one man she never thought she’d see again, Marcello Bianchi. With her emotions in a tangled mess, Avery must decide if she can be friends with the man who was the boy who should have been her forever love. I absolutely LOVED Roman Crazy right from the outset. Melancholy, but with a sharp sense of humor, Avery still has a spark of life, and best friend Daisy is just the one to help rekindle that spark and show Avery there is so much more to life than her ex. The story is one of self-discovery, as Avery uncovers who she is and what she wants from life within the freedom of a Roman summer holiday. And the story was an absolute joy to listen to, as I found myself living in the moment and enjoying Rome as experienced by Avery. While Roman Crazy is so much more than a romance, the love story between Marcello and Avery is what gives the story heart. Given a second chance, the couple rekindles their frantic passion that was abandoned nine years prior. However, this time around brings age and life experiences with the lust, creating a more mature and well-rounded emotional journey. With a first person narrative, the reader experiences all that an uncertain Avery feels as she slowly lets down her walls and allows herself the freedom to enjoy life, and her very sexy Italian. Avery’s life is pretty amazing, and I was happy for her. However, throughout the second half of the book, I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” But when it finally did, it was more of a slipper falling rather than a heavy boot. Overall, things go very smoothly for Avery, almost too much so. With such a passionate, highly emotional tail, I expected more sobbing and difficulties getting to the HEA. I’m not unhappy it didn’t...
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Oct
25

Review + Excerpt: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

Review + Excerpt: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Heart Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Opening two years forward from the conclusion of the previous book, it’s been a fairly quiet time since the Ancient Alexander awoke early and the world last saw Lijuan. The Cascade has paused, and everyone is waiting for things to get hinky again. Because of the potential imbalance in the Cadre with Lijuan missing, the Luminata, an independent, neutral, secretive group, has called the Cadre together. The Cadre must decide if she’s dead, Sleeping, or other, and what to do with her Territory. With the meeting being held in the homelands of Elena’s maternal grandmother, she decides it is time to do some digging into her own little-known past. Archangel’s Heart is another great story in what has become one of my favorite series! I absolutely LOVE the Guild Hunter stories, most especially when they are Elena/Raphael-centric. While overall I’d still call it a paranormal romance series, this go-around is more on the urban fantasy side of the equation. Raphael and Elena’s relationship is now one hundred percent solid, and while they will continue to experience growing pains and have to deal with changes, their romance wasn’t the focus of the book. This time the focus was on Elena’s past and Cadre politics. It was exciting and gripping, but also tender and sweet. I continued to enjoy Raphael and Elena’s many-tiered encounters: intelligent dialogue, playful sparring, tender moments, sexual and sensual lovemaking. It’s all so three-dimensional and fulfilling on multiple levels. One of the things that stood out most this time is how the powerful Archangel of Manhattan is embracing his touched-by-mortality heart. Not only does he respect his Guild Hunter angel, but Raphael listens to her counsel and allows her to take her own risks. He changes are most apparent as Raphael helps Elena understand the politics of the Cadre, and how mortal lives have little meaning to these immortal Archangels. His earnest efforts to protect human lives is directly the result of Elena’s influence. I hope to see a shift in the thinking of the Cadre as Raphael’s powers grow during the Cascade. While the tone of the Guild Hunters series has always hovered a shade or two darker than Ms. Singh’s other PNR series, this time around, I also found it to be heart-stoppingly suspenseful. While staying with the Luminata, Elena and Raphael uncover dark secrets that tie into Elena’s own past....
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