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Dec
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Illegal Contact Author:  Santino Hassell Narrators: Alexander Cendese + Eric London Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Barons #1 Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio Star football player Gavin Brawley has a temper which has branded him as the bad boy of the NFL. It’s also what landed him under house arrest for six months, benched for the entire season. Recognizing he’ll need help, his manager pushes the solitary Gavin to hire a personal assistant to run the household and help with day-to-day tasks. Noah Monroe was forced out of his last job after he tried to out his boss for inappropriate behavior. Now he’s desperate to find work, and acting as a PA for a self absorbed jock will have to do. Determined to keep his job, Noah does what it takes to impress Gavin and make the arrangement work. However, when Noah learns Gavin’s secret – that he’s bisexual – Noah wonders if he can fight the constant flirting, or if he’s doomed to repeat past mistakes. I’ve been wanting to read Santino Hassell for a while now, so I jumped at the chance to review Illegal Contact. Overall, it is an engrossing story with a heartwarming, sexy romance. Gavin and Noah are like two rough-edged pieces that fit together perfectly, once you work to find how they mesh. Both slow to trust, they find common ground because they truly like and respect the other. They want to do things to make the other happy. The story starts rough. I mean, Gavin has issues. He’s angry. But every time Noah challenges him, Gavin comes back stronger and better. And Noah sees the real person in Gavin-not just some pro-athlete. He stands up for Gavin. Slowly each realizes there are real feelings forming. The characters are given time to work out feelings and issues, creating a stronger bond in the end. Additionally, I appreciate that the author doesn’t blow off the employee-boss relationship and its impact on power exchange. The pair discuss the issues and try to ensure that it’s not part of their relationship, yet it never really goes away – just gets fluffed over by their lust. Each narrator is great for his given character. Gavin’s narrator is very aggressive and rough around the edges, just like Gavin’s persona. He’s got a strong accent and can be abrasive at times. Conversely, Noah’s narrator is...
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Dec
13

Review + Blog Tour: Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon

Review + Blog Tour: Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon Operation Green Card Author: G.B. Gordon Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Though the Bluewater Bay series is drawing to a close, I was happy to see that the storytelling that originally pulled me in is just as strong as ever. Despite an initial moment or two of hesitation on my part, Operation Green Card, by G.B. Gordon, turned out to be a very sweet, hopeful tale of against-the-odds romance that I ended up enjoying quite a lot. Jason, whom we briefly met in Bluewater Blues, is as solitary as anyone could possibly be, keeping everyone—including his own daughter—at a distance. Between not wanting to be hurt, and not wanting to hurt those he cares about, he’s far too lonely for someone with such a giving heart. Arkady, whose loneliness is borne of fear and necessity, isn’t prepared to need anything more from Jason than the means to acquire his green card. But, having always wanted a family to call his own, he quickly realizes that almost finding one only to lose them again too soon might be more heartache than he can bear. While I ended up getting into Operation Green Card fairly well, there were a few things—that were mostly tied to Jason’s part of the story—which I had a little more difficulty accepting at first. I felt that his will to provide for his daughter was wonderful, but it made his determination to risk imprisonment if he and Arkady are caught seem somewhat reckless by comparison. And although I get why he’d want to avoid any pity that might come from those around him knowing about his prosthesis, I just couldn’t see how he planned to keep it a secret from the man who was supposed to be his husband—or how he thought immigration would react under those circumstances. Before long, however, I was very much interested in Arkady and Jason’s story, and eager for them to work things out. I found both men to be interesting characters, but, by the end, it was Arkady that I’d become most attached to. Open, giving, and ready to live and love again, I really wanted him to be happy, especially knowing he was exactly what Jason needed, too. Even with the moments that caused me to stumble a bit in my reading, I couldn’t help but cheer Jason and Arkady on in the end. The author took what could have been a fairly common theme (a...
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Dec
11

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt Once Upon a Christmas Eve Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, loves his grandmother and will do anything to please her, including traveling in a snow storm just before Christmas. When their carriage is damaged, the pair finds refuge in the home of Godric St. John, where friends and family have gathered for the holidays, including his lovely half-sister, Sarah. Once Upon a Christmas Eve is a very quick, holiday-themed novella set in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane world. It is a standalone story featuring Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, and Sarah St. John. The pair met briefly once before, and through the innermost confessions of each, we learn there is a mutual attraction. However, because Adam is a confirmed bachelor (and rake), and Sarah is determined to find a respectable man to marry, the pair pull apart each time they indulge in their feelings even a tiny bit. The story moves along rapidly, with nudges from family members helping to bring the pair together. While I think their journey deserved more time and development, it is complete. I really like both Adam and Sarah, but felt everything was rushed a bit to fit the novella-length (or shorter?) story. In the end, Once Upon a Christmas Eve is a delightful, albeit, short historical, holiday romance. It is sweet, and a little bit sexy, with an HEA for Adam and Sarah. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met. Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap. Release Date: December 5,...
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Dec
8

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost The Brightest Embers Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: The Brightest Embers is the final novel in the Broken Destiny trilogy.  Although the overall ending was pleasantly surprising and gripping, the constant angst of Ivy and Adrian’s relationship grated. First, the world is fascinating.  Ivy, the last descendent of David (the boy who felled the giant Goliath), has the power and opportunity to recover three ancient and powerful blessed weapons to stop the demons who are trying to take over our world.  Standing in her way is Adrian, the last descendent of Judas, who is destined to betray the descendent of David.  The Romeo and Juliet twist made the destiny of Ivy and Adrian compelling.  They fall in love and yet he is destined to betray her. Adrian was raised by demons.  He is compelled by vengeance to do anything to ensure the demons do not win.  However, his desire for revenge is derailed by his love for Ivy.  He would do anything to protect her.  We don’t know why she is always so surprised when he breaks his word, omits things, or misdirects her in order to keep her safe.  Her mission is to save the world, we get it, but love makes people do crazy (and stupid) things.  For two adults, they sure do act like they are still in high school at times. We love Brutus, the gargoyle.  He’s like a giant flying puppy.  He was a wonderful addition to the group of heroes.  The relationship between Costa and Adrian, though complicated, was touching.  We’re not sure how Jasmine and Costa will fare once the threat of the end of the world is gone.  The novel ends after the conclusion of the final battle leaving much for us to ponder. Although the strife between Ivy and Adrian was frustrating, we liked how the overall story played out.  The ending of this trilogy was satisfying, but we would have enjoyed a little more of an epilogue.  This lack leads us to think and hope that there might be a novella or another story in this world. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: You can run from your destiny, but you can’t hide  Ivy thought that she and Adrian had conquered their fates. Yet with thousands of innocents still trapped in the demon realms, she’s determined to locate the final hallowed weapon...
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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: 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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Nov
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Terminal Alliance Author:  Jim C. Hines Narrator: Rebecca Mitchell Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Series #1 Genre: Science Fiction Source: Tantor Audio When a mysterious contagion turns most of the crew of the EMC Ship Pufferfish into feral zombies and kills the rest, Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is left in charge of the few survivors. As a lowly human, she doesn’t have much access to the ship, but when Mops realizes that Krakau command intends to euthanize the human crew rather than try to save them, she commandeers the ship with the help of her minimal crew. Soon Mops uncovers a danger so big, it threatens the entire Krakau alliance, and she is faced with the decision to surrender or discover the truth. Terminal Alliance is an entertaining space adventure with a spunky heroine who uses her brain and instinct when down and out. While there is much going on, the book focuses on Mops and her adventure. She is a great character: one of those underdogs who is destined for more. The David to the EMC’s Goliath. I love how Mops thinks things through and how loyal she is to her crew. She was born to be a great leader and through this series of unfortunate events, she’s coming into her own. I enjoyed sitting back and listening to Mops figure it all out, never second guessing her analysis. The side characters are equally fun and interesting. They each play their part and through Mops’s leadership, form a team and family. And though working as a team under stressful situations, each character grows and matures. Additionally, the story is filled with silly humor and fun pop culture references. I love the historic human names used like Sherlock Holmes, Marilyn Monroe, Carrie Fisher. The plot of Terminal Alliance itself is engaging. The story evolves as Mops and her crew learn bits and parts behind the bioweapon attack that put her in charge of the Pufferfish. There are many layers that need to be pulled back before Mops and the crew uncover the truth; the final goal and plot. This gradual reveal, complete with twists and turns, kept my interest and pulled me in throughout the entire story. Overall, the performance by Ms. Mitchell is solid and entertaining. She gives just enough variation between the different characters that I was able to know who was speaking just by...
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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
22

Review: Vampire Fight Club by Larissa Ione

Review: Vampire Fight Club by Larissa Ione Vampire Fight Club Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Nathan (Nate) Sabine, a rare, daywalker vampire, has worked at an underground fight club for decades hoping to bring it down from the inside, ever since the owner, Fade, killed his wife. But Nate has become apathetic and has lost sight of his need for revenge. He hates himself. Vladlena (Lena) Paskelkov is a nurse at UGH. She’s working when one of the paramedics brings in her brother all torn up. They discover he was killed at an underground fight club. Lena decides to go undercover as a medic for the fight club’s legitimate front, the Vampire nightclub Thirst, to seek revenge for her brother’s murder. Although previously released, Vampire Fight Club is one of the few (only?) Demonic stories I hadn’t read. I absolutely enjoyed diving into the old school Demonica tales. The story is set mid-series, after the original crew have their stories, but before most of the Lords of Deliverance characters are mated. It’s fast, simple, and fun. Nate and Lena share an instant attraction, although it sort of horrifies Lena as she’s not certain if Nate had anything to do with her brother’s death. But their pull is undeniable, and it gives Nate a reason to live again. It also helps Lena fulfill her own shifter needs. Vampire Fight Club is independent of the original series and can be enjoyed as a standalone or introduction to this awesome PNR series. As for fans of Underground General Hospital, this story is an entertaining, sexy addition to the Demonica series. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: When a wave of violence that hits too close to home forces shapeshifter and underworld nurse Vladlena Paskelkov to go undercover, her first stop is a haven of vice—with a dangerously sexy vamp in charge…  Legendary, jaded, Nathan Sabine is the manager of Thirst, a wildly popular vampire club—and secret underground blood arena. But Nathan, a rare daywalker, possesses other, even more explosive secrets, as does his beautiful new medic, Vladlena. The one thing they can’t conceal is the lust that simmers between them… Now, in an underworld divided by revelry and violence, debauchery and vengeance, Nate and Lena will discover which risks are worth taking—and which desires demand surrender… Release Date: November 28, 2017 Publisher: Lyrical Press Series: Demonica #6.5, Lords of Deliverance #1.5 Genre: Paranormal Romance, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: NetGalley Purchase...
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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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