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Jun
6

Review: Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya

Review: Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya Missed Connections Author: Tamara Mataya Reviewer: Nima Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: The premise promised by the title Missed Connections is a fun one.  Two people shared a connection at some point in real life, but failed for any number of reasons to act on it.  Through the imaginary Missed Connections website featured in Mataya’s first installment of her Summer Love series, they can reach out and maybe have a second chance at a love.  Apparently that’s a real thing on Craigslist and several dedicated websites like Blew My Chance and I Saw You.  This is main character Sarah’s guilty pleasure while she searches for a new job after being unceremoniously dismissed from her last one.  (We never did get the reason she was let go.) The possibilities are fun to think about. Unfortunately, most of my enjoyment in the book stopped there. The characters were fairly stereotypical and one dimensional.  Sarah has zero depth. She’s almost likable on the few times we see her care for her father, resent her mother’s inappropriate behavior, and when she exhibits a truly admirable work ethic, but she’s not someone I wanted to be friends with. It feels like even the author was annoyed with her own character’s narcissism as evidenced by the harsh reality check she gets from her best friend.  My thought was, “Finally!” Sarah’s nemesis Phyllis is truly evil—without apparent cause.  They don’t do the same job or interact outside the workplace so there doesn’t seem to be any reason for her malicious behavior except that she is just a malevolent person. That was a bit of a head scratcher.  When it comes time for Phyllis to get her comeuppance, it doesn’t feel harsh enough.  We never liked her, why hold back?  Sarah’s employers are, perhaps, worse than Phyllis because they believe their own crap.  They, more than anyone, needed a reality check. Finally, there was no mystery in Sarah’s on-line mystery man, her missed connection, just impatience for her to get over herself and figure out his identity.  The reader knows who it is almost immediately.  As Sarah and her not-really-a-mystery man converse online, we don’t get much in the way of dialog.  This would have been the place to allow the reader to form an emotional connection with him as well.  Instead, we get brief highlights of the conversations and we have to take the emotional connection for granted that Sarah builds during hours and hours...
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May
31

Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter

Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter At Any Cost Author: Mandy Baxter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: Deputy U.S. Marshal Nick Brady hasn’t even been on the job three months and he’s already being reprimanded. Although he’s doing his job, on the side he’s been working off the grid, capturing the bad guys – taking work from other Deputies. Because of his inability to follow orders, Nick earned a mandatory one month leave of absence. But instead of using that time to reflect on his mistakes, he decides to pursue a most-wanted case, using a lead no one else tried. He’s going after Joel Meecum, ex-pres/member of the Black Death MC. Nick believes Joel’s ex is living under an assumed name in McCall, Idaho. Livy Gallagher has spent the last four years afraid for her life. Moving as necessary, changing her identity as often, she’s found some normalcy teaching ski lessons in McCall. But her life gets turned upside down when a sexy man moves into the rental unit across from hers. Livy needs to decide if she can trust this sexy stranger and allow herself the human companionship she so sorely misses. At Any Cost is filled with intense action and sultry sex scenes. But unfortunately, I never really got into the story or connected with the characters. Nick is an arrogant jerk who thinks because he is good at catching the bad guys, the rules don’t apply to him. Now, I’m all for the self-assured alpha male who does what he pleases. And I love me some vigilante Captain America who goes against authority because he is just and noble. But Nick is none of these. He only cares about winning, with little regard for his fellow Marshals. Granted we find out later his motivation for his obsessive actions, but by then, it has little impact on my feelings toward the character. The biggest problem is he doesn’t seem to learn from his behavior, and the book doesn’t deal with the outfall from his actions. I just never liked Nick enough to enjoy his story or romance. Livy, I mostly enjoyed. However her constant repetitive mantra that it is “better to be alone than dead” wore me down. Attracted to Nick from first sight, Livy felt a connection and trust that was borne out of loneliness, at least it seemed that way to me. Regardless, she decides to finally let her guard down and enjoy a human connection with Nick....
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Apr
5

Review: The Beast by JR Ward

Review: The Beast by JR Ward The Beast Author: JR Ward Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Hello. My name is Jen. I am a recovering BDB addict… Yes, I was one of the many who felt betrayed by JR Ward when she wrote and released the previous Black Dagger Brotherhood book, The Shadows. I wanted to read The Beast because 1) I love Rhage and Mary, and 2) I wanted to see if I was finally over my obsession with all things BDB. In the end, I’m glad I read The Beast, and I probably would have enjoyed it more had The Shadows never happened. Generally, The Beast is a fun story and it brought back some of the old school fun the series has been lacking for years now. Most of the page time is dedicated to Rhage and Mary, telling the story of how they relate as a couple, and to the outside world, after a few years of mating and living with the BDB. Additionally, there are sidestories that follow the continuing path of Layla, Assail, the Scribe Virgin, and the Lessers. And per her usual, Ward tosses in new characters that don’t even interact with the main characters in any way. Here are my thoughts about each storyline: Assail storyline: Assail has been around for a while, but he’s not really making any forward progress. Back a few books ago, I liked his story, but then it dragged on and on. Now it looks like he may have hit rock bottom, but I don’t seem to care. I found him to be pathetic for most of the story. Ward has set him on a path for redemption, which began in The Beast, but I felt the reason for it, and the sudden 180 turnaround in his personality, was too abrupt for his character. He felt like two completely different people from the beginning to the end of the book, and it didn’t sit well with me. Layla / Xcor / Bastards storyline: Ugh. Layla has turned into an idiot again. I had hope for her character there for a short while in earlier books, but alas, I don’t like her again. She lacks any real personality and personal strength. She’s whiny, even in her own head. Her love for Xcor is ridiculous and childish because it was never really given much time to develop. Then we have the defunct Bastards with Throe up to something, but we...
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Feb
15

Review: Hunted by Darkness by Katie Reus

Review: Hunted by Darkness by Katie Reus Hunted by Darkness Author: Katie Reus Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Bo, a half-demon who owns a supernatural bar, knows Nyx is his mate, but is worried his demon side will scare her away. In the last book, we discovered that Nyx is a demigod; her mom is goddess of Chaos and her father a fae prince. Her fae father has promised her in marriage to another, and because Nyx sought help from her mother to save a friend, her mom has come to collect the favor Nyx owes her. Now the pair will need to work together if they have a chance of surviving the fallout from Chaos’s “favor.” Hunted by Darkness is a typical paranormal romance, complete with alpha males, powerful females, and misunderstandings that cause problems for the fated couple. Love comes swiftly, but only after significant obstacles; however, our couple ends up happy and well-sexed. I enjoyed reading Bo and Nyx’s story, especially after watching the pair dance around their desires for a while now. They make a good couple, and I was pleased that Bo made an effort to both beat his alpha-chest, as well as swallow his protective streak to allow Nyx to conquer her own battles. It really is a great mix of the two sides. And while there were times I thought I would want to pull out my hair because of misunderstandings or lack of communication, Ms. Reus was quick to end confusion and didn’t allow problems to stay for long. However, at times the situations felt gimmicky, as if there were obstacles that really didn’t need to be there in the first place. I did liked that while Nyx was quick to react, she took time to later think things through. She is very understanding, which allows Bo to make a few mistakes along the way. The overall story was good, but not spectacular. A large part of the book was trying to figure out who trapped Bo and Nyx in a hell realm, but the way the story played out and the ultimate conclusion fell flat for me. The action scenes are intense and well-developed, but short. And it was a bit too convenient that each time Nyx’s powers got out of control and destroyed something, Bo could use his power to fix it. In the end, Hunted by Darkness was an enjoyable paranormal romance. I liked Bo and Nyx, both having strong traits, yet...
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Feb
8

Review: Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin

Review: Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin Dare to Run Author: Jen McLaughlin Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Recently released from a two-year stint in prison, Lucas Donahue, a ranking member of the Sons of Steel Row gang, was attacked and nearly killed just before he got out. Now he’s back in Boston trying to determine if the attack was personal or business. Unfortunately, it looks like the hit came from within the Son of Steel Row gang, and his own baby brother, Scotty, is the top suspect. Heidi Greene lives and works in Steel Row, Boston. After living through a rough childhood, Frankie, a father-figure, took in Heidi and looked out and cared for her. After his death, he left her his bar, the Patriot. Late one night when closing up, Heidi is attacked by a rival gang, and Lucas uncharacteristically jumps in to save her. Now all eyes are on the pair to see if they are for real or just a cover. When I picked up Dare to Run, I didn’t realize it was a gang story, so I wasn’t certain if I’d like the book – I normally don’t do anti-hero romances. However, I ended up enjoying the title. The storyline was engaging from the start, and I found the mystery of who betrayed Lucas interesting and exciting. Lucas and Heidi have real chemistry and work well together. Although, I was not happy with Heidi’s quick-to-fall-in-love feelings. Dare to Run is a mix of quality action and a storyline with a couple of great twists. However, the quick to “I love you” feelings and some stereotypical behaviors and emotions were annoying at times. Also, the story is shared in alternating first person POVs, which can be confusing. In the end, Dare to Run is a fun read with a decent story and a hot couple, but the cheese factor was a bit off-putting. My Rating:  C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: She knows what he’s like on Boston’s mean streets. Now she’s going to find out if he’s got some heart. Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he’s ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission—even if he is one of the boss’s top men. Plus someone’s placed a hit on him. And then there’s that feisty little bartender who’s going to cause...
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Feb
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Claimed Author: Elle Kennedy Narrator: C S E Cooney Audio Speed: 1x and 1.25x Series: Outlaws #1 Genre: Futuristic Fantasy, Erotic Romance Source: Tantor media Forty years ago, the world went to war with itself, releasing bombs and destroying much of the planet. After the chaos, The Global Council took charge, creating mandatory communes, making everyone equal. Those who live outside the cities are outlaws, and are either assimilated or killed. Connor and his men are an outlaws, living day-to-day, enjoying what they can when they can. But Connor wants to find and destroy the head Global Council enforcer, Dominick, the man responsible for killing his family. Hudson escaped the city and Dominick to become an outlaw. When a group of bandits attack, she convinces Connor to give her protection. Although he says it will only be for one night, Hudson will do anything to convince him to let her stay longer. And using her sexuality to get into his bed is just one way she’ll convince Connor. I have very mixed feelings about Claimed. The futuristic world and concepts were interesting and engaging. I found that by the end, I wanted to know how the world will deal with the obvious problems within the World Council. But… I didn’t care much at all for the characters and their stories until the last quarter of the book. After listening through the end of Chapter 8 (49%), I had to stop the book, and I almost DNF’d it. The combination of the narrator’s soft-spoken, laid back voice for Connor and his asinine dialogue got to me. Connor is a strong, dominant man, and the voice selected just didn’t fit. Also, the entire plot for the first half revolved around constantly thinking about, having, or complaining that they aren’t having sex, and it was beyond annoying. I mean… they were on an important and dangerous mission, and Connor starts messing around with Hudson. It was ridiculous. Yet about Chapter 15 or so, the sex wasn’t as frequent, allowing the story to pick up and finally move forward. At this point, I actually began to care what was going on. The narration is a huge part of the problem I had with the story. I started listening to the book at 1x speed, but after the halfway point, I picked up the pace and listened at 1.25x speed. It didn’t help much. C S E Cooney’s...
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Feb
2

Spotlight + Giveaway: Hot Dudes Coloring Book by D.C. Taylor

Spotlight + Giveaway: Hot Dudes Coloring Book by D.C. Taylor For all lovers of washboard abs, bad boys and… crayons—there’s a new group of hotties in town and they are ready to get graphic (artistically, that is!). Berkley Publishing presents the HOT DUDES COLORING BOOK (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; February 2, 2016; $9.99) by D.C. Taylor in conjunction with Valentine’s Day this February. Inside this steamy book you will find a swoon-worthy collection of 60 scantily-clad heartthrobs for your coloring pleasure. With sexy cops, cowboys, lumberjacks and a plethora of other fantasy beaus to choose from, every artist is sure to find their muse. Hitting stores just shy of the most amorous holiday of the year, this entertaining book prompts one to ask the question: who needs to choose one valentine when you can have them all? Giveaway: Berkley is generously donating one (1) copy of the HOT DUDES COLORING BOOK to give to one (1) lucky commenter. To enter, please leave a comment telling us which fictional character you most would like to color. Additionally, please leave an email address or twitter handle so I may contact the winner. The giveaway is open until Monday February 8, 2016 at 12:00 noon EST. Winner(s) chosen at random from all eligible entries. This contest is open to U.S. mailing addresses only, where not prohibited by law. Open to participants, 18 years or older, who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local laws. All federal, state, local, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. By participating in the contest, participants agree to be bound by the decisions of the contest sponsor. Prize will be delivered by the publisher. This blog, its reviewers, and the owner are not responsible for items lost in the mail. By entering this giveaway, participants agree to abide by these terms. My Review: When I first heard that Berkley was jumping in to the “adult” coloring book craze, I was super excited… I mean who wouldn’t want to color sexy romance cover dudes?! After receiving my review copy from the publisher, I took time to look through it and even selected a couple images to color. I used colored pencils for this one, which reminded me of one of my favorite book covers! I also colored this image with my daughter’s “skinny” crayons. I liked using crayons more than the colored pencils. While the coloring was fun, and the book is highly entertaining, it’s not what I had hoped for or expected in an “adult”...
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Jan
13

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur City of Light Author: Keri Arthur Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: City of Light kicks of a new, futuristic fantasy series from Keri Arthur. In this unique world, there was a five-year race war between humans and shifters over a hundred years ago. The weapons used by the shifters ripped open portals to another dimension, allowing all sorts of dangerous “Others,” such as wraiths and vampires, into the world, making it extremely dangerous to live outside the walled cities of light. The story is shared in first person POV of Tiger, the lone déchet who survived the devastating race war. Déchets were human-created beings with the combined DNA of humans, shifters, and vampires. She lives in an old, underground military bunker that manufactured déchets and was destroyed by shifters during the war. She lives an isolated life, out of necessity for she would be killed if discovered, with only the ghosts of the deceased déchets for companionship. But when Tiger helps rescue a young shifter named Penny from a vampire attack, she inadvertently becomes involved in a massive conspiracy that threatens the lives of children. Now she must decide who she can trust while trying to stop any more children from being taken. Being the first book in a fantasy series, I expected a fair amount of world-building. Luckily, the author effectively uses narration and intense action scenes to help shape her new world quickly. She clearly defined what was good and bad and who the key players were. However, after I hit the 40% mark of the book, I felt that the world-building began to dominate the tale, without the development of a clear and engaging story. I found the unique world fascinating, but in the end, I was underwhelmed and confused by the overall plot. As the main character, Tiger held her own throughout the story. She’s caring and kind, while equally fierce and strong. She protects those she claims as hers, which include the ghosts and children. I loved learning all of her different abilities and how she applied them to figure out what was going on. While I enjoyed Tiger and her fresh and almost juvenile view of the world, I didn’t connect with her sexuality. Programmed to be a spy, she used seduction as her means of infiltration. So when she found a lost lover and they engaged in extra curricular activities, I was actually turned off my her ability...
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Dec
22

Review: Calling the Play by Samantha Kane

Review: Calling the Play by Samantha Kane Calling the Play Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Tyler Oakes knows he’s on his last chance to make it as a pro quarterback, so he’s toned down his partying and is trying to focus on playing the game. But sometimes he needs to scratch an itch, and it doesn’t matter to him if companionship comes from males, females, or both at the same time. But when he meets undercover cop Randi McInish, he knows he wants more than just one night with this foul-mouthed sex pot. And then there is the Rebels’ new quarterback coach, Brian Mason, who shares a history with Tyler. When it’s clear that the two men have unspoken issues to resolve, can Randi step aside and let them discover love? Despite struggling with some issues while reading the first book in the series, I decided to give Calling the Play a shot. Unfortunately, after only hitting the 10% mark, I had to stop reading for two reasons. First – it was pretty obvious that this story was once again going to include a romance between a player and a coach. I had issues with how this was handled in the first book, and I was already cringing at the replay of this dynamic. Second – I couldn’t stand the heroine. She was simply obnoxious. I admire women who are all about “this is who I am and this is what you get,” but it was over the top. Her vocabulary pretty much only consisted of multiple 4-letter words strung together. I don’t mind a potty-mouth, but there is a time and place, and this felt forced. However, after taking a break from the book for a few weeks, I decided to pick it up again, and I’m happy to report, ended up enjoy it – more so than the first book. While I still had some issues with the book and the characters, overall, I liked the story and romance of Tyler, Randi, and Brian. While Randi still bugged me from time to time, I liked that she was protective of Ty, and eventually Brian. Additionally, as the story progressed, her level of unpleasantness toned down considerably. Meanwhile, the coach-player issue didn’t play out as it did in the first book, and I found I wasn’t irritated by the Brian-Tyler dynamic because 1) they have a history and 2) it’s still preseason and they aren’t in a player-coach...
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Dec
14

Review: Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw

Review: Behr Facts by Pat Henshaw Behr Facts Author: Pat Henshaw Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Abraham “Abe” Behr is the head of his family’s business, Behr Construction. The company is losing money, and it appears it may be the sabotage of disgruntled family members. Abe brings in outsider Jeffrey Mason, CPA, to help with the books and figure out what’s going on with the finances. While Jeff may not know about it, there is bad blood between the Behrs and Masons, making it more difficult for some in the Behr family to accept Jeff’s work. As the pair work together to solve the mystery, they realize that they are becoming more than friends. Behr Facts is the love story of an unlikely pair, making it despite their own hang ups. It’s an enjoyable novella with likable characters. And while not completely original, it’s still a good story. I have not read the previous books in the series, and while loosely connected, they are standalone in nature. The story is shared in the first person POV of Abe, which was a bit off-putting at first, since most romances are usually told in third person POV. I stumbled around the dialogue for a bit until I got used to it. And while it seemed pretty obvious to me as to what was going on at Behr, apparently it took Jeff and Abe several weeks. This seemed a bit unrealistic to me, as who would allow losses like Behr was experiencing for weeks before making a move to stop it? One thing that bothered me a bit was that the author tries to address bigotry and hate in this short story, but it felt forced and used stereotypes rather than integrating actions and reactions in a more original way. The whole story has a cookie cutter feel: not bad but not unique. In the end, Behr Facts turned out to be more about a man discovering who he is and what he wants out of life rather than an engrossing romance. Abe was always doing what was expect of him by others and never anything for himself. His journey is all about self-discovery and finding true happiness. It’s a feel good, everything-turns-out-great kind of story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the story didn’t stand out, it still was enjoyable. My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly...
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