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Aug
15

Review: Can I See You Again? by Allison Morgan

Review: Can I See You Again? by Allison Morgan Can I See You Again? Author: Allison Morgan Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Can I See You Again? is a good book, but it fell short of the potential to be more. Bree Caxton is a matchmaker based in La Jolla, California.  Her expertise is in reading body language and a wistful love of falling in love. I can identify.  This is why I like contemporary romance.  Bree is good at her job, so good that she has a 98% success rate.  Business is steady and she has a debut book ready to hit the stands.  Life is good.  Her boyfriend of four years, attorney Sean Thomas, is even going to propose—until he doesn’t.  In a Legally Blonde moment, Sean dumps her at their favorite restaurant.  It would appear that author Allison Morgan is inspired by popular movies as many more such moments creep into her writing.  Inspiration is fine, but her repetition of the Pretty Woman line “take care of you” was distracting for me.  There was even the save grandma’s house subplot right out of Happy Gilmore.  I found myself looking for similar comparisons instead of relaxing into what might have been a sweet and moving love story. Morgan’s most grievous sin was the conscious choice to end nearly every chapter with a “moment,” a cliff-hanger of sorts.  It was jarring to me, like I kept running into locked doors with my arms full.  Unfortunately, there was little relief.  The next chapter, more often than not, began hours or days later.  If there was resolution, we didn’t get to experience it, only hear about it after-the-fact as Bree processed it.  How do you drop a major bomb on a character and not have the rest of that scene? The other literary tactic that bothered me was just the opposite.  Rather than dropping bombs and holding back the explosion, Morgan just didn’t drop the bomb.  She repeatedly withheld significant information by interrupting dialog with some emergency in the same moment the words would have left a character’s mouth.  Writers of teen books often do this, and an adult writer should know better.  It didn’t build tension, it built annoyance. My final grievance was the use of clichéd characters.  How many snappy dressing gay assistants are there out there?  Bree’s new love interest, Nixon, had the potential to be really interesting.  He was even surprising on occasion, but we had so little of him, it felt...
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Aug
12

Review: Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin

Review: Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin Dare to Stay Author: Jen McLaughlin Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having betrayed his best friend in order to take his position in the Sons of Steel Road gang, Chris was the “bad guy” from the first Sons of Steel Road title, Dare to Run. Dare to Stay opens moments after the dramatic conclusion of the previous book, with Chris experiencing a true epiphany; remorse over his actions and the loss of his only true friend. Beat up and near death, Chris breaks into a pharmacy to help himself recover. However, he wasn’t expecting genuine kindness from his longtime crush, Molly. Molly’s father was killed in a gang-related hold up five years ago, so it’s no wonder she seldom goes out after dark and never takes risks with her heart. However, finding her neighbors’ son, Chris, badly injured in the alley on the anniversary of her father’s death feels like a sign to Molly, and she insists on bringing him home and helping him. Now the pair dances around their unspoken attraction, trying to fight their feelings. After having mixed feelings about the first book in the series, I found myself surprisingly entertained with Dare to Stay. I was concerned with the plot – one involving the redemption of a man who has committed an awful sin; however, Ms. McLaughlin handles the entire plot with a healthy dash of realism together with a strong emotional thread. I felt Chris’s absolution was tempered with the perfect amount of guilt and desire to change. The author created a strong backstory for Chris, one filled with abusive parents and attempts to do the right thing, so when he realizes the errors of his ways, it comes off sincere. Chris and Molly work as a couple because they have a history. I love the little bits of romance an unworthy Chris gave to Molly because she was a light in his dark world. Likewise, Molly recalls her previous interactions with Chris with fondness and a bit of lust. When the pair finally gives into their mutual desires, it is smokin’ hot! The scenes worked as an extension of their strong feelings, both lust and love, because the author developed a solid history between the pair. The issues I had with Dare to Stay were minor – the “I’m no good for you,” and “I’ll have to leave her” sentiments dragged for the first third to half of the book....
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Aug
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Cream of the Crop Author: Alice Clayton Narrators: Olivia Song & Deacon Lee Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hudson Valley #2 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Natalie Grayson is the definition of a Manhattan Girl. She loves her island and adores everything about her fast-paced, high society party scene, working girl life. But… there is that hot dairy farmer and her secret dream to live in the country, making cheese. So when Natalie gets the opportunity to work on a Bailey Falls tourism campaign, she jumps at the chance to head upstate to the Hudson Valley town where her best friend, and that hot farmer, reside. Oscar is a man of few words who enjoys his small town life as a dairy farmer and premium cheese maker. However, when Natalie Grayson blows into town, he can’t help but get caught up in her whirlwind and go after this wonderful woman who makes him crazy. Thank goodness, neither Oscar nor Natalie wants a relationship or to fall in love… Cream of the Crop is Ms. Clayton’s second, standalone romance in her wonderful Hudson Valley series. Although the story is standalone, we meet both Natalie and Oscar in the first book, Nuts, and I highly recommend reading it first. Cream of the Crop is filled with sharp humor and lots of steamy sex, but there are also some poignant moments that brought a tear or two to my eyes. I loved the main character, Natalie. She is confident and talented. She’s no-nonsense and takes what she wants. I love that she is pretty aggressive and vulgar. She likes to talk bluntly about sex and what she likes. She also cusses like a sailor. I appreciated that her job came first, and she wasn’t willing to give up her life for a man. And, I am thankful that the author didn’t create this strong character, then tear her down, causing her to run to or need Oscar in the end. She maneuvers around pitfalls with grace and care, learning when to compromise without giving up bits of herself. Oscar is a bit of a mystery, and since we don’t hear the story from his POV, we have to learn about him though Natalie’s eyes. He definitely fits Natalie’s fantasies and gives her lots of emotional support and encouragement. However, Hot Farmer Guy has an ex-wife with whom he has remained close friends. I...
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Aug
10

Review: Her Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen

Review: Her Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen Her Demigod Complex Author: Abigail Owen Reviewers: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una were able to go back and read the first novella in the Legendary Consultants series after reading the second novella, The Worse for Were, first.  Her Demigod Complex tells the story of Leia and Castor, a broken nymph and a demigod.  Despite learning more of the intriguing mythology of this world from this first novella, we were a bit disappointed. We liked Leia and Castor.  Although their journey was the seemingly typical boss and assistant trope, there was a nice twist to it.  They fought their attraction for different reasons and their individual reasons for holding back were logical.  They even communicated well with each other (even when hiding their true feelings) until Leia panicked. It helped to have both perspectives in this novella to give weight to the romantic complications.  Leia’s broken status and Castor’s demigod status were fascinating.  The mix of the paranormal was enriching to the world. The overall plot of the vengeful werewolf was gripping.  But since the second novel is the same overall plot with different focal characters, we were disappointed in the rehash.  Maybe we would have felt differently if we had read these novellas in the correct order, but we don’t think so.  We have read another series by Ms. Owen and therefore know what she is capable of.  Although this is a novella series, we still expected more.  With the ending of Her Demigod Complex, we look forward to either learning more about Delilah, the owner of Legendary Consultants or Rowan, the witch Kaios forced into his dastardly plans. Although we liked Her Demigod Complex, we did have a bit of an issue with it feeling like a retelling of The Worse for Were.  We enjoyed Castor and Leia’s romantic journey, especially as it was a new twist on a familiar trope.  The world with the varied paranormal entities is rich and fascinating.  We look forward to the next story in hopes that it will give light into Delilah or provide a happy ending for Rowan.  If you enjoy a lighthearted paranormal romance, you might want to pick up the Legendary Consultants series. Our Rating: B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: When Legendary Consultants placed Lyleia Naiad in her job as Executive Assistant to a high-powered billionaire, she was given one directive–do NOT fall in love with him....
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Aug
9

Review: Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards

Review: Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards Hell or High Water Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: Vampbard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: What? You haven’t started reading Hailey Edwards’ Black Dog series? You guys…get on that. I know, every time Ms. Edwards releases a title in the series or a spin-off series, I say the same thing. I MEAN IT. In the latest release in the Gemini series, Hell or High Water, there’s all the feels, and I honestly wish I could’ve holed up somewhere and devoured the story in one sitting. If you HAVE been reading this series, there’s a lot of awww and booyah! moments. There’s more than one oh, HECK no! happening as well. And…a whole lot of crazy, awesome, and wonderful things that gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling by the end. Don’t get me wrong, we still get Cam & Cord in some kick-ass stuff, and some help from Theirry (Black Dog titles). It seems like Cam’s plot arc has resolved, however (take THAT, Charybdis!). We have the promise of Lorimar Pack books (go, Dell!!!) and what’s this I see on Ms. Edwards’ website? Is Harlow getting a book?!? *grabby hands* I really liked watching the evolution of the pack—the Lorimar pack. Cam & Cord’s relationship development was spectacular. What I like about this couple is that they don’t immediately jump into bed because they’re attracted to one another. They’re definitely a slow burn relationship, and it makes their ultimate connection that much sweeter. And the way she portrays Cord as an Alpha male is refreshing. He’s still all growly and leaning toward the bossy side, but he lets Cam pull up her big girl panties and she’s ‘allowed’ to have an opinion without him getting all super-alpha-grumpy. Readers of the series know Cam has lived with her aunt since she was eight—when her twin died. Oh, you guys. We find out why! Totally zipping my lip—spoiler-free—but desperately want to discuss! Definitely didn’t see this coming. Not. At. All. I think what really left an impression on me with the Gemini titles—especially Hell or High Water—is the concept of family and belonging. It’s seriously powerful. Thoughtfully written. We’re all born into a family, which usually contains a specific set of conditions or complications. Especially if you’re fae, living in the human world. We also have a connection to other groups of people, illustrated by the warg pack here. These are the family we choose for ourselves, our tribe. These are the people...
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Aug
8

Review: Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy Lonen’s War Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Lonen’s War is the debut novel in the new Sorcerous Moons series.  We enjoyed this new fantasy world and with the cliffhanger ending, we are eager for more. First and foremost we love this world.  The rich fantasy mythology that Ms. Kennedy created is mesmerizing. The sorcerous Baran is at odds with the non-magical barbarian Destrye.  The novel begins with the Destrye invasion of Baran.  We follow Lonen, the third son of King Archimago, leading one faction of the Destrye while Oria, the only daughter of King Tav sits fretting in her tower.  The story is told from these two opposing viewpoints.  This allows us to understand each different kingdom; its beliefs, values, and political structure.  We absolutely loved this aspect of the novel. Though we like Lonen and Oria, the character that stood out most to us is Chuffta, Oria’s familiar.  This dragon-like creature was absolutely fascinating and endearing.  Chuffta is more companion and advisor than pet.  Though wise, he is still considered young for his kind and a good match to the young princess.  This relationship is critical to the novel, especially knowing that Chuffta accepted this role that was offered by the Queen.  Unfortunately we cannot comment too much about the other characters as it would give away much of the plot.  The contrast of Lonen’s relationship with his family compared to Oria’s is a distinctive and interesting dichotomy. This is a wonderful first novel in an exciting, thrilling and rich fantasy world.  We eagerly look forward to the next novel to find out what happens next.  Luckily, we don’t have to wait long, as Oria’s Gambit is to be released shortly. Our Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: An Unquiet Heart Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince… A Fight Without Hope When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people...
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Aug
4

Review: A Fine Mess by Kelly Siskind

Review: A Fine Mess by Kelly Siskind A Fine Mess Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Lily has been living in break-up limbo for a year. She and boyfriend Kevin have been together for 11 years, but the relationship has turned comfortable and loveless. Finally getting the courage she needs, she ends things with Kevin. The primary push to finally make the break generated in her feelings for her friend and boss, Sawyer, whom she met nine months ago on a girls’ weekend in Aspen (My Perfect Mistake) The spark between the pair made her realize how much she doesn’t love Kevin any longer. Sawyer is head-over-heels for Lily since the moment he met her almost a year ago. They have so much in common, and she’s become his sounding board, muse, and best friend. But she’s got a boyfriend, so he’d never push for more, instead drowning his feelings in endless one-night stands. Yet when Lily calls to tell him she’s ended things with Kevin, he gets scared that his family’s history of broken relationships will doom any future he may have with Lily. I absolutely loved A Fine Mess. Plain and simple, Lily and Sawyer’s story was fabulous. The friends-to-lovers trope being one of my favorites, I loved that their story begins in the previous book and takes time to develop, so when they make that leap to be lovers, you know they are already in love. But theirs isn’t an easy road, and I honestly hated Sawyer at the beginning of the book. A Fine Mess is shared in dueling first person POVs, so readers understand the motivations, histories, and feelings of both Lily and Sawyer. I’m starting to become a fan of this method of storytelling for these very reasons. I was put through both highs and lows as the characters come to terms with their issues, both mental and emotional. Sawyer comes from a long line of broken marriages and men who cheat. He honestly believes he will inevitably hurt Lily someday, so he’d rather never start anything than break her heart. Understanding his pain makes some of his less desirable behavior a bit more tolerable for me. Lily struggles with change and saying goodbye. She deals with her emotions though shopping and hoarding. It’s a real problem, one that she’s hidden from family and friends, and I adore that Sawyer understands this and doesn’t make light or run away. In fact, Sawyer is beyond...
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Aug
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Nuts by Alice Clayton Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Nuts Author: Alice Clayton Narrators: Shayna Thibodeaux & Sebastian York Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hudson Valley #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Simon & Schuster Audio In an effort to escape the small town where she grew up and her mother’s crazy ways, Roxie went to culinary school and moved to LA where she’s started her own business, catering to the stars. However, when her mom needs Roxie, she heads home to Bailey Falls, NY, to run the family dinner for the summer. JUST the summer. What she wasn’t expecting was to enjoy her reacquaintance with her hometown or meeting a sexy farmer who gives her a reason to extend her trip home. Leo left the bright lights and fast pace of Manhattan behind to start an organic farm in the Hudson Valley. He loves his new life and the friends he’s made in Bailey Falls. However when Roxie shows up, his world turns upside down, and he realizes he may want more from life than his friends and farm. Overall, Nuts is a wonderfully written, humorous contemporary romance. The story flowed from start to end; a delightful song with both high and low notes, yet never strayed from its melodious tune. Watching Roxie struggle with finding her own way, examining her past and how it shapes her views, was a joy. The descriptions and imagery Roxie provides through her POV created a three-dimensional world in which I wanted to live. Leo is every woman’s fantasy – kind, loving, good looking, successful, and an incredible lover. Having never given his heart away since his last girlfriend many years ago, it made his falling for Roxie all the more special. Although the story is told only from Roxie’s POV, it was made clear to the listener that he was head over heels for her. As a couple, they are so sexy AND adorable. I loved the banter and innuendos shared between Roxie and Leo. Roxie’s inner dialogue was completely entertaining. I loved how she thought about each reaction and non-reaction she had, picking it apart to try and understand herself. She’s snarky and fun, but thoughtful and generous. Her relationships with her mom and former high school crush, Chad, shared a lot about her personality and created a wonderful community around which she can base her life. Chad allows Roxie to realize she can still be LA Roxie while being hometown Roxie....
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Aug
3

Review: The Right Kind of Trouble by Shiloh Walker

Review: The Right Kind of Trouble by Shiloh Walker The Right Kind of Trouble Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Reading the McKays series has been a delight. In The Right Kind of Trouble, readers of the first two titles will be pleased to know we get to hear a whole lot more about Moira and Gideon, as well as revisiting couples we’ve come to know and love. Brannon and Hannah, as well as Neve and Ian, play integral roles through this title, which wraps up the plot arc for these characters. Moira McKay has had a rough life. Her parents’ death caused her to grow up entirely too soon, putting her own life—and love—on hold. But that’s not all. Mystery is wrapped around the matriarch of the McKay clan. What IS the ‘treasure’ of which legend was built? Moira knows, and someone is out to dredge the information out of her. Moira is an interesting character. She’s powerful, yet sensitive and—dare I say it—needy…in all the right ways. She’s afraid to show her vulnerability to those around her. As she’s grown the McKay empire, she’s learned a thing or two about trust and where to place it. The thing is, there’s always a wrench thrown into what we think we know. Moira’s strength and tenacity is what draws me to her as a character. She’s not one to give up, nor is she one to take things lightly when they’re super serious. Compounded with hits to her business holdings, Moira is…irritated, and maybe a bit terrified. She has serious cause to reflect on her life, and makes some startling revelations. This is where Gideon comes in. Not only is he the chief of police in McKay’s Treasure, he’s Moira’s the one that got away. Fireworks splash across the sky any time these two are in close proximity. We’ve seen it in the first two titles in the series, and The Right Kind of Trouble gives us a spectacular finale display. One of the things about Gideon, however, is the fact that he’s been put off so much by Moira that he’s reluctant to let his heart be entrapped by the redheaded vixen. It’s super difficult to open up and let love in when you’ve been burned by the most brilliant thing you’ve ever seen more times than you can bear. Like many of Ms. Walker’s titles, it’s difficult to review without spoilers. Suffice it to say: I DIDN’T SEE THIS ONE COMING....
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Aug
2

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Forever Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I’ve read the Doon series from beginning to end. Not being one for fairytales with the whole princess and prince thing, I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed the first two titles in the series. After the first two though, I started having some fairly major issues with the novels. I felt as though the target age for the series changed to a younger audience, as if series was being dragged on, like the authors lost their focus and were unclear where it was going, and like the classification of the novels changed. Forever Doon, like the three before, was a multiple point of view book. Although there is nothing wrong with that, there is a point when it isn’t needed. Forever Doon was told from four different points of view. It was clear why it was told from three of the four, but the fourth viewpoint seemed excessive, to the say the least, and completely unnecessary. Two of the characters were with each other throughout the entire novel, and having both points of view was just each story being retold, most of the time word for word. The fourth viewpoint did not add any extra insight or necessary details through the whole novel all it did was up the word count, and I firmly believe if it doesn’t add to the story it should be left out. Maturity was another topic I often found myself thinking about as I read this book. The main characters are all said to be high school graduates and well above 14, yet I often felt as though they were acting like they were middle-schoolers. Not only was the language used, such as “skellies,” immature and childish, the way character on character conflict was solved was immature. Many times the characters would simply yell at each other instead of actually figuring out the problem, and then it would magically disappear like it never happened. It was almost as though a few of the characters were developing, but not in a way that fit the story. I expected them to mature as they faced various conflicts and it felt like the opposite was happening. I was hoping that because the series was originally planned for four...
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