Review: The Kissing Game by Marie Harte

Posted February 19, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Kissing Game by Marie HarteReviewer: Rowena
The Kissing Game by Marie Harte
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

"I bet you a kiss you can't resist me."

Game on.

Rena Jackson is ready. She's worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she's almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena's also a diehard romantic, and she's had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He's got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he's got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Rena's about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.

At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He's been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he's way out of his depth and she's slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play...

I’ve never read anything by Marie Harte before and I’ll admit that what initially piqued my interest with this book was that cartoon cover. I’m a fan of these cutesy, cartoon covers because they make me picture the cutesy story that I expect to get when I pick one up. I’m starting to think that these cartoony covers are the exact opposite of what I should expect to get. This one sounded like a super cute story that would be a light and fluffy read but right from the very beginning, what I thought I was getting, wasn’t what I felt was coming. I kept reading, thinking that maybe it’ll get better and unfortunately, it never did. Sure, there were some moments throughout the book that had me laughing and some characters that I was genuinely interested in but for the most part, I was like…nah.

Axel Heller has had a giant crush on Rena Jackson but he’s never made his move. She’s been patient with him but the longer he waits to get at her, the more sure Rena is that he’s never going to make his move so she needs to move on. She’s leaving her bartending job to open her own hair salon and when Axel gets into a bar fight at her going away party, she’s not surprised but she’s also determined to move on. When Axel receives some much-needed advice, he decides that it’s now or never. Now, a huge part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would is that I couldn’t connect with either the hero or the heroine. I thought that as the story progressed, I would understand their thought processes and I would start to connect with them but I don’t know if it was Harte’s writing style or if was the fact that the characters of color didn’t come off as authentic to me but whatever it was, I put this book down and just did feel much of anything and that bummed me out.

I love romance novels of all kinds. I love the light and fluffy ones, the dark and twisted ones, even the suspenseful ones but what I like about those stories is that I know what I’m getting when I go into them. The HEA is a given but you can tell by the covers just what you’re going to get and I thought the cover for this one didn’t fit with the kind of story that I was expecting. This wasn’t the light and fluffy romance that I was expecting. It was a diverse romance that was written by an author who was not diverse. I found myself frustrated with the characters, with the romance, and with the writing style. I kept reading to see if I’d ever warm up to Axel and to Rena and while I did end up liking Rena, I never warmed up to Axel. There was a lot of nothing going on. I couldn’t really tell what the conflict was because the conflict was pretty weak. I didn’t feel like there was anything to carry the characters or even develop them. So my enjoyment really suffered because of all of those things. On top of those things, I also thought that there were a lot of characters to keep track of. Sure, I enjoyed some of them but for the most part, not having read any of these characters books (I didn’t even know that this book was part of a series), I had no clue who they were and didn’t even know that I was supposed to care about them.

So yeah, I went into this book expecting one thing but didn’t get it and I didn’t really connect with the main characters or anything that they were going through so all in all, this book just wasn’t for me.

Final Grade

Grade: 1.5 out of 5


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Review: Vendetta Road by Christine Feehan

Posted February 18, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Vendetta Road by Christine FeehanReviewer: Casee
Vendetta Road by Christine Feehan
Series: Torpedo Ink #3
Also in this series: Judgment Road (Torpedo Ink #1), Judgment Road, Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 464
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan pushes the limits in her next novel in the Torpedo Ink series.
Isaak “Ice” Koval is on a club mission when he sees a woman who stops him dead in his tracks. Soleil is a sweet, sexy, girl-next-door type. She’s an innocent who should be nowhere near the rough-and-ready world of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club. But Ice knows Soleil belongs with him—and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.
After a life of drifting from one thing to the next, Soleil Brodeur is determined to take control of her life. When her breakup with her manipulative fiancé turns ugly, Soleil searches out the stranger who offered her a lifeline and ends up in a Las Vegas biker bar where she meets a gorgeous, dangerous man straight out of her most secret fantasies.
High on adrenaline, she finds herself falling faster than she thought possible. But Soleil knows little about the territory she’s stumbled into, and even less about what it really means to be Ice’s woman.…

Issak “Ice” Koval is exactly as his name suggests. He’s ice cold; on the inside and out. While on a job with his brothers and sister in Las Vegas, something happens to Ice that has never happened in his life. He gets distracted. Not just distracted, but distracted by a woman. This is something that Ice wants to explore, but he can’t put his siblings in danger.

Soleil Brodeur is in trouble. Big trouble. After meeting a man in Europe, Soleil eventually finds herself in Las Vegas. She’s been told by the fiancé whose proposal that she never officially accepted that they are getting married. Soleil is an heiress. There are few things she is responsible for, one being protecting herself from her soon-to-be husband; no matter whom he may be.

When she tells Winston (her fiancé) that she wants a prenup, he explodes. While Winston attacks her, Soleil distantly thinks about everything he’s done and made her feel up to this point. Now all she has to do is get away. And get away she does.

Soleil finds herself at a biker bar of all places. It’s there she meets Ice. It’s there that their whirlwind courtship begins. In no time at all, Soleil finds herself married. Married! To a man she doesn’t know. Soleil wonders what she’s gotten into and tries to tell Ice that she forced him into marriage.

Ice doesn’t know what he’s done to have Soleil, but he knows that he’s not letting her go. That doesn’t mean he wants to open up to her about his past. He eventually realizes that. Now, he’ll stop at nothing to keep her. He will lie to her, he will cheat, he will…tell her the truth about his past. Whatever it takes to keep her.

While trying to figure out what is happening with Winston and why he wants Soleil so badly, Torpedo Ink finds that he’s smack in the middle of the sex trafficking ring that they are investigating. So there is that going on too.

I really enjoyed this book in the end, though I put it down about halfway through because it wasn’t interesting enough for me. Still, it was good and exactly what I expect of Feehan.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Torpedo Ink


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Sunday Spotlight: Knight Awakening by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted February 16, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Knight Awakening is the sixth book in Zanetti’s Scorpius Syndrome series. I am a big lover of dystopian/post-apocalypse stories. This series has never disappointed me. I love each and every character. I’m really looking forward to reading this book. Marcus and Penny are sure to be remarkable characters. I highly recommend this series to you dystopian readers. It’s amazing. We have an amazing excerpt for you!

Sunday Spotlight: Knight Awakening by Rebecca ZanettiKnight Awakening by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Scorpius Syndrome #6
Also in this series: Mercury Striking, Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending, Storm Gathering, Winter Igniting
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

“Sexy, tough, and deftly sprinkled with dark humor.” -- New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione
The Line Between Obsession and Love has Disappeared
The world has changed. Any rules that might’ve been in place before the Scorpius bacterium ripped through civilization and decreased its population are no longer in place. Obsession and survival are the new reality. So, Marcus Knight, after a hellish time in captivity that stole most of his memory and all of his soul, has one focus, and that’s keeping Dr. Penelope Kim safe in the aftermath. She’d risked her life to save him once, and she’s all that matters. For months, he’s kept his distance, protecting her from afar, because he knows that one touch—one sigh—one kiss—from her will never be enough.
Passion is a Dangerous and Deadly Temptation
Penny Kim is one of the few doctors still living, and she alone holds the key to ensuring the human race continues. Several of her friends are pregnant, and the clock is ticking down on their survival. Her days are filled with experiments and hope, while her nights are consumed with visions and dreams of the hard-bodied and powerful soldier who’s made her safety his one and only mission. She should be wary of him; she should be terrified of him. Yet all she feels is an unreal craving for his touch that gets stronger every day. Life is short, and she’s unwilling to wait, unaware of the danger already hunting them both. Some risks are worth it, even in this new and dangerous world.
“Thrilling, post-apocalyptic romance at its dark, sizzling best!” --New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian


Penelope rushed into the infirmary with the room tilting wildly around her.

“How bad?” she asked Jax, who’d fetched her from a nice sleep on her sofa, where she’d crashed after several hours with her friends. The bottle of bourbon was now, sadly, empty.

“Not too bad,” Jax said, brushing glass off his shoulder.

She turned into the second examination room, stopping at seeing Marcus sitting on the taller table, his legs extending to the door and his shirt already off. He was okay. Well, bleeding from the upper arm, but looking directly at her and breathing evenly. Okay. Her knees stopped shaking. He was alive. She pushed hair away from her face. “Bullet wound?”

“Just a cut.” Jax patted her arm and turned away. “See you two tomorrow.”

“Wait,” Penelope said. “I’m intoxicated.” In fact, her feet were numb. “I can’t stitch him up.”

Jax turned and looked at her, his eyes bloodshot and a purple bump above his right eye. “You’re the best we’ve got right now. I can barely see.”

Marcus wiped blood off his arm with his other hand. “I only need a couple of stitches. I can do it.”

Jax nodded. “You two figure it out. I want to see Lynne.” He took a step and then paused. “Let’s meet in the morning and come up with a plan, Slam.”

“Okay,” Marcus said, and Jax took off at a fast clip.

Penny pressed a hand to her throat as her heart continued to pound.

Marcus looked around the room. “Could you get me a needle?”

A needle? He’d been in a gunfight, and he was acting like everything was normal? “Are you sure you weren’t shot?” She stumbled for the drawer to take out supplies.
“Yep. Just glass from when the bus flipped over from the bomb.”

Her head jerked, and she whirled around. Heat climbed down her throat so fast, her lungs burned. “There was a bomb?” Her voice rose.

He turned away from examining his arm. “Yeah. What’s the matter?”

Oh, wrong question. Way wrong question, and the bourbon flowing through her veins prevented her from finding any sort of filter for her words. “I can’t believe you just asked me that,” she muttered, setting the needle, thread, and bandages next to him on the table. “From the first second we arrived here, it has been you and me. All the time. But it’s one way, isn’t it?” Even though anger now focused her, she was gentle with wiping more blood from his wound. “You need about ten stitches, and my hands aren’t steady.” Not even close.

“That’s okay. You’re still better than I am with one hand. What do you mean, one way?” He twisted his arm so she could get a better angle.

This broke every rule she’d ever been taught in medical school, but the pandemic had pretty much broken the world, so what the hell. She took a deep breath and expertly threaded the already clean needle, wiping blood again. She forced her eyes open and then stitched him back up, rather surprised the stitches were even. It was a sad state of the world that she could stitch up a wound while mildly drunk. She’d been stitching up way too many wounds. She pressed a bandage into place and stepped back. “Yes. One way.”

He sat there, bare to the waist, his chest an intriguing mix of raw muscle and healed scars. The fact that he’d survived such torture only made those ripped muscles even more intriguing.

“I’m not following.”

That just figured. It really figured. She put her hands on her hips. “You don’t tell me anything.”

“I tell you everything.”

Maybe she hadn’t asked enough. “What is wrong with you? You were just blown up in a bus, and you’re sitting there like you’ve had a day at the beach.”

He frowned and rubbed dried blood off his hand. “A beach? I’m sunburned?”

Oh, for hell’s sake. “Do you have to be so damn literal all the time?” And alluring? Marcus Knight without a shirt on should be illegal.


The simple response nearly made her head spin around and blow steam. “Marcus? You must be frightened sometimes. It’s okay to share that.” It should scare her how badly she wanted in. How much she wanted him to really share with her.

His face cleared. “Oh. That. I don’t feel anything, Penny.” At her silence, he shrugged. “Sorry. I’d love to tell you that I do feel a lot of things, but I just don’t. Not anymore.”

Oh. That was certainly a defense mechanism against what they’d done to him in the labs, as well as a result of surviving Scorpius. The bourbon swirled around in her blood, and her head fuzzed, but her body flashed wide awake along with her instincts. She stepped toward him, standing between his legs. “Yes, you do.”

He frowned, the sight more bewildered than upset. “No. I don’t.”

She placed both hands on the sides of his rugged face, and his shadow of whiskers scratched her palms. “Do you feel this?”

“Yes.” His voice deepened and his expression smoothed out.

Caressing down one side of his face, she traced his sharp jawline. “Do you feel this?”

“Yes.” His eyes darkened, going to the green instead of the brown. He held perfectly still, tension around him, his muscles tightened as if ready to spring.

She blinked. This was a mistake, and it wasn’t fair to him. He was still sitting on her examination table after she’d stitched him up. Her hands started to drop.

“No.” He snatched her wrist. “Don’t stop. Finish what you started.”

Her gaze lowered to his firm mouth. “I can’t.”

“Because you don’t want to?” His hold was light but his tone a low growl.

“Because I’m your doctor.” She took a deep breath and filled her lungs, trying to clear her mind.

He released her wrist, and she started to back up, shocked when he slid his hand through her hair to cup her nape. “I’m not your doctor.”

What was happening? His hand was warm and so strong, flexing against her skin. She swallowed. The energy ticked between them, enhanced by the silence throughout Vanguard headquarters at the midnight hour. Her gaze flew up to his eyes, and he was studying her like nobody ever had. Completely and with a focus that uncoiled live wires in her abdomen.

The next moment was inevitable.

He drew her near, and his mouth touched hers. Gentle and seeking.

Heat flowed through her faster than the bourbon had, and she leaned closer, putting her hands on his chest and sighing softly.

Then he ignited. He grabbed her hip, yanked her hard into him, and kissed her so hard he bent her back. Intense and deep, he took over, taking everything. She closed her eyes, overcome, her nails curling into his bare skin as he plundered. All of her.

Scorpius Syndrome

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: February 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Rebecca Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormals, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.

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WTF Cover Saturday (347)

Posted February 15, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 6 Comments

This week’s cringe-worthy cover is another gem that was provided to us by our reader friend, Sandy. She really knows her way around bad romance covers, doesn’t she? Look at this bad boy…

Whoa, just…whoa.

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What Are You Reading? (517)

Posted February 14, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 6 Comments

Holly: I finished my re-read of the Study series by Maria V. Snyder with Magic Study and Fire Study. Fire Study didn’t hold up as well as the previous two books, but I’m glad I read the entire series. I’m currently listening to The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen and I’m reading Strange Love by Ann Aguirre.

Rowena: It’s been a pretty good reading week for me. I read One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie and Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams. Now, I’m reading Strange Love by Ann Aguirre for my buddy read with Ames and Holly and I’m listening to my book club book, Devious Lies by Parker S. Huntington. After this, I’m going to jump into Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews and I can’t wait.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!

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